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  Post #16 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Gad ... I really have to learn to be more concise
Nah, you just need to learn how to go to bed before 4:30am!

All very good points, but what I got out of your post (correct me if I'm worng) is that a host gets a "seal" stating that they'll live up to what they say in their TOS, and on the "seal" website there's a breakdown of the do's and don'ts.

But that doesn't help much, I mean it's a little bit, show that the host took the extra 2 minutes to get a "seal". Am I wrong in what I got from that?
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  Post #17 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 08:22 AM
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lol thinking in the shower is pretty famous, you aren't the only one in this one ;p
 
 
 


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  Post #18 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 08:48 AM
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Well sort of in a way but not really I know what I want to say in the back of my brain ... but the thoughts get a wee bit messed up by the time they make it to the front of my brain and out my fingers to the keyboard
Sorry.

Basically ... they state what their "rules of operation" are ... and that they can somehow prove to the "association" that they are not a "fly by night" operation that is in it for the long haul. I invision the seal as kind of a "3rd party" endorsement that the web host means what he says and his "rules of operation" are followed to the letter ... and in the associations assessment the host is not likely to disappear any time soon.

Membership applications should be accompanied by a set fee ... but that fee is non-refundable and does not guarantee acceptance as a member. After the application is received ... then a designated party who the association chooses would actually go in as a customer to that persons site and test out as many of the claims made by their "rules of operation" and if the host sticks by them and the associations investigation into the hosts stability & reliability are all positive then ... in 60 to 90 days (whenever he has passed everything) ... then the host becomes a member and is given permission to display the "seal". The fee ... say $200 ... $100 goes into the longer term operation costs of the association ... the other $100 would be spent to cover the costs of determining if the host is eligible for membership (ie to pay the 3rd party for their time & the cost of the bogus account etc). First years membership would be the $200 ... subsequent years would be $100 - $150 (or whatever ... to cover the associations costs and also cover the cost of random testing to insure the host is still abiding by their "rules of operation".

But the "rules of operation" of each host do not have to be the same as every other member host. Just as long as they state what THEIR rules are ... and that they stick by them no matter what. The association would, of course, what topics must be covered & addressed in each applicants "rules of operation" and that those rules must be prominently linked to on the hosts website so all visitors and customers can view it at anytime. Also, if the host wants to change any of the "rules of operation" then their permission to display the seal on their site is temporarily suspended until the association has time to review the changes and if needs be retest the hosts ability to live up to the changes.

Hmmm ... I am not sure I am making any sense at all

Peter
 
 
 


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  Post #19 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:18 AM
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Made perfect sense, very well explained.

I like the idea of an application fee as it helps to weed out the hosts that are lookin' for a quick buck. It also, as you stated, would help cover operating costs.

You're basically suggesting that the host doesn't have to live up to rules of the organization, but rather the hosts' own set of standards and regulations. Perhaps some "trickery", or better wording, "testing" that the organization would do throughout the year. Test phone numbers/mailing addresses listed. Purchase an account and submit some trouble tickets, test the sales address etc.

Then on the Organization's website a database of hosts that have applied for, and list those that have passed the initial tests. Say, 30 days after the host has applied they are allowed to present the seal. If during the 30-day time frame they have the seal on their site they are denied acceptance. Then after the 30 days their 1-year begins of being "a certified host". There could be levels of certification, and different seals associated with the level. Say, two years later wouldn't you want a cooler seal to be displayed on your site than that of the newly applied?

Renewal costs would of course be discounted over the course of say.... 5-6 years then hit a bottom where it stays for renewal. Say, first year you pay $200, 2nd year $180, 3rd year $160, 4th year $140, 5th year $120 and thereafter it is $100/year. In theory after 5 years it is not likely a host will just up and leave. And this cost is not 5 years that the host has been in business; it is that the host has been a certified host with the organization. For instance: ExonNet is on its 2nd year - however if we were to apply we would be expected to pay the first $200/year cost.


The database on the organization's site would be searchable to guests for free I'm assuming - and would show the average response times by hosts, their current plans (which they would be responsible for updating) and any other extra information such as contact information and current years of operation.

