Do we want a blog?
April 4, 2014 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Two of my friends and I have decided to create a sort of online 'sitting room', where we can share our musings with each other. We are thinking of a fairly specific way of sharing, but know nothing about what is available out there. Can you help us find the solution for our conversation needs?

We used to live in the same town, and, for all of us, some of our fondest memories of that time are of our discussions, long into the night. For a few years we have lived far away from each other, and neither of us has managed to find that perfect blend of similarity and difference that makes for wonderful conversations with anyone else, so we are severely specific-type-of-conversation-deprived. Currently, we are in different time zones, with widely diverging schedules, so keeping up a semi-conversation by email just doesn’t hack it. So we decided to try to create a dedicated online space, where one of us – whoever feels the impulse – posts their ‘musings’ on whatever topic, and then each of us can comment on the respective post at our leisure.

As the most technical one of us, I’ve been elected to come up with a solution for our online sitting room (yes, we are, on the whole, luddites, and I am the one who occasionally peeks into the 21st century to see what’s up). I’m vaguely aware of chatrooms, forums, blogs, but beyond that I am stumped (MeFi is pretty much my only online social ‘activity’). Could you help us find the best place for us?

What we'd like:

The basics:

1. Whichever one of us feels like it, posts … something. It should be (relatively) easy and obvious how to post. Long texts are a must (we are all rather wordy).
2. Commenting should be open to all of us (and comments will also be potentially long).
3. Whenever something new is posted, be it a post proper or a comment, all three of us should get an email notification.
4. We would like to be able to share one or the other of the posts with other friends, who should also be able to comment, but not post, unless we share posting permission with them … or something. (So we want to have some control over who posts the initial text).
5. We want to keep this as untraceable to us as possible. One of us is kind of a big deal in her field, and wants the freedom to express anything she feels like with no fear of being ‘discovered’.
6. We would prefer if this stayed small-scale. This is probably an unnecessary worry, but we would rather not accidentally stumble upon the key to Google success. It is OK if someone randomly comes across us (say, because they google ‘brprprnaxnaxnax’ just after we post something with the phrase ‘brprprnaxnaxnax’ in it), but we’d rather not be in the first couple of Google result pages.
7. Also in the spirit of privacy and freedom of expression, as it were, we’d like to be able to hide any post one of us feels is too revealing, or too sensitive, or whatever. So maybe a ‘private’ setting that any of us can change for any given post?

Nice things to have:

1. We’d like the place to be fairly plain-looking, with no frills – a bit like Metafilter in that respect.
2. With a view to posts possibly accumulating in the future - it would be great to be able to organize them by contributor, date and maybe topic (we each have our hobby-horses).
3. It would also be wonderful if posts would be browsable via a Contents page, a bit like a book (with several different views as per the above).

Really, really nice to have:

1. The ability to bookmark places where we leave off reading.
2. The ability to make notes as we read, and tack them next to the passage they refer to.

Given the above, can you help us figure out what we want and where to find it? Is there anything else we should be thinking of? Thanks very much for your help!
posted by miorita to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tumblr works great for me and my friends — you can make the whole blog private, or just some of the posts, and only people who you've invited will see those. If you get the xkit plugin, it offers something like bookmarks. And you can use tags to organize the contents.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2014

This sounds like LiveJournal. Seriously. Each of you creates your own account, one of you creates a group that just the three of you have posting access to. There are privacy settings (by post) and posting/reading settings. I think there are notifications for new posts and comments. You can use ridiculous usernames unrelated to your real name. Go have a look.
posted by dywypi at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2014

I use Vanilla Forums for this.
posted by annathea at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2014

Dreamwidth! You can create a community and then separate accounts for each person. The community allows for each person to post, and you have a lot of control over privacy settings and things like that. You can tag your entries with subject matter tags, and you'll also have a community page that shows the most recent entries like a contents page. You can leave notes as a comment to each entry.
posted by marginaliana at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Google+ does most of what you want, if you set up your Circles right. Or you could try a private Facebook group but I don't think that has as many features.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:49 AM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

You may want to check out Glassboard.
posted by kate blank at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2014

Seconding Dreamwidth. It was originally a LiveJournal clone, but nowadays it's much nicer (no advertising!) and better maintained. I love it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2014

I'd use a forum for this.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2014

posted by Cygnet at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2014

Dreamwidth. As a bonus, the founders are Good People.
posted by Tamanna at 12:14 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everybody! I've started looking at these, and will probably go for one or the other, but it'll take me a while - the internet truly is full of black holes!

I'll mark all best answers, since I am having pots of fun just trawling through the various sites.
posted by miorita at 12:51 PM on April 4, 2014

My vote: private subreddit.

Click the 'private' box and Bob's your uncle or whatever.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:35 PM on April 4, 2014

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