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Show HN: My new project - ask.io (ask.io)
206 points by ca98am79 1073 days ago | hide | past | web | 107 comments | favorite

I dig it. I actually submitted a potential favor, too. I like that you want to focus on a single idea each week, I like that it is small and specific (and finding later on the about page that the goal was to be small and specific was great, too.)

Some people are weirdly upset/dismissive because similar things exist in the world. I don't care about that whatsoever. With this small gesture (and great domain as ericabiz pointed out) you'll likely end up doing more for others on a weekly basis than you were before. Why would anyone ever be annoyed by that?

Good luck with the project.

> My wife is not well and was recently hospitalized, but her birthday is coming up. I think it would make her happy to receive a lot of birthday cards. Could you please send her a birthday card?

Wait, so your wife is sick and you think a lot of cards from random strangers will cheer her up? In my experience, that's rarely how wives (or for that matter: husbands) work.

I'm all for random acts of kindness... not too sure about soliciting them.

> That's rarely how wifes work.

Sigh...sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't change my username to "tokenwoman", a la "tokenadult". :P

This should go without saying, but not all "wifes" (sp) work the same. I had surgery recently and I would have loved this. Plus, I think it's awesome that the OP managed to score ask.io--a great, short domain name--and is using it for charitable purposes. Cool!

Also, I think I'd have enough trust and faith in OP that either:

1) His wife is aware of this and is supportive of it and/or 2) He knows his wife well enough to know that she'll get a kick out of it.

Apologies, maybe I am misunderstanding this point:

>Sigh...sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't change my username to "tokenwoman", a la "tokenadult". :P

But are you suggesting that tokenwoman is synonymous with tokenadult, and by doing so suggesting men are children? If so, I consider this insulting rather than amusing. Sexist jokes are unwelcome regardless of the gender being targeted.

If I've misunderstood you, then so be it.

I think tokenadult's nickname is a reference to tokenism[1]. It's a tongue-in-cheek insinuation that he's the acting adult amongst a group of children. Just a joke.

If that is correct, then tokenwoman would be the one woman in a group of men. It's a joke within a joke, though unfortunately one with echoes of truth, statistically speaking.

Cool your jets, man. It wasn't meant to be offensive.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokenism

Not quite, tokenadult's username isn't not a tongue-in-cheek insinuation. The username originated on a website (http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/) where the majority of users actually are children, and he just chose to re-use that identity.

> Cool your jets, man. It wasn't meant to be offensive.

Please do not tell me to 'cool my jets'; this isn't 4chan. Now that the parent has explained what she meant, it's clear that it had nothing to do with conflating Woman and Adult.

That said, if it had meant what I thought it meant then it would have been worth calling out, whether offense was intended or not.

Excuse me, but... did you say "parent"? So you think you're a child?

You've misunderstood. My point was that women seem to be in rare supply on Hacker News. I find myself often commenting on items as one of the "token women" in the community (token, n. "a thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, feeling, etc.")

Ah, and with the link further down to the TokenAdult username, it all makes sense. It was the link between Woman and Adult that was baffling me, as I've not been around the HN comments long enough to know who TokenAdult is.

Yep, a bit of inside baseball there, I suppose! Glad it's all sorted. :)

Or she was referencing this username... https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=tokenadult

And are you sure all cards will be nice and fluffy?

Or, I'm sure an Atheist would receive a lot of "I'm praying for Jesus to make it better" cards (or any other way around really, this is just an example)

> an Atheist would receive a lot of "I'm praying for Jesus to make it better" cards

I'm an atheist. I've had believer friends ask if they could pray over me during a time when I was navigating difficulties. Do you know what I said? "I would be honored". Do you understand why? Because, while I don't share their belief system I recognize their request comes from only one place: love and caring. It would take a pedantic asshole to reject something coming from such a place. So, they did, and they felt better for it. And I did too. Good friends.

I am not necessarily critical of your comment. Just wanted to point out that not all atheists are militant fire breathing monsters. I do get upset when religion gets in the way of scientific truth and social justice (vaccines, gay rights, etc.). That said, in general terms, I am having trouble thinking of any believers in our group of family and friends whom I'd consider to be undesirable people. I would, without a doubt, be happy to receive a "I am praying for Jesus to make it better" card from any of them during trying times.

> Because, while I don't share their belief system I recognize their request comes from only one place: love and caring

This is true for some religious people, but not for others. Some religious people use their religion to tell you that you are in the wrong, and are going to pay for it if you don't come over to their views. For such people, their good wishes are a thinly disguised religious attack. And it can be annoying being their target.

