February 5, 2006

FYI: What Tools, Trick Or Tips Do You Want On This Blog?

With the new blog up and running, how about some suggestions on new features? Forums, podcasts, photo areas; any neat tools you’ve seen on other blogs or websites. Here are some suggestions from the topics thread.

“I suggest people go out and get photos of things that suggest the end of the bubble and upload them to Flick with the tag housingbubble. There are only four photos with that tag right now and Ben can add one of those Flickr web page inserts that show the latest images for a tag. We’d have a constantly updating look at the bubble and it’d be simple to do.”

“Tools, Tips, and Tricks. There are a lot of tools like domania.com I use today that I had no clue about until I stumbled onto this blog. Let’s share more of what works for us. I would wager that there are many bloggers here who have Tips and Tricks used to make sense out of the housing market. Some for watching RE pricing, some for gauging HBS.”

“If we can put all of these things in one place we may be able to create a toolbox and a tips and tricks FAQ (on this blog).”

Another reader suggests dedicated threads. “I want some one subject only threads. That and a little more restraint. When the subject is unoccupied Phoenix housing Boston condo cancellations don’t belong in the comments section. Single Subject suggestions can mean limited to just one geographic area and let fly, say San Diego or Maryland. It can mean outrageous incentives, free SUV, etc. It can mean a contest for who can show ziprealty or realtor.com the highest price per square foot.”

“To piggyback onto (the previous) comment/suggestion, how about just having some sort of FYI topic? It’s obvious that posters are itching to share information to help enlighten and inform the readers, but usually the place to put that information is in whatever the current topic is. Or, they post where the biggest audience may be. I don’t know what you would call it other than FYI Financials, or FYI Anecdotal Info…something like that.”

And this was added, “FYI Breaking News/This Just Out, FYI New Resource, FYI Anecdotes, FYI Misc/OT.”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2006-02-05 15:13:07

Now that the switchover is done, I would love to make this blog work better for all of us. Input is appreciated.

Comment by happy renter
2006-02-05 15:39:46

Continuous threads for the major markets might help reduce the OT comments.

I’d also like to see comment numbering. Because I go to this blog many times a day I would like to know where I left off on a thread.

Thank you

Comment by saratoga
2006-02-05 16:57:12

Hi Ben, I mentioned to you some time ago that you need a full blown site. And you finally did it. Thanks. I want to see forums. Primarily with threads based on geographic location and then many other topics. Something similar to fked borrower forums. I am sure there can be plenty of other improvements but that’s it for now.

Keep up the great work.

Comment by moqui
2006-02-05 17:05:20

I think its time to allow some of us readers to make donations. I could only imagine the effort needed to compile and summarize the threads….get a pay-pal some of us share your client/server cost.

BTW…a year ago, I would timidly proclaim that we could be in a credit bubble situation. Thanks to this blog, I now tell everyone “it’s a bubble and do you want to fight about it”

Comment by Colorado Renter
2006-02-05 17:31:20

I’d like to see graphs. For instance, there’s a great graph of national inventory that shows inventory going down at the end of every year, except 2005, when national inventory of existing homes actually went up at the end of the year. Another good graph would be median price of existing homes, which peaked in August.

Comment by cur8or
2006-02-05 18:27:13

I think RSS or Atom feed is a must, I couldn’t find it for your new site - if not for comments then at least for topics. Also PhpBB forums will be a great asset to have IMO - free and very flexible, will help to avoid many redundant comments. Topics like per state RE market conditions, etc would be very helpful.

Comment by Ben Jones
2006-02-05 18:28:58

Thanks for reminding me. Also interested in which feeds prefered.

Comment by Van Housing Blogger
2006-02-05 18:39:52

New site feels great. Excellent work. I like the photos idea.

I’m sure with all of the great commenters on this site, some really good interactive features will emerge.

Comment by cur8or
2006-02-05 18:47:29

Re: feeds - I think RSS is compatible with more feed readers. Another possibility if you go with PhpBB forums - there’s a module for it that allows live chat using same logins as the forum :) Oh, and some sort of donation link is a good idea - I’m sure many will donate.

