Novelty Social Network Reviews

I’ve been collecting novelty social networks lately because I’ve been tinkering with one of my own. Since I have a passion for both interesting words and fine beer, Wordie and Coastr have received most of my affections.

Wordie is surprisingly fun. Like many people, I heard about this “Flickr for words” last month and thought it was silly. Then I spent two hours adding and discovering words and started eyeing my bookshelf for verbiage. This site is addictive. And unlike some other linguaphile sites (a word I learned on Wordie), not remotely pretentious. Words I’m proud to say I was first to Wordie so far: netop, bialy, Joycean. What do you have?

Coastr is Wordie for beer nerds. You add the beers you like and the places you like to drink them, then find other users who share your tastes and see what other beers they like. You can review beers and beer establishments and the more you contribute, the higher your Coastr score becomes and presumably your clout.

I’ve been having fun listing my snobby beer preferences but I can already tell that the user base is lacking. I was the first person to add Brooklyn’s beer-nerd palace Spuyten Duyvil as a venue, for example. And if you’re used to Beer Advocate-style beer reviews, you may be disappointed with the content. Still, it’s a fun, well-executed site that I identify with and am interested in helping grow, and inspiring that feeling is basically the goal of a novelty social network.

In addition to words and beer, I’m big into books, and there are lot of bookish community sites out there: LibraryThing, BookMooch, FrugalReader, What’s On My Bookshelf?, Shelfari, for example.

Key to the success of these sites is a place for people to curate: a homebase with a short URL. The more customizable you can make it the better; it’s up to you whether or not you want to let your site tip over into the anarchic MySpace direction.

Simplicity is also important. Neither Wordie nor Coastr have “take a tour!” links or “how it works” pages. You can easily figure out how they work by clicking around, because what they do isn’t that complicated.