TenthOfMarch Reviews Advertlets From The Inside (Part One)

I did mentioned that I will be reviewing Advertlets after I am done with Nuffnang. Doing so must have given Advertlets some advantage over Nuffnang. There have been boastful moments where Advertlets proudly show off the ‘front-end’ of their website — state-of-the-art poll, Web 2.0, demographic etc. With all that in mind, I approached the review with high expectations of what lie behind the login page.

Let’s start off by registering an account. As usual, the interface looks nice with all the rounded edges. The only thing that looks “old” is the “Register” button and the dropdownlist. However, what bugs me the most is the way the form is formatted. In Java we call it the “FlowLayout“. What it does is you put an element in the form on the right of the previous element. You repeat the step until there is no space left, then you start with a new line. That’s exactly how they have formatted this form. This is a very lazy way to format the form. Even the length of the textbox for the “Blog Address” is too short.

Registration Form Layout Not Organized

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Rearrange this form to look more organized. The “Password” and “Verify password” textbox should be side-by-side or one on top of the other. The textbox for “Blog Address” must be at least twice longer. Change the “Register” button and maybe the two dropdownlist to look more “Web 2.0″.


After completing the form, I clicked on the “Register” button. To my surprise, I was greeted by nothing but a plain popup that says, “Registration Successful“. Once again, this is very dull, and may I add, LAZY! You could at least redirect me to a proper page with the appropriate messages.

Registration Successful Message

So I checked my mailbox for a confirmation e-mail but there were no new mails. I checked again for the next 5 minutes, but still no new mail. I had a very bad feeling in my stomach. I tried to login with the username and password that I created a while ago, and I was logged in. I was SHOCKED! Few weeks back they said they had a DDOS attack. And now they have an open registration without a verification system? Aren’t they afraid? Anyone with some basic knowledge of HTML can create a script to fill up their database with junk accounts using fake e-mail addresses in 5 minutes.

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Create a better looking confirmation page. A javascript popup is a bit too lazy, don’t you think? Add a layer of registration verification where users have to reply or click on an activation link before their account is created.


I wasn’t satisfied with their registration process. In fact, I had a feeling that there are more things to be discovered in this area. Therefore, I did some further testing. This is when I registered a second account with them. I inserted the same details as the first account (ie. same username, e-mail, blog address, name etc). Again, I was greeted with a dull looking error page that should only be seen by the programmer, and NEVER the end users. Honestly, pages such as these are amateurish. It’s like a shoddy work of an undergrad.

[If there's any IT undergrad reading this and is offended, I'm sorry. I know most of you can do better than this.]

Duplicate Error

Their system rejected my registration because I inserted the same username. Of course! So I change the username (other details remain the same), and tried registering again. To my surprise, it was accepted. Some of you may ask, “So what?” For those who have some knowledge in IT, you’ll know that it is a good practice to refrain a user from registering two seperate accounts using the same e-mail address and blog URL. This is yet another shoddy work with no effort put into designing a proper system at all. I have just done the same test on Nuffnang’s system and they work as I had suggested.

Invalid Username Or Password Popup

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Change the e-mail and blog URL fields to accept only unique values. There should not be duplicate values for those two fields. Create a proper error page with information and links for the user to retry the registration process if their attempt fails.


Confident that I would find more shoddy works, I tested how their system would react to invalid username and password combinations. Sure enough, I was only greeted with a javascript popup that says, “Invalid Username / Wrong Password“. And after clicking the “OK” button, I was staring at a blank white screen. What the …? You should have redirected me to a page where I can retry to login process. And don’t ask me to use the damn “Back” button. The proper way is to display a page for the user to try again, not a damn blank screen.

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Create a proper error page with information and links for user to retry their login process.


BUG Of The Century

I actually found out this bug right before I published this post. It has to be the bug of the century. I wonder if the programmers behind Advertlets are trying to fool the users or themselves. I tested this twice (I have 4 accounts with Advertlets now), therefore I am very certain it’s a bug.

