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Archive for December, 2007

The People’s Choice Award: Real Zillow mortgage predictions, the real Fake Greg Swann and real-life traffic-building strategies

As you know if you’ve been paying attention, Todd Carpenter exposed himself revealed himself to be the real Fake Greg Swann last night. I confess myself to have been totally sussed by the prank, despite Todd’s having hidden several Easter eggs along his trail that, had I not been completely clueless, I might have used to solve the mystery of his secret identity. In any case, it was a lot of fun, and Todd got to make his point in a gentle and even-handed way.

I think Todd was surprised by the venom of some of the reactions his alter ego got, citing one commenter in particular as being particularly vile. Welcome to the world of the real Greg Swann. People say the dumbest stuff about me and about BloodhoundBlog as a whole, and it means nothing at all to me — one of Todd’s clues to me was echoing back my own self-description as an armadillo. If you demonstrate to me that I’ve made an error, I’m in your debt. If you rant about something I already know is correct, you will have induced me to question your mind, your character — or both. If you expect me to be emotionally involved with you, you had better be my wife — and you should try to catch me when I’m not too busy.

But: The bogus claim itself is interesting, first because it’s really stoopid, and second because thinking about why it is so stoopid leads us to a better understanding of how to be wise instead. Angry bullshit piles up everywhere, but, if you’re willing to use your mind, it can make for good fertilizer.

So this is the claim from the comment on the Fake Greg Swann site:

greg swan’s playbook

[....]

Generate Traffic to your Site in 24hrs or less

[....]

Linkbaiting

[....]

Awards

I have five arguments to make against a strategy like this.

1. We don’t behave this way. I don’t give a rat’s ass about traffic. What I care about is telling the truth as beautifully as possible — saying what we want in the way that we want. If we’re right, we’ll attract people who understand why we’re right. If we’re wrong, we need to learn better. Nothing matters to me more than being right — right ethically, right epistemologically and right in my behavior. BloodhoundBlog was built that way from the beginning, and it will run that way forever.

2. Traffic spikes are transient. We do get them, in no small part because we cover serious issues in great depth. (Another cute calumny is that BloodhoundBlog is only popular because no one can understand what we’re saying.) To the extent that surges in traffic attract the kind of readers we are targeting, they can result in enduring growth. But that’s the rare case, since the spikes come, most often, from our being linked by sites with very different agendas — The Wall Street Journal or Freakonomics or whatever.

3. We throw much more traffic into the RE.net than we get back from it. This is easy to understand if you think about it. Our popularity consists of RSS and email subscriptions, not hard clicks into the site. We get a lot of hard clicks, but many of those come from search engines, social web sites or old or tenuous links. The number of timely, pertinent inbound clicks we get from other RE.net sites is fairly small. The reason is that most of the people reading those other RE.net sites already subscribe to BloodhoundBlog. Our readers are more likely to find out what is happening at a smaller weblog by reading a post or comment on BloodhoundBlog than they are to learn something about BloodhoundBlog by reading a post or comment on that smaller weblog. When we link to something that we think is interesting on another RE.net weblog, we will send dozens or even hundreds of hard clicks back to that blog. It’s very rare for any RE.net site to send us a large amount of traffic for the simple reason that most of the people who might click through to BloodhoundBlog have already read us on their feed readers.

4. Obviously — at least if you take the trouble to think about it — if we were pursuing some nefarious traffic-building scheme, we would focus our attentions on sites higher than us on the food chain. In SEO terms, we’re a decent sized fish. We have a lot of inbound links from all over the net, a substantial number of backlinks, and, right now, around 520 Technorati links. When we link out, we are usually giving out a lot more “Google juice” than we get back when we are linked to. One of our goals in doing what we do is to be a part of this party, but we’re bringing the kegs when many other folks are showing up with chips and dip. If our goal was not to promote this conversation about real estate, but simply to generate as much traffic as possible or to garner the most-beneficial possible links — this, I suppose, to drive eyeballs to the advertising we don’t carry — we would concentrate our efforts on fish much larger than us in the oceans of the internet: A-list webloggers, media sites, dot.edu domains. These are the sites we would prey upon if we were playing silly SEO games.

5. But: That would be stoopid. Why? Because the only way we have of talking to the people who we want to talk to is by creating the content they want to read — not just today but every day. We don’t carry advertising, and we don’t have any incentive to attract random, unmotivated readers — whether by SEO tricks or through traffic surges. The only readers who matter, in the long run, are the ones who subscribe to or bookmark BloodhoundBlog. This is true of every viral weblog, but there is something that matters even more: If you build it, they may not come. The fact is that every person we might hope to talk to already has access to more free, relevant, interesting content than they can possibly read. If we — or you — hope to capture those minds, and capture them every day, we have to be remarkably better than everything else that is competing for their attention — every day. Readers who bounce in, for whatever reason, will almost always bounce right out again. The only readers who matter are the ones who know why they are coming, and who know what benefit they hope to obtain by coming back again.