Comment by thejdog
2006-02-05 19:22:00

Nice work Ben. Blogspot was a POS. Unbeleivable, given the resources of Google.

Like another poster mentioned, as I did a few weeks ago, definatley some forums, akin to Another F’d Borrowers new site.

BTW - I know bandwith is not cheap, But I’m on a 20mb fiber-optic connection here in Sac. Long story, but Google ‘Winfirst + Surewest’ and you’ll see what I mean. Bandwith is trulely cheap where I’m sitting, and I’d be willing to host. Shouldn’t be too difficult to find have somebody volunteer to set it all up for you. Let me know.

PS- I tried to send you an email, but it bounced back (??)

Comment by Ben Jones
2006-02-05 19:27:58

Thanks for the note. Please resend.

Comment by rms
2006-02-05 20:12:52

Hi Ben,

The use of server-side cookies for registered users would make it easier to return to a thread right where you left off viewing. Thanks!


Comment by praetorian
2006-02-05 20:15:22


Good luck with wordpress.

One easy suggestion: how about a message board. Forums dedicated to Gold, Housing Price Hedging, Mortgage Analysis, Market Specific News (Bay Area, Boston, Miami, etc.), General News, and maybe a few more topics. You could easily get a few volunteers to moderate and clean up the inevitable trolling.

The blog would be the primary focus, of course, but with links into the forums.


Comment by GetStucco
2006-02-05 20:27:59

A few blogger features would be nice:

1) Ability to view and revise comments

2) Ability to see multiple threads at the same time

3) Better formatting of comments (they seem to run together n the current version)

Good luck, and thanks as always for providing a fascinating town meeting forum!


Comment by GetStucco
2006-02-05 20:30:28

thejdog Says:
February 5th, 2006 at 7:22 pm

Nice work Ben. Blogspot was a POS. Unbeleivable, given the resources of Google.


Nothing unbelievable about it, once you grasp their business model (keep the analysts on the edge of their chair waiting for the next announced innovation — never mind whether any of them will ever earn more than a nickel in profit).

Comment by Tim Brandt
2006-02-05 20:34:51


Comment by Tim Brandt
2006-02-05 20:38:03

Thank You for this awesome site, Ben! I have been reluctant in my home search over the last few years, due to the crazy prices here in SoCal. It was this blog that convinced me to wait it out. It vindicated what I have been witnessing here. People took the opporuntity of low rates to buy more than they can afford w/ creative financing, assuming rampant appreciation had no end in sight.

I would also like to see graphs of all the stats. There are so many great ones out there I have seen on other sites. It would be nice to have a good collection all in one place, so I can direct people when I am confronted with the ‘real estate is solid and never goes down’ theory. Which I hear about daily!

Comment by The Hopper
2006-02-05 20:50:19

I need an RSS feed! We figured out how to get one for the old site (with almost any blogspot address you just add atom.xml after the address)

but no luck here. I would have wasted a lot more time if the new posts didn’t pop up in my google sidebar. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do…

Comment by Ben Jones
2006-02-05 20:52:49

I understand a RSS feed already exists, but we should have some buttons up soon. Thanks.

Comment by sm_landlord
2006-02-05 20:54:03

Features Missing:

1. Ability to modify/delete posts.
2. Preview capability.
3. Permanent (sticky) Theads.
4. For the proposed “resources” section, a Wiki would be more a more appropriate paradigm.

Comment by thejdog
2006-02-05 21:14:26


Man you’ve got a hard-on for Google. Not that I disagree with you. I feel it is WAY overpriced.

Keep in mind though, Google is a CASH-COW if I ever saw one and is a fantastic search engine.

I started using Google in early 2000 when nobody had even heard of it. I bought the day of the IPO, 250 shares at $123. Sadly, I ended up selling half at $185 and the other half at $301. I refuse to participate when an asset is being driven by sheer manis afd hoopla.

