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Ask HN: What's your ideal social network?
11 points by macando 79 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
People on Twitter complain about LinkedIn, people on LinkedIn complain about Twitter. People on HN complain about Reddit, people on lobste.rs complain about HN. Everybody complains about Facebook. Is there an ideal social network? What would it be?

None of them. I'm not sure what your experience has been like on the World Wide Web, but for me, immediately preceding social networks were just forums, and the best Internet community experiences of my life were on those websites. So there are entirely different models of communities outside of "social networks." The latter most is just the most recent phenomenon. And it will be replaced sooner or later.

In fact, I think we're overdue.

Anyway, at least forums were actual communities, where you recognized people's usernames, people had reputations instead of likes or karma, and people made up their own mind about things instead of having signals tell you what to think.

What we have with social networks are too many people spewing their worthless opinions with such velocity that any meaningful discourse or information you might hope to extract is drowned in uneducated or uninformed quips and blurts.

You are right. Ephemerality and velocity is what influence the current state of social. With forums you had a community (often local) with a common (usually offline) interest. You had permanent topics and memorable members. I frequent subreddits which grew from 10k to 200k and 100k to 1M subscribers and I haven't memorized a single username. Maybe a creative troll or two but even they eventually gave up. Maybe all this is caused by a rapid growth and a lot of new people still figuring the things out.

I think it depends on the purpose.

Instagram is great for sharing quick stories of interesting things throughout your day and for photographers who want to showcase their work to a casual audience. Snap is great if you're younger and want a more contained experience.

If I want to get rid of something that I don't use anymore or get a quick pulse of my neighborhood, I find Nextdoor very useful since everyone is verified.

LinkedIn is still great for getting a quick pulse on a company, team makeup, how they're growing, etc. It's not great, but it's better than nothing.

Pinterest is still a great way to collaborate on creative projects with other people. Especially if you're exploring something very visual.

Reddit/Twitter still have great interest-oriented content though you have to dig a bit to find the signal amongst the noise. Once you tune your subreddits and twitter feeds, they can be productive places.

The point I'm trying to make here is that there's no ONE social network that'll be great for everything. Just like there's no ONE social circle or social structure in real life that you rely on for everything.

Each of these networks have their issues but if you take the time to extract the value out of them, it can be productive. Of course, they can be used in unproductive ways as well. I've experienced both extremely productive and unproductive sides of each.

Excellent summary. Almost any social network can be great if you put in some effort in personal curation and filtering. I feel that a lot of people are frustrated because they expect a great experience immediately. It took me a year to get my LinkedIn in good shape.

I'm attempting to turn Indie Hackers[0] into a social network that motivates you and makes you more productive, or at least more effective. It's centered around developers helping each other monetize their side projects and start businesses, through a combination of asking/answering questions and sharing personal stories about what's worked.

It's quite interesting making tweaks to a social website, as there are usually all sorts of unpredictable second-order effects. I have a bit more respect for why websites like Twitter don't change much.

On Indie Hackers in particular, one thing I've noticed is that people tend to be kind without much moderation. My leading hypothesis at this point is that almost everyone has skin in the game. You're less likely to bash someone else's project if you know you'll be posting about your project soon, so norms have developed around being constructive and encouraging.

By contrast, HN has a norm around finding fault with whoever you're responding to, which is great for informative debate and conversation -- I learn a lot here from reading so many different opinions on each issue.

[0] https://www.indiehackers.com

LinkedIn like Indie Hackers is another example of a self-moderated social network. People on LI are not always nice to each other but they are civil most of the time. I guess that's a magical combo: a network that is business oriented and people using their real identities. You're right about skin in the game which has a second-order effect of turning a community into an echo chamber. It's what happened with Behance and Dribbble, nobody gives any meaningful feedback any more, it's just praise left and right. Being constructive and friendly in giving feedback requires a lot of effort and with a new thread/article/design popping up every few seconds nobody has the time for that.

I read the other day a New Yorker's article [0] about the 2 Hacker News moderators and how lonely and emotionally draining their work is. Here rapid growth and anonymity lead to people being more ready to give fast feedback or opinion which sometimes causes bickering, misinterpretation and insults.

So a thriving network has to have:

- The right mix of a moderate velocity and growth - just enough new content so it doesn't turn into a ghost town or echo chamber, but not too much so the quality is not diluted.

- Self-moderation or non-stop moderation if necessary.

- The right incentive built around a common interest for the users to create meaningful and constructive new content - seems like the hardest part.

[0] https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/th...

I would agree with the sentiment about Forums. I owe a lot of my younger development years to groups of people on niche forums. They can harbor a lot of negativity sometime, but I found that the real toxic ones tended to destroy themselves and because they’re all mutually exclusive to their focuses, it was a pretty natural evolution of “community” if the forum survived for long periods of time.

I think that reddit has a foothold with subreddits, but they’re just not the same. As of now, I’m searching for decent aviation forum communities to explore as it’s my new learning focus.

Never heard of lobster, looks neat. If it doesn’t bother you, I’d love an invite to that so I can check it out.

Overall, I think a singular place where all of humanity “socializes” isn’t realistic. We need our corners and groups that belong to us individually.

Decentralised where if I don't agree with any rule or ownership changes, I can easily jump ship and take my content elsewhere without impacting any existing people who are connected to me.

And how would you spend your time there? Looking for entertainment? Professional development? Smart discussions? Instant connections with random groups?

Mastodon exists.

A paid network with some rules on content (only original content, no spam, no ads).

I saw a few attempts in this space, i.e. premium videos. Usually it's hard to find a viable business model.

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