Not that I am old, but I remember Jason back when he was still Jason McCabe Calacanis, at the beginning of Weblogs Inc. And during those years there were a number of controversies but whenever asked, I kind of sided with him.
Don’t get me wrong: Calacanis does provide awesome content on This Week in Start-ups and his newsletters, and in the Techcrunch 50 vs. Launch Conference war with Arrington I am totally on his side. And I even liked the old Mahalo Answers with the virtual currency including the discontinued iPhone app. And I am willing to give props to the marketing spin on the pivot to Mahalo 4.0.
But (you sensed there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?): From a numbers game, the recent pivot might make sense and help to get mahalo into the Top 50 sites.
But it is pictures like the following that make me question his means:
I am pretty sure I didn’t sign up explicitly to receive an email notification for each topic that I liked on Mahalo Answers, and the email volley only started after the pivot. To make matters worse, a click doesn’t get me to Mahalo Answers but to a SEO-improved new site, where all the questions from Answers are catergorized under a different name. Looks like Jason wasn’t kidding after all when he called himself the god of SEO.
Fine if that improves his PageRank and finally gets mahalo in the Top 50 sites, point proven but you know what? It makes me wanna delete my mahalo account instead of answering the questions.
For version 3.0 they had a great iPhone app which let you ask and answer questions on the fly. Well, at one point it just stopped working. They discontinued it, but instead of pulling the app and communicating their decision the let the app in the store and users get “there are no questions in this category”. And the at one point working twitter-workstream stopped working just as well, no feedback from the official twitter account, just from @jason if he had time. I have no issue with the pivot as such, but once users get accustomed to a certain product you have to manage expectations better.
Mahalo is now the place to learn everything? Great, I’ll take my answers to another place then.