AI impact

terminator

There’s been a lot written about the predicted benefits (and threats) of artificial intelligence (AI). Now some recent research by McKinsey Consulting is suggesting that the early economic impacts of AI will be negative. Gains in GDP from greater use of AI tech should increase after some initial pain however, revealing a “productivity dividend” in the long term. The difficulty is that the benefits of AI will not be shared equally.

If you are in relatively low skilled work such as food server, driver or production worker, expect to find fewer opportunities and lower incomes as improving robotics technologies eliminates more line jobs. On the other hand, if you are highly educated with skills in software development, robotics, engineering or design - the world is your oyster. Unfortunately some nations with low skill bases that sit near the bottom of the value chain will suffer most.

There’s nothing new about automation however. Mechanisation of agriculture lifted global food production whilst conveniently freeing up millions of farm labourers to enlist in becoming cannon fodder within numerous ill-advised military adventures during the 20th Century. Digitisation already eliminated entire workforces of office drones and civil servants during my own working lifetime. So the opportunity is surely to focus on better productivity and much more fulfilling work for everyone with AI enhancing and improving human work. Is that too idealistic?

At a time when the issue of equality is never far from our minds, or that of the media, we may need to think more carefully about who will be most impacted by greater deployment of AI into society. Expect that debate to continue for some time. In the meantime, you can stake your claim at the AI frontier by securing your .AI domain name with iwantmyname.

Everything you need to know about domain hacks

unusual

What the heck is a domain hack? Is this going to get me stopped by the NSA when I’m traveling? Is pizza the most delicious type of food?

In short, a domain hack is a domain that uses the domain extension as part of the word it’s trying to spell. So:

  • This: iwantmyna.me
  • Instead of: iwantmyname.com

This will not get you stopped by the NSA. And yes, pizza is the most delicious type of food. Moving on.

  1. Are domain hacks useful?
  2. Are domain hacks bad for SEO
  3. What about domain hacks for URL shortening?
  4. Are there any tools for finding domain hacks?

Are domain hacks useful?

street art

Is street art useful? Not really, but it sure is fun to look at. With a domain hack, you can create a domain name that’s uniquely yours —one that may align with your whimsical brand mentality better than a .com ever could. If the last few letters in your name happen to be a ccTLD, like .is (the local TLD for Iceland) in Chris, then you have yourself a good domain hack:

  • chr.is
  • is more fun than chris.com

And if the last few letters in your brand happen to be a new gTLD, like .press in Express, then:

  • ex.press
  • is more fun than express.com

Note that I use the word “more fun” than “better.” Using a domain hack often means you’re more interested in whimsy than safe results, and that can have real consequences.

Are domain hacks bad for SEO

The most common advice you’ll hear from SEO experts is that you should use .com and never look back. Followed closely by your local ccTLD if you happen to be in that country, then perhaps followed by generic TLDs (gTLDs) with keywords you’re trying to target, like .pizza for a pizza shop, although that’s a big hot debate right now.

Google says (emphasis mine):

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search?

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

But others claim to see real results from keyword matches, perhaps due to human preferece (people tend to like things that feel obvious).

From a domain hack POV though, you’re by nature not using that ccTLD to target you to a specific country, and you’re not using that gTLD to give yourself a keyword match. You’re using it to be clever. So what are the risks?

Here you go, in a tidy package from Moz:

Although the majority of ccTLDs are associated with content specific to their corresponding country or region, some webmasters have started using country codes like “.me” and “.tv” as generic web addresses. As a result, Google has, over time, decided to treat some of those ccTLDs as generic country code top-level domains (gccTLDs) rather than ccTLDs. But, Google’s former Head of Webspam Matt Cutts advises caution if you decide to use a ccTLD that is not already considered a gccTLD because your content could be considered geotargeted (which could affect your global search rankings). You can find a list of the country codes Google considers gccTLDs (and are thus safer to use universally) on this page.

So basically, if you were hypothetically using .in for mclov.in, Google would geotarget your site to India because .in is India’s ccTLD, and it’s not on their list of ccTLDs that act as gccTLDs. That’s great if you’re in India, but if you’re not, you may struggle to get to the top of search results unrelated to your exact name.

