The BEBEPOOL.COM Birth Story

bebepool.com

First, introductions: I’m Micah Wittman, the creator and administrator of bebepool.com.

Here’s the story of bebepool.com: it came to be leading up to the birth of our first son. This would be the year 2000, or in Internet Years: about the Iron Age (I wasn’t on Bronze-Age dialup any more!).

I was inspired by my good friend, Dana, who wrote a simple baby pool application (built with Active Server Pages—”Classic ASP”) for his “baby website” (also for his first son, as it turned out).

My first implementation was no more than a form-to-email ASP script. I’d receive a guess by email, then manually update the static html in the ASP file.

“Guess Table” – the Proto-Bebepool

Proto bebepool.com Screenshot

It was an exhilarating experience—taking the <spoken with Grand Canyon reverb> world wide web into my own hands, and helping my family and friends come together online to celebrate and anticipate the birth of our first child. You could feel the power of the internet as communications tool chipping away at the geographic barriers between us and our immediate families, which in our case is thousands of kilometers (sorry, don’t have the conversion to furlongs for those desperate for imperial units of measure).

Message on original “Guess Table”

This page was designed to give our family and friends–you–an opportunity to take your best guess at some soon to be discovered statistics about our baby. Everyone’s predictions will be shown in the table below. I must mention that this page is inspired by the Aldom’s site (friends of ours).

A snippet of information that might be helpful: The due date is November 17th.

(For those with a competitive bent, stay posted for an official guess analysis. The person with the highest score* will be appropriately credited on this page).

*The panel of judges, I and Laura, will calculate the score based on the following rules: each question is worth one point; each question is in the form “Multiple Choice” or “Closest Answer Takes All”. The nature of the “Closest Answer” form is that only one person per question can score the point–the answer nearest to reality (at the discretion of the panel) takes it. Exciting stuff, eh!

While this was great and all, there was manual work to transcribe and update, but more than that I wished it could be real-time: you make a guess, you see it on the web page moments later.

The Late Iron Age

During the months before our second son’s birth, in 2003, I discovered and utilized an open source web application called, at the time, phpSurveyor (apparently, now LimeSurvey). It worked not badly – it was a full-fledged system that allowed one to build custom online surveys. It did the job, and even provided basic statistics for you; it was also not hard to hack in a few simple customizations. I even setup a couple surveys/pools for friends who were expectant parents at that time.

This got me thinking about building something from scratch, putting in features I thought important, but not available elsewhere (like ‘comments’) or only available if you pay (‘PDF printing’). I imagined it to be a multi-user, self-serve application dedicated to running baby pools. And so, the coding began (in PHP).

The Roman Era

When son number three was on the horizon, in 2005, I had a working bebepool.com and put it to good use. I opened it to the public—every bit of it free, and still is— and it’s been going ever since.

If you like statistics, read the next part, if not, please feel free to stretch you legs and retrieve a cold beverage to enjoy – we’ll be right back.

Rate of New Pools Starting


# of New Pools – Year to Year Comparison

2007 compared to 2006⇧ 43%
Jan–Jul 2008 compared to 2007⇧ 131%
  

We’re only half-way through 2008, and activity on the site has never been more bustling.

Wrap This Bebe Up

The phrase It’s a privilege can sound trite, but I’ll risk it here: It is a privilege to help others create a social web experience surrounding such a profound event as welcoming a new son or daughter into one’s family.

Thank you to everyone who gave bebepool.com a spin, and certainly those who stuck around to really made it your own micro-community for a time. I hope you’ll be back as you’re family tree grows.

Your feedback is absolutely welcome—comment (below) on the content of this post, and/or any points of discussion on aspects of the site you like/don’t like. Ideas on how to make bebepool.com a better place?—would love to hear from you.

  • tina chow

    LOVE the free site and its fun.. you should add a feature to add a photo of mom so ppl can see when they are guessing!

  • tina chow

    LOVE the free site and its fun.. you should add a feature to add a photo of mom so ppl can see when they are guessing!

  • http://wittman.org/ micahwittman

    @tina Thanks! It’s as fun for me to run it as it is for everyone using the bebepool.com.

    The “mom” photo is a good idea. Hmm, I have some photo uploading code from another project that with some re-working could do the trick. Let me think about that one a bit more.

    Thank you for the comment.

  • http://www.wittman.org/ micah

    @tina Thanks! It’s as fun for me to run it as it is for everyone using the bebepool.com.

    The “mom” photo is a good idea. Hmm, I have some photo uploading code from another project that with some re-working could do the trick. Let me think about that one a bit more.

    Thank you for the comment.

  • Brian K

    I just created two accounts because we are having twins. I am not sure if the calculations would work, but have you ever thought about allowing for multiple births. We are discovering everyday that there are more and more multiple births out there. It was just a thought. Thanks for setting up the site.

  • Brian K

    I just created two accounts because we are having twins. I am not sure if the calculations would work, but have you ever thought about allowing for multiple births. We are discovering everyday that there are more and more multiple births out there. It was just a thought. Thanks for setting up the site.

  • http://wittman.org/ micahwittman

    @Brian First, thanks for trying bebepool for this exciting time of expecting twins. Congratulations! I think you’re absolutely right about the increase in multiple births. It’s a great suggestion and one I’ve had on my list (near the top) to add as a built in feature.

    That said, I can manually configure a “split screen” of your two bebepool accounts. I’ll email you the link.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://www.wittman.org/ micah

    @Brian First, thanks for trying bebepool for this exciting time of expecting twins. Congratulations! I think you’re absolutely right about the increase in multiple births. It’s a great suggestion and one I’ve had on my list (near the top) to add as a built in feature.

    That said, I can manually configure a “split screen” of your two bebepool accounts. I’ll email you the link.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://wittman.org/ micahwittman

    Oh, one more thing for others reading here. A split screen looks like this: http://bebepool.com/go/mccarthytwins.html

  • http://www.wittman.org/ micah

    Oh, one more thing for others reading here. A split screen looks like this: http://bebepool.com/go/mccarthytwins.html

  • maya4444

    Hi – nice tool, just opened a pool today. Would it be possible to expand the width of the comments column for example so that you don't have to scroll all the way down to see multiple responses?

    Also, for the print out is it possible to see more than the automatic fields that are generated in the pdf?

    Thanks a lot!

  • http://wittman.org/ micahwittman

    Maya, the comments/ congratulations column will now be wider when viewed with a wide browser window (greater than 1000 pixels wide).

    In the PDF version, the comments are accumulated at the end of the document (rather than along side the other guess information in the table as you see in the HTML version).

    Thank you for the feedback – it really does help improve bebepool for everyone. :)

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  • MacsMom

    This site is great! I just started our pool today and our friends and family are really having fun logging their guesses. Thank you!!!

    It would be nice if the birthday guesses were written out in word form (August 2, 2010 instead of 2010-08-02) which would make it easier to read and compare dates as users make their guesses. Just a thought.

    Thanks again!

  • Fliz1977

    Are you still receiving registrants for this site? Was wondering if you were still active in updating this pool program since I haven’t seen any updated comments from users?

  • http://wittman.org/ micahwittman

    Fliz1977, yes, bebepool is still open for business (still free too). Recently I’ve only made small tweaks/fixes to the bebepool. One reason is this: I’d like to release more substantial improvements but delivered in a major revision/upgrade. It is in process, but I don’t have even an ETA yet. There’s a lot more work to do, and it’s not the only project I work on.

    Thank you for asking about the status of things. Please let me know if you have any feedback or other questions to add.