* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

If you want help, tell us about yourself

Is it just me or are there more and more people asking for help by posting anonymously?

Without knowing the context, it's very hard for anyone to even try to answer some questions. For example, how can you even respond to a question such as "should I increase my price?" without knowing the product? Questions like which payment processor, where should I focus my marketing. My favorites are how can I increase my sales or get more traffic to my website. If you post anonymously, then you'll get the standard templated reply.

Basically if you want honest to goodness help, you really should consider adding some context. Point to your website. Point to your product. Something more than a generic question.

Now I'm not saying state how much money you make on a month to month basis. But if you really want help, then at least consider pointing to your company's website to give a context to your qeuestions. If not, then you can't really expect more than standard template answer ;)
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
I agree, but at the same time anonymous posting features should stay here because there are many people in competitive B2B markets who don't want to disclose their company name/website. Anon posting allows them to post without disclosing any information.

Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
That's fine, and I completely agree.

But at the same I'd refrain from asking specific questions like how can I increase my sales. Or how can I increase traffic to my website. Or based on this snippet of information which would you take.

In other words, don't expect more than generic answers to specific questions without any context.
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
+1 Steph. 

There are justifiable occasions, but more the most part there seems to be a level of paranoia that to me is rather alarming, in the sense that somebody can/does feel that worried about anybody knowing who they are.
Scott Kane Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
+100 Steph
Jason Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
But Scott, right there on your blog you're complaining about someone cloning your product?



A.
Adam Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Maybe people are worried they'll get spammed by people selling SEO tips?
Anon for a good reason
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
I've never understood the whole anonymous thing; fearing that someone is going to take food off your table because you posted a question and told people the name of your business.

Most ideas are not new. Most are not profitable. The person, their attitude, smarts and work-ethic are a bigger determinant of success than the idea itself.

So, lighten up and stop worrying so much about being ultra-secret. It probably doesn't matter at all....
Mark Hoffman Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Finally, someone asks the question that has been on my lips constantly.

+100 to Stephane, and I won't repeat what he has already set, but I have a couple of more points to add.

I *honestly* don't see what the fuss is surrounding (and this is ONLY my opinion; I am not saying it's right),

a) Competition - If all it took to build a successful business is an idea and "oh! I know what he is doing", then almost everyone here on BoS will be a millionaire, discussing their spoils from a beach in Hawaii. In a mISV market, the reality is that competition is actually good (to a great extent).

I admit that there are industries that are so niche, that the idea itself is a killer, but the reality is that if you are building "web-based applications to control a nuclear plant", you are very unlikely to have someone just *copy* the idea.


b) Earnings - This one really gets me. Of course, I am not implying that you need to boast or moan about your financials, but disclosure is a common policy in the UK for Limited Companies and it takes mere minutes for me to find out what a company is earning, who owns what shares and dissect their account (by law).

If you are earning a lot, then it is only a sign of encouragement and envy among fellow entrepreneurs. If you are not earning a lot, believe me that there are more people here who will more likely help you succeed than laugh at you.

Anonymous posting just encourages nothing but more speculation and no real desire on the part of people responding to help (I am very unlikely to help someone I don't know and cannot connect with).

Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Excellent, having said the above, Fogbugz decides not post as me but Anonymously. Oh the irony!
Sarat Pediredla Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
"Maybe people are worried they'll get spammed by people selling SEO tips? " 
That's never happened to me. Whats one more spam anyway?
Joe Knapp Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
NO.

The main concern with anon posters like myself is not the competition.. its the users / clients seearching for our website / product name to find reviews and having landed on a JOS page begging for sales increase help will not play well with the client.

So for those who dont understand why a company would ask for help anonymously, does not really need to reply to the post.  (sure they should post as much detail about the product / service they provider as they can to get the most help possible)

Sure there are the paranoid people that dont want to share due to fear of copmetition, Like I was in the beining.. but that goes away after a while yet we are still reluctant to share due the resons  previously mentioned.
anonomizer
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Geez. This topic has been flogged to death already in a number of ways in the past here. It always comes down to the following viewpoints:

The value judgement: "If you use this forum for help, you are obliged to publicly disclose your company, product, and identity."

The "stealth for security" viewpoint: "I choose to remain anon because I don't want anyone to steal my ideas."

The "stealth for corporate image" viewpoint: "I choose to remain anon because I am protecting my ego/image/mental momentum/reputation."

I think the latter two are always more correct than the first one. It's all well and good to preach when it's not your rice bowl.