If you don’t care about search, than no worries. If you do though, you may want to think twice about using a ccTLD in a domain hack that’s not a gccTLD.

What about domain hacks for URL shortening?

Short link

When Twitter was first created, links were a real problem. Just picture it — you have 140 characters to complete a thought, and links can be quite long. If you wanted to send a link to our .COM page (iwantmyname.com/domains/com-domain-name-registration-for-commercial), you’re looking at a hefty 67 characters. To get around that link bloat, a bunch of companies created shortening solutions which linked desired (long) URL’s to a short URL, like bit.ly/XXXXXX or ow.ly/XXXXXX (the XXXXXX being a randomly generated, unique string of characters). Then, using custom domain names, you could brand your short URL’s using your own custom domain name, so instead of bit.ly/XXXXXX, tweets would show something like iwmn.me/XXXXXX.

These days, this] Twitter does this:

A URL of any length will be altered to 23 characters, even if the link itself is less than 23 characters long. Your character count will reflect this.

Woohoo! So no, in 2018, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use a goofy domain hack as a URL shortener (if you’re into that sort of thing). Let it all out. You be you.

Are there any tools for finding domain hacks?

iwantmyname search

If you’re not specifically looking for one, domain hacks can be tricky to think up. Fortunately, there are tools:

  1. the iwantmyname domain search has a basic domain hack finder built in. Just type any word in, and the second result (if applicable) will be a domain hack using one of our many domain extensions.
  2. If you need a bit more though, try doing a search over at Domainr. Doing the same search I did above (whatismydomainname), they pulled out some crazy stuff like whatismydomainn.am/e, whatismydoma.in.na/me, and whatismydomain.na/me. Pretty fun stuff.
  3. Another fun tool is domainhack.me. Just type in a word and see the awesome unfold.

How to pick the right domain extension

decisions

In ye olde days (early 2013), most of the thinking that went into choosing a domain name went to the name itself, not the domain extension. But now, with hundreds of top-level domains (TLDs) available to the public, picking the actual name of your site might be the easy part. How do you choose between all the TLD options? Do you go with .com? .co? Your local ccTLD? A descriptive word that aligns with your brand? Maybe .pizza (pizza goes with everything!)?

Before you spontaneously combust, let’s go through your options and add some notes from the smart people writing about the subject around the web.

  1. What domain extension gets the best SEO?
  2. Beware TLD spam indicators
  3. Local domain extensions can be good for SEO
  4. Does your TLD really matter?

What domain extension gets the best SEO

lisa simpson

I’m not a mind reader, but my guess is that you don’t really care what your TLD is, as long as it makes you rank on a Google search. That’s a good mentality to have, as pleasing the Google gods is often a fast pass to getting people to your site.

To please said Google gods, you have to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO…Google it). Basically, Google has an algorithm they use to make their results more relevant to the humans using their service — an algorithm meant to promote usability and readability over spammy behavior. And because of that, an entire industry has popped up to try to teach people how to optimize their sites into whatever Google thinks is best at the time.

Most advice boiled down to “how many times should you write a certain word in a blog post to make it rank high in a Google search.” But then that quickly changed to “if you put certain words in your domain name, your whole site will rank higher for those words.” (People are still arguing over that… more below.)

So when the new gTLDs came out (the ones like .pizza and .blog), the thought was that they would become an easy way to boost your search rank for those specific terms. Then the official word from Google came out (emphasis mine):

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search?

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

Translated, according to Google, your TLD doesn’t matter, at least when it comes to keywords. You can keyword target them to your brand (like .pizza to a pizza shop) and it won’t make any difference at all to Google’s algorithm (.pizza just isn’t any more “authentic” to actual pizza shops than something like .com).