Nowm it would not surprise me the least to see Google shoot up to $600 in the next few months- it would also not surprise me the least to see it drop down to $150.

Realistic value IMHO : around $250-$275 per share. Google made a huge error in not splitting off their shares IMO. Nobody would be talking like this if the share price was $45

Comment by DeepInTheHeartOf
2006-02-05 21:16:14

Just a few small things.

1. Better formatting in the comments for the poster/date to make a clearer comment delineation and highlight the user better.
2. optional info section for registered users. Let us note where we are, what we track and care about, and can see that for others (helps with replying to them occassionaly).
3. Keep topics on the main page for more than a fraction of a day. (allow for a couple days if needed) Sometimes I’ll be following a thread but can’t make it back every 3 hours :-)
4. A bunch of other things that other people have already noted; especially boards, and comment count/cookies to note were the new comments begin.

Comment by SB BubbleBeliever
2006-02-05 21:21:45

By far my favorite site: here is a “wish list”…

1) A “key” to most used abbreviations, so we all understand each other better + shorter posts?

2) Graphs (just validating others wish lists). “A picture tells a thousand words…”, and I think viewers, posters, lurkers, THE MEDIA!! would all benefit from an in-your-face bar charts or graphs that really show the facts of particular cities or parts of the country. Posters can give “facts” in a thread, but these are gone tomorrow and the important info ends up “embedded” in a former thread, not to be visibly seen again- but by the most dedicated.

3) Counters (similar to graphs or bar charts), but something like city/date/new listings/reduced listings might be really fun. San Diego sounds like a great city to start with. Again, visuals that remain accessible on a continued basis would really make a great impact on the “doubters” and also the media writers.

4) “Media Story Counter” (?) possible?? I am continually fascinated by how many small town papers are writing about their specific observations for their local r.e. market. If we had a ticker counter of some sort that would have todays date and the # tally of stories that are being printed each day, week or month… another tool to “tip” the major media outlets that this is truly a time bomb waiting to go off.

Comment by dreaming '07
2006-02-05 21:23:36

I would love to see a message board feature as well. There have been times I wanted to ask a regional-specific question in the blogs, but didn’t because I thought it would be ‘rude’ to hijack to post. It would be great to be able to post my own topic/question and only have those interested open/respond. Thanks :)

Comment by ca renter
2006-02-06 00:09:11

Thanks for the new site and all the hard work you’re putting into this blog! As for the wish list:

1. As others have said, better distinction between posts w/highlighted poster’s name.

2. Ability to preview, edit and delete posts.

3. Message board w/ dedicated topics. Could be regional housing bubble info. Would also like to see a political forum and an economics forum — these seem to be very active threads on the board.

And, of course, a way to help you out financially — as you provide such a valuable service to so many of us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! :)

Comment by Vegas Viewer
2006-02-06 00:16:14

Maybe it’s just me but I have less eyestrain when there is greater contrast between text and background. I’d prefer a white background.

Comment by ca renter
2006-02-06 00:33:19

Just read SM landlord’s post on another thread regarding off-topic posts. Personally, I like the OT comments, but others don’t. SMLL mentioned that this blog is a bit like the water cooler. Maybe we should have a forum titled “The Water Cooler” for those of us who like to like to read and post OT comments?

Only problem w/ a message board/forum design is that some of us who are obsessive about reading every post might find it a bit much (as if we don’t spend too much time here already).
:-) Thoughts?

Comment by Rich
2006-02-06 00:38:13

Hey Ben,
How about a “Hall of Classics”.
The most outrageous articles and best comments.

-he “feed my squirrels” lady
-million dollar trailer in so-cal
-and I like the one about the flipper driving around in the desert trying to find the multiple homes he owns and has never seen.

You could repost the articles and have us vote for the keepers.

It would make for a great book in your future, hell you would have all the material allready compiled.


Rich M.

Comment by sfbayqt
2006-02-06 01:26:35


Can you hyperlink The Housing Bubble title? Aside from “back to home page” at the bottom, it would be nice to be able to hit “The Housing Bubble” to go back *home* if I am near the top of the page.