There's absolutely no compelling answer to this that will satisfy everyone. Some owners and their businesses can suffer real damage by disclosing their weaknesses publicly. The ones who claim to have a right to know everything will never have a good answer to this.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Umm, actually a lot of the anonymous posts here are from the poster formerly known as "Stucko".  A lot of them start out with "I have a $35 product...".
always right
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
I thought stucko died in a car accident?
CNNNews
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Stephane and those +1-ing him,

Does it REALLY matter? This is the internet, and a forum where you can be anonymous. Of course this is going to happen from time to time. Along with all the trolls and pseudo-racism. Live with it.

Nobody asking such questions is going to search the archives and see this topic, because they're mostly newcomers. So what was the purpose of this thread? To let off steam? Fine, do you feel better now?

Ooh, a new mISV opportunity - software that stores standard replies to newcomer/troll posters allowing a grumpy BoS oldtimer to berate them in as short a time as possible.
Tolerance is a virtue
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
> Does it REALLY matter?

Most of the time, no. But as Stephane pointed out in the original post, without the context of a product or website, it is difficult to answer _some_ questions. I wouldn't read more into than that.

In short, if you ask questions with no frame of reference, you'll get generic responses.
Nick Hebb Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
>> software that stores standard replies to newcomer/troll posters allowing a grumpy BoS oldtimer to berate them in as short a time as possible.

What do you think I've been using all this time?
Bored Bystander Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
"b) Earnings - This one really gets me. Of course, I am not implying that you need to boast or moan about your financials, but disclosure is a common policy in the UK for Limited Companies and it takes mere minutes for me to find out what a company is earning, who owns what shares and dissect their account (by law)."

You can file "abbreviated accounts" if you've got an annual turnover below around £6 million (and some other conditions that most small businesses would satisfy).

Yes, you can find out about who owns what shares, and I think you can find out what the end of year profit/loss was.  However, I don't think you can find out how much the turnover was.  And since profit is calculated after salaries are paid, I don't think you can get much idea about how much a small company that files abbreviated accounts is making.
MB Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
So the real problem isn't that OPs are anonymous, but that they're not providing enough context when they ask for help.

"Who tell me pleze what I charge for my B2B product?" cannot possibly allow me to help someone even if they tell me their social security (whatever) number.

But ...

"I have a brand-new B2B product that does <nameithere,generally> and has competition ranging from <low> to <high> and I've added several new featuress ...." for maybe a paragraph - NOT A NOVELETTE, well, even if the guy names himself with an ampersand he's given me enough info to start a discussion.

So details, not identity.  That's the ticket.  Isn't it?
Karl Perry Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Adam,

Not complaining, I was surprised, taken a tad back, annoyed and reacted a heck of a lot calmer than most folks I've seen react in the two and half decades I've been in the industry.  I was more taken aback by the attitude of the person (and his contemporaries) in the forum I was able to read, their attitude to not paying for tools to do the job and what they thought of folks coming from Australia, US and the UK.  Whether I'd blogged openly or not somebody would attempt to clone more than likely at some time or another.  I'm now glad he is, I have an excellent example to point to, when he and I release, of what the definition of pathetic, lame and intrinsically  stupid is.
Scott Kane Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
Here's an idea!  Why don't YOU ignore posts that you find boring or useless.  Let people that are interested answer them.

If a post is totally useless then we should see no replies.  Not even a Scrooge reply.

Otherwise the forum will just slide into an elitist vs. elitist pissing match.
Anon because I am too lazy to login
Monday, August 18, 2008
 
 
"Otherwise the forum will just slide into an elitist vs. elitist pissing match. "

You're statements logic here is as lazy as the anon name you're using and indicates much about that name.

This does not follow.  How can not being anon be "elitist"?  Please explain your logic, right now I'm holding off a peel of ROFL's.
Scott Kane Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
There are those unflinchingly naive people (like myself) that ACTUALLY BELIEVE they are building / marketing something that represents enough originality to earn the designation of "first to market".  And it's not easy to believe that, when every 3rd post proclaims that "if you have no competition, there is no market".  Which, in and of itself, is really doing a bit of a disservice to this forum, since it insinuates that no one posting here could have had an idea first.  Unlikely, perhaps. Impossible, I think not.

Granted after years of developing my B2C product, I have now been able to find a product of a similar genre to what I'm marketing, that is aimed EXCLUSIVELY at the uber-professional service industry.  So, I suppose it would make sense to disclose every detail of what I have spent years of nights and weekends building.  Because, obviously my hereto-untouched consumer market should already know about the product they are paying professional geniuses (tongue in cheek) to use.