As I said, it is only an example, and could go in a lot of different, but similar ways.

I wouldn't be offended if that happened to me.

"It would take a pedantic asshole to reject something coming from such a place"

Yes, that's the main problem, as there would be people sending offensive cards there's also "overly sensitive people" that would be beyond themselves because of something like that.

> as there would be people sending offensive cards there's also "overly sensitive people" that would be beyond themselves because of something like that


This is a depressing comment.

If there are people who would go out of their way to snail-mail an insult to an unwell and unfortunate target, then there is far less hope for the human race than I realized.

Alternatively, if you're suggesting that someone is so entrenched in their principles that when they need comfort or compassion, they won't appreciate a gesture of goodwill for what it is because they don't agree with the beliefs of the well-wisher, then, well, same thing.

Where's the assumption of good faith? Or at least hope for it?

Thanks for trying to make the world better, OP.

Why do you think most online communities have rules against posting real addresses? Because exactly these kind of things happen.

Online communities are sources of passion, emotion, argument, conflict.

There's a big difference between that and knowing basically nothing about a person other than that they're in a hospital and having a birthday.

Some people are really, really nasty. For no real reason. Unfortunately you only need an extremely small minority to fuck up a nice act.

I think the husband is smart enough to filter the cards.

oh, people would go out of their way to do a lot worse just because they have an address to focus on...

Not all the cards will be nice and fluffy, but the subset that are might still make her happy.

For religious/political/belief oriented cards, you can imagine filtering them, too. With that said, sometimes it's the thought that counts. Even if you don't believe in someone else's god, the fact that they wish you well is uplifting.

And so what if an 'Atheist' did receive a bunch of cards like that? Why does it matter? Is the 'Atheist' supposed to be 'offended'? That is pathetic.

And a lot of atheists wouldn't take offense to you sending such a card. Even Dawkins didn't take offense to people praying for him. He said that it wouldn't do any good, but he appreciated that people were thinking of him in such a way. Could someone be a real bad actor and do something unkind with this? Sure, but they can do that with anything. Should we shut down the internet because people can use it for distributing and consuming child pornography?

So, because a subset of people may decide to be a dick about something, this is a terrible idea and should be shut down immediately. Got it.

I was pondering whether I should put in a "or husbands" qualifier. Seems like I should have!

I also fixed the spelling.

You're fixating on one use case, in this instance the current favor listed. What are your thoughts about the website as a whole?

And why wouldn't this particular favor cheer up a wife? It's not the number of cards she receives that will make her happy, but the thoughtfulness of a husband to do something for her that will put a smile on her face.

I think the original poster knows his/her wife well enough to go about doing this.

I think you misunderstand. In theory it might sound like a bad idea, but people love to feel important and if you're sick, reading get well cards from strangers might be all you need to get better. Positivity never made anyone sick even sicker.

When Steve Klabnik's Dad was sick many did this: http://blog.steveklabnik.com/posts/2012-03-26-birthday-cards...

implying he knows every wife.

I clicked on FAQ hoping to learn a bit about how featured favors are selected, what principles inform the selection process (Christian charity as the Mother Theresa quote suggests, or something else?), and what level of vetting goes into it (e.g., in the current case, did you make some calls to find out whether the person really is ill?).

Needless to say, I came up short. I think I'm not the only one who'll want to know some of these details before bookmarking the site and returning on a weekly basis.

Good feedback - thanks. I was hoping that by posting to HN I could fill out the FAQ with questions that people may have. I will update the FAQ this week.

p.s. the current favor is for my wife

I also think it would be nice to have a search/browse page to see more than one favor. I looked for such a feature and of course didn't see it. That way if the current favor isn't my cup of tea, I might find something else that is.

I think this is omitted in spirit of the slow web.

I hope your wife gets better soon! When is her birthday? It would be awesome if she could get her cards exactly on her birthday

So you suspect favoritism?

I like this, but I think for it to be sticky, you really need to focus on a follow up to the previous week's favor (i.e. reaction videos, photos, stories, etc.). People definitely like to do good things, but they want to see the impact more. That feedback loop will also motivate people to help the next ask.

Thanks for the feedback! Yes, I'm thinking of doing that in a blog (e.g. blog.ask.io, which isn't live yet). I plan to follow up with every favor.