In practice though, there’s some evidence that targeting keywords might help (perhaps humans are easier to manipulate than algorithms). Here’s one from Search Engine Land:

That’s why we commissioned Globe Runner, a Dallas-based SEO firm, to investigate the effect of moving from a .COM to a new TLD. The subject of this study was Jacksonville.ATTORNEY, a domain registered by Eric Block, a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, FL. Eric’s migration from EricBlockLaw.com in March of 2015 was a great opportunity to observe domain metrics before and after the switch. What Globe Runner discovered is that moving to a new TLD very likely contributed to Eric’s site appearing at the top of many search results.

Within months, Jacksonville.ATTORNEY was sitting at or near the top of organic search results for some highly competitive keywords, ranking as high as the first overall match for terms like “Jacksonville attorney” and “Jacksonville attorneys.” This was a welcome change from EricBlockLaw.com, which often ranked several pages down, if they ranked at all.

Since the switch, Globe Runner estimated that the site generates the organic equivalent of $6,400 per month in 333 Google keyword phrases. Many of these searches don’t even include “Jacksonville” as a term, as Google’s results can already account for the location of the user performing the search.

And here’s another test on Search Engine Journal:

At first, when we first ran the ads, we found that we got more impressions on the .Diamonds ads, and the .DIAMONDS clicks were cheaper. The clicks on the .COM ads were more expensive, but ultimately the .COM clicks converted better. Eight months later, however, we ran the same ads again, and found that the .DIAMONDS clicks were still cheaper than using a .COM domain name. But, it turned out that the .DIAMONDS clicks were converting better than they had before.

I’m now recommending that if you’re running Google AdWords ads, consider using a keyword rich New gTLD domain name. You should, of course, do your own testing, but you may end up paying less for clicks and getting more conversions.

So what’s the answer to the original question, “Does Moving To a New gTLD Domain Name Help Rankings?”. The answer, honestly, is that we don’t know yet. We certainly have some proof that moving a site to a New gTLD domain or using a New gTLD domain for your brand new domain could help organic rankings, and it certainly won’t hurt rankings. If the migration is done correctly, a site won’t lose rankings.

But we just don’t have enough data to give anyone a final answer to this question, there aren’t enough New gTLD domains with live sites on them.

Practically, I think it’s safe to stick to Google’s recommendation that it really doesn’t matter what TLD you choose, as long as your site contains high-quality content. But if you like to be on the cutting edge of things, trying out a domain extension that fits your brand might be a savvy longterm move.

Plus, putting aside SEO, I really like this take on the potential future by Karn Jajoo for The Next Web:

A new TLD is often just a natural fit: take the example of ‘Lily’, the world’s first self-flying camera drone. ‘Lily’ could refer to the flowering plant, a common first name, or a small town, and its .com is registered by Lily Transportation Corp. Therefore, the Menlo Park robotics startup behind this drone used a simple, elegant domain to disambiguate its product – lily.camera.

Ever heard of the case of Nissan computer vs. Nissan motors? Uzi Nissan, a reseller of computer hardware and peripherals, registered Nissan.com on June 4, 1994.

Five years later, the Nissan Motor Corporation (which was called Datsun in the late 1970s) filed a $10 million lawsuit against Nissan Computer claiming cyber-squatting, trademark infringement and trademark dilution.

Perhaps if new TLDs had existed back then, Nissan.computer and Nissan.auto would have solved this contention without the lengthy legal dispute that has allegedly already cost Mr. Uzi $2.2 million in legal fees.

In addition to providing endless new namespaces for people to register short, memorable domain names (good .com’s can be hard to find these days) , the new gTLDs could act as a natural category structure for the web. And that’s just cool.

Beware TLD spam indicators

you blew it

There are some TLDs though that may hurt your cause. Beyond Google’s algorithm, the other factor to contend with is human emotion. We’ve been trained for decades now to avoid things that seem unsafe online, and all these new domain extensions are just another new thing to be afraid of.

And it’s not unwarranted. Some TLDs do have a higher percentage of “shady” (as Symantec puts it) actors, and while the general public probably doesn’t keep up with such lists, once you get a reputation, it’s hard to shake it. For this reason, many people simply settle on .com — it’s so big at this point that it’s practically too big to fail.

