Where has FilterJoe Has Taken Me? Where Am I Taking FilterJoe?

Signal to noise ratio is engineering jargon. It is also used in everyday speech. The signal is that which is important, interesting and relevant. The noise is everything else.

FilterJoe has always been about increasing the signal to noise ratio of the internet.

What I found after 3 years of blogging is that only one type of FilterJoe post had a strong enough signal to be noticed:

Product information.

It happened by accident. People found my first article comparing browsers more than any other prior post. The comparison was a buried side point but that’s what people were looking for. So I made my browser comparison an annual feature and developed more product/service oriented posts.

By the end of 2011 there were over 20,000 unique visitors per month to filterjoe.com, and virtually all of the traffic related to comparisons, reviews, and other information about products and services. This happened despite infrequent postings—fewer than 40 posts between March of 2009 and December of 2011.

In addition to encouragement from readers, I started to have conversations with other people about product information. Why is it so hard to find quality product information online? Why does it take so much of my time? What can I do to make it better?

One thing led to another and now I’m cofounding a company that aims to do a much better job with online product information. More about that later.

Back to the questions:

  1. Where has FilterJoe taken me?
  2. Where Am I taking FilterJoe?

The answer to both questions: product information.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few months about the way online product information is currently done. Over the next few months, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned. I’ll continue to share information about products or services I use and/or have extensively studied. And I may be experimenting with different styles and types of presentation with the aim of helping inform how we develop our service.

But the basic idea of FilterJoe will stay the same. It will be about helping people find what they need and work without distraction. It will be about increasing the signal to noise ratio of the internet. It’s just that it will mostly be helping people find the product information they need, while keeping distraction and noise to a minimum.


Author: Joe Golton

I’m a dad with a son who loves baseball. Professionally, I’ve been a software developer, investor, controller, and logistics manager. I now make my living from this blog, supplemented with occasional consulting gigs.

5 thoughts on “Where has FilterJoe Has Taken Me? Where Am I Taking FilterJoe?”

  1. You’re not wrong. And here’s the proof from where I sit:

    This morning, I awoke with a need to acquire some replacement rechargeable batteries. And I recalled reading some words from you about them. Only I couldn’t remember who you were, nor where to find you. But I did recall that we’d had a brief discussion on my blog about passwords.

    One thing led to the other, and here I am, looking on your site for product information about rechargeable batteries.

    So this is where Filterjoe has taken me, today. Hopefully, feedback like this will continue to take Filterjoe in a direction that will continue to benefit others 🙂

  2. Colin,

    Google used to be part of the solution to information overload. In the past 3 years it’s turned into part of the problem. My battery post in specific has bounced around so much in Google rankings that you can literally find it in the top 10 one week (“best aa batteries”), not all all the next week, and then only with great difficulty the week after that. How is this helpful to someone who read the post once and wants to return to it based on a 2 or 3 keywords they may remember from the post or the title?

    More generally, Google’s algorithms have become increasingly weighted to favor large branded sites and social signals. So sometimes you see the same information regurgitated 10-20 times by the top sites dominating search results and it’s hard to find a small site that goes into more depth. This has lead to a new search site that yields shockingly good results sometimes:


    All it does is present Google search results but without the top million most popular sites. You can also choose to exclude top 100,000, or top 10,000. I’m finding that I’m already turning to this new site several times a day. An example of a fact I quickly discovered is that Pinterest is NOT the fastest site to ever get to 10 million users. It’s not even close. It’s Formspring. It’s very hard to find that out with a standard google search “fastest growing web site ever” because all the most popular sites copy each other’s info: that Pinterest is fastest growing ever.

    Try using millionshort to search for “best aa batteries” (exclude top 100,000 sites) and you’ll have no trouble finding my aa battery post.

    So yeah – it’s hard to find in depth FilterJoe product posts you read and liked a year ago. It’s one of the problems that would be solved with a really good online product info service.

  3. Very interesting site, and articles. I just read over your blurb on LifeHacker about silent computers, with a budget price in mind. While it pains me to read that you go with pre-built machines, I can understand that the low budget pretty much requires it. I’ve built my computers for years, and normally find this to be a better choice when compared to off-the-shelf pc’s. I personally feel that you may have missed an important market segment entirely: tablets. These devices are coming of age, and their power can be formidable. My little a500 Acer can play h.264 files, but not 720p (with HD profiles). If you put this device into your formula, you could buy a monitor and input devices, and have a silent system, under budget. Granted, this is Android OS, so every single app for Windows would need a replacement droid app, but the argument will shift with time to favor these newer low-power-consumption alternatives to pc’s, called tablets.

    Also: I’m interested to learn more about your project, and startup about product information. I have spent countless hours researching solutions to problems/challenges over the years, and I completely agree that there is a significant problem/issue in locating useful product information. gdgt.com is helping to make this a thing of the past, with user-provided reviews of common and not-so-common hardware. There needs to be more sites like this, to share and divulge information to uber-geeks like myself, and yourself I presume. Hit me up if I can help ya?

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Todd. I agree with you on Tablets as the up and coming silent PC. Had I wrote this post about 1 year from now it would have had to be completely different, given that tablet-centric Windows 8 will have arrived and the iPad will have further matured as a platform for more than just media consumption (I know that work can already be done on iPads – it’s just that some things are currently too painful – I expect this to improve over time). And who knows, maybe Android tablets will develop the wine-on-linux equivalent for running Windows apps.

    I’ll be in touch with you with regards to my product info startup – thanks!

  5. Very interesting site I to have a iPhone 4s and blackberry and your review help me make my mind up what to keep.
    I just wish battery life was better with iPhone because battery life can be better with blackberry because you can carry spare battery you can’t with a iPhone as its built in

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