Home Improving Online Communities: MyBlogLog, Explode, OthersOnline

Improving Online Communities: MyBlogLog, Explode, OthersOnline

Online community, or for that matter any community, is built upon the shared
experiences of its participants. In the real world, people in a community typically
interact with each other by gathering at same physical location, at the same time. In
online communities, it is easy for users to interact with each other without any
geographical or temporal limitations. But in return for the benefits that the Internet
(or even the telephone to a lesser degree) provides in terms of ease of communication,
there is less richness, texture and context in the conversations. A number of startups
are trying to address this problem with online communities and in this post we review
some of them.


MyBlogLog started off with the aim of providing blog
analytics. MyBlogLog Communities was launched mid last year, to enable readers of blogs
to join communities and share their experiences with other like-minded groups of readers.
The idea was that if readers like the same content, they probably have plenty else in
common. MyBlogLog built a platform where readers could trade messages with others and see
what other sites they visit.

Power of Images

MyBlogLog hit the jackpot with the ‘Recent Readers’ facewalls, which provided a visual
way to connect readers and writers of blogs. By just giving a static visual cue in the
form of a picture, MyBlogLog provided an important visual context for online community
conversations. The result: MyBlogLog’s usage took off and is now at over 50K users. In
the meantime, they also got acquired by Yahoo! for about $10M.

Where there are visitors, there is spam

With all the success of MyBlogLog, came a number of people looking to use it for
financial gains. From R-Rated
, to people
to be somebody else, to other commercial avatars like Mr. Online Pharmacy,
there have been a number of instances of people trying to game MyBlogLog. And MyBlogLog
has struggled to cope with it.


In addition to the spammers, there is new competition on the horizon for MyBlogLog. OthersOnline and Explode are two emerging players that have
interesting new twists to the functionality provided by MyBlogLog. Let’s take a
quick look at each…


Explode provides the same
analytics capability as MyBlogLog, but in addition to Analytics it also allows users to
build a network for friends – who can be readers or writers of blogs. Bloggers can then
display a ‘friends’ widget on their blogs. This widget provides valuable context on the
readers of the blog and the blogger’s circle of friends. Another capability that Explode
provides is a comment wall
for each user, where friends and other users can post comments. This also provides
valuable context on each of the users.


OthersOnline has an
interesting twist on the idea of providing context. They allow people to register their
profile along with their website. As part of the registration process, OthersOnline asks
users to categorize their website and themselves, via keywords. Using these keywords,
OthersOnline shows profile information of users, along with presence and email, via a
browser plug-in (a widget is in the works as well). The idea is to make it easy for
people to locate other like minded individuals or websites, in the course of


While these companies are breaking new ground in making online conversations more
useful, there is still a long way to go before we have achieved a ‘good enough’ quality
of online interactions. What do you think of MyBlogLog and/or the others mentioned here?
Have they improved your online communities?

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