At one point today there were 250 people playing fastr at the same time. It's currently down to about 120. I'm not sure exactly where the avalanche of traffic began (do that many people really read MeFi projects?), but it definitely picked up the pace significantly when fastr landed on del.icio.us/popular, where it currently sits both third and twenty-eigth (twice because I made the mistake I previously cautioned against by pointing to both randomchaos.com and www.randomchaos.com in different places).

I've had a few notes about bugs, most of which I've managed to fix today. One problem that isn't entirely solved yet is that there are few enough tags being used that some people have memorized them and are winning simply because they've been playing the longest. I just started using my new Flickr API key, which allows the game to show a random ten out of a hundred photos instead of the ten out of twenty it was showing before. That will hopefully level the playing field a bit, but I really need to add more tags.

Some people have suggested the tags should be random, but that's how it was when I first made the game (when just Jessica and I were playing), and it really didn't work. The problem is that people use tags that you could never guess from the pictures, like 500v50f or interesting or sarah. So I have to restrict it to certain tags to make it any fun at all. I just need to add more tags to make it more fun.

Other problems: people clearly want to be able to include links with their names, which was possible for most of today, until someone pointed out that it was also possible to insert malicious JavaScript in the name field (by doing so). So now it strips all tags. Eventually I hope to allow only link tags, but I need to remove most attributes (e.g. onload) to filter out problems.

People have been testing the limits of the name field all day, and I need to force the names to be a bit smaller to conserve space, but that's not a high priority. I added highlighting for your own name, so that should make it quicker to see where you fall in the list. But the list is too long, and I'm still not sure what to do about this.

Finally, the Google ads are awful. I don't want to just remove them because that would drop my pay for this project from the current $0.30 or so per hour to nothing, but Google continues to send various general technology ads rather than game ads. I was hoping maybe other people were seeing better ads until I saw a player named "spilt testing is obsolete," which made me laugh.

Later I saw a player named "split testing is NOT obsolete." I've toyed with the idea of adding chat to the game, but I'm pretty sure I won't, for a variety of reasons. It would be hard to chat and play at the same time. Also, there are enough people already using their player names as flame bait that I don't really want to know what chat would look like. And I also kind of like how the limitations of a username forces people to be more creative in expressing themselves.

I expect the numbers will die down eventually, but I hope today's surge of traffic will result in a steady stream of users over time. Despite all the problems I've discovered today, fastr is definitely more fun when more people are playing.

 

After making some improvements and posting to MeFi projects, there were just 72 people playing fastr at the same time. Surprisingly enough, it's still working. The first website I saw pointing to it was Tecnicalia, a Spanish tech blog. That made me think maybe it was worthwhile making a Spanish version. I thought it would be a fun way to practice a second language, and also let Spanish speakers play in their first language. But I haven't seen anyone playing it yet.

 

When you're a law student, they tell you if say that if you can't argue the law, argue the facts. They also tell you if you can't argue the facts, argue the law. If you can't argue either, apparently, the solution is to go on a public relations offensive and make it a political issue... to say over and over again "it's lawful", and to think that the American people will somehow come to believe this if we say it often enough.

David Cole, Georgetown University Law Professor