A properly-functioning weblog is like a drip campaign with the directions reversed. If I’m dripping push-based emails on you, I can control my message but I can’t count on your attention. I’m just more spam. But if you’re taking my pull-based RSS feed, I can count on your attention at least to the extent that I am relating to you the message you had hoped to have found. Of the two ways of communicating, the weblog is far more likely to result in an enduring relationship. I’m not imposing myself upon you, you are inviting me into your mind. This is the sole benefit BloodhoundBlog seeks from its existence. As far as I am concerned, this is the sole benefit to be obtained from weblogging.

And, while we are quite a bit bigger than the progenitors of these stoopid conspiracy theories can envision, we have not even begun to grow yet. I’m guessing there are three to five million people who should be reading us every day. We have news for them all, and I can’t wait to share it with them.

Now then, with all that as an extended introduction, I have elected not to award The Odysseus Medal or The Black Pearl this week. (It’s all a part of a nefarious linkbaiting strategy, of course — baffle the enemy.) In truth, as was the case a couple of weeks ago, nothing knocked my socks off, and I don’t want to dilute the value of the awards just for the sake of giving them out. (Now what could that mean?) We’ll see what turns up next week, and we’ll write this week off to sweets, wassail and pondering the mysteries of the Fake Greg Swann.

However: We do have a winner of The People’s Choice Award, and it is none other than the Fake Greg Swann himself, Todd Carpenter, with Zillow Mortgage Prediction:

Zillow’s business model is really no different than Google’s. Generate page views, and sell advertising. I don’t think Zillow’s mortgage product will be any different. What the Zillow brain-trust is doing right now is figuring how to develop traffic driving tools like the Zindex and Zestimate for the mortgage vertical.

I’m betting my Zcore idea is in the mix, but here are two other possible tools they might be working on.

A closed loan, localized mortgage rate index. Zillow is already pouring through local data of new home purchases to feed data to the Zestimate. Acquiring the interest rate of the mortgages on these homes is a trivial additional endeavor. I can buy a list of borrowers with 8% mortgages from a leads vendor. What nobody has done before, is make that data available to consumers. Now, I’m not saying they should tell the public the interest rate of each and every borrower, that would anger quite a few people. But they could use the data all the way down to a block by block average, or a neighborhood, town, state…

A interest rate pricing engine. Mathew Kelly’s first post on Geek Estate talks about some of the tools that makes an originator’s job so much easier. Zillow can easily build something similar, but at the consumer level. We’re talking about decade old technology here. Let the consumer enter in the data themselves, scrub it against the same lender provided data that LO’s use, attach an average margin via data from the above index, and viola, you got yourself a consumer grade pricing engine.

If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should. As the Fake Greg Swann says, it’s “always a great roundup of good RE blogging.” And as always, if you bespy a glint of the heavenly, nominate it.

Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

Congratulations to Todd — and to everyone who participated.

And here’s wishing you health, wealth and happiness for the coming year!

Technorati Tags: , ,

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  • The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

  • 1 comment

    If a dog looks into a mirror…

    Eight or so hours and counting until the Time Square ball descends for the 51st time during this writer’s mortally toiled watch; so, barring any behemothic transpiration  between now and the instant I press the Publish button, my work for 2007, as a blogger, is done. I’ve tossed it around mentally for a day or two and concluded that I do in fact, have a thing or two left to say before the expiration dates on these few, lingering thoughts—well, expire; a couple smart snippets, perhaps worthy of a final comment or two, before the twelfth dong of the gong bongs eternal, and I kiss whomever is standing next to me–within reason, goodyear. And so I present to you this year’s final menu, a mulligan stew of left-over thoughts and teasers straight from the mental ice box of my favorite mother’s favorite son: (okay, it’s another year end list.)

    1.  Don’t buy any Christmas jewely advertised on TV regardless of how much the actress acts like she’d love to own a quarter carat, diamond pendant necklace from Zales.

    2. Whilst everybody in my life welcomes a thoughtful gift and even my faithful dog enjoys human praise, it’s pretty obvious from the looks on their faces that they’d all rather have the cash.

    3. The best answering machine message I heard all year was: …”If this is a courtesy call, leave a message and I’ll get back to you at my earliest convenience;… If this is a distress call, keep the message short and if I’m not in a worse place than you, I’ll try and help;… If this is a booty call, stay on the line and someone will assist you shortly.” (okay, I made it up and my wife wouldn’t let me put it on our machine.)

    4. I’m at a point in my life where I’m actually a little disappointed if I don’t get socks for Christmas.

    5. I’ve concluded that there’s no sense in trying to get back down to my fighting weight since nothing good ever came out of any fight I’ve ever been in, anyway.

    6. Don’t write a post about a one-armed girl and expect to come away unscathed or get involved in a comment trading war unless you too, are prepared to quit  the forum and flee before the lions need fed again. Remember, the lions always need fed.

    7. The best dessert I snuck this year while on my 52 week (alright, perennial) yo-yo (Ho Ho) diet was a Fried Twinkie Tiramisu–worthy of the capitalization, I assure you.

    8. Take the extended service warranty on anything electronic that has to do with your livlihood and can accidently be dropped in a toilet.

    9. Don’t end up at a gambling table with anyone who has a city or a geographic region for a first name, i.e. New York Nick, Long Island Louie, et al…

    10. If a dog looks into a mirror…does God look back?

    That’s it. I’m done. The chairs are upside down on this tabletop until next year. Empty the ashtrays and call the cabs. Peace, or at the very least…may we all get some sleep and wake up slightly better people.

