Jul 29, 2011

How Circles could solve it's authentic user problem and help non-profits

Will the real William Shatner please emote KHAAAAAAN!‏

There's a story going around about how Mr Shatner got his Circles profile shut down. And it got me thinking about how to solve the authentication problem.

Authenticated banners

One solution is to sell Authenticated banners for profiles using the information in Google checkout to validate the user's names and location.

To make the whole process more palatable, the checkout would donate money to a charity.

The resulting banner could be an animated gif to make it harder to fake since uploading causes them to become non-animated. While anything that overlaps profile image's boundary is probably good enough, making it animated would be the frosting on the cake.

Granted, my animation lacks the imagination of Google's UI people, but you get the point.

Emblems and charities

While working on orkut.com we came to the obvious concussions that most users became members of communities not so much to participate in discussions, but to get the group's emblem in their profile page. Emblems ranged from things like "chocolate" to past company logos.

Circles could do the something similar around non-profit events. Donate blood, participate in a cancer research marathon, etc and a banner could be awarded to your profile by the non-profit. This trophy case could appear on the left under friend lists.

Unrelated story

Amusing story. I pulled a prank on Orkut B back for April Fool's day 2004. At the time, there was a Laser Eyes meme happening on the site where users modified their profile image to have lasers shooting out of there eyes. Strange I guess, but no weirder than other memes like planking.

I replaced Orkut's profile with an animated gif file that has a few frames of lasers shooting, but it was hidden 30seconds into the image. So, it would look static for 30 seconds, then bzzzzzz lasers, then back to normal.

I spent the whole day trying to not give it away and waiting for him to discover it on his own. He had the site open on his desktop but kept missing the brief animation. Eventually someone else noticed it and told him. It was obviously me since nobody else could push an animated gif file directly to production.

If anyone saved a copy of that file or even a screen shot of orkut.com with laser eye profiles, then please send it to me so I can post it.

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