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Add-on XenReviews [CrowdFund]

Would you buy this add on?


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Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#1
I've decided to make a new thread to discuss the possibility of me building a review system add on for XenForo instead of continuing in the 9 page, 18 month old thread.

I would like to crowd fund it but use an escrow account to insure both sides. In case something happens to me and I can't continue I don't want the community to get burned. I want to be gauranteed money though so I don't spend hundreds of hours just to sell 10 licenses and make like $3/hour. If anyone can recommend a site to do that through, feel free to mention it. I understand everyone's concerned about doing a crowd fund again due to how the gallery worked out but please remember, not all developers are the same and that is also why I want to do the escrow account in order to keep everyone safe.

If you'd like to see more features added, please be detailed like below. I will update the feature list regularly (until my permissions to edit the post no longer allow) along with the price (if it changes due to more [intense] features being added).

My vision of the add on so far. If there was nothing added, I'd plan for a January release. I'd also set the goal at $2,500 USD with a license at $50. I realize that adding no more features is unlikely but it gives an idea. Your guys opinion on that goal being realistic and the license price are both welcome.

Let me know, in a detailed breakdown like this, what else needs to be added.

General Features
  • Unlimited sections/categories with unlimited sub-sections/sub-categories (I imagine it will work like the resource manager categories).
  • Each category will have it's own permission settings for who can create an item (product/store/etc) for review (if you're the first person to review it you'll have to first create it) and who can review it.
  • Member card will (optionally) display the amount of reviews the user has submitted
  • Permission setting to auto-publish reviews (if turned off they'll have to be approved).
  • Custom fields for each category:
    • For creating an item, examples:
      • Price
      • Location
      • Platform (if it was the game category)
    • For reviewing an item, examples:
      • story mode: 1-5 stars,
      • realism: 1-5 stars,
      • game play: 1-5 stars
      • overall: 1-5 stars (this one isn't actually going to be a custom field as every item will have an overall rating).
  • Option for each category to allow a referral link (to be shown when reading a review).
Viewing A Category
  • When viewing a category you'll see a list of all items (products/stores/restaurants/etc).
  • Clicking one of the items will result in a list of reviews.
  • Sidebar block/widget (possible to use bd widget framework, your guys' call) to display the stats for that category (# of reviews, # of critics(?), # of items, etc).
  • If the user has permission to make a new item, they'll see a link to make a new item (option to make every item need approval before being seen).
Viewing An Item
  • Tabbed content: the pages title would be the item's name, description would be about the item, tabs would be "About", "Reviews". More tabs can be added/changed, they'll obviously work off phrases.
  • A link to create a review (if permissions allow).
  • Reviews will look somewhat like threads, you'll be able to sort by a few different methods (time submitted, the rating given, the rating they've received (since I understand you want products to be rated as part of the review and user's reviews to also be able to get rated). Or they could look like posts I suppose?
Creating An Item
  • A form with all the custom fields.
  • The ability to upload an image (maybe images? not sure if multiple is needed) for the product.
  • A name for the item.
  • Description of the item.
Viewing Reviews
  • I imagine this will somewhat look like the resource manager's resource: user's avatar, name of item?, the rating they gave, not really sure her.
  • Tabs: "Review", "Discussion" (to discuss this person's review, if there's questions or something), more, less.
  • Ability to rate the review.
  • Sidebar blocks/widgets :
    • Stats on the author (# of reviews, average rating received on reviews, etc).
    • Item information (maybe the average rating it's recieved, some other information)
Reviewing An Item
  • Form with the custom fields
  • Ability to use your referral link (if the category [and your permissions] allow
Link structure (SEO was brought up) would be basically the same as the rest of XenForo:
/reviews/ (index, show all the categories), /reviews/user/5749.daniel-hood/ (reviews by me), /reviews/1.category-name/ (the product list), /reviews/item(?)/1.first-product/ (viewing the product), not sure about the link to viewing a review, /reviews/review/id.username/ doesn't seem good, possibly /reviews/review_id.username/review but that breaks out of the norm.

