Here are a few new websites worth taking a look at if you thought BuddyZoo was a fun way to kill time on the Web: Friendster, Tribe.net, and Ryze. They’re all social networking sites that allow you to explore your network in various ways. Now that I’m back home to Houston and a high speed Internet connection, I’ve spent the past couple nights trying them out. Here’s how they stack up based on my early impressions:
Friendster (beta) seems to be the one that has caught on the most quickly. This site strongly emphasizes the possibility of dating your friends’ friends (or your friends’ friends’ friends…). Admittedly, I found this a little creepy at first, but that ill feeling faded once I started trying out the site.
To start you post a profile including whatever information you’d like others to see, including a photo if you wish. Then you link to friend’s profiles and can see the profiles or their friends or search your entire personal network (everyone within four degrees of separation) by interests. This network can get large quickly – with just three friends listed as of this writing, my network is composed of 17367 different people. There’s a lot more to the site than this, and I can see how playing around with it could get addictive.
Tribe.net (beta) is a very similar site. On the plus side, the stated purpose here goes beyond dating. On this site you can also sell things, look for roommates, or form your own “tribes” (groups with a common interest). Also, Tribe.net does not limit your searches to your personal network, which may dilute the purity of the concept but does add functionality.
There is only one downside to this site (maybe two, as some might say the color scheme qualifies) [Additional 8/13/03: OK, the color scheme has grown on me. Once a photo is uploaded instead of the silhouette placeholder graphic it looks much better], and that is the smaller number of users. Friendster caught on quickly, so people are more likely to find people they already know signed up there (in fact, two friends had actually located me there before I even began exploring the site). I like Tribe.net, though, and it has a lot of potential if it takes off.
Ryze is the one of these three sites I’ve spent the least time on. It’s geared more towards business than social networking (the name derives from “rise to the top”). It may be very good for that, but for general use the two listed above appear to me to have more potential.
All the sites are free right now, so it’s a good time to try them out. If you do and you know me personally, my registered e-mail address is email@example.com on Friendster and firstname.lastname@example.org for Tribe.net and Ryze.
Additional Note #1: These three sites and the news/blog search engine Daypop have been added as links under “Trendy on the Net.”