Civil, anonymous notes to anyone, that everyone can read.

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From PRWeb – March 22, 2011


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is Now the Most Active Name on Fastnote.com

Positive notes to Governor Walker outnumber negative notes by 3:1


Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) March 22, 2011 -- Fastnote.com is a new microblogging website where users can write civil, anonymous notes to anyone, and those notes are posted publicly where everyone can read them.

The most active name on Fastnote had consistently been President Barack Obama, since the public launch of the website in December 2010. Other active names have been those in and around Charlotte, NC, where Fastnote was founded.

However, when the recent Wisconsin political battles hit the national press, people from all of the country started to post notes to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Fastnote. Since March 1, over 1,500 notes and comments have been posted to Governor Walker’s Fastnote page, and the majority of those notes have been positive, in support of Governor Walker.

“In some respects, Fastnote is the opposite of Twitter,” explained Richard Shaffner, the founder of Fastnote. “Twitter is from one to many. Fastnote is from many to one – from anyone to a specific person. It’s like being able to read someone’s public inbox.”

Or in this case, it’s like being able to read Scott Walker’s public inbox.

Fastnote was also designed to promote “the voice of the people.” Accordingly, it offers several different ways to analyze data about the notes and note writers. For example, the notes are marked by each writer as positive, negative, suggestion or other, and that data is summed for each person.

So far, most of the notes to Scott Walker have been positive, even when viewed several different ways:

  • Overall, 53% of the notes to Scott Walker have been positive, and only 18% have been negative. (The rest are marked as suggestions or other.)
  • Fastnote also displays the “Active” notes, which are just the most recent notes from each writer. (This approach disregards multiple notes from the same writer.) On that basis, 61% of the notes are positive, and 18% are negative.
  • The results are similar when looking at the Active notes from writers in Wisconsin: 57% are positive and 22% are negative.


Is there bias in these numbers? “Not by design,” says Shaffner. “We’ve promoted Fastnote generally to the public and advertised it to a broad market on Facebook and Google.”

In contrast, the Fastnotes to President Obama are more evenly split. Of those notes, 28% are positive, 30% are negative, and 36% are suggestions. “That’s a good indicator that our user base is not skewed too much to the left or right,” Shaffner said. “It also suggests that more people simply have more positive things to say to Governor Walker.”





From PRWeb – January 26, 2011


Can a Social Media Site be Civil, Anonymous, and Positive?

At a time when social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for fostering a lack of civility, Fastnote is demonstrating that a site featuring civil and anonymous comments can be a force for good.


Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) January 26, 2011 -- Announced just over a month ago, Fastnote is rapidly proving that people have something to say and that they are able to speak their minds politely even though all notes and comments on Fastnote are anonymous.

On Fastnote, you can write short, civil, and anonymous notes to anyone and everyone can read the notes. Users can read, vote on, comment on, and share any note. Richard Shaffner, the founder of Fastnote, observed; “people who come to Fastnote are doing so because they are looking for a place where they can exercise their right to free speech and they understand that they need to be civil in the process.”

People are using Fastnote to share their thoughts on things of importance to them and are forming natural communities. For example, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) School System is facing a budget challenge on the order of $100M and people are writing notes to the board, to the superintendent, and to various members of the school system with suggestions and thoughts on the budget challenge. In the past 30 days, over 1,000 notes and comments have been posted to people and groups in the school community on Fastnote. Here are a few sample notes:


To: Dr. Peter Gorman - CMS Superintendent

Listening

Cutting the budget is incredibly hard. Thanks for being so aggressive in listening to the community. Lots of people with lots of different interests care about CMS - helps everyone that you are listening so well. Thanks.


To: Acquanetta Edmond - Principal of River Gate Elementary

Great Leadership At A Great School

Mrs. Edmond is a shining example of what a great principal can do. She opened a new school, hired a phenomenal staff, and led the school to great heights in its very first year. I've known her for many years and she just gets better every year!!!