Admin Panel
  • Manage categories
  • Manage permissions
  • Search reviews by user
 

AzzidReign

Well-known member
#4
Just throwing out a suggestion/idea I've had for a reviews system. This would help sites owners/staff get free products most likely, if the reviews were good enough in the past and were popular. But at the top, have an "official review", which would be done by yourself or staff if you choose. If there is a product that the members have reviewed and the site staff hasn't, have "This product has not been officially reviewed. If this is your product and you would like us to review, please *link*contact us*/link*."

Being in the gaming world, a lot of these manufacturers like to have 'official reviews' and I think this would be a great way for sites to get in contact with manufacturers either us directly contacting them, showing them the review page, or them stumbling upon it and seeing the member reviews but 0 staff reviews.

I hope that makes sense.

I'd definitely be interested in funding this as I already had plans to hire someone to do this but if it is a community effort, all the better for me :)
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#5
Would something like the resource manager's "featured resource" work? I had plans for implementing that, just didn't include it in this post on accident (I typed that post originally right before going to bed).
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#6
As a few people seem willing to fund the project together, let's talk some details.

What features will have to be added to my list in order for you to invest? Is you investing conditional on it being in an escrow account? If so, do you know a site that works that way? I've never done a crowd funded project but I have seen a few and know there's different 'reward' levels, any ideas what those should be?

I typed these but I'm not really sure. You guys can pretty much pick.

$50 - license good for one installation, free upgrades for a year. Additional upgrades will be $25/year. Price of a license is likely to include after the first official release (gives incentive to contribute before).
$80 - license good for one installation, free lifetime upgrades.
$125 - two licenses, both get free lifetime upgrades.
$175 - three licenses with free lifetime upgrades.
$750 - unlimited licenses (must own the forum being installed on, cannot redistribute) with lifetime upgrades.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#7
As a few people seem willing to fund the project together, let's talk some details.

What features will have to be added to my list in order for you to invest?
First an most of all: monetizing functionality.
This is a big issue. A reviews system would be nice to have for our members, but if its only something for members to play with then the interest to invest is much lower.
If such software will provide the functionality for webmaster to make money on, now thats a whole different story. If the software will make us money then its much easier to invest. IMO an addon that enhances the end user experience I'd value at $50 license. But an addon that not only is an enhancement to my members but also brings in money, that is worth many times that amount.

The demand for reviews software is intertwined with the needs of sponsors, advertisers and affiliate sales.
Please make it easy for sponsors and advertisers to spend money on our sites. And for us to place affiliate sales links in reviews. Monetizing functions are found in this list and includes: a 'claim listing' option, paid listings, buy featured listing, affiliate links like amazon, etc.

Your list seems to cater to author based product reviews which is useful, but excludes location/organization based reviews. For example with your functionality list its possible to have a member post a review of a product and other members can comment on this. But consider the setup of the mother of review websites: www.tripadvisor.com tripadvisor does not have one review per thread but has an unlimited amount of reviews per thread. So there is no real thread author. The rating average for the listing is the average of all reviews.

Regarding link structure, I'd not focus on membername ID at all. Why not do it like amazon.com and tripadvisor and let each review in a thread have an unique title. Then use the structure:
/reviews/id.review_title/

Rich snippets is important for SEO as this microdate will make the reviews, ratings, details, etc visible in Google searches.

Another point of interest is scalability and server resources. I currently have 11000 reviews. The highest number of concurrent users so far is 22000.

Is you investing conditional on it being in an escrow account? If so, do you know a site that works that way?
Escrow allows us to work with strangers. As we have seen many times in the past things happen and developers do disappear for various reasons. Escrow provides a form of safety for developer and client.
I have not yet found an escrow service which allows group buys.

I've never done a crowd funded project but I have seen a few and know there's different 'reward' levels, any ideas what those should be
Possible milestones:
  1. beta release. i.e. version 0.x.x (20%)
  2. release of bug free version with limited functionality set. i.e. version 1.0.x (40%)
  3. release of bug free version with expanded functionality set. i.e. version 1.1.x (40%)
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#8
Thank you for your response, I was looking forward to it.

