Evolution of an Idea

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.

Lessons Learned

  • 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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One thought on “Evolution of an Idea

  1. Got a link for the Toki Pona dictionary? or is it the one linked to by Sonja’s site?