As one of the users put it in a note to Fastnote this week: "....been on Fastnote for a week or so and I LOVE it! I love to see that there are folks passionate, good or bad, about CMS.” (Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools).

In addition, people are learning that Fastnote can be a great place to give feedback to your boss or to your company. For example, the most active name on the site is Wells Fargo. Here are a couple of sample notes to Wells Fargo:


To: Wells Fargo & Company

The Customer

I live & work in a small town. I know my customers! I also know that they are all saying the same thing..."Stop cramming sales down my throat!" I don't pride myself for working at WF anymore. More customers leaving everyday. This is sad.


To: Wells Fargo & Company

Treatment Of Employees

Really??? I don't understand how some of you come on here complaining about goals and unethical behaviors... DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THE CUSTOMER and the solutions/cores will come. Stop trying to blame your failures on an excellent bank.


Why is this working? Richard Shaffner, founder of Fastnote, said, “Our motto is “Speak your mind, Praise what’s good, Change what isn’t.” This appeals to people looking to for a public forum where they can post their constructive comments.”

In addition, the site guidelines make it clear that offensive notes won’t be accepted. Most importantly, the community is empowered to keep the content clean. Every note and comment has a report button next to it. If a note or comment is reported, it’s teed up to volunteer group of moderators who can vote to keep or remove the note or comment. According to Shaffner, “the best part of Fastnote is that these processes are working and the site is staying clean and civil.”

For more on the value and appropriate role of anonymity in on line discourse, please see two posts on the Fastnote Blog.





From WBTV News, Charlotte, NC -- January 18, 2011






From the Charlotte Observer -- December 28, 2010


No names, just rants and raves
Charlotte-based social media startup Fastnote.com aims for a slice of Internet.

by Eric Frazier

Richard Shaffner hardly fits the hip young social media CEO stereotype.

He's a 55-year-old father of six, a former banker who's still finding his way around the new world of blogs and social networks. The only T-shirts he'd ever wear to the office would be the ones hidden beneath button-down oxfords.

But the generation gap hasn't stopped him and his 62-year-old brother, Louis, from launching Fastnote.com, a new Charlotte-based social media website they hope will mushroom into the next big thing online.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Fastnote doesn't ask users to create a profile or even give their names. Instead of sharing updates about their lives and thoughts, users write anonymous messages to people or institutions they want to praise, advise or critique.

President Barack Obama, perhaps not surprisingly, has already popped up as one of the site's most popular subjects.

One writer wondered about the president's birth certificate: "Where the hell is it? Can you share it?"

"Wait, are people still debating this?" another writer responded. "He was born in America. He's president. Get over it."

The writers have no way of knowing whether Obama - or any other target of Fastnote messages - actually see what's being said, especially since the site only went public in September and the Shaffners just started publicizing it earlier this month.

Still, the Shaffners say Fastnote's appeal lies in the fact that it gives people an outlet to vent their opinions both publicly and anonymously, without having to "follow" or "friend" anyone.

"It's hard to find something you can't do on the Internet," Richard Shaffner said, "but we did" find this.

Their website joins a crowded online media marketplace.

Hundreds of social networks have sprouted in recent years, all vying for their piece of an increasingly lucrative market.

Internet advertising revenues hit $6.4 billion - the highest quarterly total ever - in the third quarter of this year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Fastnote has no ads for now. It's advertising itself on Facebook.


A way to talk back, with privacy

The Shaffner brothers started building Fastnote about a year ago. The idea came from Richard, who left Bank of America in 2003 after working with its marketing and credit card operations.

He kept wishing he had a way to talk back to the talking heads on the news shows he and his wife like to watch. He and Louis, a former commercial photographer with an affinity for computers, put up much of their savings to get Fastnote off the ground.

They hired computer programmers in California to build the site, and recruited a small staff, including a couple of 20-somethings to help with blogging and outreach to their test markets on college campuses. A guy in New York handles their Twitter feed.

Their headquarters, an office suite in a south Charlotte business park, looks like they just moved in - uncluttered desktops, no pictures on the walls, not even a Fastnote logo in sight.