In the registration form, we are required to insert a password into the “Password” textbox. Then, we need to verify the password by typing it again into the “Verify Password” textbox. What ‘every-normal-system‘ would do is to make sure BOTH the passwords matches before the registration process can be completed. If the user mistype the passwords, an error message must be alerted requesting the user to retype the password.

However, I tried registering an account by inserting passwords that doesn’t match (hoping that the system will reject my registration). To my horror, ADVERTLETS’ SYSTEM ACCEPTED IT! :lol: OMG……I can’t believe this.

TenthOfMarch recommends:
You know what to do.


After successfully logging into their system, I immediately found more amateur works. The basic principle of a website is to show links for a user to login or register before they login into the system. However, after the user has logged in, those two links must be removed and replaced with a logout link. I remember back then, some of my weaker coursemates will make mistakes like these. However, to catch a company with experienced programmers making mistakes like this — priceless.

Parts Of The Page That Should Be Removed

TenthOfMarch recommends:
After a user has logged into the system, remove those links circled in the picture above.


I’m finally logged into their system. So far, my experience using their system has been a lousy one. I don’t believe any company should launch their website if they are not ready. In this case, I believe Advertlets’ website lacks the most basic design and functionality any websites should have. It doesn’t matter if they are still in Beta. These are the basic needs for a website. It’s like going to work without brushing your teeth and combing your hair. You may still produce good results, but you stink and look like crap.

I’ll continue with the part two of my review soon. Without revealing any details of my next review, I suggest to those who have an account with Advertlets to change their password ASAP. You must heed this advice especially if you use the same password for all your accounts (eg. e-mail, Friendster, online banking etc.). I’m not trying to create chaos but after seeing all these shoddy amateurish work, I have reasons to believe there is a TINY / MICRO possibility your password may be vulnerable. I’ll explain later. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Until then…

SiteMeter Installing SpyWare In Your Website?

I must be the last person on earth to know of this news. Have you heard that SiteMeter installed cookies that tracks your visitor’s browsing history and sent the information to a third party without your consent?

StatCounter Says NO!I notice it when I saw a message above the login area in StatCounter’s website that says, “NEWS: StatCounter Says NO!” I was curious as to what did StatCounter said no to? I clicked on the link and it brought me to StatCounter’s blog. That’s when I realize the news broke out almost 3 weeks ago! Talk about being slow.

StatCounter stated that they were approached by an advertiser and was offered big bucks to place a spyware cookie in all their member’s website. So what was StatCounter’s reply? “We refused on the spot“. Good for them! I knew there were something ‘special’ about them when I chose them to track my visitors.

I am quoting the following text from their blog:

We were shocked to discover just today that another well known stats provider is allowing up to 9 cookies to be installed in the browser of every visitor that hits one of their member websites. This means that the provider is making money by transmitting data on you and your visitors to a third party advertiser. Not only that, but to add insult to injury, the cookies are causing the member websites to load very slowly too.

I didn’t know it was SiteMeter at first because StatCounter did not mention the name of the other counter in their blog. However, I had a feeling that it could be SiteMeter. Maybe because I can’t think of any other MAJOR stat counters out there. LOL. Anyway, I googled away and found out a few blog post that confirmed my initial guessing — here, here and here.

There are over 800 comments posted in StatCounter’s blog. I briefly read through maybe 5% of it and found this comment that caught my attention. Posted by Melanie Kozik, it states, “You made an ethical decision and in light of todays world, most companies do not do that – especially when money is on the table“.

I couldn’t agree more. In the world of business these days, I believe the word ‘ethics‘ hardly exist! It’s all about the money. And for that, I give my full support to StatCounter. I guess, as Digi puts it, “It’s time to change!“?