Believe me, I admire and respect the VAST MAJORITY of the posters on this forum.  And, I try to emulate their success as often as possible.  But, I have too much wrapped up in this very product, to be frivolous with its disclosure.  Absolutely no disrespect intended.

I realize this limits the quality of help I may get if I ask how much I should charge ... :-)
Impressionable Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
> Umm, actually a lot of the anonymous posts here are from the poster formerly known as "Stucko".

Who the hell is Stucko ? :)
I'm not Stucko
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
"Best-to-market always beats first-to-market.
 
There is no evidence whatsoever that being first to market confers a business advantage.
 
There is abundant evidence that being late to market with a better quality product does confer a significant business advantage.
 
For example, the Archos Jukebox was the first battery-powered, hard disk-based, 6 gigabyte, portable MP3 player. It beat the iPod to market by more than a year yet it was a dismal failure because it was very poorly designed."

- Alan Cooper, The Wisdom Of Experience (slide 57)
Agile08 Conference
http://www.cooper.com/journal/agile2008/
MT Heart
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
"This does not follow.  How can not being anon be "elitist"?  Please explain your logic, right now I'm holding off a peel of ROFL's."

Classic straw man there, Scott. Unless you truly didn't understand his point, in which case the ROFLs are aimed at you.
Tired of elitists
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
"There are those unflinchingly naive people (like myself) that ACTUALLY BELIEVE they are building / marketing something that represents enough originality to earn the designation of "first to market". "

You MUST be talking about time-management software for developers or a new fangled bingo-card creator.
original business
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
"Classic straw man there, Scott. Unless you truly didn't understand his point, in which case the ROFLs are aimed at you"

What?

He didn't make a point. Neither have you.

Wow!  I can't believe what passes for logic these days.  It's "elitist"  to use your name, but we're "cool dudes" when we don't, plus we can toss around terms like "straw man" just in case somebody calls us on our conclusions, based on, well nothing at all really.  But hey, that's not going to stop us, right?

Nope.  Nor will be actually explain are leaps of logic, justify them or otherwise back them up, nope.  Easier to write "straw man". 

Lame, lame lame.

Strewth!  I'd hate to be as paranoid as you galahs.  I'm taking it you anonymous ones are flying south this winter?
Scott Kane Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
The original idea of this post is that if you want specific help then you need to give some specifics.

I agree that in some cases it's very important to protect your company's brand. That's real life. However if you don't give a context, then how can you expect others to help you.

For example, I'm thinking of increasing the price of our software from $25 to $35 (or from $1000 to $2000 - price is irrelevant). Is that a good idea?

How do you answer that question with only this information? You can't. It needs more context. And the easiest way to do that is identify yourself and your product.

But if you can't do that for reasons already stated, than describe the situation. Don't just stop there. Without knowing the context, then how can someone answer that question...
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
+1 Steph

I answered a questions recently about how do I manage very fast growth. I realized it was easy to answer but not being specific was like feeling that I am helping nobody.

Good hypothetical examples are another way, to make sure you get the right kind of people answering information you can use.

Nice post, should be referred to every time someone asks a question that's too generic.
Shalin Jain Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
 
 
>>"Who tell me pleze what I charge for my B2B product?" cannot possibly allow me to help someone even if they tell me their social security (whatever) number.

Actually, this one's easy.  Start with a spell checker.

IMO, the trouble is that the target audience is not going to recognize themselves.  If a particular writer is pretty smart, he or she may realize that a paucity of answers means the question was wrong to start with.

Most of the time, people asking inadequate questions aren't interested in useful answers.  They just want to say that they tried, and then it's no longer their fault that their project didn't succeed.
Ideophoric Send private email
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
 
 
"There is no evidence whatsoever that being first to market confers a business advantage"

Not in the general macro markets perhaps but online it can be a real show-stopper. First to market gets more links, which give it more pagerank, which gets it higher in search results, which gets it more links, which gets it more pagerank, which gets it more links...

Johnny come lately doesn't feature highly, so doesn't get links, so doesn't feature highly, so doesn't get links, so doesn't feature highly so.. loop

Regarding the topic in general, my own anonmouse postings are simply to avoid showing up in search results. For example I recently posted about a false virus alert by Clam AV. The last thing I want is someone using something other than Clam but doing a quick search to learn about my brand, seeing:

BrandSoftware, Clam AV found pagestart TROJAN!!
discuss.jeolonsoftware.com/ - 18k - Cached - Similar pages

Would they even bother to click through and read or just immediately close my brandsoftware.com site and never, ever, return?


A.
Adam Send private email
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
 
 
Stucko lives.
Stucko
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
 
 

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