Social Networking
September 28, 2004 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Web communities / Friendster knockoffs. I've studiously avoided delving into any of these, but suddenly, by tomorrow, I need to be more knowledgeable than I am about them, especially Tribe.net. I went there to check it out and it's "down for maintenance." I searched here in AskMe, and found passing references but nothing in-depth. Can anyone point me to some overview of these type of sites, which ones are tailored to what kind of connecting, which ones are still around, which not, which suck, which don't, and why?
posted by soyjoy to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
 
I found Tribe.net to be tilted towards Burning Man types, self-declared freaks and cyber hipsters. The software is pretty cool, but I was way too much of a square for that scene.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2004


Danah Boyd is a Ph.D. student at Berkeley and says "I'm interested in how people negotiate their presentation of self in mediated social contexts to an unknown audience. I study social technologies like Friendster, blogs/LJ/Xanga, instant messaging, and mobile phones and am particularly interested in subcultural and youth use of these technologies." She has a bunch of papers, blog ruminitions and useful links on her site.
posted by fionab at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2004


Both this and this are good starting points on Danah's research.
posted by fionab at 10:08 AM on September 28, 2004


Tribe.net's maintenance downtime was announced in advance. I'd expect it to be back up some time later today.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:08 AM on September 28, 2004


corante has got a weblog on social software
posted by crush-onastick at 10:12 AM on September 28, 2004


Feel free to catch me on AIM if you wanna chitchat about this. I've belonged some of them

-Friendster [dating, younger crowd, ads galore]
-Tribe [dating/meeting/jobs, hipster craigslist, more sex]
-LinkedIn [jobs, networking]
-Orkut [semi-exclusive, groups & more international folks]
-Couchsurfers [crash space, trying to be feee-based]
-Breedster [dorky fun]

and maybe more than I'm forgetting. I have yet to find one that I have any interest in sticking with. I like Flickr lately, but it's pretty specialized which I think is a good thing.

My main issue is that these sites portray themselves as "communities" but really they're sort of run by a group of people who may or may not decide to do things democratically or even openly. Their source code is never open so you have to stick with a lot of design choices you may not like. It's the casual friday phenomenon, the illusion of choices... "any slacks you want as long as they're dockers" I often find the interface choices they make completely counterintuitive [why can I only see three headers at once in my Orkut mailbox?] and once you have to start looking at a lot of ads just to check yet another mailbox, it's an exercise in futility.

On the other hand, this may be because I don't really live near anyplace where anyone else networks this way. LinkedIn goes so far as to take my zip code in Vermont and tell people I live in New York because that's the closest metro area to where I am. Not helpful if I really were trying to use it for job hunting. Not that I waste any time getting annoyed at this stuff, they're just aiming for a market that isn't me.
posted by jessamyn at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2004


soyjoy, i first heard about tribe via meta. Here is the link from last August where it was advertised: Tribe
posted by naxosaxur at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2004


There's also myspace, which seems to be really ad-heavy but I don't know anything else about it.
posted by cell divide at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2004


Thanks, everybody, this is a great haul and will help a lot. I got lost in that Danah Boyd blog before remembering I should come back here to express my gratitude. Of course, thanks also jessamyn for the quick cheat-sheet version (and the rant) and naxosaxur, duh, I should've tried searching MeTa too but it didn't occur to me. Ironically, I even posted on that thread, but it was just a pointless comment playing off of the title of another thread, ignoring the actual content of the discussion. That'll teach me to be snarky instead of paying attention, won't it?

....no, not really, probably. Anyway, thanks all!
posted by soyjoy at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2004


One of my fraternity buddies started this site: Can You Connect, if you are interested I could arrange for you to talk with him. I think it's supposed to cover both social and professional networking, but I haven't really used it myself.
posted by rorycberger at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2004


Last time I heard, Tribe.Net got taken over by Brazillian(?) users. Many of the communities are now half or all in Portugese. I think there was an article on Slashdot(?) or somewhere similar about this (sorry I can't really remember the story).

I have used Friendster, Tribe, and Orkut, and they all suck for the same reason: they really don't have a killer app. They combine features of Email and message boards... and that's about it. The whole six-degrees-of-separation thing is kinda neat, but not super useful, except for dating. Once my friends and I figured out how little there really was to the services, we all quit using them.
posted by falconred at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2004


soyjoy sillypants....I forgot to mention that one of my friends uses 'myspace', but i jumped on, and it seems to be a rather young, v. annoying crowd. Passwords can be found via bugmenot.
posted by naxosaxur at 1:15 PM on September 28, 2004


orkut is the one that is popular with the Brazilians.

I'm on friendster, orkut and now tribe, and up till today, I've found tribe to be the most useable and active. however, with their new redesign released today, I'm finding it a lot less useable. A lot of good features that I liked from before are now gone, and it definetly got uglier. I've spent most of my post-lunch day customizing my user stylesheets for firefox to un-ugly it. It is, however, still the best performing of the three, and since I am a Burning Man techno geek, I find enough stuff that interests me there.
posted by Hackworth at 4:33 PM on September 28, 2004


friendster got boring quickly, orkut was fun but it is hella unreliable and they havent added any new features in ages so it is very stagnant and people are returning less often, multiply is redundant.

so far, the most useful service has been flickr. i thought it was redundant at first (sharing pictures! whoda thunkit), but it has a specific angle and it has lots of quirky features that make it kinda fun.

also, audioscrobbler/last.fm - although they arent social networking services like friendster, they do link people up by common music tastes.
posted by kv at 5:36 AM on September 29, 2004


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