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Collexion – What is it, and should we become early adopters?

Some of you may have heard about Collexion, a new collectors website that appears to have a fairly well-financed venture into being the “Facebook” for collectors. The CEO of the company is a typewriter collector and they’re making a pretty big push to interest the typewriter collecting community in becoming early adopters of their platform website. They’ve got Martin Howard and the ITTCC2014 organizers involved as users already, and their recruiting campaign reached me today in the form of an email from the type-in.org Type-In announcement form.

Here’s the email:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I am a co-founder of a California web startup called Collexion, Inc.

We are creating a free web search engine designed specifically for collectors.   Our latest experiment is to engage a distinct vertical in the collecting community, Typewriter collectors.

We are working with people like Martin Howard (http://beta3.collexion.com/user/871/MartinHoward4)  and the ITTCC2014 organizers to get typewriter collectors engaged on our site.  Our goal is to discover and build the features that are most important to typewriter collectors.

Our website is here:
 www.collexion.com

The latest version of our product is here:
 beta3.collexion.com

Benefits of the site
– A personal web page to showcase their collection
– A collectable search engine that searches across major collectable marketplaces
– Social features: Like, comment, follow users content or their collections
– Private messaging

We Are Offering to Build Collector Pages
As an early stage startup, we are interested in getting feedback from users ASAP.

We are offering to build collexion.com profile pages for any typewriter collector that can provide images of their collections in order to get user feedback on the site.

Can we set one up for you?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well, that all sounds pretty good. Good enough for me to try signing up. Twice.

I tried the Facebook-integrated signup first. They grabbed my Facebook info and I agreed to let them look at my friends list and grab my Facebook information, and then I get to a result screen that tells me to look in my email for a validation email. It never shows up. I check my spam folder and wait an hour, and nothing. I go back and check for some way to have the confirmation email re-sent, and that option doesn’t exist.

Well, OK. Let’s try the signup on the Typewriter category page. All it asks for is my email, name, city and country – unusually, different information than the first signup form wants. I do it anyway, and end up at the “check your email for confirmation” page again, and again, no confirmation email shows up. I look again at the page and notice that the address for this page is not “collexion.com” but some email newsletter signup service. Sure enough, a few minutes later an email shows up asking me to confirm my registration to an unrelated email newsletter. It’s not a confirmation for site signup. *sigh*

Well, I’ve burned two emails so far and with no way to have the validation emails re-sent, I guess I’m screwed on actually getting to take a look at the member services and evaluating what this site might mean to the collecting community. The site actually kind of creeps me out, because of how it harvests your Facebook info and tries to be kind of deceptive about signing you up for some third-party email list. That’s my first impression anyway, and I will report back if the site gets fixed enough that I can actually validate my account.

So yeah, lots of promise, and it’s exciting to see actual VC-funded companies targeting the typewriter collecting community with social-media sites tailored to our interests. If they aren’t super-creepy about the information they collect and can actually provide a good, useful platform for collectors to communicate, it could be a really good thing – the community has suffered some blows lately with the vanishing of tw-db.com and the utter devastation of Yahoo Groups, and we could use some love. (:

Here’s a couple of videos about Collexion, where they explain what it is and how to use it:

Updated: March 11, 2014 — 9:00 pm

23 Comments

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  1. “The Facebook of collecting” has two problems right off the bat. (a) I generally don’t like Facebook due to the creeposity factory you’ve mentioned, and (b) Facebook already has collectors’ groups.

    1. well, yeah – that’s you and me, and quite a lot of the Typosphere, but you must admit that Facebook is popular and Collexion might be able to feed into that market quite well – depending on how much integration they end up working into the system. The past few years should have taught us that our little niche hobby might not be all that niche after all, and the fact that the typewriter bug is easy to spread is something we actually kind of celebrate. (:

      My initial poking around at the non-logged-in areas of the site leads me to believe that Collexion is probably not going to cover the sort of depth that the Typewriter Database does – you seem to be limited to putting up a page with your collection – one image and a description per item, it appears to me. No serial numbers, dates, indexed manufacturers or models, etc. There appear to be options for selling items, and a couple different kinds of “Favorites” that you can flag items for. Message threads for items (or collections, not sure which yet) are supported. More as I learn more. I sent an email to the co-founder who sent the invite, maybe they’ll fix my account (:

  2. I have to agree with Richard Polt.

    Also, if we’re going to have a comprehensive website like this it needs to be developed from the ground up with participation from a large body of typewriter collectors representing all sections of the community.

    I don’t know if I’m being silly, but I feel a little put off that somebody would try to create something so extremely specific and obscure for me and my friends without asking what I wanted right from the start! I think right away this doesn’t address what we need. The key things are 1. The replacement of the Yahoo forum structure (which I think can be admirably done with any standard “forum” type website that you see about every other type of hobby, I’ve always been a bit sad that our group was stuck with Yahoo groups which has always been a bit tepid) 2. replacement of personal blogs where we can typecast, because Blogger will not last forever, and 3. Everything else which your typewriterdatabase has admirable covered!

