Friday, July 11, 2008

Designing your own social network

You've been around. You've seen a lot of them. You've joined a few (several?) yourself.

The so-called Social Networks.

Facebook, MySpace, Blog Catalog. Even Digg and Stumble are sort of in this category. Lately, of course, there is Entrecard.

You like a lot of things about these networks. They are helpful to bloggers. You blog because you have something to say and you want to share what you have to say. But you also blog because you enjoy OTHER blogs - you like to travel around and read other people's stuff, make new friends, interact. You also like to interact, sometimes, with memes, groups, and contests. These things are what makes cruising the internet fun.

What we do NOT like, many of us, is being told how to spend our precious fun-time on the computer. We don't like being compelled, for example, to drop cards on many, many blogs every day of our lives. Also, we don't like to be treated like fresh meat for the huge spammers like Yahoo and Microsoft and so many more. This is why MySpace has failed and it is also the direction that Face Book is headed.

What to do?

Put yourself in charge. Learn from the mistakes of others who have started Social Networks. In the previous post, I asked you what you liked and disliked about Entrecard. I wasn't surprised to learn those things were the exact same as my own likes and dislikes. And we talked in the comments a little bit about Blog Catalog. But there is a pattern we all can see.

Please briefly describe in a comment (or not so briefly, I don't care), what the main points you would include in your own Social Network, if you were starting a new one up today. What are people REALLY looking for? Why do they want to join in the first place? What would you have to offer in order for it to be fun? I am going to make a comment myself to list the things I personally would want. At the top of the list, I think, will be "Meeting new interesting people and keeping in touch with my friends."

But there would be more, wouldn't there? Much more. Help me produce a prototype. I'm serious here. I hope I can hear again from Claire and Chica and EttaRose and a., and you others who have been around the blogosphere a lot, and you know what you like, and you know what turns you off. Please consider giving input on what the design of a really good social network would look like.


  1. The only thing I don't like about Entrecard is there was this one dropper that dropped his card like 20 times and it was quite irritating and his blog had no relevance at all, just pure spam. Other than that, it's a pretty good way to network.

  2. 1. I blog because I think I have something to say. I want to share my thoughts and experiences with others.

    2. Because I want to share my blog, and also meet new people, that means I want to think of ways to get people to read my blog and to come talk with me: traffic.

    3. If there is anything besides writing that I enjoy besides writing, if would be interacting with other bloggers.

    4. Interacting, to me, means visiting the blogs of others, making comments, chatting back and forth, forming new actual friendships. It also means participating in contests and games and promotions with my friends.

    5. I would want a resource where I could find help when I wanted it (like a friend who knows how to design blogs, like Chica, for example), as well as offer any services I myself might be good at.

    6. I think I would want to see a "closed commuity" where we would pick and choose who could belong and who could not belong. I suppose this is a back-door way of saying I don't want to include a bunch of get rich quick or other commercial blogs.

    7. I would want a way to find out where other good blogs are, perhaps a referral list from my friends, so I could go visit them and see for myself.

    8. I like the idea of having some sort of advertising presence on the blogs of my friends. I am not so much interested in selling advertising space to my friends - there are at least a dozen of you out there who can have a free spot on my blogs any damn time you feel like it. (Just so you know!) But this would require some sort of rotation system among our several blogs.

    9. I am not particularly against anyone making some money on the side with their blogs. But, lord, I hate to see all the affiliate and PPC stuff. Necessary, I suppose. But could we not make an effort to at least sell our own services and crafts to each other first? I mean, I would much rather buy a craft for a gift from my friend Caroline, or a piece of Art from Kelly, and more, than click on a blinking banner for Target. That's all I'm saying. And, while I'm on the subject of making money on the side, I personally think we should be banding together and selling our content that we produce every day, instead of just writing it in the morning and then letting it die.

    Whew! and I have MORE! But you are already bored with this long comment. So I will let someone else talk.

  3. Redbeard, that's it exactly. Many of us are grateful for EC for having brought us together in the first place. And I am not suggesting anyone drop EC or Blog Catalog or Face Book, or anything else. Not at all. I guess what I am looking for is an addition, a kind of hybrid, where we can get what we want, and not be annoyed by what we don't want.

    Glad to see you back, buddy. Have you been on a trip around the world? Anyway, good to see your friendly ever-changing avatar again. :)

  4. Also, those of you who are interested in this topic. Mike Riley made a good comment last night about EC on the post below this one, which I invite you to read.

  5. What exactly do you mean, I've been around a lot? Excuse me Max dear, I haven't been around *quite* as much as you have.

