Guy Kawasaki’s ‘Truemors’ – Dissected

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When Guy made the help wanted post on his site about two weeks ago, I was intrigued and sent him an email right away, hoping to get access to the new service he was launching. Now that the service has officially launched, I can safely share my findings with you.

I need some help from people who are in the flow of interesting and true rumors. They would be folks who can provide “scoops” that begin with a phrase like, “Did you hear that…?”

While I may not be the most ‘in the flow of interesting and true rumors’, I was given access. At its very core, Truemors is socially driven rumor aggregator that could easily have been built on a modified Pligg.
There are four ways you can use to post rumors to the site:
1. By sending a text message
2. By calling
3. By sending an email
4. And by posting directly through the site itself.
Via Text Message
If you post a rumor via text message, send the message to 55022. You have to start the message with the number 2020 and are limited to 250 characters. Also, keep in mind that the last 4 digits of your phone number will appear on the rumor you are posting.
Via Telephone
If you submit your rumor by using your phone, call 650-329-2020 and you will be asked to leave a voicemail message limited to 30 seconds. Once you hang up, SpinVox will convert your voicemail into text and will send it to the Truemors servers to be posted on the site. Your rumor will appear in whatever language you speak in and again, the last four digits of your phone number will appear next to it.
Via Email
If you decide to send in your rumor by email, use the following email address: You will receive a confirmation email (only the first time you post a rumor), and when you respond to it, your rumor along with two characters on each side of the ‘@’ in your email address will be posted to the site. Emails are also limited to 250 characters.
Via The Site
If you decide to post through the website, simply click post online, enter your name, email address, and the hot scoop that you apparently have. Keep in mind that your name will appear next to your rumor so might not want to put your real name there. And just to be safe, make a separate email address if you’re going to use the site in the long-term.
Once a post has been made to the site, there are several ways that other users can interact with a submitted rumor. You can give the rumor positive/negative score, comment on it, share it with other users and other socially driven communities, and surprisingly, any user can change the category in which another user has submitted a rumor.
The Problems
Even at first glance, I see several problems with Truemors:
1. Lack of Exclusivity: For a site like this to succeed, there needs to be some level of exclusivity. As is quite evident on the site right now, the decision to open the site to everyone has caused people who have no inside information on anything to post all kinds of gibberish and the site is over-run with spam.
2. Lack of Focus: The site doesn’t focus on rumors from one particular niche and instead seems to want to be an aggregator of rumors from all niches. The problem with that is that there are established rumor sites in most of the categories enabled on Truemors already. At least there are sites covering the technology, business, politics, entertainment, and gaming industries.
3.Lack of Incentive: If I land some hot scoop tomorrow, there is no chance in the world that I will submit it to Truemors. I would much rather submit it to my own site for my audience, or give the scoop to some other online or offline publication which is willing to pay me for my exclusive inside news.
The Ultimate Question
Stan poses the ultimate question. While the project presents an interesting concept, there is nothing about it that cannot easily be replicated, except for one thing. Guy Kawasaki. The question is, will Guy’s brand name be enough to attract those ‘in the know’ to the site, and will it be sufficient to create a viable community?
My Solution
As I said, I like the idea behind the project, and with a few changes I think it could really work; so here’s my solution. First, drastically narrow down the focus of the site. Limit it to at most 3 different categories. This will also help when deciding who gets to use the site. Secondly, rather than opening up the project to everyone, limit it to not more than 500 people who you can be sure are ‘in the know’ and will generate material of some substance. Allow them to post rumors and allow others to add to those rumors (i.e. different sources for the same rumor, additional information, and so on).
Lastly, rumors are of value because of the press they generate and I don’t think anyone is going to post a rumor that has a shot at being true, to the site in the absence of any kind of incentives. Therefore I think that once there is substantial information on a particular rumor, and there are high odds that it will be true, let all the members of the site (those who reported, whose who augmented or further confirmed, and even those who just read the rumor) bid on who gets first, second, third, and so on, reporting rights to the rumor.
Based on these steps, Truemors will grow out of a site where people are just posting funny or obscene statements/rumors that have absolutely no weight, and can become a source (for insiders and high profile journalists) for the most complete information on any potential rumors and a resource for those looking for juicy information to buy and report on.
Overall I think it has some great potential with a few changes and I wish Guy Kawasaki the best of luck with his new venture.
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