Tooyoo Guestbooks

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Tooyoo Guestbooks

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Review of "Tooyoo Guestbooks"

published 16/01/2003 | TheDuke
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 187
Members who trust : 0
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Excellent
Pro Private guestbooks, lots of members, good atmosphere.
Cons Some peoples ideas of interaction...
very helpful

"Tooyoo Guest Book System."

Last year people were complaining about the so-called community spirit on Dooyoo (or rather their interpretation of it), and how it could be improved. One idea that kept cropping up in suggestions was the use of a guest book, but Dooyoo were in no shape to supply such a thing at this time due to commitments to their brand spanking new back end system called Aurora ("Coming soon to a consumer website near you!"). [Having seen "Aurora" in action (snigger), there's certainly some spanking to be done, and not in the good way, either!]

One member in a fit of boredom posted a message on OpCom [old forum dealing with Dooyoo primarily, but now sadly defunct], telling us all how he'd coded a small application which enabled people to read random Dooyoo opinions. (This is a great thing, and I would advise everyone to give it a go, that is if Aurora hadn't scuppered the whole thing!) Shortly afterwards, the same member (ILoveJackDaniels or ILJD) also posted to say that he'd also coded a set of guest books for Dooyoo members in the absence of the planned, but as yet unreleased, official guest books.

Dave (or ILJD) has since coded other little applications, like a random Ciao opinion viewer, which I have to admit I've not used yet. (Yes, I know, naughty me. Slapped wrists all round.)

*** The Guest Books ***

From fairly humble beginnings, the guest books have evolved both due to ILJD's own creativity and ideas, and the ideas of Dooyoo members who were using the guest books. From a dozen members who signed up at the start, there are now around 523 members who are signed up to Tooyoo, with more people joining every day.

First of all, you must sign up to be able to get a guest book, although you can surf around other people's guest books to see what other people are up to (more on this later). In order to sign on, you supply a name (most people use their Dooyoo name), and a password. You are then taken to your rather bland guest book where you can begin to customise Tooyoo to suit you if you wish. When you return to Tooyoo, you must sign in again to be able to access your guest book. If you desire, you can be set to "invisible", which means no-one can see that you're logged into the site (unless you leave a message, of course!). You can also set Tooyoo to "remember" you, which means you don't have to sign in each time you visit, which is very handy for those who make several visits per day (yes, there are some!).

The site is split into several main areas, and the ones you visit will depend on how you choose to use Tooyoo.

By going into the "settings" page you can customise six things in terms of colour, and depending on your artistic skills, you can end up with some colourful, but still pretty guest books. Sometimes though, people have guest books which look like they've been done by a blind man and are horrific to look at and hard to read. Rather frighteningly, some people make their guest books horrible on purpose!

You can also set your guest book to private from here, so that no one but yourself can read any messages that are left for you. I think this is an excellent idea, and something that Dooyoo should consider when implementing their own guest book system and that Ciao should consider if they ever upgrade their guest book system.

You can delete messages from your own guest book individually, or as a whole from the settings page, so that you can free up some disk space, or simply keep the number of messages you have to a minimum, although some members have well over 500 messages in their guest books. They're probably all from his mum though.

Your proper guest book is where you will read messages sent to you. Replying to a message is simple. You click on the senders' name and this takes you to their guest book and you can leave a nice message for them. If you are writing a message from scratch, and not replying to a message then you can find a member by clicking on the "members" link, then the first letter of the person you want to send a message to (e.g. click 'T' for TheDuke). Unless they've set their guest book to "private", you can pick their name from a list, and type your message in, remembering to tick the "private" box if you want only the recipient to view the message. Irrespective of whether a member is on the alphabetical list, if you know their guest book name, you can enter it in the search field and be taken straight to it.

When typing your message, you can add emoticons (or "smilies") to them, and when your message is posted, you get a nice little graphic which pops up instead (rather like those ones in MSN Messenger, only animated, less colourful, and more varied). A downside to these smilies is that they use a lot of bandwidth, and excessive use slows down the site. It was a "trend" when the site first started to use many (i.e. 50 or 100) of these in a single, short message which slows the site down considerably, thankfully, people have now gotten over this "Christmas syndrome" and things are a lot smoother now.

ILJD has also supplied a general message area where you can leave messages for other users, and so that ILJD himself can leave messages for all members regarding new features, news items etc. that are important for all Tooyoo members. Sometimes, members have pseudo conversations on this page as well (more on this later).

