Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Test Drive Etopps 2.0

Rather than give a list of what etopps can do to become more transparent with its registered members, I'm going to take a step further, a step into what etopps could be like with web 2.0 or etopps 2.0 for short.

Before I begin, I should include that my proposal will not help return etopps back to the card value spikes of 2002 and will not bring back the membership from then. That's a different time machine.

Instead, step into the future, 6 months from now: February 13, 2009. It's morning and I'm checking my email inbox. I have 7 messages, 4 of them are notifications that I have a PM (private message) from the etopps message board. I click on these PM emails to see what I have in store before logging into my etopps account.

The first PM is from some guy named Neil. He had originally PM'ed me last night through the myspace website because he liked the look of the scrolling marquee of etopps cards I had on my myspace page and wanted to know more about these cards. I PM'ed him back via myspace about etopps and told him to use my username as a referral if he registered on etopps. Sure enough, in my inbox, I received a notification from etopps thanking me for the referral and received 5 reward points for Neil. In his PM, he wrote, "Thanks for hooking me into etopps. I just signed up. When I have cards in my portfolio, where can I find the myspace widget to put them onto my myspace page?" I tell him where it's located and also tell him he can find the answer to this and many other questions in the new members section of the message board that has a FAQ section.

The second PM is from by buddy jimijam, asking me shamelessly to vote for his design to the upcoming baseball cards. He tells me he'll vote for mine if I vote for his. This puts me in a bind because I haven't gotten around to downloading the design program from the etopps homepage yet to put mine together. I'm not even going to bother with the program if I can't turn the damn card to the side to give it a landscape look.

The third PM is from Mark Sapir, telling everyone that we have four more days to upload our designs for the upcoming baseball season if they want to be considered for the winning design.

The fourth PM is from bigdog who reminds me to give him a positive rating for our recent trade. To do this, I have to open the completed trade confirmation email to get to the link that allows us to rate each other. After we both do this, like with ebay, our trade feedback rating goes up +1. Mine is at 11 so I could use more while bigdog is already at 87.

How did he get so many since etopps got rid of the tradepost on January 1st to make trading more interactive? Simple: for your messageboard profile you can include a trade page that can be linked to every post you make. The link is below your username and trade feedback rating. Similar to cardtarget, if you click on someone's trade link you go to their trade page and it allows you to propose a trade with that person that gets PM'ed and emailed to that person and you. Both of you get a link in the notification that leads you to a private tradepage to complete the transaction.

I open the etopps website, and click on Mark Sapir's blog. Even though I subscribe to his blog via RSS feed I go to it anyway. He's got two posts.

One is a few sentences about updates to the etopps calendar. Like on the Topps website, there is a calendar on the etopps home page. By placing your mouse pointer on a date that is in bold, a small window pops up that shows what is occurring with etopps on that particular day. The IPO cards on Mondays get filled in slower and sometimes have "RRO - TBD" but are known by early Monday morning at the latest. Autograph offerings are shown for each player a month ahead of time and the take-delivery availability dates are shown as well. Allocation dates are also shown and correspond to their respective IPO week.

The second post by Mark is titled "Production Delay For Delivery Of Cards." In the post, Mark explains what was wrong with the cards that were sent to him by the printer and how common this can be. He includes a photo of one of the cards. There are several comments included in this post from etopps members, critiquing the quality of the card in the photograph.

Also on the home page, there is an autograph announcement for Greg Oden. 95 are available and this number is in a countdown box that gets activated when the offering goes live in a couple of days.

Oden is no suprise to me because (1) etopps members voted at the beginning of the basketball season who they wanted for basketball autographs and Oden was voted the #1 choice and (2) Mark had put Greg in for the autograph on the etopps calendar which I've synced with my google calendar seamlessly. Below his card, you can click a video that's showing Greg signing his etopps card and commenting on the quality of the card. Since the video is on youtube, there are more than 300 views already and several of the comments are asking about etopps and how to get this autographed card.

I log into the message board and see I have a couple more PMs. One is from the myspace guy, Neil. He alerts me to the video he found on the site that I've seen already, showing the process of how the etopps cards are printed, the Delaware storage facility and how they are encapsulated.

The other PM is from bigdog. Rather than another request for a trade, he is sending me an invite to participate in one of the new games etopps recently introduced, using a playing card motif. He is inviting me to play with my 2008 Football cards. (No wonder he made so many trades!)

In the invite, I'm informed what the minimum number of reward points (think betting chips) are needed to play, how many cards can be used, and which stats will be played (at least 7 of 25: the most rushing yards, the longest last name, etc). The program randomly picks each stat that bigdog chose for the game. I'm probably going to get killed but at least I know bigdog is probably playing a few of the 08 FBs I traded to him for an Oden so I've got some research to do.

Thank you for test-driving etopps 2.0

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