Their biggest challenge? The same one facing every social media startup: finding an audience in a cluttered, noisy Internet marketplace where people have seemingly limitless options to choose from.

Fastnote started by testing itself with area college students.

Before the site went public, Fastnote had more than 800 registered users and nearly 8,000 unique monthly visitors, Richard Shaffner said.

That's microscopic compared to Facebook's half-billion users.

But as they continue to get feedback, the brothers are starting to wonder if privacy-sensitive baby boomers like themselves might not be a more natural market than the 20-something crowd.

John McArthur, a Queens University communications professor who consulted on Fastnote's development, said people who don't like putting personal information online might find it a more comfortable place to share their thoughts.


Anonymity breeds contempt

But what kind of thoughts?

Fastnote requires messages to be short and civil. But, as the Observer and countless other online news sites have found, anonymous commenters are more likely to post malicious, racist or libelous messages than those who identify themselves.

The Fastnote founders say they will let readers police the site by reporting violators or even serving as volunteer moderators who help decide which posts should be taken down.

They've already had some tricky issues: One person wanted to accuse another of cheating on a spouse. "They have the right to say that," Richard Shaffner said, "but not on our forum."

If given an e-mail address, Fastnote can alert a person who has had a note written about them. But what if that person demands to have their name removed from the site?

"Our reaction is, we didn't put that person's name on the site," he added. "They might not like it there, but whoever added the name and put it there has the right to do that."

The Shaffners have studied the growth of the news-sharing social network Digg, which gets about 6 million monthly visitors. They hope Fastnote's development will mirror Digg's, but they're a long way from that.

One recent afternoon, they bundled up against the cold and passed out Fastnote business cards to office workers along Tryon Street.

"We're two pretty unlikely guys to launch an Internet startup," Richard Shaffner said, chuckling. But "this thing could be huge, because there are so many ways people want to communicate."


Click to read this article on CharlotteObserver.com.




From the Charlotte Business Journal -- December 17, 2010


Fast start for a public forum

by Adam O’Daniel

It’s not WikiLeaks. But Richard Shaffner’s new business venture helps average citizens speak truth to power in an anonymous fashion.

Shaffner has founded Charlotte-based Fastnote.com. The website lets users publish notes online for all to see. And it’s all done without their names being used.


How does Fastnote work?

You can post a note to almost anyone on Fastnote. You can write to public figures such as politicians, athletes and celebrities. You also can write to organizations and businesses, or people such as your neighbor, boss, teacher or coach.

All Fastnotes are posted publicly, so everyone can read them. Fastnotes are already showing up high in search results. Our users share notes they see by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.


How do you establish credibility when so many posts are anonymous?

Fastnote is for sharing opinions and suggestions. Being able to say those things anonymously increases their credibility.

Here, everyone can say what they really think without the fear of repercussions or of hurting relationships.

Obscenities, threats, accusations and rumors are not allowed. Fastnote is moderated by our staff and users, to make sure that the content stays civil.


How will Fastnote generate revenue?

Fastnote is free for our users. They, in turn, help us by providing content and by sharing the site with others. Since all of our content is provided by our users, our ongoing costs will be low. Advertising on the site will generate more than enough revenue to cover our expenses.


Where do you see Fastnote having the most impact on society?

We read the news. We listen to the radio. We watch TV. We’re always on the receiving end. Fastnote turns that around. Now you can tell that politician, reporter, athlete — or anyone else — what you think.

Fastnote gives everyone a new way to speak their minds, to praise what’s good and to try to change what isn’t.


QUICKINFO -- VITAL STATS
  • Richard Shaffner says he was inspired to create Fastnote.com after the 2008 elections because he wanted a public way to tell elected officials how he felt.
  • Much of the website’s management and design team previously worked in the banking sector.

Click to read this article on the Charlotte Business Journal website.



