Didn't work Wednesday: turfd.com

When I joined PubGears I had a lot to learn on the business front, and a lot of tech to get into place…so I was finding myself too busy to keep up on the sports news and blogs that I like to follow from day-to-day. And of course I thought this was def. a problem I could solve with some code, so I set aside a weekend or two and built out a system called turfd.com

The initial idea was that I would simply aggregate news from the popular sports sites like cbssports.com, foxsports.com, espn.com, and a few others (I think I had it monitoring about 30 regional newspapers from around the country as well). Once the news was aggregated, there would be some de-duplication and commenting features…and then you could simply enter in the team or players that you were most interested in, and as the system found new stories involving those players you would get an email alert (or you could just get a daily digest).

It actually worked pretty well and I used a version of the system for my own needs for about year…but it never really took off beyond my own use/interest and required a little too much manual tweaking/fixing every few weeks to keep it running cleanly.

Throughout that time, gawk.it also started to gain some momentum and I felt that my (very) limited free hacking time was better spent focusing on gawk.it – so I let turfd run on it’s own for awhile, but eventually turned it off completely (during some server migration as I didn’t feel like setting it all up on the new servers).

Overall, the project wasn’t really a bad idea (I still think there’s potential in building a sports news alerting system for the web – I know I would use it)…and it didn’t take that much time for me to build a basic version (it was really just another version of some old knowabout.it, some old draftwizard.com, and some old statsfeed.com code). But ultimately it didn’t work for a number of reasons.

1. It’s another example of an idea with potential and at least a clunky prototype to play with, but not something I built with the intention of turning into a business. It’s very unlikely you’ll back into a successful business - even with a prototype.

2. Because I wasn’t building it as a business, I did not market or even really push the service out to anyone. Just because you build it doesn’t mean people are going to find it.

3. As a result of both #1 and #2 I had no real vested interest in keeping the system going. I had my own personal use/interest but I couldn’t justify the resources (time/money) to really keep it going just for that. Again, if you aren’t that serious about making your thing a success then no one else will be either (and it will never work).

So for now it’s all just sitting in the code archive (though it did get repurposed into some of what you see behind the modern version of knowabout.it)…one day down the road, I just might dust it off and put out a new version if the mood strikes me…but only if I decide the opportunity for a *real* business is still there, and I find the passion to focus on it…and that’s not going to be any time soon.

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

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