February 25th, 2012


my website projects, how to write a personality quiz

So two things happened this week on spacefem.com.

First, I got into the etsy API and wrote a contest script that pulls random items of near-equal and puts them up against each other in head to head combat for voting. I've been busily promoting it, getting feedback, tweaking the script, and being very excited about over 100 people (!) coming in to vote one day.

Second, the "what color is your rainbow" quiz went sorta tumblr-viral. I wrote this in 2008 and couldn't give two craps about it. They quiz takers almost crashed my site, 55,000 people have hit it this month and it normally only gets 1000 or so... with the exception of its first launch (40K) and mini-spike in may 2010 (8K). At this point I'm used to quizzes being "discovered" months or years after I write them so I know how the cycle goes, and it's going just like that.

This time tumblr went nuts over it, then some website I've never even heard of called plurk, and now it's descending back into livejournal just as the tumblr people are realizing that I have other quizzes so those pick up too.

Oddly enough, viral used to start with livejournal. Then deadjournal, then xanga... that was the world I lived in back in the day.

My personality quizzes tend to follow the same formula, I have very basic rules:

1) Steal from another test. "What HTML color are you?" is basically MBTI but don't tell anyone. "What engineer should you be" is Enneagram.

2) Tell people positive things in the results so they want to repost it. I once made a "are you dumb?" quiz to make fun of all those IQ tests on the internet that tell everyone their IQ is 160, but it turns out nobody wanted to hear that their IQ was not 160 so this was not a popular quiz.

3) Be like psychic friend, take what answers people give you and reword them.

4) Write every description about myself. I figure most of the internet is like me. Also they say the best writing is based on what you know. So on the "what phase of the moon were you born under" quiz I read up on astrology, found an aspect of myself in every description, and wrote things like you're sometimes unhappy with what others think is 'good enough' and you appreciate closure.

And that's a personality quiz.

I'm not saying I've lost my enthusiasm for them now that I know the formula, I'll always think of some random new one. I don't write them to fake people out or laugh at them, honestly, I write to educate. I've taught people about the dewey decimal system, HTML colors (who knew there was AliceBlue?), synoptic period of the moon's phases, and my personal favorite... you don't need a boyfriend (if you take that one be sure to read the comments, they are GOLDEN).

It's just that when I'm distracted with another project, it's hard for me to get excited about something that I had completely thought out four years ago. What's in it for me? The mental challenge is gone. I'm excited that I did my first bit of coding with an API and I've never done anything like that before, and I feel like the etsy one is horribly underused... apparently knitters don't write much code. I can't help where my brain is at, or the fact that 55,000 visitors can't make me feel proud of myself like, well, I can.