Fastnote Introductory Press Release -- December 14, 2010



Want to Tell the President, the Mayor, Your Professor or Boss Exactly What You Think?
Fastnote launches America’s opportunity to speak its mind


The ability to share your thoughts directly with elected officials, politicians, pollsters, professors, employers, your boss or even someone you know has just changed forever. Richard Shaffner, president and founder of Fastnote LLC today announced: Fastnote, a great new way to communicate online -- directly, civilly and in a constructive manner.

Will it replace other forms of social media? Not likely. Those are good for connecting with one’s friends. Fastnote is different – it is for reaching out to everyone else and telling them what you think. It is also a more effective way of aggregating ALL points of view, not just those of your friends or colleagues.

Most importantly Fastnote will democratize your ability to share your views with leading opinion makers across the country, shape what your employer thinks about the company you work for, and give you the ability to share on one site what you might need dozens of different sites to share.

With Fastnote you can:
  • Write to anyone or any group without knowing contact information or being a “friend” or “follower”
  • Get honest and candid feedback
  • Read interesting and funny comments – to and from anyone
  • Gain rapid insights into how others view someone you support or someone you don’t
  • See everyone’s candid feedback, unlike other popular forms of social media

Fastnote features:
  • Civil, anonymous notes to individuals and organizations
  • User voting – Agree, Disagree, Funny, Well Said – and User comments
  • Community pages for college, business and government communities – where the community members’ names and notes are grouped together for everyone to read
  • Content moderated by the users
  • Tools for demographic and trend analysis

“Fastnote gives people new ways to communicate that no other site offers,” Shaffner, said. “You can tell anyone what’s on your mind, make suggestions, share feedback, and learn what people are saying.” You can view Fastnote at www.Fastnote.com.

Uses for Fastnote:
  • Tell a politician, TV star, or athlete what you think
  • Tell your boss what you think
  • Thank someone and recognize their accomplishments
  • Praise someone publicly
  • Get feedback from customers and associates
  • Read what classmates have to say to a professor
  • See what’s hot in your community or across the country
  • Get quotes for news stories and blogs

“It’s important to us to make Fastnote a civil site -- one that everyone is comfortable using,” Shaffner said. “Even though all notes must be anonymous, the site will be moderated to maintain content quality.” One rationale behind the “ground rules” for a civil site is to also help the country return to a more civil dialogue. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun or approach your comments with vigor, but they must be civil in order to participate.

Shaffner said he got the idea for this start-up during the 2008 election when he realized he couldn’t easily tell candidates and the media what he thought. “The media paradigm is from them to us – we do all the listening,” Shaffner said. “Fastnote turns that around.” Now you can share Shaffner’s dream of having a place where you get to tell anyone else exactly what you think.


About Fastnote:

Fastnote.com is America’s newest and soon to be number one forum for sharing your point of view with politicians, policy makers, professors, your boss, or anyone else you’d like to share your opinion with. After months of testing, Fastnote is positioned to take the social media space by storm and inform politicians and key influencers in a more direct way. Fastnote, LLC is a privately held development company. Richard Shaffner serves as President and has a 30 year career in marketing and private equity.




Fastnote for Journalists:

  • Journalists are welcome to quote the text of up to 25 notes per week from Fastnote. Photos used by Fastnote are for identification purposes only and my not be reproduced without written permission. Please see the Limited Permission to Republish section of our Terms of Service for details.
  • Bloggers are welcome to include an RSS feed on your blog to easily include notes to people and organizations on Fastnote that are relevant to your blog.
  • Finally speak your mind without affecting your public name. On Fastnote your notes and comments are anonymous, so you can say what you might otherwise hold back.
  • Encourage others to take action on your articles. If you write about a school superintendent making big policy changes, see how what you wrote sparks readers to speak up to the superintendent.
  • Conversely, see what people in specific communities are saying about individuals or organizations in your stories to enhance your article. You can get quotes from those writing Fastnotes as sources to support or counter your article, by using our advanced search options.



Featured Images -- Sources and Attributions




Fastnote's Facebook Montage -- Photo Sources and Attributions