First an most of all: monetizing functionality.
This is a big issue. A reviews system would be nice to have for our members, but if its only something for members to play with then the interest to invest is much lower.
If such software will provide the functionality for webmaster to make money on, now thats a whole different story. If the software will make us money then its much easier to invest. IMO an addon that enhances the end user experience I'd value at $50 license. But an addon that not only is an enhancement to my members but also brings in money, that is worth many times that amount.
I haven't run a review site and I honestly am not a part of any either. That's why I've been trying to get the most detailed, broken-down list as possible. I understand monetizing it is important, and something that brings in money is way more valuable than something that just costs money. So let's try and get the money features worked into my list in a similar break down that I made.

The demand for reviews software is intertwined with the needs of sponsors, advertisers and affiliate sales.
Please make it easy for sponsors and advertisers to spend money on our sites. And for us to place affiliate sales links in reviews. Monetizing functions are found in this list and includes: a 'claim listing' option, paid listings, buy featured listing, affiliate links like amazon, etc.
I'm not really sure where they would spend money. What would they be buying? I get paid listings, I can work that in. Pay to get your item 'featured', bubbles up to the top of the list of all the free items. Claiming a listing I'm gather would be like if someone enters my store as an item, I would want to show ownership? What's the difference between paid listings and featured listing? Affiliate links! there's one that was actually in my feature list :).

Your list seems to cater to author based product reviews which is useful, but excludes location/organization based reviews. For example with your functionality list its possible to have a member post a review of a product and other members can comment on this. But consider the setup of the mother of review websites: www.tripadvisor.com tripadvisor does not have one review per thread but has an unlimited amount of reviews per thread. So there is no real thread author. The rating average for the listing is the average of all reviews.
I was using physical products a lot in my examples but I did call them items for a reason, custom fields should make it possible to enter any type of..... item/thing, person, place, thing, etc...

So instead of an item basically being a forum, and each review being a thread, and then having responses as posts. You'd rather have section/sub-section be the forum, the item be a thread, and each review be a post? That's fine. I'm not set on doing it any particular way, you guys are buying. You can pick the entire functionality and user interface. That's why I broke it into each section: viewing sections, viewing products, viewing reviews, and the same with creating.

Regarding link structure, I'd not focus on membername ID at all. Why not do it like amazon.com and tripadvisor and let each review in a thread have an unique title. Then use the structure:
/reviews/id.review_title/

Rich snippets is important for SEO as this microdate will make the reviews, ratings, details, etc visible in Google searches.
Rich snippets are fine, I will include that. I'm not worried about the links, I just need to know what type of structure you guys want for each part. Viewing a category, viewing an item(product/store/whatever), viewing a review.

Another point of interest is scalability and server resources. I currently have 11000 reviews. The highest number of concurrent users so far is 22000.
Not a problem, XenForo is optimized and makes it easy to optimize your plugins. I'll deliver cached content where applicable. I'll defer the recalculation of ratings after reviews are submitted along, etc.

Escrow allows us to work with strangers. As we have seen many times in the past things happen and developers do disappear for various reasons. Escrow provides a form of safety for developer and client.
I have not yet found an escrow service which allows group buys.
Yeah, I get the point of escrow, I just can't find a website that will work for it in this situation. I'm perfectly fine with it and would actually prefer it if we can find a platform.

Possible milestones:
  1. beta release. i.e. version 0.x.x (20%)
  2. release of bug free version with limited functionality set. i.e. version 1.0.x (40%)
  3. release of bug free version with expanded functionality set. i.e. version 1.1.x (40%)
Two things: I was referring to the rewards for investors, like what you get at each price point. Minimum investment being the price of a pre-sale license and working upwards. 2) I'm find with releasing the money in segments, I would however like it to be more like 30%, 40%, 30%. By time 1.0.x is released, most of the work time wise is actually done. 30% is still a significant out there. However, as over 70% of the time has been put in I feel getting 70% of the money at that point is reasonable.

Also of the stuff you mentioned, the main part that actually adds work is the paid listings and paid featured listings. I have to integrate payment methods, handle processing of the claim, etc... that is going to increase the desired overall goal amount. I don't really care about the license amount, that's all the investors call really.

