Thursday, 29 March 2007

WAYN: Social Networking for Travellers

Today I received an email that was probably not sent by the person listed in the email. They have signed up for WAYN, entered some friends emails, and that site probably automatically sent me the message to try to get me to sign up too. I generally stay away from things like this as there is a always a nasty catch.

Here is a review I found on the subject of WAYN. I've included some highlights from the article below:

Advocates of sites like WAYN believe that being able to broadcast your location to people in your network will revolutionize the way that people meet and interact. As a management consultant, who used to travel to unfamiliar locations regularly, I like the idea of being able to immediately know if I’ve got friends nearby while I’m traveling and/or meet other travelers who are gong to the same location. However, I also recognize the potential dangers of broadcasting your location to the public – especially if, say, you’ve got a stalker or your friends have ever called you a weirdo magnet.

Throughout the demo, a side banner flashed repeatedly: “It’s 100% FREE to join WAYN! Register Now”…This, as it turns out, is a bit misleading

I learned that while WAYN is free to join, membership is not particularly useful unless you pay for an upgrade. Strangely, information about the different tiers of membership and associated costs are not advertised on WAYN’s home page or at any point in the registration process. In fact, you don’t find out about pricing until you complete free registration and start interacting with the site. Even then, the only indication that there are different tiers of membership is a banner on the right hand side of the member’s main page:I was frustrated not to learn about the various tiers of membership, before taking the time to register my personal details. I think it is important for websites to be up-front about costs.

Aside from disliking the interface, I struggled to find members with whom I had much, if anything in common. As with any social networking site, WAYN is only as good as the network of people who use it. WAYN doesn’t appear to have a critical mass of users in San Francisco, CA, USA. Despite this, I did get a ton of pings people in far-flung locations with creepy looking pictures emailing to say “Hello.” This was quite possibly the nail in the coffin for me and the current version of WAYN. There’s nothing quite like getting loads of unsolicited emails from letchy looking men, with whom I share nothing obvious in common and who look old enough to be my father to turn me off of frequenting a website. As I’ve said before in my blog, with the growth of Social Media/Social Networking, privacy is key. As a paying user, I feel that I should be allowed to specify the demographic details of the people who see my profile – not just the people I search for – say “Men and Women between 26 and 38 who plan to be in London between X and Y date.”

A couple of other nitpicky observations about WAYN – The “About us” section doesn’t say anything about WAYN as a company. There are no executive profiles, discussions of corporate philosophy, or corporate aspirations listed. In addition, the bottom of the home page, which hypes “WAYN in the News” features seven media logos, but none of them are hyperlinked.

1 comment:

Siobhan said...

I've gotten so many of those bloody "sign up to this networking site so we can be friends forever even though I haven't spoken to you or sent you an email in ten years" messages that I've started reporting them to spamcop.

I hate those things. If you still have my email address, drop me a line. Don't sign me up for spam.

*grump*