TenthOfMarch Reviews Nuffnang From The Inside (Part Two)

Part two is finally ready! In the first part of my review on Nuffnang from the inside, I mentioned that I found bugs in their system. On the next day, I immediately fired up an e-mail to notify Timothy from Nuffnang about some of my findings and waited for his reply. To get a clearer meaning of a computer bug, I am quoting the definition of a computer software bug from wikipedia.

“A software bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from behaving as intended (e.g., producing an incorrect result).”

The “bug” I found is that the system is actually tracking my (the nuffnang member’s) own visits. Now before I continue, I would like to mention that this is quite a “subjective bug“. As wikipedia puts it, a bug is only considered a bug when it prevents the system from behaving as intended thus producing an incorrect result. Therefore, it is not a bug if that is how Nuffnang planned to have the tracker to work. However, I personally feel that the tracker should not track my (the nuffnang member’s) own visits. The reason being some members may manipulate their unique visitors and hits a day by visiting their own blog.

Timothy replied:
We actually have the ability to NOT count your own unique visits but we don’t implement that for a few reasons. The most important of all is, since we charge advertisers and pay bloggers based on their unique visits, it would not particularly be fair to exclude the blogger’s own visit from there. After all, when an advertiser placed an ad on your blog, you of all people will be the first to notice the ad, so why shouldn’t the advertiser pay for the ad that’s served to you?

Secondly, you will find that we have taken great pains to build a very sophisticated counter. Unlike many statcounters out there, we have a 2-factor authentication way of tracking not only by cookies but also based on other information we get from users anything from Screen Resolution to even Geographic area in Malaysia.

Timothy went on to explain in detail on how their tracking system works and how it would prevent members from manipulating the statistics. This part of the explanation is not disclosed to protect their privacy. However, what I can tell the users are, forget about trying to manipulate your unique visitor statistics because it probably won’t work. As for Nuffnang’s current and future advertisers, rest assured that your money is well spent on legitimate visitors.


Next, clicking on the hot blogger model brings me to the blogger login page. I notice a ‘minor feature’ that was missing. Forcing me to click on the textfield before typing is a big pain-in-the-wrist and can get a bit frustrating sometimes. It is almost like an unwritten rule that a page should automatically focus on the textfield upon load. Gmail, Google, Friendster, Dictionary.com, Youtube and others does it. Why don’t you?

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Focus the cursor on the e-mail textfield once the page is loaded.


Nuffnang’s Blogger ModelAfter logging into the system, it was an immediate disappointment. Nevermind the simple looking interface, where did my blogger model go? I had this mental picture that she would be ‘escorting’ me into my admin area, while showing me different posses as I go through the different menus. However, it did not happen … it did not happen. *shakes-head-in-full-disappointment*

TenthOfMarch recommends:
You should … ahhh, nevermind. It’s not like you will do it anyway.


I notice an inconsistency with their logos. Sometimes the stickman looks ‘taller’. Sometimes the logo fonts look bigger. Sometimes there are bigger white spaces between the lines. Sometimes there is a trademark (TM) sign. Sometimes the stickman is on the left, sometimes it is on the right and sometimes it disappears (member admin area).

Inconsistent logos

TenthOfMarch recommends:
I think it is part of a branding practice that you should have consistency in your logos. Unless your plan is that your stickman gets to ‘run around as he wishes’, I suggest creating a finalized design and stick to it.


Time to find a banner for my blog. There are three types of banners up for offer — Leaderboard (728 x 90), Large Rectangle (336 X 280) and Skyscraper (160 X 900). What baffled me was whether the earnings for the three banners are different (eg. Leaderboard banner earns more than Large Rectangle). There was no indication that you earn more or less by using a particular banner. So I guess it’s the same for all three?

Anyway, I was planning on putting a banner in one of my sidebars. Since I have two sidebars, I guess it won’t interrupt my blog navigations much. However, I almost had a heart attack when I saw their skyscraper banner. It is 900-pixel tall! Then I realized a note that says, “Shrinks to one unit if ad slots not used“. That is about 200-300 pixels per slot, small enough. Come to think of it, I don’t mind having 3 advertisers using up the whole 900-pixels. I DO GET PAID 3 times more, don’t I?


