[thelist] Access DB design troubles

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Fri Jul 18 09:32:21 CDT 2003

Tim Burgan came up with a neat idea:

>>What I'll do is each current user a unique URL (generated from their current
>>UserID) where they can send people they refer to join. That way each
>>referrer is automatically recorded so the user doesn't need to type
>>Is this a better approach?

Hi Tim,

First off -- please don't be discouraged.  The whole 'CRM space' {Customer 
Relationship Management} is extremely 'fuzzy'.  I don't think *anyone* has 
an extensible technique that would provide pristine data for every 

That said, I think this is a neat idea.  I would think about using it in 
conjunction with the write-in and probably still write it out to a separate 
table for additional future analysis.

Why?  I don't know what your particular app is, but think of an Amazon 
associate for a minute ... I can slap together an URL that would put a 
few pennies in my pocket if you bought something off Amazon using my link. 
Now if I could only find a way to get that link slashdotted ... heck, I 
might be able to pay for lunch one day next week.  ;-)

So what happens when these custom URLs get archived in various lists around 
the web? What happens when people change jobs/companies and continue to mail 
out these 'old' URLs?  Are you going to manage thousands of redirects for 
'deprecated' URLs? Maybe not. (Although you might check the archives here 
for 'custom 404 processing' for some ideas along these lines.)

Where I think this idea might really shine is for special event referrals. 
Suppose you attend a trade show and want to track leads from the show. You 
could put out a 'special' URL for the trade show ... leave it live for a few 
weeks and then turn it off with a redirect to your standard page. I think 
that might be a pretty nice way to use this idea.


(Really really 'solve' this problem and the world will beat a path to your 
door. Seriously.  Do the best job you can, but I think I would also 
take some time to set the user's expectations that the data quality on 
'referrer' information isn't going to be 'all that'.)

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