Get paid fifty cents to use our social network! Put speech bubbles on photos! The latest dot-coms to raise their ugly heads from the dirt have jankier value propositions than a hooker named Ethel. Thanks to the bloggers' occupational hazard of unsolicited site invitations, Valleywag has seen the web's dumbest dot-com startups of the summer. Let us commence to mock.

Five Stupidest Startups of the SummerCaptionBubble
"Make your photos talk"
Remember that startup that lets you mark up web pages and show your notes to other people? Neither do I, but it's a hell of a lot more useful than this tool, which lets users add bubble captions to images that they upload. It's like a worse version of the worst Photoshop tool. Look! I made one!

Five Stupidest Startups of the Summer

The tool actually works well. I searched a Flickr tag (my name, natch), picked a photo, picked a bubble, and typed in my caption; the words auto-sized.

But this is like saying "Wow, this camera's 'sepia' feature really brings out a rich tone of sepia!" In fact, it's like a janky version of the photo notes on Flickr, which also has, like, sharing actual pictures. Thank god it looks like a weekend project.


Five Stupidest Startups of the SummerWishood
"Make wishes come true"
On Wishood ("we-should"? "wish-hood?"), people make, grant, and advise about wishes. Think Prosper without the quantifiable business model of taking a cut from monetary loans. Wishood is more of an overblown Facebook app.

The "about us" page says, "We like to think of it as the world's only Global Wish Exchange."

Five Stupidest Startups of the Summer

Even if this site builds a healthy community (and yes, people are granting each other's wishes, which they could do using plenty of other sites like Craigslist, Ask Metafilter, or 43 Things — or by stepping outside and volunteering), it has no business potential outside some possible lame-ass corporate-sponsored wish-making initiative. After the few available opportunities there dry up (what exactly would Wishood be bringing to the partnership?), the site will have no income. Hopefully someone can keep it running as a non-profit.

The site has one promising feature: a karmic version of eBay seller ratings, showing how much someone helped to grant wishes. This karma rating would mean something if it were cross-referenced with other online reputation systems. What the world needs now is a universal format for karma. Also love, sweet love.


Five Stupidest Startups of the SummerGalaxiki
"A fictional galaxy anyone can edit"
Did you look at Weblo, the pyramid scheme that's basically a virtual real estate listings page, and think "I need something more divorced from reality"? Score! Here comes Galaxiki, "a fictional world purely imagined by its community." Log on for free, then pay about twelve bucks to buy a star and edit its info page. Galaxiki is like every fanfic site or online RPG ever, but with an ugly wiki interface! SO SEXY.

The creator told a space blog, "The really cool part is that species can meet each other, so writers have to make sure that theirs stories remain consistent as a whole when creating an entirely fictional world." So the whole creative point of having a galaxy to play in, gets wiped out when everyone's poorly planned sci-fi clashes. Because get this: SCIENCE FICTION IS BASED ON TWISTING REALITY. And if I've twisted my reality to make ten-foot bugs that violate the laws of physics, and you've twisted your reality to create a peaceful planet of dwarves, the story's gonna end real quick as my bugs wipe out your dwarves.

Geez, it's like these guys never sat down for a night of D&D.


Five Stupidest Startups of the SummerYuwie
"We actually pay you just for using Yuwie."
At first I thought this was a flash game where you smack the asshole in a blazer and jeans, then smash in his perfect teeth with a hammer. But the asshole is just a mascot who pitches you the site, which is another "let the users take some of the ad share" program like 90s flameout AllAdvantage and its competitors. Yuwie's even got the referral process.

Yuwie (or its spokesdouche) says it's a social network that pays you when people look at your content. It does look like a duller version of MySpace. But it's really a small-time ad network, but with all the useful traffic siphoned out.

Five Stupidest Startups of the Summer

Google's Adsense network works because Google has a giant client base and ad inventory, and because the company severely punishes fraud. Yuwie, however, is practically begging its users to inflate pageviews until they're worthless. Not that those pageviews will bring much money to Yuwie, which is using the click-based Adsense to generate its own revenue. And while Philip here is probably into ringtones, he only likes the ones made from his songs.


Five Stupidest Startups of the SummerDoostang
"How do you doo?"
Invite-only LinkedIn, only it's apparently limited to entry-level wannabes. Really, I don't get why this exists when LinkedIn already does a great job at career-based social networking. Did they hope to capitalize on the name Doostang? Because all that name evokes is some male-targeted energy beer.

Five Stupidest Startups of the Summer

Doostang: It's chugly!

Nick Douglas writes at Valleywag, Too Much Nick, and Look Shiny. He's writing a sitcom about an astoundingly useful startup.