After clicking on the “Finished” button at the “Add ads” page, I notice a ‘strange number’ at the top left of the page. “805“. Damn, if it had 4 digits I would have bought TOTO already.

Strange number on the top left

Timothy replied:
We put it there sometimes when we’re running tests on our system. It’s not a bug, just something that helps us keep track of things when we’re running tests.

Should have guessed so. I remember myself doing that quite often — printing outputs on the screen just to check if some results are correct. Come to think about it, that could be the number of bloggers that has already signed up with them. What do you think?


I don’t like the way their navigation menu works. When you click on a menu, “Analytics” for example, there is no indication that the “Analytics” menu is selected. I guess they try to compensate it by including the ‘menu-selected’ in the submenu. Although the ‘menu-selected’ in the submenu is not clickable, it is confusing and WEIRD!
Redundant Submenu

TenthOfMarch recommends:
Highlight the menu when it is selected. You can use the same colour as the one that appears when the mouse moves over it.


It takes forever to load the “Came From” and “Keywords” page from the “Analytics” menu. Why does it take such a long time? It reminded me of days surfing porn the Internet with a dialup. It is not a good user experience.

Timothy replied:
It’s slow because we have sooo many queries coming in at the same time it’s ridiculous. Yet, we’re working on optimizing our script on that end, you should feel the changes within the next couple of weeks. We’re also about to Ajax the analytics part which might make the experience a little more pleasant for our bloggers.

UPDATE: The guys at Nuffnang must have done some modifications to the code because the pages are loading a lot faster now.


In the “Came From” page, why is the list of referrals truncated?

Timothy replied:
When we first launched we had the full line of referrals but it was causing a bit of complication so we have since truncated. The solution to that problem is not difficult but we’ve decided to prioritize on things that are more important e.g. the optimizing of our code.

UPDATE: Modified.


To summarize:
Overall, the interface of the system is simple. However, the most important thing is to get the ball rolling. Their system works and delivers all the necessary functions. They are already in their 3rd (?) week of advertisement campaign. A few advertisers have already invested in them. Their advertisers’ banners have been displayed in hundreds of blogs to date. And most importantly, a big group of bloggers has already started earning money! I’m kicking myself regretting not to have joined them earlier. Or else, I would have probably made a few ringgits by now. It could have been a lot more, who knows?

Nuffnang With A Brand New Look!

Tim did mention that they were working on a new look for Nuffnang. It took me by surprise when I saw their spanking new look. All I can say was, “WOW!! OMG!! NO WAY!!“. Haha! Those three words repeatedly came out from my mouth as I browse through their website.

Nuffnang Brand New Look

You have to check out their Login screen. I had a little problem finding the ‘login’ link at first. I was clicking on both the models…ALL OVER. ;-) But I guess the login link works differently now. It is located on the top right now. After clicking on it, “WOW WOW!!! NO WAY, WOW!!“.

Nuffnang Login Link

Now, that is truly a Web 2.0 feature, isn’t it? Finally we have a picture of the two founders of Nuffnang on their website!

About Nuffnang

Nuffnang will even sponsor blog related events! Wow! Can I organize one, please please please? :mrgreen:

Nuffnang Sponsorship For Blog Related Events

Now I am sure this is a slap in the face to the guys at Advertlets.

Something That Nuffnang Has And Advertlets Don’t

We have read so much about what Advertlets claim they have, that Nuffnang don’t. How they will boast about their state-of-the-art polls, Web 2.0 GRADIENT LOGO, how their logo seems more friendly, how their polls are customizable, etc etc etc. However, I can’t help but to notice something that Nuffnang HAS, that Advertlets DON’T — a “Featured Advertiser of the Month“. Need I say more? :twisted:

Josh, This Is Why I Approved Aw’s Comment

Honestly, I believe this post is totally unnecessary. But for the sake of you feeling a little better, I will do it anyway. This is a reply to why I approved aw’s comment.