I don’t frequent the afraid-of-new-things camp though. Instead, I just keep an eye on a few lists, like the ”Badness Index” list from Spamhaus. It’s made up of “representing domains seen by Spamhaus systems, and not a TLD’s total domain corpus,” formulated with this algorithm:

(Db/Dt) log(Db)

where

  • Db is the number of bad domains detected
  • Dt is the number of active domains observed

As of 28 August 2018 the TLDs with the worst reputations for spam operations are:

  1. .gq
  2. .cf
  3. .tk
  4. ml
  5. .ga
  6. .men
  7. .top
  8. .link
  9. .work
  10. .date

And here’s the Symantec list of Shady Top-Level Domains.

Shady Percentage is a simple calculation: the ratio of “domains and subdomains ending in this TLD which are rated in our database with a’shady’ category, divided by the total number of database entries ending in this TLD”.

Here are the Top Twenty Shady TLDs, as of the close of 2017:

  1. .country
  2. .strean
  3. .download
  4. .xin
  5. .gdn
  6. .racing
  7. .jetzt
  8. .win
  9. .bid
  10. .vip
  11. .ren
  12. .kim
  13. .loan
  14. .mom
  15. .party
  16. .review
  17. .trade
  18. .date
  19. .wang
  20. .accountants

And finally, just to bring us all back to Earth, here’s SURBL’s list — no algorithm here — showing us that .com is still the spam leader (there’s just a lot more .com domains floating around to help the ratio, so you don’t see it on other lists).

  1. .com
  2. .men
  3. .tk
  4. .biz
  5. .ml
  6. .ga
  7. .cf
  8. .gq
  9. .us
  10. .work
  11. .top
  12. .net
  13. .date
  14. .info
  15. .org
  16. .shop
  17. .review
  18. .loan
  19. .stream
  20. .trade

These lists change all the time as domain registries modify their policies, so don’t think of any of this as a permanent indictment. But if you start seeing the same extensions appear year after year, it’s safe to assume that the public will eventually notice. And that’s something you just don’t need in your life.

Local domain extensions can be good for SEO

go local

By design, the internet is a global marketplace. No matter where your website is being hosted, anyone in the world can check out what you’re offering. But in many instances, people and businesses don’t need a global reach. Restaurants, regional banks, local politicians—these people and places are focused locally, and can often benefit from local TLDs.

Here’s what Moz has to say:

Important in international SEO, ccTLDs are the single strongest way to show search engines and users where the site originates. This means that, all things being equal, example.fr will likely rank better in a French user’s SERP than example.us or example.com

Note that Google Webmaster Tools will not let you geotarget a ccTLD because it is, by definition, already geotargeted.

In practice, Google does its best to give the most relevant results possible. If you’re looking for Mexican food in New Zealand, having a .nz domain will help you rank higher (although you can target generic TLDs like .COM to specific places, too… it’s just an extra step). Here’s how Google puts it:

Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?

A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country.

The story is a little different for the new city extensions:

Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?

A: Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.

My guess is that city TLDs will start to get hypertargeted at some point, but that’s only a guess. If you’re using your domain for a local audience (and have no plans to go international), a country code TLD (ccTLD) like .nz, .ca, or .uk is what you’re looking for…

… unless you live in the United States. For whatever reason, no one in the US uses the .us domain extension. It’s what happens when everyone becomes a brand that’s for sale — you get a bunch of people who identify as commercial entities.

When going local goes wrong

There are a few instances where trying to go local doesn’t actually mean the internet thinks you’re local. Here are a few:

  • The common initials for the state of Delaware is DE, but .de is the ccTLD for Germany. Your customers might think it’s cool, but Google’s going to think your brand is in Germany, not Delaware.
  • Like Delaware, Sussex in England uses SX as their abbreviation, but .sx is the ccTLD for Sint Maarten. Definitely a different place

The best rule to follow is to know what your TLD stands for before you register it (if it’s a ccTLD that Google considers generic, you’re fine).

Does your TLD really matter?

han

From Pando Daily, in an article titled ”What’s In A Name? The fading tyranny of dot com”:

For someone like Michael Heyward, who co-founded anonymous social networking app Whisper in 2012, as a mobile first company, he says, there was not an ounce of trepidation at not having the Whisper.com domain name. (Whisper.com itself is a junk address, filled with spam links.)