Also tied in with this could be "Certified Host of the Year" and the organization could have like a host roundup at the end of each year showcasing a host that had the best overall in the categories.
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Last edited by Exon : 01-12-2005 at 09:29 AM. Reason: Spiiielling
 
 
 


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  Post #20 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:39 AM
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When I initially saw Peter mentioning ISO, I cringed. I've previously helped companies get ISO certification, and the maintenance is a royal blitch (the "l" is silent). Plus - believe me on this one - they don't check to see that you produce a quality product, or even that you provide quality service. They check to see that you have procedures in place and that the company claims to follow them.

I much better like the idea of "stealth customer tests" (mystery shoppers, essentially). Test things out from the *customer* point of view. See how hosts respond. See what they say / do. See how they react. See how they treat their customer base. Then report what a consumer should expect from the aforementioned company.

Here are some thoughts:

* selecting the shoppers, so that they have the background to provide a good, effective review. You'll need good communicators / observers.
* may need a mix of shoppers - advanced-level knowledge, utter newbie, etc. - and hit the host with both types to test different user experiences. (Your fresh-off-of-Yahoo user isn't necessarily going to be familiar with half of the tools in many hosting control panels, and so if they weren't there or didn't function, they wouldn't see this as a negative; however, if the user documentation isn't newbie-friendly, all the documentation in the world won't help.)
* will need shoppers who aren't "recognized" over time - otherwise their effectiveness gets reduced (ie, you might need to "retire" some shoppers after having them test five or six hosts; or use them on a rotating basis)
* thinking ahead, you'll want to find shoppers who speak other languages. They can work in those language markets, or test hosts who claim to have multilingual support and report how fluent that support is.
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Last edited by Lesli : 01-12-2005 at 09:44 AM.
 
 
 


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  Post #21 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exon
The database on the organization's site would be searchable to guests for free I'm assuming -
Yes ... and be classified as Members, Rejected Hosts, Suspended Members and Pending Applicants. There could be a "pending seal" for hosts who have applied but have not as yet been approved ... but not a regular members seal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exon
and would show the average response times by hosts, their current plans (which they would be responsible for updating) and any other extra information such as contact information and current years of operation.

Also tied in with this could be "Certified Host of the Year" and the organization could have like a host roundup at the end of each year showcasing a host that had the best overall in the categories.
That gets into a whole different kettle of fish I think. The association shouldn't get into "advertising" for its members ... only a certification and redirection service to hosts that are approved members.

Getting into the advertising and "Certified Host of the Year" ... personally I think it might be seen as undermining the integrity of the "seal" and the association. There are other sites for advertising ... the association, as I see it, would be about honesty & intergrity of the member host.

JMHO
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  Post #22 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:49 AM
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I also would not want to have plans listed in this database - at least, not initially. Peter's right - it's more maintenance, it can detract from the group's purpose. If things go smoothly, this could be added in later (RSS feed, perhaps, to make it easier for hosts to maintain?) but only if it could be done in a way that would not make the listings / comparison the reason for visiting the site.

What I see on a site like this, what I would look for from a consumer standpoint:
* list of the hosts
* what they offer (broadstroke: Windows, Linux, reseller, dedicated, colo, shared hosting, VPS)
* a Consumer Reports-style review on their service level
* recertification test dates (month and year, or quarter and year, to preserve shopper anonymity) and what the reviewers found as compared to previous checks
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Last edited by Lesli : 01-12-2005 at 09:51 AM.
 
 
 


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  Post #23 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:53 AM
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I like the idea of a "mystery shopper" who would produce a quality review. Each year this "review" could be revisisted. How long would the "mystery shoppers" have an account with the host for? Throughout the year?

After reading what Peter and Lesli had posted it is a good idea to keep away from "advertising" per say for the host, more of just a "consumer reports" style site for people to visit, but hosts have to apply for it first.
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  Post #24 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lesli
When I initially saw Peter mentioning ISO, I cringed. I've previously helped companies get ISO certification, and the maintenance is a royal blitch (the "l" is silent). Plus - believe me on this one - they don't check to see that you produce a quality product, or even that you provide quality service. They check to see that you have procedures in place and that the company claims to follow them.
After I wrote it I was rethinking that thought But ... the "concept" of the ISO certification is basically what I am touting. A company decides the product and the quality of product they would provide ... and it would be detailed for all to see at all times. As long as a company says they are selling apples & they are of a certain quality ... and they are providing apples & the apples they provide are of the quality stated ... then the association should have no problem with it. The problems arise when a company states they are selling apples & they are of a certain quality ... but the company ends up providing lemons ... that is where the problems arise.

