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.
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.
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