We are working our way through the different DIY social networks to find an alternative to Ning for hyperlocal community activity. Talk about local helps people find a local voice online as a public service. We don’t have a magic answer to the Ning problem yet – it may be that Ning’s charging regime is benign for genuine local community groups. Their recent post is helpful, starting to redress the appalling communications handling of the initial announcement.
Today in talk about local land we had a look at Webs, Socialgo and Grou.ps We used the time honoured scientific method of piling in and having a go to create a network, post some pics, invite each other to join and maybe embed a video with a view to whether we could train basic, cautious web users to set up a network. It’s not quite a Top Gear road test nor a restaurant review – we welcome comments in case we have mis-understood.
Webs none of us took too. The interface seems well suited to designing web pages but it the repeated return to a WYSIWYG editing interface was confusing. Nicky managed to get a social-network looky site first time but it took me three goes. The biggest problem though was Webs taking an hour or two to send out the invite and confirmation emails – we wouldn’t be able to train with this long a lag for the confirmation loop. Maybe that was just a glitch today but there wasn’t a notice on the site saying so that we could find.
Socialgo (thanks Nathalie McDermott) was pretty straightforward – Mike and I quickly got something set up that looked just like a ning. Nicky however had huge problems getting her username and password reset after it snagged and shut her out. None of us like the rather crass banner ad for some IT kit at the top of the page. We shall return to this. The company behind Social Go is based in Wiltshire, UK with financing of $600,000. The charging increment for widgets is either realistic or steep depending on your point of view. But we shall examine more.
Grou.ps (thanks Paul Webster) was also straightforward – Nicky had something running very quickly. I had some trouble with the email login and some long lags here and there but that might have been the local internet here. Mike though didn’t immediately take to the interface – which wasn’t quite a intuitive as socialgo. Grou.ps has raised some finance but only 10% of Nings and is part based in Turkey. It has open sourced some of its code.
We shall persevere with these to test their suitability further for hyperlocal groups and we’ll be having a go at some others in the next few days. Any suggestions welcome.