Let me remind you of what happened. DevilsAdvocate left a very harsh statement that attacked Nuffnang. I approved his comment without censoring anything — just like I would on any other comments. But I found evidence that linked him to Advertlets.com many hours later. That is when I censored his comment due to, as you put it, “unwarranted personal attacks and specious claims“.

When I first read aw’s comments and before approving it, my reaction was, “Shit! Not another one! ARGGGHHH!!!“. After some ‘investigation’ I decided to approve his comment, simply because I found no evidence that he was anyhow linked to Nuffnang. Let’s just say aw is a die-hard fan of Nuffnang. That doesn’t mean his comment is considered “unwarranted personal attacks and specious claims”, right? Everyone has their rights to voice out themselves.

Josh, I am a computer science graduate. But I don’t claim that I am an expert or have the knowledge of a hacker. But I do know enough to ‘curb’ the average user’s attempt of any foul play. As for those who knows more than I do, I am completely defenseless against them. I am not perfect, Josh. I admit there is a big possibility that someone could have spoofed the IP, inserted a fake e-mail address, etc etc etc. But do I have to setup a team of expert hackers just to filter off my comments section to ensure 100% comments sent are in fact sent from the person they claim to be? Do I need to ask for I.C. numbers and a photocopy of their I.C. before they can comment in my blog? Honestly Josh, I do not have that kind of resources to setup all these ‘facilities’. Maybe you can allocate some of your resources to me? I would gladly accept it.

Look, I neither fully trust you, nor Tim and Ming. I have never even met any of you guys. Looks and words can be deceiving. Come to think of it, I don’t think I saw Ming’s photo before. Can someone point me some place where I can find it? Anyway, I have heard so much negative things said about you, Josh. As for Tim and Ming, I hardly recall any offensive report that was said about them. In fact, all I heard were praises. But that doesn’t mean I believe these ‘reports’ 100%. However they say, if there is smoke, there must be fire some where.

Reasons why I approved aw’s comment:

1. It is not an obligation to leave a website URL. And you know that.

2. I sent an e-mail to the address he provided and the e-mail did not bounced back. I know this is not 100% accurate but hey, any better suggestions? A “Reply to this e-mail” before I approve a comment?

3. His IP address is no where near anyone of the guys from Nuffnang. (Don’t even think about talking of IP spoofing)

4. There is no other indications that he was linked to Nuffnang.

5. If you look closely at his post, he spelled Advertlets as “Adverlets” (I guess he watched my video and thus misspelled it :lol: ), without the first ‘T‘. You may argue that it could be done on purpose, but come on. Give me a break. Call it biased or baseless but it is good enough for me.

6. Biased or not, as the owner of this blog, I get to do whatever I like in this blog. I paid for the domain and hosting for god’s sake! I don’t need to answer anything to anyone unless I want to. If you enjoy reading my blog, you are more than welcomed to come again. If you don’t, you know the way out.

7. I seriously wanted to see how you would react to his comment. I think others would too. :twisted:

Therefore, with my limited resources and capabilities that I have, I conclude that aw is not making any unwarranted personal attacks and specious claims. He is just another guy with an opinion. That is why I approved it. I know that there is ALWAYS A POSSIBILITY that I may be wrong, but I have done my best. I hope we can stop all this nonsense ASAP. I really want to continue writing my part two of the review on Nuffnang. It has been delayed for days now, I wonder if anyone still bothers about it anymore! LOL! Anyway, I hope you are happy with my explanation.

By the way, there is one thing that I have been wanting to do all this while. That is to update my categories section. I noticed I have been writing posts that doesn’t belong in any of the categories. And now just for you Josh, I am thinking of adding a new category — Josh Lim.