why don’t you do.it

A few months ago, my wife, myself and a handful of fellow potluckers were sitting around playing games after dinner and we were tossing out ideas of cool things to build. We’re all creatives in one form or another, so ideas prompted by “It’d be cool if…” were plentiful. This led to the thought that in discussions such as the one we were having, ideas formed and voiced during them had a certain grace period before the idea could fairly be taken by anyone within earshot and actually produced without needing the permission of the idea’s originator.

The grace period is a good thing because most of the time we don’t want to actually build the thing we’re wishing for, we just want to have it built so we can make use of it. We often don’t have the means, or the aptitude, or the time to create something. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth pursuing for those with the necessary qualifications or time to do so.

In addition, if a person is serious about wanting to create the thing they voiced, having that grace period looming can help motivate them into taking action and making it a priority. An agreed upon term is that the idea doesn’t enter the public domain if some action has been taken on it, but all action should do is extend the grace period. If the creation falls back into low-priority doldrums, it can (and should) be picked up by someone else and carried forward.

With that in mind, I had an idea to codify this whole thing. Over the past 24-ish hours I built whydontyoudo.it (though it’s currently being hosted off of Squid&Crow while the international registrars get their act together It’s resolving properly now!). Here’s a journal of what went on:


3:40p John sends me a friendly reminder about my Pot Luck post due in two days
9:13p Sara loves the domain name,ย likes the idea.
9:24p whydontyoudo.it purchased (pending registration, boo International TLDs)
9:58p Frameworks configured and uploaded
10:30p Initial wireframes complete
11:30p Database schema established

1:00a Users model built, user authentication built, sleep.
9:30a Back in the chair, Ideas model built
10:30 Form for adding ideas built: ideas can be pushed out immediately if owner has no intent to build, or 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 days in the future.
11:30a Countdown timer and idea count added to homepage
12:15a View for available ideas created
1:16p icon fontset added (hooray http://fortawesome.github.io/Font-Awesome/)
4:00p added ability to champion or contribute to an idea
5:30p initial round of UI improvement; top nav added
7:00p new user registration created, initial round of testing
8:15p punching computer and hating the lack of decent error reporting (side note: done using CodeIgniter, this’ll be the last app I build on it. It’s stopped being improved upon by the core team, days are numbered, etc., etc.)
9:30p Finished up found bugs, noted additional features that are necessary before actually shipping, began writing this article.

The point of using the site is this: it’ll get people off their asses to put an idea on the line; either get to work, or get out of the way. Ideas are precious, but the reality is better.

There’s still a ton to do to get the site where I want it to be: progress tracking for ideas, contribution logs, tagging and filtering for idea types, gamification to promote contribution, etc. But for now, the framework’s there and hopefully within 30 days I’ll find myself with some time to get back to it.

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Brendan Quinn

Brendan Quinn

Brendan builds stuff and solves problems, often with code and cookies in equal proportions. He's the co-owner of Squid&Crow: a Tri-Cities design and development firm that helps pay his bills, and Forked, LLC: a game design studio that helps give him an excuse to not completely grow up. He's married to his partner in both of the aforementioned endeavors, Sara Taylor, and lives in Pasco WA with her and their eternal puppy Lila.

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  • higley

    Love this idea. I’ve had a similar idea in the back of my head for a long time, but couldn’t think of a good way to make it happen. So happy that someone else is building it so that I can just sit back and utilize it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Erik Ralston

    But how do you capture the authentic experience of people’s idle comment/criticism/scope creep for an idea?

  • Brendan Quinn

    That’s the whole point! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Brendan Quinn

    Now, you don’t. But that isn’t for any reason other than I needed sleep and food ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m planning on building in a massive sharing and collaborative system on top of the idea promotion that’s there to handle progress, comments, sharing for collaborators and just observers of projects

  • Holy shit. You’re amazing. I can’t believe how quickly you got that up and running!

  • Sara Taylor

    It’s still buggy, but I’m excited for the direction this is going.

  • thebrianmanley

    Glad you made this! I used to be a big fan of whynot.net and halfbakery.com, but they seem to have died on the vine. Best of luck!