Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ello? Ello? Is This Thing On?

I try to keep up with the social networking milieu, but somehow I missed Ello entirely until Google News popped up a Huffington Post article by Michael Morgenstern on why it isn't going to work (in fairness, the piece is actually about things Morgenstern thinks the site needs to address if it wants to work -- I suspect the HuffPo editors came up with the more provocative title). It takes quite a bit to get me to even click on a link to Huffington (ever since the writers' strike), but this was interesting enough to check out.

Morgenstern noted that he had invites for people who asked, so I asked. In the spirit of paying it forward, hit Ye Aulde Contact Form if you'd like an invite yourself (first come, first served, when they're gone they're gone). My own impressions:

  • It's in beta, so there's still plenty of running room for Ello to address the problems Morgenstern sees. Right now it's pretty bare-bones but it has a working friend/follow/post system. It's usable. Whether or not it will be catching is anyone's guess.
  • The one big problem Morgenstern doesn't mention is: Revenue model. Ello's main claim to fame at the moment is "ad-free now, ad-free forever." The only revenue source mentioned in the FAQ is the sale of optional special user features. They're pretty humble about their goals, but if the site catches on it's not obvious to me that that revenue source will keep up with the costs of running a social network. Then again, I'm not an expert on that kind of thing.
  • A lot of what goes into a social network's success or lack thereof is up to third parties,and while pushing Ello posts to other networks is on the "coming features" list, what I'm not seeing yet is any mention of an API to facilitate sending stuff in the opposite direction. You know -- sharing something interesting you found elsewhere with the push of a button ("Share on Ello"), automatically pushing your blog posts to Ello (via IFTTT and so forth), that kind of thing. That may just be because they're not ready for lots of incoming traffic yet ... but it's important.
Anyway, I'm tentatively impressed. See you there (I'm @thomaslknapp there, don't be a stranger!).

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