    1. And obviously there are other needs that other people have that I can’t think of. In 2014 any solution created for a fairly small group like typewriter collectors needs to come from them. Admittedly, I tend to stick with the typosphere proper because of how I just didn’t enjoy using Yahoo groups, or else just forgot about it because there weren’t lots of pictures and typecasts. XD

    2. I’m totally scatterbrained right now, but what about your typewriter database?! This has been around for a year and would be an excellent starting point for expanding and making it even more useful.

      I also sent you an email.

    3. If I had realized that this wasn’t just for typewriter collectors, I wouldn’t have responded so strongly. I was a bit confused as to what the purpose of the site was! For now my attitude is indifference because we already have the typewriter database and this doesn’t seem to answer our needs any better.

  3. Anything FaceBook, yuk! Not really sure I’m interested in Collexion as it sounds. I may check it out. I can show off my collection on your typesriter database if I ever get my photos finished.

  4. You know, I don’t fret about the ‘facebook’ thing, as it really is just a saying, and not truly indicative of what these guys are offering. That said, I actually have no idea of what they intend to do, or what they are actually offering. It all seems pretty vague.

  5. Heh, I’m getting the sense from the comments that the Typosphere is sorta miffed at not having been consulted yet :D

    To be fair, the site is targeted to *all* collectors: cars, cameras, baseball cards, etc. The fact that they consulted us this early could be considered an honor, and likely only happened because the CEO has a collection of typewriters. My light perusing of the site leads me to believe they have something like 800 users so far – a really tiny amount for the kind of investment and manpower they’re putting into this site, so it’s still clearly early days for them.

    I’m adopting a “let’s see” kind of attitude. They seem to be sincere and are certainly asking for input. Can’t do much more until I actually have an account, anyway. Call it cautious optimism. (:

    1. Ted, I assume you have been approached about adding a “real” forum function to your site. Seems that along with the database that would be everything we could wish for.

      1. well, it’s not like I haven’t written forum software before (wrote one to integrate into SSW). I hadn’t figured it would be much wanted since there are already quite a few typewriter discussion boards around.

  6. Actually I got an email today, and I replied that I’d like to know more. It just seems…. vague.

  7. I’d be highly hesitant about that one.
    For one: “If the product is free, then you are the product.” That can be a fair and transparent deal, but this one is not so clear.

    Running a specific community site/share needs only moderate funds to keep going. Once you have a company that needs to pay 5 salaries, that is significant funds that must be paid for by somebody.

    As also mentioned, the specific tailoring does not match what is possible at e.g. the typewriterdatabase, or have e.g. a look at what 45worlds.com is achieving. And being a generic site commercially catering to all, I doubt they can provide such tailoring or better value than a community and enthusiast driven ‘open’ activity. Certainly not for the longer-term.

    Ergo would be rather hesitant (and wary, to be frank).

  8. Been having a bit of a closer look this evening at home. This setup is using a pre-fabricated piece of software that is called ‘Pintastic’, and is basically prefabbed. Personally, I view this as a glorified forum rather than a serious start-up.

    I don’t think it is likely to be particularly harmful. But I suspect it may involve marketing or a share in trade kind of income setup. I see that they have already focused on selling collection items, and have structured it around it.

  9. Hmm. Sounds interesting. I haven’t received that invitation yet – and something tells me I won’t get it, not being a “collector” living in the States. But I too am wary about the way they harvest the Facebook data. Not that I have a Facebook account, anyway; but the fact that they look at your Facebook contacts when you set up your account tells me that they plan to do something with that information later on, be it sending your contacts (in your name?) an invitation to join the community, or to buy targeted collectibles once they are put up for sale. That might be the source of revenue for such a site; not to mention that asking collectors to add their own information about their collections is equivalent to asking them to provide the contents for the platform. And this is a commercial platform, not necessarily a hobby-oriented, reference page, so I’m still not sure what would it offer to us in exchange for our information – free contents – contacts.

    One more thing. After all these months, all of us have created a whole lot of contents for our blogs, and, at least in my case, I don’t see the point of (nor I’d be interested on) reinventing the wheel and starting all over again.

  10. … Well, I went and took a look at the site, and it looks very nicely designed, but there are still a lot of holes in the privacy policy and terms of service documents. For starters, they don’t indicate who owns the contents posted by the users on the site (the author – collector, or the site), nor how they’ll use the contents. And the privacy policy document simply didn’t load. So yeah, I think I’ll be cautious and wait to see if they develop this platform a bit more.

  11. The site seems to me to be nothing more than a way to gather data on members to use for marketing. I attempted to sign up with my email instead of facebook. It seems that because I didn’t give them my facebook access, that they have to manually approve my membership. This is the webpage message that I got:
    “Thank you for joining Collexion! We are thrilled you want to join our community. We are admitting people onto the site in small groups. You will receive your special invitation soon, thank you in advance for your patience.”