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  • 9 comments

    RSS Feeds – The Full vs. Partial Conundrum

    As I peruse through the 338 blogs in my feedreader every day, I find myself wondering why some blog authors chose to provide full feeds, some partial feeds and even a few provide titles only.

    (If you know not of what I speak, the first video in this post is a short and simple explanation of RSS feeds. A full feed is exactly that — the full text of the post is provided in the feed. A partial feed provides a “teaser” — a few sentences, and a title only feed provides just the title.)

    Darren Rowse of the brilliant ProBlogger wrote a post about this back in September. He followed that up with a poll showing 75% of the bloggers that answered provide full feeds.

    Personally, I don’t care for partial feeds, and I loathe title only feeds. I use a feed reader so I don’t have to visit individual blogs. That’s the whole point in subscribing to feeds. A feed reader allows me to manage reading almost every post of every blog I subscribe to. Being forced to click through to the blog is not only annoying, it’s time consuming. And let’s face it folks, time is money.

    If one were to read through Darren’s comments, you’ll see a couple of general thoughts about full vs. partial feeds.

    Those that support partial feeds have two basic premises:

    1) Partial feeds result in more hard clicks and direct traffic to the blog. If you are attempting to monetize a blog with Adsense, affiliate links, etc. then I suppose it makes sense to try to increase your direct page views — in the hope that someone will click on a paying link and add a nickel to your “paycheck”.

    2) Some seem to think that if you provide partial or title feeds, that the splogging snots out there won’t steal your content. To that I say, “Fooey”. My blog gets scraped all the time, and often the splogger only captures the beginning and end of the posts — and the end includes the copyright notice that says:

    If you are reading this outside your feedreader or on any blog other than The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@ThompsonsRealty.com so we can take legal action immediately.

    If that doesn’t dissuade the pestiferous little thieves, then only providing a partial post or title certainly won’t either. Trust me, these lowlifes will scrape anything.

    Those that support full feeds argue with me that the main purpose in a feed reader is the efficiency it provides, particularly if you read a lot of blogs. I don’t monetize my site (with ads and such) and while I would love for people to stop by and leave a comment or look at the pretty header and the crap in the sidebars, what I really want is for people to read what I write. Giving them an easy way to do that just seems to make sense.

    I can only speak for myself, but I know that I read virtually every full post in my reader. A partial feed gives me three or four sentences to decide if I have the time to click through to read the rest. Often I don’t. And a title only feed hardly ever gets read.

    There is no right and wrong, no hard and fast rules in this blogiverse. What I find annoying and difficult to understand, others may not.

    So I am curious oh Bloodhound Blog reader, what your thoughts might be. Where do you stand? Do you offer full, partial or title only feeds, and why did you choose what you chose?

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  • 32 comments

    Mortgage Cicerone: Tony Gallegos

    Tony Gallegos posted his top bloggers’ list of 2007.

    Many of the lists published are a beauty pageant and none, to this date, mean a whole lot to MY industry; residential real estate finance. Tony’s participation in MTG.net is a measured and intelligent position. It has to be; Tony is a senior executive for a big bank. While the originators were bickering with The X Broker, Tony was pointing out the strength of both sides’ arguments. When I chronicled the curse at Countrywide, the Countrywide employees went bonkers. Tony offered measured but cautionary advice to those folks about the reality that lurked in the bowels of the balance sheet.

    If you’re a loan originator, Tony’s the real deal. He closed 400 units in one year. Here’s the trick; he did it with one processor, no team…just one processor. What this whole thing means, if you’re a loan originator, is that you listen to Tony Gallegos and you read The Mortgage Cicerone. If strength comes from restraint, Tony is the modern day Charles Atlas. While you won’t see him writing many opinion pieces (as bank executives shouldn’t), you will see him pointing you to relevant information…like a guide, a Cicerone.

    The Mortgage Cicerone points us to three unsung voices in his 2007 list:

    Joe Zekas from Yo! Chicago. I met Joe, on Active Rain, last year. One thing I’ve learned to dread is the Zekas comment; they’re always incisive and usually correct. Joe takes on the MSM in this post but don’t start cheering. Two of my favorite Zekasms are his take on treating people like leads and his rules for what NOT to do on a weblog. Even more astounding are: 1. some genius hasn’t called him arrogant and 2. there is no Fake Joe Zekas blog floating around the internet.

    Brett Rogers, of BeatCanvas.org , offers intelligent commentary. His post, The Second Handers, summed up my thoughts about the rugged individualism that made this country great.

    Dan Melson, of Searchlight Crusade, is one of the smarter mortgage writers on the internet. In the interest of transparency, his conspicuous omission, from my praise, is carefully crafted egoism. This time is as good as any to give my annual hat tip to San Diego’s top mortgage voice.

    Special nods should go to the Athol Kay, The Bawld Guy, Maggie Dokic, and Greg Swann. When a mortgage guy includes REALTORs on his list, you’re doing something right.

    I hope this list draws attention to the real talent in this space; Tony Gallegos. Often, brilliance comes from the ability to point, to highlight, to guide. Separating the wheat from the chaff is what a cicerone does. The Mortgage Cicerone does it with humor, eloquence, and aplomb.