Heyward says that 99 percent of Whisper’s exposure comes from its app. The company has a Whisper.sh landing page, to showcase popular posts from the app and publish legal and company information.

In 2014, Americans spend more time in apps than they do using the Internet on desktop. With social media sites becoming a greater engine for content discovery, new sites such as Quartz are popping up that don’t really even have an official homepage.

Think about that. For the foreseeable future, we’ll all need domain names to run our platforms and blogs, but discovery is changing fast. Really fast. On a given day, almost all the content I personally read online comes from links on content aggregators like Techmeme and Hacker News, or social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And because I trust the sources I’m finding sites and articles with, the domain itself doesn’t matter. It could be “ten words long dot anything” and I likely wouldn’t know the difference.

Putting on my future hat, my advice would be to find the TLD that you’re most comfortable with and go with it. .Com, .io, .limo—no matter what it is, if you commit to it, you’ll probably be fine.

I’ll leave you with this nugget from Christopher Steiner at FoundersClub:

But everybody knew, even then, that a company needed a dot-com domain. That wasn’t debatable. But it seems a subject that is up for discussion now, judging by data. Promising startups still end up with dot-com domains more often than not, but the margin at which they do is decreasing.

ycombinator .com trending downward

The percentage of Y Combinator companies with dot-com domains has been following a downward trend since the the winter class of 2014, when dot-com domains comprised 80% of the class. Before that point, almost all classes were well into the 90-percentiles for dot-com names, with seven classes at 100%.

The last three classes at YC have been: 79.4%, 75.3% and 68.0% dot-com domains.

The times are-a-changin’.

How to become the customer that every support team member loves

not good

I read a lot of blogs about online support, customer experience management, and the art of communication. There are tons of articles describing how we (aka the people working in support) can make the service experience for our customers as agreeable as possible. Those stories often go a little something like:

  • Be nice.
  • Listen carefully, reply carefully.
  • Go the extra mile to make the customer happy.

At iwantmyname, I think we’re doing a pretty good job ticking all those boxes. We collect feedback through Nicereply, and our stats show a numerical “thumbs up” for all team members. Nevertheless, every now and then there’s the odd conversation that goes completely wrong.

Take this example which led to the dent in my customer satisfaction statistics. I‘ll first tell it from the customer‘s point of view.

All of a sudden, my domain stopped working. I had a website and emails set up because it’s my business domain. My income depends on that domain. When the first customers called because they could not place an order, I thought my website went down. I checked it, and there was an error message saying my domain could not be found. So I called the hosting company, and they told me that the issue was with my domain, not with my website. I could not find a phone number of iwantmyname, so I sent them an email. They told me that my domain expired weeks ago and that I would have to pay a much higher fee now to restore it. This is unbelievable. They didn‘t even send me a single message before deleting my domain.

Worst. Customer. Service. Ever. Right? Let‘s see what this looks like from my position as a support team member.

So we got this new case of a domain that went into the redemption period. Before that happens, we automatically send about ten reminders to the contact email address in the account.

When we first received a message from the customer, it just stated that “the domain is gone and we need it back ASAP because this is unacceptable.” The thing is that we manage more than one domain, so I asked the customer for the name in question. Once I received it, it was accompanied by a couple of insults because the domain had already been down for at least two days. I informed him how to restore the domain, which made things even worse. Restores come at a higher fee that we have to pay to the registry. We don‘t agree with those fees, but have no way to avoid them, or the domain will be deleted.

Then more insults from the customer because his login details were out of date and he could not access the account. He threatened to call his lawyer and publish our “shady business practices” because we don’t do phone support.

In the end, the customer decided not to restore the domain. It has since been registered by somebody else. Nevertheless, he took the time to send out a handful of negative ratings with further swearing and threats.

Luckily, I do remember this single case because it’s one of the few negative ones — most days I just get messages like, “thank you, problem solved.” Still, the bad ones tend to stick, so here’s how they can be avoided.

