App.Net, Good, Bad and the Unfocused Problem

When I first heard of app.net I was somewhat skeptical. The idea of a pay to join social site did make sense to me but I wasn’t so sure it would make sense to many other people. After seeing a few people from other social networks state they had backed the project I figured I might as well join in (hi kids!) and, so far, I’m glad I did.

The Good

Quality

One thing I’ve noticed on other social networks is the lack of real conversations. It’s a bunch of people all yelling to get attention in your feed. The conversations on app.net have been pretty good in terms of quality. Granted, a lot of the talk is either somewhat technical/geek talk or about app.net itself but it still beats out many other social networks in my opinion.

It’s big, but small

The service is still small enough that, if you so wish, you can watch the global feed to jump into conversations and meet new people. It’s sort of like the Asheville, NC of social networks.

I’m not the product.

Do  I have to say anything more about that one? It’s just plain nice being the customer.

The Bad

Where is ___?

Like all new social networks your friends are probably not on it. At least not yet. There is no promise they ever will be on it. It’s a gamble but then again so was joining any other social network in the first few years of their creation.

It’s a social network.

I have to throw this in there for good measure. It’s a social network. Some people will be annoying, unfriendly, loud, etc… Luckily mute is built directly in to the web interface and API allowing you to keep some of the higher offenders from bugging you. The good news is that I have not encountered much of this yet with one exception …

The Unfocused Problem

This is the exception and, in my opinion, is the biggest problem at the moment. For those who are not on ADN this may sound like an odd issue as it’s not uncommon for people to flood their followers on other services with random posts that mean very little. There has been a lot of talk on ADN about cross posting from other services which I call unfocused posts. In general I don’t think cross posting is a problem unless it’s excessive or makes references to things that do not exist in the current service. For instance, if someone posts a retweet/repost from Twitter to ADN referencing a user who is only on Twitter.

Why is this happening?

I think it’s happening for one of two reasons: “This is how it works” and “I paid for it…”

This is how it works.

This is a social problem for social networks (ha!). It’s the assumption that social networks should list all your social network traffic so everyone can see it. A good example would be FourSquare on Twitter. If someone is interested in your FourSquare check in’s they are likely your friend on FourSquare but yet people flood Twitter with FourSquare posts.

I paid for it…

This is more specific to ADN. Since it’s a pay to post service there is probably more of a need to post. If someone joined up and then decides it’s not yet worth their attention I tend to believe they have a higher probability of cross posting from a service they are using actively. The thought process being “I paid for the account, I might as well use it.”

Solutions

One solution which is being worked on is filtering via annotations. I can see that being very helpful as long as the applications which enable cross posting end up filling out annotations and clients (including ADN’s web interface) allow for filtering based on these annotations. ADN will probably end up providing the client functionality web side in some form or another and some of the applications doing cross posting will probably fill out annotations properly but cross posts may still find a way through.

Here is a possible example of an innocent cross post which wouldn’t have annotations attached:

  1. User has a mobile microblogging client installed
  2. User has it set up to post to Twitter, Facebook and ADN
  3. User sends a “tweet” to a friend on Twitter
  4. Result is three posts (one on each service). Only twitter has the proper user context.

In this case I don’t think the client would really know that the user only exists on Twitter and that it should add annotations for ADN. It’s simply a post with a user reference.

In my off time I’ve been trying to come up with a stop gap solution via time based thresholds which I’ll bring up in a later post in greater detail.

Conclusion

If you are a geek of any kind it’s probably worth your time and money. The community is small and growing, the impact one user can have is still pretty high and, over a bit of time, you can probably make some more quality tech friends and contacts.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s