Exactly! Check out this TED talk of the founder of redditgifts. It will provide lots of insight on what works and what doesn't. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phoUVH05kEg

I agree with that. If all that happens, I would love to see the way the project grows. It will be like a nice /r/AskReddit thing with no BS.

I don't know, maybe I'm too cynical, but I don't think posting personal information online is a good idea.

If your street address isn’t on the internet you are doing way better than I.

Some recruiter a 5 or 7 years ago or so went so far as to scan my paper resume, (with my address), did OCR, and posted it on the net.

My wife’s in a profession that needs registration with the state - they post the office address in the net - so no home offices.

Got a land line, and in the white pages - like everyone in my parent’s generation? Your address is on whitepages.com (and plenty of other places.)

The number of ways this info leaks to the net is astounding.

Why would your resume have your actual street address?

Surely city name is enough granularity. (mine doesn't even have that)

It's also why mine doesn't have my actual DOB.


> People would literally mail you responses

Get a PO Box.

I couldn't agree more. This has something like 4chan spam written all over it. They have done much worse, from much less. It's messed up, but it's a sad truth.

I don't see why you had to name 4chan into this.

They have done nice things as well, like http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/09/05/2148248/4chan-Gives-...

Because 4chan is the worst place on the internet!!!!!!!!!

I was about to produce a counter argument before I saw who the author of that comment was.

I didn't believe you until the 5th exclamation mark.

I love /b/ but it does kill my productivity like no other.

Agreed. Had a brief "aww" wash over me that quickly turned into "but what if... oh no..."

This is an interesting idea. I don't know if I would be comfortable posting my address, though.

Definitely not trying to make this political, but please do more reading about "Mother" Teresa before quoting her as an inspiration: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_wor..., http://www.amazon.com/Missionary-Position-Mother-Teresa-Prac... and http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/uom-mta022813... .

Came here to mention this. 'Mother Theresa' evokes charitable feelings and connotations for many people, for some (myself included) though it's a very negative thing.

Lovely idea. There's too much snark in the world. Any project aimed at making the world a better place is awesome.

Here's some immediate feedback that might (or might not!) help:

* One per week seems too long and people wont ever come back. More than one at a time seems too much. How about making it like Groupon etc and have an 'ask of the day' and then 'side asks' for things you'll never front-page, but are interesting?

* I'd love to see the Groupon idea stretched. Add an "I did this" button (or an "I'm doing this" that posts a follow up email asking if you've done it 24 hours later)

* Needs a button to 'share this ask on Facebook/Twitter/...'. Same after someone has 'done this'.

* I'd post a card if it looked like people were posting cards.

* As naff as it sounds, "Needs more gamification"

Some of these suggestions appear not to coincide with the creator's 'slow web' philosophy, however.


They certainly don't. My suggestions were more in line with creating a successful site.

While I understand the philosophy of the 'slow web', I can't see it creating successful websites that depend (at some level) on return customers.

The other option for traction would be search engine traffic, and that isn't (likely) to happen with ask.io. (A third traffic option is direct referrals, but they'll be specific to a week: hey everyone, send my wife a card: ask.io! .. and thus wont create return traffic)

The slow web is better for disseminating unchanging information - like a dictionary or encyclopedia - that's needed on-demand.

I'd be interested in OP's thoughts on his Slow Web philosophy and creating traction with ask.io.

Hi. Not OP, but I who wrote the initial content of The Slow Web here.

The Slow Web and traction are not opposed, in my opinion. You CAN have traction without choosing to annoy the crap outta your users. It comes from understanding what your users are (or the target market you want to chase).

If you want to make a Slow Web service, understand then that your users aren't/shouldn'tbe the kind that are interested in logging in everyday to check on updates. Your marketing to your users would need to be a longer term relationship thing. It would of course be easy to annoy the shit out of your customers, but it's in my opinion that all that does is longer term harm.

I stopped using Facebook, LinkedIn for that reason. Once the novelty wears off, you stop using anyway.

There is too little in it for anyone to have any confidence in it. Meaning, no privacy policy, terms n conditions, ways to contact you (as a street address or real entity, other than an anonymous looking gmail address). Any of your forms do not validate for a real email address, which makes me nervous about the security of the data you're collecting... (read SQL injection and not knowing your programming skills).

No offense please, but these are all little things that would make me nervous before submitting some data.

And then there is a favor asked about sending cards to a woman that no one knows, and someone should wonder if it's an ex-boyfriend playing a prank or the real deal. It doesn't show any affiliation between ask.io itself (you) and the woman in question.... Checking out humbly doesn't help either, it is as empty of info as ask.io

Good luck to you and your wife, best recovery!