Also: Current topic links in the Links list on the right? I apologize if someone has mentioned this already. :|

Comment by GetStucco
2006-02-06 04:23:02

Man you’ve got a hard-on for Google. Keep in mind though, Google is a CASH-COW if I ever saw one and is a fantastic search engine.


Explain this comment to me, as a literal interpretation is an extreme fondness for GOOG stock, and nothing could be farther from the truth — I would no sooner own this dog than any of the dot bombs which managed to eke out a trickle of cash flow to justify a stratospheric stock price, just before their prices crashed to the ground.

Are you saying GOOG’s cash flow does or will ever justify their current stock price? Or that the outlook for online avertising in the face of a looming credit bubble collapse is just fantastic?
I use GOOG every day, sometimes every hour, so I contribute lots of “eyeballs” to the eyeball count; nonetheless, I cannot say that I have ever purchased a single item I learned about through one of their ads.

But maybe I am “different” (in fact I am certain I am!).

Comment by GetStucco
2006-02-06 04:27:02


Some posters here have suggested passing the hat. Not sure if that is necessary, as I am sure karmic principles dictate that your hard work has or will be compensated. But if it would be useful, perhaps you could have a thread on brainstorming how to make your blog self-financing. I am sure the online ads help, but not sure they really cover your opportunity cost of labor. And it might be interesting to see what suggestions come up in a thread about self-financed blogs.

Just a thought…


Comment by MP
2006-02-06 09:12:18

Provide more filtered regional information if possible, like I would like to see an RSS feed for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

2006-02-06 10:26:39

-Ability to preview & delete comments (as in Blogger).
-Maybe some subheadings in the link section.

Comment by SoCalMtgGuy
2006-02-06 11:33:26

Good luck with the site Ben! Isn’t it nice being off blogger?!?!?

For those of you wanting a message board, I have one set up that is getting lots of good activity already.


Another F@CKED Borrower - FORUMS!!!

Comment by ejamie
2006-02-06 17:27:35

nested comments!

I often see commenters responding to a previous comment by adding a prefix such as:

“hey lainvestorgirl”
“hi la investor girl”
“la invstr grl”
“laig said:”

Notice the ambiguity and inconsistency as the prefix is just typed by the commenter. The original poster has to read all following posts to see if there were any replys to their message.

Also, responses to a particular post are usually intermixed with other unrelated comments.

This makes it very difficult to follow a thread of thought.

Instead, use nested comments. With nested comments, the commenter can choose to reply to a particular comment. And when their post is shown, it is listed underneath the parent post to clearly show it is related.

To see an example of how this works, check out slashdot:

Or look at how newsgroups do threading.

Comment by foxwoodlief
2006-02-07 09:58:21

An index to show true cost, value adjusted for inflation in major markets. You can’t compare a bubble with apples. If in 1963 a person paid the equivalent of $160 a sq ft for a basic starter home how much would that same home be today and how much of that price needs to be subtracted from a current house that is better built (code for earthquakes, infrastucture etc) and larger..since the median price needs to be linked with cost per sq ft as a median priced home in 1963 was a lot smaller than the median priced home in 2005.

Comment by oc-ed
2006-02-07 10:37:54

This is a test. This is only a test. Should the housing price bubble have actually popped you would have been directed to your local high end resale store to purchase recently cast off goods at bargain prices.

Comment by cabinbound
2006-02-07 12:06:02

How about a gallery of high concentrations of For Sale & Open House signs visible in one photo. I remember seeing one here with like 8 or 9; I found a corner in Sunnyvale CA near 101 that has that many as well.

Comment by ejamie
2006-02-07 22:53:37


Oh yeah. You are talking about the townhouses at the corner of Fair Oaks and 101. There are about 20-30 for sale signs bunched up next to the entrance to the community. Makes for a good launch everytime I pass by.

Also, some good for ’sale sign’ fodder off 237 and Zanker.

Comment by ejamie
2006-02-07 22:54:33

(good laugh)

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