I’ve been working on creating a social website to fix the things I didn’t like about meetup.com for a few years now. Here are some of my early mis-steps:
Using as the manual intended
Wordpress for blogging– very successful, my most trafficked websites, although as a community, I mostly get drive by commenters.
Even if you install it, no one will come
- phpList mailing lists. Useless unless you are some sort of organization that sends out announcements to a large user list.
- forums- phpBB. These are useless until a stampede of users show up.
- WordPress as an event manager (well it supported user accounts, comments as RVPSs, posts and events, categories as interest groups) Utter failure. I couldn’t figure out how market it.
- MS Word documents (ugh– pre-2007 this was a exercise in futility for anything except trivial page authoring). Utter waste of time, attracted no traffick to speak of.
Over-ambitious Custom Development, FilmClans- Movie club software
version 1– almost finished before my attention wandered.
version 2– tried to port it to C# and set up a InfoCard logon. Failure on both accounts.
There were probably a few too many features to pull of FilmClans in the time and attention available.
Small Enough to Succeed: Toki Pona Dictionary and Search Engine
First successful website (meaning, feature complete, provided value to at least one person)
Hardly any users, but it is a nice social website non-the-less and it became my favorite dictionary and search engine for toki pona.
Social Animals DC
This is a calendar aggregator. I manually track down events from many organizations and merge them into a single calendar. Jury still out on how successful it will be for other people, but I use it to keep track of events I would like to go to.
- One size fits all solutions to social websites don’t work, (i.e. using a blog for in person events)
- Pick a website design & feature set that is useful with just one person (or else it won’t get off the ground, exception special cases, like when you got a pre-existing audience)
- Leverage existing technologies (i.e. using RSS for calendar feeds)
- Be a barnacle (start thinking about using other website’s APIs early on, i.e. using delicious to drive my links page for social animals dc)
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