A Chat with Ivan Bueno, Creator of Girl On GirlPeople Profiles
Shortly after Ning debuted in October, one user-created app rapidly established itself as the most popular on the system. That it took several months to unseat it was not a major surprise. Girl On Girl mixes the addictive simplicity of This Or That with several hundred female celebrities, but it doesn’t end there. As well as being Ning’s first big user-created hit, it was also the first Ning App to be heavily customized by its owner.
Ivan Bueno didn’t just add content; he rewrote the detail page code to automatically pull information from Wikipedia, Flickr and Amazon. That’s why it’s spawned over 150 new apps, including Player On Player for soccer fans, the remarkably-popular Citroen Battle and the inevitable Sexiest Man.
Ten months after it first appeared, Girl On Girl still sits comfortably amongst our most popular Apps. Now seems as good at time as any to see how things are going on the inside…
Who and where is Ivan Bueno?
I am a web developer for some local company in Concord, California, doing PHP and sysadmin work. I received my Computer Science degree from San Francisco State University. My star sign is Scorpio. I like tender moments and fluffy bunnies. I am untameable and enjoyable.
You created Girl On Girl almost immediately after Ning launched. Did you have the idea before Ning, or did it come about as a result of seeing our This Or That app?
I’ve enjoyed This or That, but I felt there was something missing from it. The app has all the functionalities needed. Its framework is solid, but like a skeleton, it was missing flesh.
By providing the skeleton, Ning allowed me to focus on the subject matter. Without having to worry much about the implementation of the code, I have more time invested in providing high quality content. Of course, by high quality content, I mean hot chicks.
Can you share any stats regarding Girl On Girl’s popularity?
During the early days of Ning, This or That had clones that focus on girls as well. So I regularly uploaded high quality content week after week. It made people come back. Girl On Girl became a regular on Ning’s Popular Apps.
According to Alexa Ranking, back in December 2005, Girl On Girl was the most visited page on Ning.com, right after the homepage.
Today, Girl On Girl is still popular. However, it is no match for OMG!! Ponies!
Girl On Girl, while being pretty tame compared what else is on the web, still contains some fairly racy material. Do you get any complaints about that? Or complaints that it’s not racy enough? (Especially given the name)
Oddly enough, I rarely get complaints about Girl On Girl. The worst complaint I ever received said, “Hey douchebag, Pamela Anderson’s photo does not do her justice!”
Any other correspondence worth talking about?
The users of Girl On Girl are starting to utilize the Comments Section. Right now, there are about 800 comments that people left. Their comments vary from sweet to… well, not nearly as sweet.
Do you have a wife/girlfriend? If so, what does she think of Girl On Girl?
The wife thinks Girl On Girl is atrocious. The girlfriend thinks it’s awesome. Just kidding. :-p
A common criticism of beauty contests is that they measure a woman’s worth purely on her looks. Would you say that Girl On Girl is a beauty contest? If so, how do you respond to that criticism?
There was a show in Discovery Channel where infants were subjected to photos of beautiful girls and butt-ugly girls. According to the result of the study, the babies liked looking more at the pictures of beautiful girls. The study concluded that it is in our nature to be attracted to hot chicks. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Besides, beauty is relative. In Girl On Girl, 98% of the people thinks Liza Minelli looks like a horrendous old hag. But 2% actually thinks she’s an angel of beauty. Everybody wins.
By the way, I think all girls are beautiful.
How do you spend your time these days?
On weekdays, I’m occupied with work. On Saturdays, I practice Swai Jiao, it’s the oldest Chinese martial art. On Sundays, I hike the trails of the beautiful Mt. Diablo. And whenever I feel sexy, I dance Salsa.
I spend my time these days with lots of fun. Girl On Girl is the same – it’s simply fun.
Girl On Girl isn’t just a straight This Or That clone: you’ve put a lot of work into pulling relevant data from external sources. What prompted that?
The majority of the users of Girl On Girl care about the actresses; not just how they look, but also their body of work, their life history, and their struggles. Getting data from Wikipedia, Flickr, and Amazon.com is a way of providing the users what they want.
Some of the comment threads on the pictures get pretty heated – I see that some of them think they’re talking to the actual girl. Do you get that a lot?
It’s amazing. Some users even write their emails and phone numbers, begging the actress to be their pals.
Are you tempted to remove any of the more disturbing comments?
These comments are gold. They add character to the pages of Girl On Girl. The only comments I delete are the ones containing sensitive personal information and spam. I used to get a lot of spam comments, so I had to add a line of code to stop them.
Do you have any regular users who spend a lot of time on the site? I imagine it’s quite addictive for some people.
I once came across another study saying that staring at pictures of beautiful women increases the amount of oxytocin (or was it endorphin?) in the brain of male and female subjects. That could be why Girl On Girl is literally addictive.
Girl On Girl has some hardcore regulars who contribute pictures. If I’m not mistaken, one user named peisner contributes a lot of good pictures. Unfortunately, most of the time, I don’t approve them because he doesn’t crop the pictures to square dimensions.
Have you noticed any particular trends in what people find more attractive?
Research says that we find people with symmetric faces more beautiful. Examine the Top 30 Winners of Girl On Girl and see for yourself.
When you add a new girl, can you guess what her score’s going to be? How in tune are you with your audience’s tastes?
I think I know which ones are going to be winners, but the audience is sometimes unpredictable.
That’s why I try to be neutral when uploading content. I want to get as much variation as I can. I just make sure that I get the best photo of the actress. It doesn’t matter whether I find them attractive or not.
What factors do you think are the main ones that come into play?
Celebrity is a major contributor. People will vote for girls that they recognize. Many girls in the Top 20 have starred in Major Motion pictures.
Photos that show a lot of skin get more votes. Weirdly enough, when the girl in the photo is raising one ofherarms and showing her armpit, it usually gets a lot of votes too.
At one point there was also a sudden surge of Brazilian and Portuguese women into the Top 30 Winners.
Are there any particularly high- or low-scorers that have surprised you?
Yes there are. But I don’t want to get flamed by their crazy lovable fanatics fans. Have you read their comments?
As well as being one of Ning’s most consistently-popular user apps, it’s also one of the most-cloned. Which are your favorites of the clones?
This is like asking me which child is my favorite. I love all the clones!
Are you still working on the Girl On Girl code, or on any other Ning apps? Any plans for future features?
There are a lot of relevant data that I wish I could capture in Girl On Girl. Data like “People who have voted for Jessica Alba also voted for: Keira Knightley, Kate Bosworth, Liza Minelli.”
I’m also thinking about a feature where each user can create their own modular Girl On Girl Battle Pages. They can pick 2 girls and create a battle page on Girl On Girl. They can create as many Battle Pages as they can in their Girl On Girl account. Basically, they can create insta-polls using the girls on Girl On Girl. Of course, the voting on the Personal Battle Pages will not affect the overall Girl On Girl rating of the actresses. I wish I had time to implement this.
We’ll just have to keep hoping you find the time! Fans of Girl On Girl should also keep an eye on The Girl On Girl Blog. Ivan, thanks very much for your time, and for bringing Girl On Girl to Ning!