WhyDoWork – From Forum To Social Network?

Regular reader Matthew mentioned the transformation of his work at home forum into a work at home social network last week and I have been nosing around a little for the last few days.

Tech bloggers enthuse about the growing number of social networks online, but there have been 1000s of social communities online for years, where people spend a huge amount of time in valuable interaction.

I would actually argue that the interaction that happens on niche forums is far more valuable than occurs on social networks such as Facebook or Myspace – the discussion groups on Facebook are almost impossible to really follow, and creating one seems more about creating a convenient way to broadcast to your group members on Facebook than the actual interaction that happens in the group.

Here is an overview of what a forum profile looks like with social network features added – they also have a competition to win a widescreen monitor based on who creates the best profile.

WhyDoWork Profiles

I went delving into the blog functions a little and noticed some bugs

The auto-discovery is set for the main forum feed rather than individual blogs – this might cause indexing problems

There is a problem with the blog navigation – the link from a profile to the blog is a little unclear (a graphic View All), only individual posts have anchor text, then from the individual posts there is only small breadcrumb navigation, and for some reason an overall forum category for “Member Blogs” is empty.

The RSS feeds on the front page are being served with Ajax which isn’t a major problem if you don’t want them to transfer any juice, but they include the Feedburner RSS tracking links. For me that is a problem, because it invalidates how responsive readers are from your RSS feed.

WhyDoWork – What makes it social?

I think the activity stream on the front page is a good example which takes WhyDoWork beyond the forum spectrum, allowing you to see where your friends have been most active.

WhyDoWork Friend Feed

When I have spent lots of time on forums in the past, this is the kind of feature I would have appreciated to improve the signal to noise ratio, and in fact is one of the best features of many activity stream products now being launched.

WhyDoWork are a recent advertiser, not that I have had advertising slots available for sale for a long time. They have linked to me in the past from their blog, Matthew is a regular reader and contributor in the comments on this blog. This isn’t a paid review, it falls into that grey area Google have yet to define which I mentioned in my recent reinclusion request – then again, so many SEO blogs are running Adverts for Google Analytics these days, without any disclosure in the content – that sucks for users

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Andy,

    Thanks for the thorough review!

    The items you identified are the same ones on our “to do” list and we will be correcting them.

    I also think that niche social networks are on the rise…hopefully ours can help lead those seeking work at home. :)

  2. says

    Hey

    Very insightful. I just started reading your blog and I see there is a lot of great and interesting information here. Thank you for that.

    Civita

  3. Yikes says

    More social networks… many of these ideas can be created on Ning.com. Save time and money.

    There are so many these days… one for dog lovers (dogster), one where you send your friends’ wake up messages ( Sleep.FM ) and the latest one I just stumbled upon for ParrotHeads (meetthephlockers.com). Some of these definietly could just be put on Ning!

  4. says

    I wonder what the limit is in terms of the number of social networks. I’m flat out maintaining stuff in Facebook, Linkedin and the Australian Bloggers Forum, yet alone joining any more.

    Does anyone keep rankings of these networks?