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  • 5 comments

    Can Loudoun County Assessor Todd Kaufman tell me what to say and not to say?

    Can Loudoun County Assessor Todd Kaufman Tell Me What to Say and Not Say? Sure he can. There is no law anywhere in America that says Todd Kaufman’s rules about what Realtors writing Kaufman's Oversized Haloon a blog should not write have to be limited to Loudoun County residents (Realtors). Some people don’t even know who Todd Kaufman is and that is going to change. Fast. Todd
    Kaufman (for those who just got off the banana boat) is the County Assessor for Loudoun County Virgina. Todd didn’t like what Realtor Danilo Bogdanovic wrote on his blog and attempted to shut Danilo up by making stupid threats about ethics complaints and possible legal action.

    Near the end, Todd included the following in his Threat Letter to Danilo:

    The Office of the County Attorney, the management team of your office, the Chairman of the NVAR, and the Chairman and CEO of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors are copied in this correspondence.

    I like it. A lot. It puts Danilo on notice that Todd isn’t to be trifled with, not even a little bit. Todd had already fired this salvo:

    I will address that issue through the process provided by the NAR if the misleading information is not immediately removed from your site.

    Was what Danilo Bogdanovic posted on his blog about the amount of property tax that should be collected correct? I don’t know. I don’t care. If Danilo was in error then the right thing to do is to (with specifics, please)  correct the error with factual information. Pretty simple, really. Not to Todd Kaufman. No, Todd starts off by making threats.

    Good news for Todd Kaufman. I believe that if Todd Kaufman has the right (duty?) to keep Danilo in line, he owes that to me and the rest of you reading this, as well. If Todd is going to threaten Danilo and his broker with legal action or complaints to the NAR, I want him to threaten me that way too. In fact, I insist on it. He wants to accuse Danilo and his broker of being “unprofessional” per the NAR Code of Ethics – well how about ME? Just the pictures I am posting in this post ought to qualify me for a Threat From Todd (TFT) ™ too. If the picture above didn’t do it for you, Todd, try this one.Kaufman Horse's Ass 2

    Is calling you a horse’s ass unprofessional? Does that violate the Code of Ethics? Will you write to me or my broker with a TFT? If so, here is my contact information. Send your Shut Up Letter to me there.

    There actually is something else you might want to consider. An apology to Danilo. A public (and sincere) apology. You owe him one. If you are man enough to admit you were in the wrong and step up and openly admit you were out of line to write the letters / emails that you have written and sent – you have a clean way out of this. Otherwise, I have to conclude that not only were you in the wrong to make snide comments and threats but that to start off that way tells me something. One of three things is true here. 1. You personally have something to hide, which is why you didn’t want any posts blathering about tax rates. 2., you are a self-important moron. Number 3., is you come to your senses and recant. That is what smart and decent people do when they are wrong. They don’t go on trying to “be right”. They just do right.

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  • 37 comments

    The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

    Only seven entries on the short list this week, but the long list was barely 25 posts. Vote for the People’s Choice Award here. You can use the voting interface to see each nominated post, so comparison is easy.

    Ahem: Please don’t spam all your friends to come and vote for you. First, what we’re interested in is what is popular among people who would have been voting anyway. And second, I’ll eliminate you for cheating. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Voting runs through to 12 Noon MST Monday. I’ll announce the winners of this week’s awards soon thereafter.

    Here is this week’s short-list of Odysseus Medal nominees:

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own weblog entry or any post you admire here.

    Technorati Tags: , ,

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  • 4 comments

    Unchained Social Networking: Setting Up a Facebook Profile

    I was a latecomer to Facebook. I was an early adopter of MySpace and, as a marketer, still prefer the open access to user data MySpace provides. Facebook profiles are “closed” to the public unless you have a “connection”. As a user you may love that but as a marketer it’s a little bit annoying.

    Facebook is better for social networking with contacts and/or friends than MySpace. They encourage independent developers to create applications for Facebook users. Facebook is much more “geeky” inasmuch as you can customize your profile with widgets while MySpace does not. It is a great resource for pure “pull” marketers; we (if you are playing my game) are not pure “pull” marketers; we gently push people.

    Facebook’s closed access reminds me of the original LinkedIn gated access feature. LinkedIn realized that the gated access feature inhibited utility so I suspect that Facebook will ease it’s restrictions in the near future.

    Once in, the applications ARE terrific. You can throw sheep at your friends, “poke” them, and do other adolescent things if you wish (but we don’t care about them). Some of the useful professional applications for our kind are are RSS feeds to a blog, CribFinders, etc.

    Let’s get started. Go to www.Facebook.com

    1- Click the green “sign up” button

    2- Let’s stick with the personal profile. The “business” profile has limited reach. Fill out your name AND “at a company” in the drop down menu. This is important because you may have a greater reach across “networks” if you work for a large franchisor, like Keller Williams. Use your professional e-mail address; that determines your access. Fill out your password selection, birthdate, and captchka, and hit SIGN UP.

    3- Retrieve your confirmation e-mail and click the activation link.

