Apr 4, 2007

[Web] A Closer Look at Flixster and Shelfari

Some time back I wrote about how specialized social networks were becoming as opposed to the catch-all sites like MySpace and Friendster. While I did an initial review, I think it's about time to revisit the two sites since I've been using them for a month.


Flixster is a site that's all about movies. I didn't think I'd have that much fun on the site but I was surprised with the rich suite of activities and doohickeys one can fool around with on the site.

You start off by taking a Movie Compatibility Test which assigns a sort of score for you such that when you compare to other users, you can estimate how well you may or may not get along with them based on your opinions on movies. I like the option since you don't end up adding people to your contact list who end up being totally incompatible with you.

I think the best thing about the site is the ease of use of the various tools. Rating movies is amazingly simple and the system can continually pump out more and more movies for you to rate so you may find yourself rating films for hours on end without realizing it. The same goes for the various quizzes derived from user-generated content. Your profile page can be pretty dynamic since it lists the movies you've ranked, the movies you marked as favorites, actors and actresses you liked, your quiz scores and many more. On top of all that, you can skin your site using your favorite films as themes.

The site is highly interactive and never seems to run out of things for you to do, depending on your preferences, which is the best thing about the site. It's not at all static and how much you get out of it depends on your level of participation.


I wrote about Shelfari some time back and my initial impressions were pretty good. The catalog function seemed to be its greatest asset and I was devoting a lot of time to getting my account set up completely before really exploring.

The problems with the site lie there - once you've set up your shelf, the experience kinda stalls. In order to write reviews, you need to visit the individual book pages, which is pretty cumbersome. Why can't we rate books direct from our shelves? It doesn't help that the site still loads slower than molasses even after a month of waiting for performance to improve.

Find friends isn't all that intuitive and the discussion groups aren't that amazing. For a site that had the potential to be pretty smart, a lot of the talk ain't all that. Maybe I'm expecting too much, I don't know. It's just that I never found any of the threads to be all that impressive or involving.

So Shelfari kinda falls flat on its face once you've been on the site more than a week. There just seems to be nothing interesting to do. Darn. And I was so hopeful for the site, too.

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