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September 27, 2010

I Am Your Web site's One True Fan (And I Can Prove It)

Although it's only been a little more than three years since Yahoo! acquired MyBlogLog, the company behind the once-popular visitor tracker for blogs and Web sites, on the Web, it's practically an eternity. It's well known that internal politics and bad management of the acquisition pretty much squeezed the life out of the product and the company's founders quickly scattered to bigger and better things. But the desire to bring visitors and blogs together never left the mind of Eric Marcoullier, who learned from the MyBlogLog flameout, and today, unveiled a new visitor tracking service - with some fun gaming elements, called OneTrueFan. I've been using it for weeks, and as you can imagine, like any other conquest that involves competition and hours of sitting in front of a computer monitor, I'm hooked, and in many cases, I'm "winning"... proving myself to be the One True Fan of a Web site (or at least the one who has clicked through more pages than anybody else).

The idea of OneTrueFan is pretty simple. To participate, you install a browser extension (for Chrome, Firefox or Safari) and a browser bar will track your Web visits. Each time you go to a new domain or subdomain, you get 10 points. For each visit to a subsequent new page, you get an additional point. So, for example, if you visit six different pages, you have 15 total points. Once you reach 20 points on a domain, you are a fan. If you have more points than any other fan, you are the One True Fan.

My OneTrueFan Page With History, Connections, Badges

Being the OneTrueFan (or OTF) of an obscure domain isn't anything to brag about, for sure. But there's no question, in my mind, that popular Web properties that see regular daily visits are going to see serious competition between people who are visiting frequently and sharing content from those pages. Sharing content from One True Fan to Facebook, Twitter, Delicious or other properties is an additional 5 points. Already, in the alpha period, I have seen people battle daily at owning the title of OTF for specific Web sites - and if you want, you can get an e-mail notification if you either take the title from somebody, or lose it yourself. And each time you start a new browser session, the OneTrueFan bar will alert you that a transfer has taken place.

I am now the OneTrueFan of GigaOm!

As with Foursquare and other social gaming services, the immediate benefits of a product like OneTrueFan are not perfectly clear. I don't get any monetary reward for being the OTF of both Twitter and Facebook at the same time (as I have it now), and all sites are equal, so you don't get any more points for being OTF of Google than you do by being OTF of my blog (sorry, I've got that one too). But OTF starts immediately with badges and leaderboards, showing the top visitors to any domain, the history of any user, including sites won and lost, their top friends (by total points), how many sites they are fans of, and how many OTF titles they hold.

Sites I am OTF of, and top Friends' Scores

For people permanently on the Web, like myself or Brad Feld, one can capture multiple site titles a day, and lifetime scores are already well above 20,000. That may be an unfair advantage to those who browse more casually, or use RSS readers to pull content from different sites.

So you might be wondering about privacy? Will OneTrueFan give away your addiction to fantasy football, anime, or pornography? That's up to you. You can hide any particular visit, or block any domain from OneTrueFan, and the bar will no longer track your visits to that site. And if you're worried that OneTrueFan is tracking your Web site history in the first place, well, that's just what it does, so if you don't like it, don't use it.

One good thing about OneTrueFan, in addition to the amusing gameplay, and learning what other people visit the same sites you do, is that you don't need yet another login and you don't have to recreate your social graph. OTF taps into your Twitter account and connects you automatically to your friends on that network - saving you a tedious chore of finding people as much as you are finding new content.

I have been using the site for several weeks, and admit I check in on the stats to see how people are doing and what they are sharing and viewing. They unveiled officially today at TC Disrupt, predictably being compared to Foursquare. But this is one location based app that you can use without ever having to leave your house.

You can find OneTrueFan at http://www.onetruefan.com.