Information is key

Like a doctor diagnosing an illness, the more information you can provide in a support ticket, the better. Clearly map out the steps you took that led you to your problem, and add all the little details that could be relevant to the case. Too much information is a good thing in this situation.

Also, try breaking out separate bits of information into bullets. Anything to make details more manageable to read is a plus.

Pro tip: If you send a support request to us while you‘re logged in to your account, we‘ll be able to run updates on your behalf so you don‘t have to do it yourself.

Safety first

When it comes to the top ten of incoming requests, “I cannot log in to my account“ ranks pretty high. I tend to forget my logins as well, which, among other reasons, is why I use a password manager.

Usually finding this information is done through the regular password reset process (your login email address can be found in your latest receipt), but if you can’t complete the password reset process, we have to follow a no-exception security protocol to keep your domains safe. We take domain security quite seriously, and it only takes a quick Google search to find a story or two about how some simple social engineering can bypass a lax security process. In this case, being difficult is a feature, not a bug — even if it’s frustrating in the moment.

Pro tip: Speaking of receipts, always update your email and postal address every time you make a change. Otherwise, all the domain expiration/renewal messages we send out won’t get to you… which is bad.

Hello, Mr. Robot

Have you ever had a conversation with one of those chatbots? If you were in contact with our support team, the answer is definitely “no.“ Our support is handmade by a bunch of friendly people sitting around the globe. And people’s brains, generally, work a little more efficiently when they’re not being insulted in the process.

Not that we can’t function while being insulted, but it’s generally harder to get to the root of the problem when support tickets are so… colorful. So maybe edit out the non-essentials. We can totally empathize with being frustrated when something goes wrong, but trying to shame us in the process doesn’t put you into any sort of top-secret priority queue.

Remotely interested

capt

You might be surprised to learn that, according to the International Telecommunications Union, about half of the global populace now use the internet. Those of us residing in (relatively) developed countries view internet access as a human right and a vehicle for promoting economic growth and social equity. Interestingly, fully 84% of the worldwide population has internet provided to them, and a fair chunk of that demographic primarily have mobile access. If so many of us have mobile internet, why are we still tied to our desks for work? As a company, how can we broaden access to the “digital dividend” for everyone? Questions that we asked ourselves this year.

In a mobile world where talent is a global resource and web businesses aim to aggregate the “long tail” of their dispersed global customer base, the sky’s the limit, right? You have to think global and agile from day one. I live in sleepy, rural New Zealand, but manage a company with around 100,000 customers from all over the world. Only a few weeks ago, I was dispensing with a few operational matters while speeding across France in a train at 320 km/hr. Remote work is taking over the world – or so they tell us.

Confronted with this reality, it was with a tinge of sadness that we closed our New Zealand office recently. Based in the bustling, bohemian Cuba precinct of our Capital city Wellington, it was our home for five years. A place where we enjoyed the comradeship that arises naturally from toiling together on a worthy project. More than a few homebrews were imbibed and hot curries consumed at Vivian Street after a hard day’s coding, and I think that might be the most endearing memory for me. That and the fact that we often opened our doors to tech and startup groups from our local community. The future may be global and remote, but there’s nothing like the welcoming buzz of a group of techie nerds in full song at Friday drinks in the office.

However, with a few Kiwi team members moving on in their careers and our various founders all setting up homes in the provinces over the last few years, the economic justification for retaining a physical office space in our beloved Wellington has gradually faded. We’ve committed ourselves fully to the digital nomadic worker lifestyle while re-dedicating our company to being the best enabler of digital domain presence in the market. In fact, if you fancy yourself as a remote worker in the global tech industry – we’ve got a job going right now! Become part of the new wave of companies building amazing global businesses with the help of distributed teams.

The Blogroll: Week 19

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll

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Matthew Guay - When Slack Won the Team Chat Market

It’s not exactly that HipChat lost the market—not at first anyhow. With deep integrations with Atlassian’s JIRA, Conflusion, and other enterprise tools, it kept a hold on the business chat market for a while. But Slack grew the market massively, making team chat a new anchor app in today’s office suites. Team chat didn’t replace email—newsletters underwent a resurgence at the same time—but it did cement its place in the workplace. And over time, businesses started switching away, leading to HipChat’s gradual decline and this week’s acquisition of HipChat and Stride by Slack.