Again ... JMHO
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  Post #25 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:04 AM
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I love a good discussion in the morning...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exon
I like the idea of a "mystery shopper" who would produce a quality review. Each year this "review" could be revisisted. How long would the "mystery shoppers" have an account with the host for? Throughout the year?
You'd need a few, wouldn't you? For hosts who advertise a money-back guarantee, you'd need someone to sign up, then drop their account to test that. Then you'd need people to stay longer - three months minimum, I should think. You'll want to look for longer stays as well - six months to possibly a year.

You'll also want to recruit "initial mystery shoppers" who may eventually decide that they want to stay with a host - causing, almost, a longer-term test. Otherwise, the shoppers would have to keep creating sites and then panning them. So...there needs to be some graceful way for shoppers to retire.

Shoppers need to be carefully screened, as well. You need good communicators, you need thorough people, you need people who can be rigorously impartial (in good reviews as well as in bad reviews), you need folks who aren't just in it to get free hosting or (perish the thought) to test various networks and servers for spam- or hack-worthiness. Shopper recruitment will have to be done carefully.
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  Post #26 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exon
I like the idea of a "mystery shopper" who would produce a quality review.
Yeah ... get people like me (but not me ) That know enough that they could write an intelligent review and recommendation to the association ... but not know so much they'd have difficulty passing themselves off as a complete newbie when necessary And they would have to be trusted by the association to be able to submit honest and accurate reviews ... no matter who they are assessing. No personal or professional bias allowed

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  Post #27 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmhoran
After I wrote it I was rethinking that thought But ... the "concept" of the ISO certification is basically what I am touting. A company decides the product and the quality of product they would provide ... and it would be detailed for all to see at all times. As long as a company says they are selling apples & they are of a certain quality ... and they are providing apples & the apples they provide are of the quality stated ... then the association should have no problem with it. The problems arise when a company states they are selling apples & they are of a certain quality ... but the company ends up providing lemons ... that is where the problems arise.

Again ... JMHO
Peter
Gotcha This is most definitely a good idea - to test what a company says, then simply hold them to their word.

One thing that should be considered: a history of how the group came to be, and who is currently running the group. Full disclosure, and so forth.
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  Post #28 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmhoran
Yeah ... get people like me (but not me ) That know enough that they could write an intelligent review and recommendation to the association ... but not know so much they'd have difficulty passing themselves off as a complete newbie when necessary And they would have to be trusted by the association to be able to submit honest and accurate reviews ... no matter who they are assessing. No personal or professional bias allowed

Peter
That's why I suggested finding both newbies to hosting and quasi-geeks. Even if they're thorough, it might be difficult for a quasi-geek to evaulate a hosting service as it would appear through the eyes of someone who's perhaps had a Geocities site, maybe used FrontPage a bit, and other than that is active in various AOL forums and messenger...but doesn't know the difference between an email account and an email alias.

And yes - I forgot to mention, but they will need to be screened to make sure that they aren't employed by another hosting company in any capacity. Either that...or have them report any affiliate programs they belong to, and make sure that they never get asked to review that host.
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  Post #29 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:24 AM
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Perhaps the organization, who would probably be made up of what - say 10 "Board Members" would also be the ones would would go and review hosts. If the board member were to be employed (or own) a hosting company they would be ineligible to write reviews.

I don't know how you would screen against people who would try to take advantage of the situation.
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  Post #30 (permalink)   01-12-2005, 10:27 AM
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Actually Lesli ... I believe it is possible to find even owners of other web hosting companies who could provide an honest and unbiased assessment and recommendation to the association ... without letting professional bias enter the picture. View the applicant as just that ... an applicant for membership ... not as a potential competitor. That is one of the main reasons (but not the only one) I feel advertising should not be considered for the associations website.

Oh yeah ... and the association would have to establish a way of handling complaints. That is a given.
 
 
 
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