    There would need to be a balance between keeping it small and manageable, and large enough for plenty of variety. And watch out that it doesn't become too much of a clique that outsiders would find intimidating.

    And the mechanism of it, how will that work? Is it a centralised blogroll? On the face of it, that would work quite well. Somewhere we could go to see the list of blogs and visit from there, especially if it showed the most recent post.

    I'll let you get back to self-commenting now Max. You seem to be enjoying yourself there.

  6. I have recently been using Plurk, which the most social of the social networks I have used. I don't get many diggs, have no karam on reddit, can never seem to figure out how to get friends on facebook, and while stumble a lot of things I don't seem to get too many stumbles.

    While it maybe true that all these sites started out as way for people to get together-Myspace was originally for rock bands and their groupies as I understand it-all of them are soon enough drawn by the lure of easy money.

    One of ways everyone talks about making money is to get a list with a few thousand people and then sell to that list-only a small percentage will ever buy anything, but if you have the gazillion users that facebook and digg has-they are more than enough.

    No matter what features you put on a site, the A-List Problogger will all find a way to make money on as soon as it becomes popular.

  7. Max, sorry I have been absent for a couple of days. You know the things I am facing in my life right now. I miss all my friends. Here's a big shwack! to you all. I would like to see a common ground for us all. No cliques, if that is possible. Everyone we invite or whatever should always be made to feel welcome! No one should be asked to turn off the lights when they leave. LOL
    I think I am not alone in saying that I would like traffic and good traffic to my blog. I notice I stumble a lot of sites but get very few in return. I think all the friends banding together stumble and digg for each other. I usually only digg or stumble something I really like. How would we share this space? How many bloggers should there be? Should there be a membership and lots of hazing? Just joking there, but really how would we keep up with conversations? Discussions are good when you have many points of view. Just tossing some things out there.

  8. a., Well, sorry. I wouldn't want to accuse you of getting around. Someone whose profile beings with something like, "A traveller all my life..." should not be mixed up with a person who gets around. Of course, "gets around" has another connotation, doesn't it? And I know you don't.

    See, there's yet another paragraph down the drain. Needlessly. Disruptive. You get around the blogosphere and you know what you are talking about because of your travels. That's what I meant.

    I take it back.

  9. Descartes - You sound somewhat disenchanted with what's out there. Me too. My thinking is that it would be hard for a spammer, Pro-blogger or not, to get a list of out members if he wasn't allowed to join our group in the first place. But at least we would soon know who he was. And such a network WOULD have to be by sponsored invitation only...I think. :)

    ettatrose - how good to see you back for a while! I have my fingers crossed for you. As much as I hate the "cliques", I guess that is essentially what a bloglist is, isn't it? Sort of a special group of your friends? All I want to do is make that list quite a bit longer. A big ol' clique that you belong to. (Well, not you PERSONALLY - nobody would want to hang around with a loving and giving person such as yourself - but the COOL people, I mean. :)

    I remember when I first started this blog (I mean BritishSpeak) and I didn't know anyone at all, I would go out cold and visit blogs - damn British and Aussie blogs - and make stupid comments on a lot of them (a LOT of them) and keep inviting them to come back and look at BritishSpeak. Hardly any did at first. But the ones that did come, stayed and became the core of my friends. It just takes hard work (and being willing to stay up all night!) I don't know of any easy way to do it. Go look at blogs. Make comments. Drag them back to your own blog kicking and screaming. Then go get another one.

    The thing is with EC, they have taken away all my fun time and made me drop cards. Ironically, they are stopping me from making quality visits by making me make rude fast visits. So.

    Turn out the lights, ettarose. :)

  10. etta,
    I have the keys, I'll turn out the lights, this time you get to relax and leave early if you wish......or late, just don't think you have to clean up

  11. Oh dear Max I didn't realise you were such a sensitive flower. The dog that bites? Sensitive? I had no intention of upsetting your sensibilities so I retract my disruptive behaviour unreservedly.

  12. Darn, your making me think to hard on this..hmm.

    What I'd love is the ability to create my own social network within other social networks. My own private page with all my peeps, there rss feeds, and a comment box to communicate with.

    There has to be no ability to the outsider to add me as a friend to their page simply for the numbers. I want the option of whether I want to be on their friends list or not. That's one downfall of BC, any "friend hungry" maniac can add me to their list, increasing their numbers, and making it seems like I like them by having me on their list, it's a false most of the time.

    If I could I'd make it all strictly personal blogs. The blogger who holds a personal blog is more interesting to me. That'd restrict most of what I usually don't want to see in blogs, besides creative photoblogs or art blogs, but that'd be a whole different network.

    Ok so I'm not really making sense, but now you've heard from me. :)


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