    4- Use the “Find Friends” link and import your address book. It’s safe; they don’t e-mail your friends nor store that data. You control the invitations. When you’re finished, click “next”.

    5- Populate the profile information. Entering your company data and alumni affiliations are important to future networking capabilities.

    6- Click “save”- Pick your city network and click “join”

    7- Now, you can edit your profile by clicking through. If you want to join an alumni or company network, Facebook requires you to have an approved e-mail for that school or company.

    8- Two applications I consider a must: Blog RSS Feed and CribFinders.

    9- You MUST add Rodney Rumford; he’s the Facebook marketing guru. You should add me (and throw a sheep at me).

    ALSO READ: Technology is a TOOL Not a Solution

    Unchained Social Networking: Setting Up A LinkedIn Profile

    NEXT UP: MySpace Profiles

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  • 6 comments

    Attempted Censorship of a real estate blogger in Virginia

    Right or wrong? What do you think?

    Update 12/30/2007: The Broker stands her ground and defends the agent. This should prove very interesting.

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  • 42 comments

    Updating WordPress for the New Year: Just because we’re living in an ethereal world, it doesn’t mean there’s no house-keeping

    I’m upgrading eight of the weblogs we host this weekend. That’s not all the weblogs we host, just the ones that are currently being maintained on at least a semi-regular basis. The single-property-web-sites we’ve done as weblogs are languishing in neglect.

    These are the blogs I’m hitting:

    • BloodhoundBlog.com
    • BloodhoundBlog.TV
    • BloodhoundRealty.com
    • DistinctivePhoenix.com
    • PRETExchange.com
    • RealEstateWeblogging101.com
    • TheBrickRanch.com
    • TooMuchVegas.com

    I’m bringing this up for two reasons.

    First, if you have privileges on any of those weblogs, watch for potentially significant changes between now and tomorrow morning. Two of them are running WP 2.0.10, and only one was running 2.3.1 until I started updating. Plus which, I’m updating and standardizing all the plug-ins. Let me know if you detect anything broken.

    Second, I need an easier way of doing this. I expect that WP Multi-User already does this, but sometime soon I’m going to see if I can make WordPress run multiple installations from something like a common code-base. In other words, I would like to be able to update eight (or more) weblogs with one FTP upload. I would like to be able to update a plug-in one time and have that update apply to every weblog we host. I’ve got a lot on my plate between now and Unchained, but I’ll see what I can come up with.

    And this entire post is a hint to you. This is a good time to look over your weblog and see what needs to be updated.

    In particular, the year is about to change. If you have the words “Copyright 2007″ somewhere in your weblog (it’s often found in the footer), you can change that copy to this:

    Copyright <?php echo date('Y'); ?>

    The PHP “echo” command will echo the current year forever. You’ll never have to change the date again.

    Of the eight weblogs listed above, six are done. I have to go show and I don’t plan to do BHB and TheBrickRanch until late tonight, anyway. Should be duck soup, but if something looks hosed to you in the wee hours, tilt your head to the southwest and I’ll teach you how to swear.

    Technorati Tags: , , ,

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  • 8 comments

    Best of the worst: BloodhoundBlog’s most popular posts for 2007

    Here’s a comment that got deleted earlier tonight, a pearl of wisdom issued from one orifice or another by a less-than-brilliant pundit who chose to keep his or her identity concealed. The soul and substance of this partial portion of wit:

    this is easily the worst blog on the RE.net

    Todd Seavey wrote a brilliant essay this week on the nature of this kind of drive-by malice, but ours is a very special kind of misanthrope. For our anonymous abortive commenter is so well versed in the greater and the lesser, the better and the worse, the ridiculous and the sublime of the RE.net that he or she seems not to know that I coined the term ‘RE.net’.

    “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” Indeed. I know from a lifetime’s experience that I bring out the worst of the bad in people. That much requires no special effort on my part. I strive, when I remember to think about it, to bring out the best of the good in people, as well. And while BloodhoundBlog is not “easily the worst blog on the RE.net,” we have a colorable if not utterly incontestable claim to being the best of our breed. And if we are not beyond all doubt the very best, it is certainly not for the lack of effort.

    Witness: These are the top 25 most popular BloodhoundBlog posts for 2007, expressed in terms of hard clicks:

