Help me find a platform for new video/blogging social network (YouTube clone)
July 23, 2007 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a social networking platform for building a self-hosted, professional interactive video/blog sharing site?

I am working on an exciting project for a multimedia startup, we are trying to build an interactive video and content sharing social network (like YouTube, but with a niche focus).

We are looking for a platform that will offer a nice balance: easy to set up, but easy to configure and customize, and with a decent feature set.

We are looking for the basics: user blogs, comments, profiles, tagging, as well as some advanced abilities -- hopefully content rating/recommendations and a strong ability to customize down the road. We are looking for a YouTube clone, more or less, although the finished product will probably look and work very differently.

We need this to be self-hosted, but we are willing to switch platforms if need be (current we are a .NET shop)

We are looking at a variety of off the shelf packages, including MS Community Server. Anybody have much experience with Community Server? Is it robust and easily customizable enough to survive as a full-on community network? Or would it be too limiting as time goes on?

Alternatively we are thinking Ruby on Rails would be the best development platform for this, but we don't want to start from scratch. Are there any strong open-source ROR social network packages out there? Or something not open, but strong?

Thanks for any input!
posted by simpleperson to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I work with the Movable Type team, so I know that MT 4.0 can do this, and is used by a lot of popular community sites and blogs with video like RocketBoom and Serious Eats and the Gothamist sites. MT runs just fine on Windows servers and can generate .aspx pages if needed. The community features for MT offer all of the requirements and advanced abilities you've mentioned above.

But you should also take a look at something like Ning if you don't mind the fact that it's a hosted service.
posted by anildash at 11:43 AM on July 23, 2007

Drupal gets mentioned a lot in these contexts. It's open source PHP, and AFAIK is meant to run on Apache, but it's very modular and flexible, so stuff like ratings, folksonomies, groups, etc are either in there or a plugin away. There's a very active user and developer community around it.

One thing to remember is that a lot of the magic at Youtube is in transcoding every known flavor of video into Flash, which is a completely separate issue.
posted by adamrice at 12:07 PM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the notes! Some answers:

* not too worried about the video transcoding part of YouTube - we've got video dev capabilities. More worried about something that is robust and customizable, but also easy for users and admins - the usability and features of YouTube, minus the video heavy lifting

* Drupal has most of the features, but in my experience with it I'm not a fan. Seems not usable and customizable enough out of the box, also is it scalable? Will look into it again though

Are there ROR options anybody know of?
posted by simpleperson at 12:24 PM on July 23, 2007

* Drupal has most of the features, but in my experience with it I'm not a fan. Seems not usable and customizable enough out of the box, also is it scalable? Will look into it again though

drupal is *way* scalable: The Onion uses Drupal, for example, as does 9lives (which reportedly has 275k users and does 500,000 pages a day).

Drupal's out-of-the-box functionality is a little lacking (and it's out of the box look is pure beat-with-the-ugly-stick), but a lot of the core code is pretty solidly built. There are a couple video-oriented plugins for Drupal, but none of them are going to be drop-in for you, and IMHO, the profile component of Drupal (version 5.1 -- it looks like there will be improvements in 6, due out before the end of the year) is a bit of a mess. User blogs, comments, and tagging, however, are all things that Drupal does very well, so if you can get the profiles and video upload flow to meet your liking, it might be a good solution. You WILL need experienced PHP programmers, and they are going to have a learning curve with drupal (it's built procedurally, using hooks -- once you get the hang of it, parts can be quite elegant, but when you first check it out, it's a real WTF, and it doesn't help that the doc site is crash-prone and slow). If you go this route, I'd recommend picking up a copy of the recently released "Pro Drupal Development" book.

I'm not a ROR dev, but from what I've read, ROR has a reputation (deserved or not) for scaling poorly. One of the developers for Twitter (one of the better-known and larger ROR applications) has publicly bemoaned the difficulty they had scaling their app. I'm not trying to start a dick-swinging contest between PHP and ROR, but it may be worth researching how well ROR will scale for you.

However, it's out-of-the-box functionality for
posted by fishfucker at 2:34 PM on July 23, 2007

you can go ahead and ignore that last sentence fragment. heh.
posted by fishfucker at 2:35 PM on July 23, 2007

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