    On a side note, as others have mentioned, there is a sore need for something to replace yahoo groups. There is a web forum that already exists that was started by a guy in Toronto who was frustrated by yahoo. The site is well run and organized, but the depth of experience is shallow. It seems to have all the things that yahoo lacks except for the email list. Old-timers in the yahoo group seem to communicate with the group only with email and I don’t know if this site can do that. Give it a try: http://typewriter.boardhost.com/

    Clark

    1. Well, I got my “invite” today, so I went back to the site. I was instructed to set up an account (didn’t I do that already?) and log in. I really don’t understand the site. After I logged in, the page was filled with pictures which I could “like” or add to my “collection”. Many of these pictures are from ebay. Seems you can create a virtual collection without ever owning anything. It feels more like a online game to me since a person’s “collection” doesn’t have to be real. I still really don’t see how this is useful to collectors. If I want to search ebay, I go to ebay.

  12. Isn’t it possible to collect all the yahoo forum-posts and add them to a searchable mailman archive which has a better build front-end? Would there be someone with access to all those messages? We could build our own ‘yahoo’.

    1. sounds like a job for… SPIDERWEBZ!

      1. Well… discussed it with my main man today. He wasn’t too happy about the idea. It’s not a very weird idea to him, but he doesn’t want to do the support it needs and would also need to upgrade his hardware to be able to send all those emails around the world all day. Something with too many users. Bummer!

  13. Hmmmph. Well, I haven’t gotten my email yet. So that’s that.

  14. Hi. I’m Peter Kirwan, the co-founder and CEO of Collexion, Inc., (and the owner of a modest typewriter collection). Sorry for being late to the discussion. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of your thoughtful comments. First off, I want to apologize for the problems signing up for the site. There is a bug with some confirmation emails not going out. We turned that off so now all you need to do is go to the site and sign up and you’ll get right in – no need to wait for confirmation. Facebook signup is optional. The only advantage is you can invite your friends and it will put your picture in your profile. We don’t do anything else with the information.

    I see one collector commented that they thought we should be utilizing the typewriter community to build this site, and that is exactly what we want to do, we couldn’t agree more! I wish that had been communicated more clearly. Our intent was to reach out to the typewriter community influencers (all of you!) through the ITCC and email outreach, and get your input before we let too many people on. We actually can’t do this project without you, and our goal is to build something your community is behind. The fact is this is a VERY EARLY VERSION with only a few of the many features that will be coming in the coming 6 to 8 weeks. There should have been a more clear explanation of what we are planning. I understand your confusion about the site especially when met with registration issues. I know a few of you had a chance to make a few great comments regarding usability and I hope we can continue to learn from your experiences.

    What we want is your input. This is for you, (and me as a collector). I’m a big collector of many things – typewriters, business machines, computers, recording devices and vinyl records. Our goal is to create a “starting point” for collectors to connect through the things they are passionate about, find new ones to buy, discuss, share and learn about collectibles. Although we are focusing on typewriters today, we believe that in the long run we can build something really great if we spread the cost of development over many categories. The trick is we need to be true to each category and go deep enough to make this truly useful. It’s not easy, but I think we can do it over time.
    Here is what we have planned very soon, (some are already running). We want to hear what you imagine this could be and Matthew Waclawik will be reaching out to the community to get thoughts. It won’t happen overnight, but we will make changes based on what you tell us.

    – A powerful search engine – that quickly allows you to find typewriters for sale across dozens of sites kept up to date in a real time basis in many cases. This includes Ebay, Etsy, Ruby Lane, Heritage Auctions and dozens of independent smaller sellers. Collexion doesn’t get involved in the actual transaction – think of us a “google” or “kayak” for collectibles – we find what you want quickly, let you compare what’s available in an easy to use, beautiful interface.

    – Alerting – we want to notify you when a rare typewriter you are looking for comes on the market anywhere. We are a few months from this but this is a really cool feature I can’t wait to use myself.

    – User forums/discussion groups – I think that the days of a discussion group without a more robust set of social features and other content may be coming to an end. We hope to do better with your help. Let’s reinvent this way to connect.

    – Put the blogs and collecting resources in one place – For example, let’s put “the typewriter database” links in Collexion to introduce a larger audience. That’s an amazing site we are in awe of. We don’t want to replace a resource like that, we want to make sure people reference it more often and find more ways to use it.

    – Inventory and share collections – We have another version of our site with Manufacturer, Model, Version, Date, etc already running. When the search engine is merged into this current version all these will be available for users to add more detail information. This can be kept private or shared with the world. All in your control. We will soon have it so that you can see other people that have some of the same typewriters your have and see what else they have. I find that fascinating.

    – ? Whatever you want we’ll give you!

    If you have any questions or suggestions for ANYTHING at all, please email community@collexion.com. That’s your surest way to reach someone quickly and be heard. Feel free also to contact me personally at peter@collexion.com. My cell is 858-361-9813 if you want to chat. We have a great team here to help you. We’re small but we really want to make this work with your help.
    Many thanks again for giving us a chance.

    Sincerely,

    – Peter

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