    1. What’s Wrong with zipRealty? by Russell Shaw
    2. HR 3915 Is Dangerous by Brian Brady
    3. HR 3915: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007 by Brian Brady
    4. More on the iPhone… by Greg Swann
    5. Is the Subprime Mortgage Market the next Enron? by Brian Brady
    6. How to make Google your weblog’s best friend… by Greg Swann
    7. HARD MONEY: Life as a Legal Loan Shark by Brian Brady
    8. The Countrywide Federal Bailout Act of 2008 by Brian Brady
    9. 401(k)’s IRA’s & Urban Myths by Jeff Brown
    10. Redfin.com’s Real Estate Consumer’s Bill of Rights: A wolf in sheepskin clothing… by Greg Swann
    11. Game Time: What Are Your Favorite Real Estate Slogans? by Dan Green
    12. Subprime Loans Disappeared? Learn How to be a Hard Money Loan Broker by Brian Brady
    13. San Diego Fire Update — It’s Now Approaching Historical — 10% of Population Evacuated by Jeff Brown
    14. Digital real estate photography: Which photographer? Which camera? by Greg Swann
    15. Project City Center in Las Vegas: Now that’s a model home! by Greg Swann
    16. Hillary Clinton and Rotarian Socialism: What’s wrong with the NAR? by Greg Swann
    17. Arizona Board of Appraisal to Zillow.com: In your Zestimation, does this posturing make us look stupid? by Greg Swann
    18. 60 Minutes’ Redfin.com story delivers 400 hits in 60 minutes flat… by Greg Swann
    19. BAD LOANS: Buried In The Back Of The BreadBox by Brian Brady
    20. Disingenuous Diatribe: Compliance is Crap-It’s About the Cash by Brian Brady
    21. Realtor.com Pencil Sharpener by Russell Shaw
    22. Bank Relationships vs. Mortgage Brokers by Michael Cook
    23. The Right Time to Buy: An Investor Perspective by Michael Cook
    24. Why The Traditional Real Estate Model Is Fading Away by Jeff Brown
    25. Planet Zillow.com: Burgeoning Realty.bot grows, potentially, to become a self-sustaining residential real estate eco-system by Greg Swann

    How popular is popular? The last post on the list had almost 1,100 hard clicks. Russell’s post on Zip Realty has become the samizdat of Zip with over 15,000 hard clicks and 240 comments.

    But: Hard clicks are not the ideal measure of popularity for a weblog like ours. We have a great many RSS and email subscribers, so a hard click can often be a measure of attention coming from sources we cannot rely on every day.

    Here’s a different measure of popularity, the top 25 most commented-upon BloodhoundBlog posts for 2007:

    1. What’s Wrong with zipRealty? by Russell Shaw
    2. Disingenuous Diatribe: Compliance is Crap-It’s About the Cash by Brian Brady
    3. Real Estate Bloggers — Why Are You Blogging? What Currency Does Your Banker Accept? by Jeff Brown
    4. Keeping Up With What Frank Doesn’t Know — Earth Round — Circles Sun by Jeff Brown
    5. The Countrywide Federal Bailout Act of 2008 by Brian Brady
    6. Arizona Board of Appraisal to Zillow.com: In your Zestimation, does this posturing make us look stupid? by Greg Swann
    7. House Agents — Wanna Start the New Year Kickin’ Ass? Here’s How by Jeff Brown
    8. HR 3915: Open Letter to Senator Dodd from a Veteran Mortgage Originator by Brian Brady
    9. If there is no Realtor monopoly — then what explains the commission structure? by Michael Cook
    10. A world fit to be conquered: Five steps to total real estate listing dominance by Greg Swann
    11. Is the Subprime Mortgage Market the next Enron? by Brian Brady
    12. Realtor.com Pencil Sharpener by Russell Shaw
    13. BOHICA…and this time it is Trulia by Eric Blackwell
    14. Wanna Go North? Stop Heading South. by Brian Brady
    15. Cathy’s drama: Photos from the whatever-it-takes school of listing by Greg Swann
    16. Lani Anglin’s brother’s children lost their father yesterday. Here’s what you can do to help… by Greg Swann
    17. Defending Redfin: Sweet Digs weblog buried by inane MLS rules by Greg Swann
    18. Third-party vendors pick up where the NAR leaves off: Milking the Realtors dry by Greg Swann
    19. Podcast with Redfin.com CEO Glenn Kelman: “We’re looking for nerds living in nice houses” by Kris Berg
    20. From forty links to infinity: Apprehending the full scope of the RE.net by Greg Swann
    21. Lessons Learned While Watching American Idol by Jeff Turner
    22. Redfin.com’s Real Estate Consumer’s Bill of Rights: A wolf in sheepskin clothing . . . by Greg Swann
    23. 401(k)’s IRA’s & Urban Myths by Jeff Brown
    24. No committee will ever make the Cluetrain run on time by Greg Swann
    25. Mademoiselle? Oui. La Spinster?…ZUT! by Geno Petro

    We are nothing “easily,” I promise you, and although the web is rife with advice on EZ weblogging — EZ reading, EZ writing, EZ obscurity — we’ve achieved what we have by means of dogged determination and hard work. And here comes another year. We intend to run — in 2008 and always — at the head of the pack. We’re delighted to have you with us, but we’ll be expecting you to keep the pace.

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  • 10 comments

    A potentially canonical list of weblog naming ideas

    I updated the potentially canonical list of real estate weblogs yesterday for the first time since June. One of the benefits of delay is that I get to see who didn’t make it in the long run, saving me some work. Hope is easy. Weblogging is hard.

    In any case, I added a form to the page to make it simpler (and, one may hope, quicker) to add, change or remove entries from the list.

    Here are two ideas that occurred to me while I was sifting through 3,000 un-dealt-with emails (of all sorts, not just real estate weblogs):

    1. Naming your weblog with an image instead of CSS-styled text is probably a bad idea. We’re guilty of this at DistinctivePhoenix.com, but it’s something I’ll fix the next time I go after that weblog in a big way.
    2. Naming your weblog with your most potentially-valuable keyword is probably a very good idea. Here we’re entirely off the reservation. With the exception of RealEstateWeblogging101.com, nothing I’ve ever done is right. But the value of having your most valuable keyword as your URL is so rich that it might be worth your while, if you don’t already have a lot of traction, to consider starting over with a new domain name.