There's a link to the chatroom which is a java applet, and can be a bit slow and unstable at times, but is great fun when you get in. However, you might prefer to use a proper chat program instead which is a lot more stable, and usually a bit faster than the applet. Try mIRC, which is only approximately a 1Mb download (about 5 mins on an ordinary modem) from http://www.mirc.co.uk and if you need any help in getting it set up, then leave a message in my guest book, and I'll give you a hand. To be honest, the chatroom has been really quiet for the last few months, but recently there has been a determined effort to get it up and running again, because the real time interaction with members can be a lot of fun!

*** Tooyoo and the Dooyoo Community ***

ILJD once told me that he hoped the guest books would help bridge the gap between Dooyoo, the members, OpCom [Dooyoo's answer to The Grope, and sadly now dead], and the chatroom. It has been successful in some aspects, but not in others.

The chatroom has become busier, and lots of new people have joined, and liked it there although it's busiest after 9pm, sometimes people do pop in during the day. OpCom hasn't really been affected, and it's a shame as it could be a great resource for those who are prepared to give it a go, and use it properly.

The general message area (GMA) on Tooyoo, rather than be a specific place where (in my opinion) you post a query, question or plea for help and get responses in your guest book the GMA is rather a very slow chatroom where people seem to post the most inane messages, and then hang around for 10 minutes waiting for a response. As there are usually at least half a dozen members online at one time (those are the ones that are "visible"), then to me it would make more sense to use the chatroom link, rather than waste Dave's valuable bandwidth allocation with useless messages.

Has Tooyoo helped the Dooyoo community? Personally, I have my doubts. Yes, it can be fun, and it is a brilliant tool for exchanging messages with other Dooyoo members rather than polluting the comments threads on opinions. But, going around people's guest books (specifically, those you have never communicated with before) and just typing "Hello" or similar is not building a community, at least not in my book, although it is nice to see these pointless messages are no longer polluting the comments threads of opinions.

It also seems to a feature that some people are happy enough just lurking on Tooyoo watching the madness go by. Others lurk, and post "Hello" messages only to get annoyed if they don't get a barrage of replies! This was something which happened on the site recently, and my erm? blunt retort was that the member might try actually saying something interesting. Perhaps it's simply a touch of "new toy" or "Christmas" syndrome, and a lot of members are still finding the novelty of being able to have semi-real time contact with other people too exciting.

*** What's this Tooyoo thing got to do with Ciao? ***

Well, the site was originally designed with Dooyoo in mind, although Ciao members weren't exactly turned away. Months ago, though, Dave opened it up to Ciao members "officially" and now it's more of an independent site with its own community rather than a temporary add on for Dooyoo. Actually, thinking about it, I don't think it ever really supported Dooyoo, and was very much independent right from the start such was the way the members used it but now, the recent redesign (see update, below) has enabled ILJD to further distance Tooyoo/T2 from Dooyoo. So, drop by, register and join in!

*** Overall ***

The site is a great idea, with some excellent features which could prove to be quite useful. It's very plain to look at, but quick to load and easy to navigate. While it's not as handy as a threaded forum, for example, it's a great social area, and ILJD is always open to suggestions about improvements to the current set up or additions to make the site better.

*** Update ***

Recently, Tooyoo (or T2 as it's now known) went through a radical facelift. ILJD decided that a new design would improve matters and, with a little help from some other members, introduced the new version to mostly positive noises. I think that the new design is a lot cleaner and more attractive looking, but it still retains all the features of the old Tooyoo while adding a few new features such as a limited address book where you can store links to the GBs of some members you 'speak' to often.

Looking at the new design, you also get the impression that ILJD has some new features up his sleeve which he will add to the site when everyone gets used to this new design, and I do believe he's also considering a new real time chatroom, but don't quote me on that. So, it's onwards and upwards for T2. He's still appreciative of ideas and feedback, so get in there and let him know what you think!

*** Information ***

The Tooyoo Guest book site can be found at:
http://www.hotshotsdesigns.co.uk/tooyoo/

In the unlikely event you would want to leave me a message:
http://www.hotshotsdesigns.co.uk/tooyoo/book.php?user=TheDuke

Get mIRC from:
http://www.mirc.co.uk

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Comments on this review

  • lindsayjayne published 23/05/2006
    Great review! x
  • phil2001 published 12/01/2004
    Seem's like a brill idea
  • Ophelia published 03/07/2003
    Oh dear - I never realised I was supposed to delete messages from my guestbook. Oops!
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Listed on Ciao since: 16/01/2003