Today, Slack’s the giant, with 88% of the team chat app market on Zapier—leaving 25 other team chat apps to divide the rest.

It goes to show the power of design and user experience. HipChat is fine — we use it daily here at iwantmyname — but it was never exciting. It never felt like a whimsical door to a more interesting world.

Providing a good service in 2018 isn’t good enough. You need to provide a good experience.

Side thought: UX people are going to rule the world. If your company leaves its UX people on the sidelines of the planning process, you’re as good as dead.

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Deborah Bach - How gamers with disabilities helped design the new Xbox Adaptive Controller’s elegantly accessible packaging

“It’s great that we’ve created this controller for people to use, but if they can’t even get it out of the box, we’ve sort of fallen on our face with this whole process. This makes such a huge difference in how someone gets our device out of the package,” he said. “I still think about it and think, why isn’t more packaging like this?”

This right here is what I mean about UX. The expected just isn’t good enough — everything should be on the table every day. What can we make easier? What can we make better? Who is hurt by the assumptions we made yesterday?

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Claire Lew - Managers: You’re not prepared for your one-on-one meetings. Here’s what to do.

You waste time when you’re not up-to-speed. When you walk into a one-on-one meeting not knowing what the person has been working on for the past month, you squander 10 -15 minutes to get caught up on old information. That’s 10 -15 minutes that could’ve been spent discovering and discussing new information. Instead, spend a few minutes getting up to speed before the meeting rather than during it. Specifically:

  • Review status updates ahead of time. You’ll save time by not rehashing “What’s the latest on X?” And you’ll better orient yourself on what the focus of the one-on-one meeting should be.

Especially for remote teams, this should be a priority in group meetings as well. Recapping what’s already been documented is a waste of everyone’s time — read the comms. Focus on the decisions that need to be made to move the team forward.

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Manton Reece- Anchor on free podcasting

Anchor seems to be going for the YouTube model. They want a huge number of people to use their platform. But the concentration of so much media in one place is one of the problems with today’s web. Massive social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have too much power over writers, photographers, and video creators. We do not want that for podcasts.

In short, Anchor is trying to be the YouTube of the podcast world. Not great. What the world doesn’t need is another centralized internet gatekeeper. Not everything needs to be run through a centralized ad platform.

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Om Malik - Juul & its House of Smoke & Horrors

In a CNBC news report, Juul spokesman Matt David said: “Like many Silicon Valley technology startups, our growth is not the result of marketing but rather a superior product disrupting an archaic industry.” First of all, there is nothing technological about this company — unless you count behavioral addiction as a common ground with Facebook and others like them. It is utter bullshit, and reporters should know better than letting this slide without serious questioning.

From Business Insider (which called it iPhone of e-cigarettes) to CrunchBase, everyone seems to marvel over their growth rates, their post-Unicorn valuations, and jaw-dropping success at raising capital. And very rarely have I seen anyone stand up and point out that it is no different than traditional tobacco peddlers like Marlboro and Camel. They are peddling nicotine-based addiction. By focusing on charming founders, their backgrounds, large amount of funds raised and crazy valuations, no one is asking the right question: why are we supporting this company that is essentially Camel 2.0?

Maybe I’m just a product of the times, but nearly every high-value business is a play on behavioral addiction (or a B2B company supporting these businesses). Cigarrettes obviously lead directly to premature death (don’t @ me), but not many addictions end up being healthy.

I’m not as enraged by this as Om is, but it does leave me a little numb. The whole startup scene and the gross amounts of VC money floating around is exhausting and amoral (at times), and I’m not convinced we’re better as a society because of it. I know tech makes lots of magical things, but I wish we would focus more on quality of life — full stop — than endless consumption and the emotional bandaid that is “digital wellness.”

My vote would be to raise US taxes considerably and recycle some of that money into public spaces and the arts (again, don’t @ me). Life has to have more meaning than “the next big thing.”

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)