    RealEstateWeblogging101.com is a complete category-killer, and Dave Smith is studying it extensively. It’s interesting to Dave because it’s built entirely in WordPress “Pages,” with almost no ordinary weblog message content.

    The name of that weblog is an image, also, not styled text, but, of course, the title of each post and the name of the weblog are encoded in the title tag of each page. There’s something else we’re doing on all of those pages: The title of each weblog post or WordPress “Page” is shown twice, once as the heading of the content and once on the “blackboard” at the top of the page. I don’t know if that is making a huge difference with Google, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting anything.

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  • 6 comments

    Thank You Seth: “Why not be great?”

    In his last post of the year, Seth Godin visits the archives to pull out a piece of encouragement that has never rang more true in our industry until this year.  Read his whole post and get excited about 2008.

    From Seth’s post on Why not be great?

    Are these crazy times? You bet they are. But so were the days when we were doing duck-and-cover air-raid drills in school, or going through the scares of Three Mile Island and Love Canal. There will always be crazy times.

    So stop thinking about how crazy the times are, and start thinking about what the crazy times demand. There has never been a worse time for business as usual. Business as usual is sure to fail, sure to disappoint, sure to numb our dreams. That’s why there has never been a better time for the new. Your competitors are too afraid to spend money on new productivity tools. Your bankers have no idea where they can safely invest. Your potential employees are desperately looking for something exciting, something they feel passionate about, something they can genuinely engage in and engage with.

    You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide.

    Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that’s to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?

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  • 1 comment

    Speaking in tongues: Dynamically updated lists of links in PHP

    Let’s get dynamic, shall we? There are a lot of things you can say about PHP — and some of them are even safe for work. But, at bottom, PHP is a working stiff’s programming language for producing dynamic web pages.

    What’s a dynamic web page? It’s a page that reflects a user’s actions or editing without requiring manual editing of each little line of HTML. In the world of AJAX coding, web pages are becoming so dynamic that they seem to mimic the behavior of stand-alone complied applications. Calm down. We’re not going to do anything that sexy. And while we will actually be introducing real bona fide PHP programming in this post, you can dial down the palpitations: We will be doing precisely one line of PHP programming. Everything else will be familiar old HTML.

    Okay then: Go take a look at this article on HR 3915. Brian Brady wrote that post, and it was one of our most popular entries this year. BloodhoundBlog is the home of big stories on the RE.net, and, when we cover a big story, I do everything I can to make sure that readers — especially readers arriving from search engines or by hard clicks from non-RE.net sites — don’t miss the full extent of our coverage.

    So, if you scroll down in that post, you’ll see a bullet list of links to other posts with the heading “More on HR 3915.”

    That list of links is done with PHP.

    The actual list is simply a file of plain vanilla HTML — no PHP programming. The file for this list of links is called HR3915.php. It looks like this:

    &nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br><B><I>More on HR
    3915:</I></B><UL>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.mortgageratesreport.com/2007/11/
    15/daily-kos-on-hr-3915-mortgage-industry-set-to"
    target="_blank">Daily Kos on HR 3915: Mortgage
    Industry Set To</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2217" target="_blank">HR 3915:
    Why Federally-Chartered Banks Get The Pass</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2200" target="_blank">HR 3915:
    Open Letter to Senator Dodd from a Veteran
    Mortgage Originator</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.mortgageratesreport.com/2007/11/
    08/hr-3915-legislating-to-armageddon"
    target="_blank">HR 3915- Legislating to
    Armageddon</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://blownmortgage.com/2007/11/07/hr-3915-
    mortgage-reform-bill-passes-committee-with-
    important-changes/" target="_blank">H.R. 3915
    Mortgage Reform Bill Passes Committee with
    Important Changes</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2176" target="_blank">HR 3915:
    Anti-Consumer Bank Protection Act of 2007</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2153" target="_blank">HR 3915:
    Exploring the Minds of the Enablers</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2112" target="_blank">HR 3915 Is
    Dangerous</a>
    <li><a
    href="http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/
    BloodhoundBlog/?p=2103" target="_blank">HR 3915:
    Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of
    2007</a>
    </UL>

    (It’s cleaner than that in real life. I had to introduce line breaks to keep it from screwing up this page.)

    Okay, so that much is easy. You write lists like this all the time. But what’s the point of putting the list out in its own file on the server?

    By doing it this way, I can make a dynamically updating list of related links. Every time I want to add another link, I just edit the file, adding another entry to the list, and FTP it up to the server. Each of the relevant posts on BloodhoundBlog “includes” that list (we’ll talk about how in a moment). So every time I edit the file, each one of the affected posts reflects those edits without my having to do anything to them. The Project Blogger and the Divorced Commissions lists of links are huge, but I can dynamically update every affected post just by editing the respective link files.

    Okayfine. How does it work?