There's a whole sub-reddit that's dedicated to exactly the same thing at /r/favors

That's not to discredit this project though. Some things might work better on Reddit and some might work better on a dedicated website.

didn't know about it, thanks! :)

I think any project worth doing will have some competition. "competition" can also mean "market validation". I understand you're not trying to get rich off this, but I think you'd like it if someone used it :) In my opinion, the fact that reddit already does it means you're probably onto something.

I very much like this idea.

I think the most important and persistent feedback would be to offer more (even if just a few more) asks on the front page. While it makes sense to limit focus, by having one a week, I feel entirely less compelled to keep ask.io on the forefront of my mind.

If you do choose to stick with one, make a few macros or something like that to allow people to be reminded of the newest ask once a week. I have a lot of things to do on Mondays, so I could see this falling behind. Perhaps you develop a very simple iphone app that pushes a notification of the newest ask?

Other options would be an email list or an easy-to-use calendar reminder. Think ICS. You could also take advantage of the new push notifications for Safari.

What if you allowed people to pool money for it? Give $1 a week to the winner based on up votes and then that money goes for whatever the ask is. Automatic charges on your card, reminder every week to vote. Eliminates some of the more frivolous uses.

Dude --- It's too late, but next time: https://poboxes.usps.com/poboxonline/search/landingPage.do

They have a saying on reddit "your poor inbox"

I hate to be the....umm...what's the opposite of naysayer? Yaysayer? I hate to be the yaysayer here, but...

1) The design is great! Simple, fast, easy to read. I understood the point immediately.

2) There's a use for this. I won't say "need", because you know there isn't a need. But, people will find it nice and will use it.

3) If you're doing this to get rich, then I misread you and you should quit now. But, if you're doing this to do something good, then I think you nailed it.

Now, for some naysaying: 1) As others have said, putting your wife's real name and address up was simply stupid. Take it down, now.

2) Moderation? How do you choose which ask to feature?

People are getting hung up on the card favor. A couple unsolicited suggestions: - Show more than one idea on the homepage and allow people to up vote what they think is best - Idea with most votes gets sent out to folks every X

Advantage is this let's the community pick what is relevant, makes your life easier (less editorial), enables you to grow to more than 1 idea per week as there might be runner ups, likely to increase the quality of what people submit as there will be competition.

Totally agree with this comment. The whole Slow Web thing is a nice philosophy, but you have to outweigh that principle with the principle of making this website maximise its functionality, the function that rationalises its existence in the first place.

Now, I can understand that it's not great for Mike to have to filter through all these requests, which is why your solution offers the best hope: let other users do the filtering by upvoting/downvoting from the list. In fact, you could just create a pile and let the top request be somewhat bigger than the others.

If you play this out properly, it could be done much better than impossible.com

I'm sorry, but I feel like you've got some major problems, here.

1) There's no context on your wife. Hospitalized recently? For what? Cancer? Stubbed toe? And birthday cards... Help how? If I were in the hospital for something serious, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't care one whit about receiving cards from people who knew nothing about me.

2) You say below "the current favor is for my wife." Really? You made a site to solicit birthday cards for your wife and plastered a Mother Theresa quote on it to give it the veneer of a charity? This feels weird.

3) I'm all for using the power of social media to help people. If this is really your goal, then you need to work on your execution. Having the internet send a bunch of anonymous birthday cards to someone they don't know is cute, but it's a very low-level form of helping. Think of ways to leverage social media to really put into action the Mother Theresa quote you're using. What you're asking people to do is not "love." "Love" is not sending a card to someone you don't know. Love is something deeper.

OP is not necessarily the one who asked that favor - Anyone can submit a favor and one is chosen each week: http://ask.io/about.html

Well I bit and sent a card to the current favour. I'm not normally such a softie, so that's gotta be a good sign. Way to go on the project!

> [231 points] Show /hn/: I ripped off an existing product and added Bootstrap to it.

Edit: that is from "What 4chan thinks about HN": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6747373

I don't think this is constructive, and I feel others would agree with me. Regardless of your sentiment, the OP worked to create this. Please provide helpful criticism instead of decrying supposed pitfalls in HN. We already have enough snark; besides, every community has its own issues.

Take no offense. I'd just like to imagine that HN will remain constructive and helpful to our community.

I agree that it wasn't exactly posted in a tactful way, but I actually broadly agree with omeid2's assessment. What is this site other than a very simple data-entry page with an (entirely uncustomized) bootstrap theme on top of it?