Depending on the exact details of how that will function (admin tools, user tools, etc), I'm going to probably need to raise the goal $500.

For future note, this doesn't just apply to Alfa. If we do end up getting this project going. If there's features an individual wants that the rest don't. I would be willing to make custom modifications.
 
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Flexin

Active member
#9
Is it possible to have a rating for the reviewer? Maybe have members that get a lot of reviews that are rated high put on a list. Then the admin and or mods can look st that list of members. If someone does excellent reviews it's good for the site. Some of these members could be asked to do reviews for the site. If a product is given to the site for review,they could offer it to one of them to do a review. It can be a win win.

James
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#10
Is it possible to have a rating for the reviewer? Maybe have members that get a lot of reviews that are rated high put on a list. Then the admin and or mods can look st that list of members. If someone does excellent reviews it's good for the site. Some of these members could be asked to do reviews for the site. If a product is given to the site for review,they could offer it to one of them to do a review. It can be a win win.

James
I had rating members in the feature set. I didn't think of bubbling the reviews from higher rated users up. That's a good idea though.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#11
I haven't run a review site and I honestly am not a part of any either.
I think it is important for a developer to check out a few reviews systems. Please check out ireviews for vbulletin and GARS for vbulletin. ireviews is a very good some outdated addon but never got popular due to encryption. GARS is grossly outdated but has been installed on many thousands of websites and chances are that many here seek a replacement for it. My 11.000 reviews are also in GARS. Hence the request for an importer.

I understand monetizing it is important, and something that brings in money is way more valuable than something that just costs money. So let's try and get the money features worked into my list in a similar break down that I made.

I'm not really sure where they would spend money. What would they be buying? I get paid listings, I can work that in. Pay to get your item 'featured', bubbles up to the top of the list of all the free items. Claiming a listing I'm gather would be like if someone enters my store as an item, I would want to show ownership? What's the difference between paid listings and featured listing? Affiliate links! there's one that was actually in my feature list :).
Companies benefit from the promotion and sales of products, companies and services.
Lets say you want your development services advertised on a webmaster forum.
  1. You should be able to buy a review thread/ listing for your company. Once you have bought your listing it automatically creates a new thread with your company/product/services details. Your clients / community members can then post reviews as replies to the listing. This works the same for companies and services. The benefit of this is that companies can point the community toward discussing and reviewing their products.
  2. Obviously there should be an option to moderate new listings to avoid unwanted and problematic listings.
  3. For public businesses its useful to show their location through Google maps integration. This is pretty simple to implement. It not only looks nice, but its also allows customers to find companies in their proximity.
  4. If you want more exposure for your company you could buy an expanded/enhanced listing. This could show various new fields like logo, photo's, url, extended description, products & prices, special offers, etc. The admin can define what fields work best for his/her site.
  5. For even more exposure the review thread can be made a featured listing by paying an additional fee. This could work the same as how featured listings work in the resource manager: if a review thread is marked as featured, it will be shown at the top of the category.
  6. If the above promotions can be bought for a certain time span then the income will be recurring and income will keep on flowing. For example: buy a featured listing for 2 months. buy an expanded listing for 6 months, etc. Recurring payments would be very useful.
  7. Claiming a listing is relevant if there already is a review thread about your company. You might want to add or update company details to the thread and buy additional exposure.
  8. Another reason for claiming a listing is to provide feedback to reviews, similar to how developers can comment to reviews in the resource manager. If someone leaves a negative review, then the listing owner can place this into perspective with a comment.
A fast way for webmasters to make money on a reviews section is trough affiliate networks. If a member writes a review about a certain book, then readers should be able to buy the book from the bookstore of their choice while the webmaster receives a commission.
  1. This can work as simple as automatically generating buttons like 'buy from Amazon for $6' 'buy from Barnes & Noble for $5' etc. and display these buttons on the review page.
  2. Most affiliate networks have very handy feeds which allow you to simply pull in the products that they offer, including all needed details and affiliate links. This feed allows the admin to bulk generate listings with product details and purchase links. Once a listing is there, the community can start reviewing the product. If a website is about gardening then the admin can quickly populate categories for books about gardening, gardening supplies, etc.
2) I'm find with releasing the money in segments, I would however like it to be more like 30%, 40%, 30%. By time 1.0.x is released, most of the work time wise is actually done. 30% is still a significant out there. However, as over 70% of the time has been put in I feel getting 70% of the money at that point is reasonable.
The milestones and % were examples. The exact % per milestone does not matter much IMHO.