    First, you’ll need to download and install the RunPHP WordPress plug-in. There are other PHP plug-ins out there, and none are perfect, but RunPHP is the best for the kind of work we’re doing. Note that you only need a PHP plug-in to run PHP within “The Loop,” the section of PHP code in your WordPress installation that interrogates the MySQL database for each successive message to be displayed. In the header, the footer and the sidebar, you can run PHP without a plug-in. You can even run it within the loop from your WordPress PHP files (BloodhoundBlog does a ton of this). What you cannot do, without a PHP plug-in, is put PHP programming code within the body of a post (or the content of a WordPress “Page”). Without the plug-in, WordPress will display what it can of your PHP code as text and throw away the rest.

    Once you have the RunPHP plug-in installed, hit the “run PHP code” check-box in your post. Then all you need to do to add a list of links to your weblog entry is add this one line of code to the body of the post:

    < ?PHP
    include("http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/HR3915.php");
    ?>

    In that particular case, you would be adding the list of HR 3195 links — and this will work if you’ve done everything right.

    But, presumably, you would want to make your own link of lists — or your own HTML code of any sort. Your PHP code might look like this:

    < ?PHP include("http://www.MyServer.com/MyLinks.php"); ?>

    The angle brackets are a given in HTML. “?PHP” and “?” denote the start and end of PHP code to the parser. The “include” command simply tells PHP to include that file at run time. This really is programming, so spelling and punctuation definitely count. Remember this: Real programmers copy and paste, typing only the changes.

    When it encounters that “include” command, PHP will open the file and blow the contents into the text stream just as if you had pasted the HTML into each post one at a time. This is the fundamental purpose of PHP: To programmatically produce or echo HTML on the fly. I’m using an absolute path to the file — in other words, the full server address — for maximum compatibility with RSS and other kinds of syndication. A local path (no server name) would probably work, but I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy. My attitude is, “Why take a chance?”

    Anyway, that’s it. One plug-in, one line of PHP programming and a dynamically updatable file of content you want to spread across any number of posts. We do this once a month, at least, sometimes a lot more often.

    This is simple stuff, harder to explain than to execute. So do execute it. Play with it. See what you can make happen. In coming days we’ll talk about other cool ways of using “include” to build easy-to-use, fault-free web pages.

     
    Getting in touch with your inner geek:

    Want more? Real Estate Weblogging 101 will speak to your inner geek. And if you want even more than that, be sure to join us for BloodhoundBlog Unchained.

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  • 16 comments

    Unchained melodies — Fighter

    Teri Lussier wants you to know that she does so have an attitude. This is Christina Aguilera with Fighter:


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    Unchained Social Networking: Setting Up A LinkedIn Profile

    LinkedIn is the first social network I joined. I received an invitation in 2003. Back then, the network was dominated by tech types networking for jobs. I set up a profile and was BLOWN AWAY by the rich user-provided content. I was a National Sales Manager, in 2003, and new to San Diego. I used LinkedIn to connect with loan originators (to recruit) and potential clients (the refinance craze was underway in 2003).

    Unchained Rule #1 of Social Networking: Bridge the Digital Divide

    Jeff Brown is a master at this. If Jeff makes a connection, on the internet, he does some homework (click through to a blog, Googles their name) to see if there is potential synergy. Jeff then calls them and introduces himself.

    I did the same thing in 2003. I keyword searched, on LinkedIn, to see if I could find Villanova alumni, Knights of Columbus, and independent stockbrokers in Southern California. The first two were affinity groups and the latter was my ideal referral source. I Googled the potential prospect’s name and found contact information for them. I called and introduced myself to them IN A NON-THREATENING, LOW KEY manner. The responses ranged from annoyance to acceptance, heavily laden with surprise. Most tech people were communicating through the “gated-access” approach that was the signature of Linked In. I had more success than failure with my “digital bridge” call. If you’re polite and professional, most users respond well.

    Okay, let’s get you set up. Click here to get to the start page. This will open in a new window so you can follow along with my instructions.

    1- Click the yellow “Join Now” button at the bottom of the page.

    2- Fill out the contact information. Use your primary, professional e-mail address. Click the “Join LinkedIn” button.

    3- Fill out the user survey for how you might use LinkedIn- click “Save Settings”

    4- Start building your network three ways:

    a- import your e-mail contacts (extremely safe and they don’t spam anyone)

    b-”Reconnect” with past colleagues through a company search

    c- Find former classmates

    5- Now, click on the “My Profile” button, at the top, and fill out your profile. LinkedIn has added a photo upload. Think of this as an online resume. I have found it best to limit this to your last ten years. The content you enter will aid others in their searches to connect with you.

    6- Here’s the cool part. Use the recommendations feature. I have found that when you recommend someone you know, they reciprocate. It’s better to give first and hope for reciprocation.

    7- If you maintain a weblog, fill out the “additional information” section; it gives you three places to place links, including website, weblog, and RSS feeds.

    8- LinkedIn Q&A is an excellent way to build up expertise in the community. Answer and ask questions for your network.

    LinkedIn is the stuffiest of all the social networks; it’s really a professional network. Keep that in mind as you connect with people there. Certainly, add me as your first contact (and write me a recommendation).

    Good Luck!

    ALSO READ: Technology is a TOOL Not a Solution

    NEXT UP: Facebook Profiles

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  • 2 comments

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