I appreciate the concept of getting a feel for the market on an early (very early in this case) alpha, but I don't feel this is productive for HN. I mean, how simple are we going to allow ShowHN to get? A single static page with an H3 tag and the text 'good site coming soon'? I mean, that'd require some work -- almost none, but some -- so should we just say "The OP worked to create this, so I'll give feedback instead of pointing out the obvious and saying that the OP needs to put more effort into ShowHN submissions"?

Frankly, this feels like an AskHN masked under the guise of a ShowHN. I felt almost duped by the site, as if I were looking at the earliest skeletal structure of a site and being asked to rate it as if it had had significant development time applied to it. Maybe I don't understand HN well enough yet, or maybe I'm just cranky from working 27hrs straight, but that's my honest feedback.

I am not offended, but quite bluntly I don't see any 'work' that has gone into this project, it is basically the incidents that happened in reddit (/Askreddit, was the pizza case?) behind Bootstrap with very little content in FAQ and non-existent critical content around such projects: Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. Not even a copyright notice.

I am sorry, but that is just not good enough.

... What? Do you even know what /r/AskReddit is? Because it's definitely not this. It's for asking questions and then getting them answered by lots of people.

Side thought: nice domain. Registered since 2007, but you were keeping it in case you had a nice idea to use with?

I'd like to hear how you got this domain as well.

I tried to bid for 'bt.io' due to my name sharing the initialism; that thing wound up going for quite a bit. You're probably sitting on a goldmine here, OP.

The submitter has posted about registering .IO domains on her/his blog: http://hack.ly/articles/app-io-acquired/

Interesting information about the drop time. This might be valuable if you happen to have a list of domains that are about to elapse the 90-day renewal grace period.

Ugh I bought Ask.io for one of my own projects. Domai.nr said it was available, I paid, and after about a month they informed it it didn't go through for some reason I don't remember (thankfully refunding me). I was pretty pissed... I had already made shirts.

Domainr is fun (and really neat) to find cool domain names, but they're not a registrar, they just output affiliate links.

Reminder: gandi.net has 29€/year .io registration and they provide top notch service.

ha, sorry man. Do you still have the shirts? I may be interested.

This is a simple idea with big potential.

You get to be a superhero to a few people, and that's good for everyone.

Cool and fun. I'd just recommend making it more obvious what people are seeing when they view the landing page.

When I first landed, I kind of thought you personally were asking for this thing. It took a moment to process the context and realize that this wasn't the case.

Interesting idea. I am pretty sure I might put up something up there someday.

> I am pretty sure I might put up something up there someday

This sounds like a nice way of saying you'll completely forget about this website in several hours and will never put anything on it ever.

Or at least I'm pretty sure that's what it might mean :)

I choose to not sound cocky here. But, I have bookmarked it and I tend to bookmark stuff which I do go back to :)

Well, good! :)

No doubt that doing good to others brings happiness. So anything in this space that adds a smile to peoples' faces would probably work. Agree with others on publishing addresses. Starting out in a small niche is a must before allowing others to join in. Who would I do personal favours for? Family & friends, poor folks (specially in developing countries or poor hoods), sick people, homeless individuals, and misfortunate ones...

Doing this now using https://www.postable.com - Good Luck!

I really dig it! And I like sending/receiving postcards from all over the world, I'll post one tomorrow.

Random cards could be comforting, but the sad thing is that you would hope you would get cards from friends and family. Those seem to be a thing of the past (except from grandparents). Even thank you cards have gotten pretty rare. This is the age of the wall post... :(

I don't like it. We have many places (Twitter, Reddit etc.) to ask about such things. I doubt someone will enter this website only to help someone. Also I can't find any information how you will select favors.

The only thing I like about this project is clean design.

Someone put up someone's name and address! It was for a kind reason ("send her get well cards while she's in the hospital") but no no no no! That sort of thing should probably be modded!

It's like Craig Shergold all over again.


I think this is a fantastic idea, great job!

I'm assuming new favors are checked for quality before being lined up in the queue, right?

This is, quite simply, lovely.

OP... I love this.

Well played!

"This is nice and all but we are not Reddit" coming in 3... 2... 1...

Whats the deal with these .io domains?

How is that supposed to be talked out "ask eye ooh", "ask input output", "ask eye yo"?

You should pronounce it as: "ask dot British Indian Ocean Territory"

(...don't forget the dot!)


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