Do we have a messaging problem?

"Social networking" seems to be a loaded term that implies something much narrower than what Elgg has to offer. What can we do to clear up the confusion?

From :

ON isn’t designed for social networking. Though you’re welcome to do so, this isn’t the place to post snaps of you out on the lash, or to connect with your old school friends.

ON is built on Elgg. But it's "not designed for social networking." The writer then goes on to describe the purpose of the site is political organizing, something I personally consider broadly under the category of social networking.

I'm glad they found and decided to use Elgg, but this gives me the impression that people may be reading "social networking engine" and thinking "nope, I need something for political organizing." Are we losing a lot of people who could be well served by our software due to this terminology confusion?

Similarly, I had an experience where someone was building a site for people to log in and discuss a workbook. He knew I worked on Elgg and had intended to try it out but that no clients had need of "social networking sites" at the moment. In my mind logging in and discussing a book is very much a "social networking" activity!

If you've seen the new docs at, you'll notice I've made the pitch on the home page slightly different than what we've had before to address the wide applicability of the platform.

Elgg helps communities get connected while retaining control of their data and brand. It is a great fit for building any app where users log in and share information.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Have you noticed similar issues? Does this new pitch make things any clearer? Am I broadening the purpose of Elgg too widely?

  • I've always considered Elgg closer to a framework than a product...this is where the term "social engine" comes into play. 

    I think this is all part of their site's not our messaging problem--Elgg is a social engine, but it's for the site to decide whether social means posting snaps of you out on the lash, discussing books, dating, or whatever else they might want to do.

  • "Logging in and discussing a book" sounds like a forum.

  • I am with Brett on this, social network covers political motivated sites.

    Facebook is probably setting the minds of people on what to do on a social network as sort of a standard.

    As for Elgg, it is a social network engine that in it's core facilitates all sorts of social structures to interact. My opinion is that the pitch you rewrote is much to complicated for being a good pitch.

    A pitch immediately makes clear what it is, in as few words as possible.

    A social network engine.

  • @gerard, and what I'm saying is that apparently some people read your four word pitch and think "a tool for building Facebook clones".

    My point is that this is *not* the summary I intend to be giving. Remember again that using words that technically capture what you mean is not the point. What other people think you mean when you talk is what matters here.

    Might be a good thing to do user testing on! Anyone used before? Perhaps we could devise a test that tells us the answer to this question.

  • Yes, it needs further explaining as with most pitches . But the power should be in the essence. A small sentence that actually describes what it is, preferably understandable for the majority of people.

    And detailed explanation for those who are triggered by that first sentence. The whole width of this community describes what it actually is in detail, including all the code on github for the real enthusiast.

  • @gerard, and what I'm saying is that apparently some people read your four word pitch and think "a tool for building Facebook clones". 

    My point is that this is *not* the summary I intend to be giving. Remember again that using words that technically capture what you mean is not the point. What other people think you mean when you talk is what matters here.

    I think that's absolutely true, but I'm also not sure the soution is calling it something that it's not because people don't understand what it actually is. A better solution is to educate users, but I know I'm being optimistic about that. We can change our blub and call Elgg an "OSS Interactions Engine" or something similar, but that feels so hard like marketing buzzwords that I'm turned off by it. I'd rather lean toward technical accuracy than buzzwords.

    Some of this is likely from the "social" bleed from dev shops--"Make your app social!" "Make your site social!" Those sorts of uses almost always mean "share this on Facebook."

    Might be a good thing to do user testing on! Anyone used before? Perhaps we could devise a test that tells us the answer to this question.

    This would be an interesting experiment. We should set up some least max words (30?).

  • All social networks are clone of each other to some or to a great extent. Google Plus, Orkut, Myspace, Facebook all lets mutual or one-way friendship, and content sharing based on that friendship / privacy PLUS they allow excellent media sharing like sharing photo etc. Just like all email services are clone of each other, in the sense that each must have an inbox, compose and send, draft, contact list. Today it is not just what a social net or email service offers, today it is more of how they offer -  how innovative and easy and addictive is the service and the interface to the end-users.

    When people like me come to Elgg they may not be looking for Facebook clone but they are looking for the essential features and stuffs that users on FB, G+, Myspace etc can enjoy - people like us intend to give to our users the same COMMON features at least, and we know that Elgg is a php social net script like Drupal+OG, WP+Buddypress, Boonex, Phpfox, Joomla+Jomsocial etc.

    Some ten years ago there were CMSes in the free domain like Geeklog, Drupal, e107 and plenty others AND there were so many sites based on this. But with the advent of FB and G+ young folks are no longer creating php scripts, they are using these even less to build sites, and many many companies are using only fb addresses instead of www address on billboards and product packaging. Once it was an era when no commercial script or site was as good as what WP/Drupal/Elgg/etc offered but with the disappearance (into money and job and the big companies) of the programing whizkids, now the giants rule - internet is much less interconnected network of hundreds of  sites nowadays but more of fb and 3  or 5 monopolies like twitter and apps.

    So, to comeback to the discussion - whatever be the message of Elgg, people will download it and test it, and once they see that core or common things in existing social nets can be done with Elgg also easily, they will adpot it. They will adopt it more if they see the script or product, out of the box, can offer super easy and modern means of sharing media and content, along with granular privacy (privacy is a strong and good point of Elgg).

    They will actually adpot it more if something  MORE is there which Elgg offers and which FB, G+ or scripts like Buddypress, Jomsocial etc do not offer. Some innovation, something that users will think 'OMG how we were doing without this so long!'
    (and others will rush to 'clone':))

    Remember the first blog scipt, a script mere few hundred kb, came like this.

    So we need ........

    What personally I feel we need something like what Diaspora promised - any elgg site user can log into any other elgg site (provided both admins have no objection in setting up like that) and users can add friends like in email contacts (provided no one has objection) like an yahoo mail user can add a hotmail or gmail contatct. Diaspora did have this feature to some extent but it never materialized.

    And we should be able to extend Like/+1/whatever-name and comments to other site based on my Elgg site. These are the things which the available scripts are not providing.

    This is ONE way ........... the other way is something completely new (new way of presentation  and packaging and userinterface) like Instagram or Whatsapp were. But Elgg is a social net script - anyone can narrow it down to a poltical group site or extend it to something more than FB.

    Last but not the least, I feel we should have an Elgg based real social net like FB, G+ etc controlled by Elgg org but some other name or similar name. There is always room for another in the www.

  • Arck has been describing Elgg to clients as a 'rapid development framework' with 'built in social features'

    If necessary you can easily remove all semblence of social networking and use elgg just for the fluid data model/api/views for any kind of web application, social or otherwise.

  • I would say if you ever want to change the baseline, call it something like: 'Social framework' or 'Social engine', i'd say the first. Just leave out the network. Since that's exactly what it is, a social framework.

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