Also of the stuff you mentioned, the main part that actually adds work is the paid listings and paid featured listings. I have to integrate payment methods, handle processing of the claim, etc... that is going to increase the desired overall goal amount. I don't really care about the license amount, that's all the investors call really.
You could integrate with bd paygates as this has the benefit of using that payment functionality and allows various payment gateways.
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#12
An importer shouldn't be too difficult as long as someone can provide me the database structure for gars. I am going to start looking at sites with GARS installed so I can get a better understanding of the features you specifically want.

The features you're asking for I can probably mostly tie into the custom fields aspect of it (location and stuff). I'm kind of lost on "claiming" reviews. The rest I get though. As far as featured and paid. You basically want like 3 tiers for reviews. Featured is like a featured resource on here, Paid would be somewhat like a sticky thread, and then just normal.

The way I seem to understand it currently is that you want anyone (with permissions) to be able to review a product, store, etc. If they're the first one to do so then a new thread is made. Then someone could come in and "claim" that thread and pay to promote/feature it. Every other review is basically a reply to the initial thread.

Integration with bd paygates will be fine.
 
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Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#13
After looking at GARS, I noticed that each review section is pretty much a node type. This is different from what I was planning. I was planning a new navigation link and set up pretty similar to the resource manager. Would you prefer it be a new node type?
 

The Sandman

Well-known member
#16
Are there any mockups of what reviews would look like or the interface that would create them? Or links to the most similar review system currently available (on any platform)? All the stuff being discussed here is important, but I want a visual of what we're talking about. :)
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#17
There is no mock up or preview. I have not done any work on it.
GARS is so ugly and fundamentaly different that it won't suffice as a comparison.

So, currently, no visual.
 

intradox

Well-known member
#19
This is something I am interested in but not a priority. I don't think I could see myself giving more than a few hundred towards to total cost to be quite honest.

As for features, Alfa seems to have a good understanding of core features such as link structure, etc.

Pretty much for me these are the main features I am looking for:
- Ability to have a "Buy Now" type link which is an affiliate link.
- Ability to have a site/official review with then user reviews all calculated to an average user review. Similar to IGN and others.
- Ability to rate user reviews (just either yes or no helpful) as it would help with sorting user reviews from most helpful to least.
TripAdvisor:
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.35.32 PM.png
Amazon:
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.35.04 PM.png

- Visual structure similar to RM where there is a thumbnail of review product/service. Tabular review such as overview/official review, user reviews, product/service features.
- review sorting:
TripAdvisor:
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.34.22 PM.png
Amazon:
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.34.58 PM.png

- Review ranks. Perhaps show it's ranking in the category. Ranked #1 out of 4000 driving games or something.
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.37.47 PM.png
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.37.53 PM.png
- User photos or official gallery. Similar to Amazon and TripAdvisor and Google Places. Users could submit their photos of the product/service. Perhaps mod approved?
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.36.51 PM.png

- Show friend reviews (people you follow on xenforo)?

- Integrate with news feed. Recent Reviews.

- Ability to verify a company as product owner or service owner. Basically allow the restaurant owner or official game developer to reply to reviews.
Example on trip advisor:
Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.44.08 PM.png
 

Daniel Hood

Well-known member
#20
@Alfa1 I also like how that is done.

To the people that said they would invest, is that completely dependant on it being done with an escrow? I cannot find a site that functions like that. Any suggestions?

If we cannot find a site like that what can we do? Is there anything I can provide that would make you comfortable not using one? @The Sandman offered to act as an escrow but I feel that has the same risk.

@intradox thank you for your suggestions. I plan to integrate with the news feed. I like the idea of sharing with friends. Affiliate links will def be included. Uploading multiple images too (should each one review be able to upload images or just the first one [creating the product]).
 
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