October 20, 2007 will

BeContrary out of Beta

BeContrary.com seems to have been well-received. There hasn't been a huge amount of visitors, but I do have some loyal regulars that have made some great arguments. The site was on a few of the social bookmarking sites, which caused spikes in traffic. Annoyingly though, not all social bookmarking sites are created equal in terms of getting visitors. Visitors from Stumbleupon for example had a high bounce-rate because of its random site button. Other sites like metafilter.com and the Dilbert Blog brought more genuinely interested visitors.

The site was also the subject of a bit of vandalism. One user was repeatedly posting page after page of garbage text. Another user posted an argument where he professed his desire to perform fellatio (in slightly different terminology), which was kind of off-topic. So I hurriedly had to implement some anti-jerk technology to prevent flooding. I also had to add the ability to the admin page to completely wipe a users arguments / comments, something which I had naively thought I wouldn't need. The truth is though, that this type of site is vulnerable to vandalism, and if somebody wanted to make a nuisance of themselves then it wouldn't be difficult. All I could do is retroactively clean up the mess. I've had no problems with spam so far, because I implemented a number of anti-spam measures that using javascript to present different content to users than would be seen by a bot. It would be quite easy circumvent, but I can change the technique if spam becomes an issue -- or implement a captcha solution.

Turbogears and Webfaction hosting have consistently performed well, even when traffic spiked. I suspect that the number of visitors has never even come close to critical mass though, so perhaps my optimizations were a little premature. The content is mostly text-based and the largest page (the front page) takes up a meager 64.1K -- I've written emails bigger than that!

The XML or Text for Python Templates debates was quite popular for a while and has many compelling arguments for either site. I think I will try to include a number of Python / geek related debates. Some of the arguments in other debates people come up with are very funny. The following are two of my favorites:

" I would no more use a "Telepod of Doom" for transportation than I would a "Bus of Pain", a "Rickshaw of Destruction" or a "Personal Time Capsule of Discomfort". - In Telepods of Doom.

" Women are financially insolvent breeding mules. To expect that mewling milk spouts could afford the sort of meal required to flatter them is sheer fantasy. " In Going Dutch.

I have officialy declared the site non-beta, although I imagine I'll be tinkering with it for several weekends to come. Now I'm thinking about promotion. I really don't want to spend money on advertising, so I'd appreciate any suggestions of how to get more visitors!

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Travis Bradshaw

"I implemented a number of anti-spam measures that using javascript to present different content to users than would be seen by a bot."

This is typically a poor solution as it often effects screen readers and makes your site less accessible to the disabled.


Congratulations on becontrary.com! It looks great and is quite cool.

I'm working on getting a related site idea off the ground: http://debatewire.org. It uses debate questions as a way to organize blog entries. Coincidentally, I also chose to do it in python (cherrypy). I found out about your site through the python planet, actually.

I think our sites are different enough that we're not really competitors. =) Anyway, it's nice to see someone else interested in fostering interesting discussions on the web.


Thanks. I like your site! I can see some similarities there. Not that there is anything wrong with competition. Perhaps I could put some debates from debatewire.org on becontrary.com and exchange links?