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PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Backstory: In the 1990s I did graphic design for newspapers and magazines. Then I wrote technology commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon.com, Chicago Tribune, and lots of little places you've never heard of. Then I taught photographers how to create good websites. I co-wrote a book (see below) along the way. Current story: I am helping turn a giant media corporation into a digital enterprise. Feel free to email me.

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I'm co-author of "Python Web Development with Django", an excellent guide to my favorite web framework. Published by Addison-Wesley, it is available from Amazon and your favorite technical bookstore as well.

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I hate those SitePal ads

Feedback sent to Technorati today:

Please, I beg you, kill those talking "SitePal" ads. I keep my PowerBook plugged into an amplified speaker setup all day, and when the "Pal" begins talking after having been displayed for X seconds (without me so much as mousing over it, I'm pretty sure), it's heinous. And embarrassing if anyone is within earshot.

Plus, they creep me out.

Thanks,

Paul

Update: After some testing I think that I was in fact mousing over the ad -- my Dock is on the right side of the screen, so with a vertical ad on the right side of the Technorati page it's easy to do. So, I was wrong that I wasn't triggering it, but it's still incredibly annoying!
Another update: Similar complaints have appeared here and here and here and probably elsewhere. (I complained first, though!)

Friday, September 8th, 2006
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9 comments

Comment from Yujin Sohn , 2 weeks later

I’m Yujin Sohn from SitePal Marketing. I sincerely apologize if hearing our speaking ads led you to have an unpleasant experience online (or to have an unpleasant headache). We designed the banners to speak only when initiated to play by users, and also added a mute button, so users can turn the audio off anytime they like. However, we realize that accidental roll-overs do occur, and I apologize once again for the inconvenience. Your feedback is really valuable, and I appreciate that you brought this to our attention.

If you are willing to give us another chance, we would like to offer you a SitePal custom speaking character to use on your blog and websites. After you experiment with SitePal, direct feedback about your likes and dislikes of our product would be very helpful to us. Please shoot me an email at yujin@oddcast.com if you are interested in this offer or have any questions about ways in which other bloggers use SitePal. Thank you, and I apologize again for any inconvenience our Technorati ads may have caused you.

Comment from Jessica , 2 weeks later

Yeah, I'm sure he's just dying to drive away his own visitors...

Comment from Paul , 2 weeks later

Yujin, thanks for your post and good luck with your damage control.

I'll take a pass on your offer, though -- I'm really not your target market! Trust me on that.

Comment from Brandon , 3 weeks later

You know I found this site after performing a query using the key phrase "hate sitepal" after being once again forced to turn down my speakers.

These "pals" do not increase conversion rates but like Paul experienced increase visitor bounce rates by annoying visitors.

The damage control by SitePal's marketing on this blog is not only tacky but extremely transparent.

Sitepal, please for the love of god develop another product and stop invading my surfing experience...ugh

Comment from Brandon , 3 weeks later

Better yet...read any of Seth Godin's books on permission based marketing. After a few short paragraphs you'll realize why these products end up like the dodo bird.

Comment from Bryce , 19 months later

Thanks for the comments guys! I have been considering putting SitePal on our websites... but guess you are right about the permission based marketing. Darn, it would be fun to configure... LOL!

Comment from Victor , 2 years later

Enhancing user interaction with your website visitors is generally a winning formula. I am considering using sitepal to improve help and marketing. My rational is that visitors scan and never read what is presented to them.

Comment from Andre , 2 years later

AlterEgos.com have launched a alternative to SitePal and funnily enough have sympathy with the irritants that people exclaim when visiting a talking avatar site, so we firstly took the process off-line, you use a desktop app, then generated the content in either video or SWF, now you have total control to either be passive or active with your delivery. One area that really bugged me was how bad many of these solutions are at lip-syncing, what's the point of having a badly lip-synced avatar, secondly, they have a tendency to look as though they have been designed by a small child or have fallen from the ugly tree and what's with rolling eyes in time with the mouse :( So our design critique was easy, good automated lip-syncing, attractive characters, output to video or SWF and allow the user to integrate in whatever way they feel is appropriate without "shouting" or "frightening" the visitor or indeed integrated into desktop environments. To the haters of this kind of approach I sympathise, however, media integration is here to stay, and I would like to think that we have at least gone some way to alleviating issues. I know if you come to AlterEgos.com you will immediately get a character talking, and that's because we sell the product and want people to experience the content immediately. My advice to site owners in general however is, if you are within a conservative market, maybe it would pay to show your character ... with the mouth firmly shut, and give the visitor the choice of making it talk or not. AlterEgos is no accident its a progression in online media and hopefully with its deployment transparency and flexibility will not be so irritating :)

Comment from Martin Adams , 2 years later

Website visitors want to feel empowered - they want to control their experience, so let them activate a virtual host or site guide. I like the approach of AlterEgos, but their characters all stare like zombies. I've chosen CrazyTalk 6 which can animate any photograph, cartoon or sketch and bring them all to life. No monthly fee. Unlimited characters. Outputs flash, avi, youtube flv and creates web avatars.

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