Last week I decided to check out Namesake, the new community for real-time conversation with real people. I had been hearing some chatter about the site, so I thought I’d see what everyone was talking about. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned Namesake user as I just joined a few days ago and have only taken part in a few conversations, but I do have some feedback from what I’ve seen so far. So here it is—5 things I liked (and 2 I didn’t) about the new Namesake social network.
Before I get to my review, I just wanted to give a quick overview of Namesake for those of you that aren’t familiar with it. The site describes itself as follows. “Namesake is a community built around real-time conversation. Anyone can start and participate in conversations about topics like news, best practices, questions, events, videos and ideas.” You can send a question out to the community and either engage in real-time conversation with whoever is around, or wait for responses from “experts” on the topic of your question.
I think I’ll start with the 5 things that I liked about Namesake (because overall I thought it was great). We’ll get to the areas that I feel have room for improvement at the end. Here goes!
5 Things I Liked
1. Real-Time Interaction
When I first started checking out Namesake I thought it was a bit forum-esque. Someone asks a question and others can provide input. But what really differentiates Namesake from traditional forums is that it fosters real-time conversation. I can ask a question and, within minutes, people will start responding. And, unlike entering a chat room, the conversation stays on topic, related to whatever the original question was about.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that someone will answer your question. My first question, for instance, didn’t get any response. But when I asked about what people’s favorite topics to talk about on Namesake were, I got a number of responses within minutes. I imagine that the more time a person spends on the site, the more they get to know other members and the bigger the discussions become.
2. Multimedia Posts
I like how Namesake users can add all sorts of media to their posts. Other forums for conversation often require users to link to outside media, but on Namesake you can share everything from YouTube and Vimeo videos to Flickr photos, Instagram, Soundcloud, Last.fm and more. It opens the door for discussions about all sorts of media, from art to music, video and everything in between.
At Namesake, you’ll find all sorts of people talking about all kinds of different things. You won’t just find people wanting to talk about technology or people wanting to talk about food or music. You’ll find people ready and willing to talk about anything and everything. For example, right at this moment people are having conversations, which are streamed on the homepage, about everything from Namesake itself to Facebook’s partnership with Skype, the best music to listen to while working, having “friends with benefits”, and green super food shakes. I really like that diversity, as just looking at the homepage opens me up to new ideas and conversations that I may never have participated in otherwise.
4. Expert Ranking – Endorsements
In addition to having conversations on Namesake you can also follow other members and give them “endorsements” in topics that you believe they are knowledgeable in. It’s sort of like giving someone+K in an area of expertise on Klout. When people endorse you, other users can see that you are known as an “expert” in those fields that you’ve been endorsed in. This is a good measure that helps users find other members of the community that can help them out with important questions related to those specific members’ expertise.
As an example, let’s take a look at the Namesake profile of Robert Scoble, who is known as an expert in many fields. According to endorsements he has received on Namesake, Scoble is most known as an expert in technology, Silicon Valley and Startups.
5. It’s Addictive!
I wasn’t sure whether addictive should be included in the “things I liked” or “things I didn’t like” category. I went with “things I liked” because, after all, if I didn’t like it I guess I wouldn’t have a problem stepping away from the site. Like Angry Birds, once you get started on Namesake you might not be able to stop. A constant stream of conversations runs on the Namesake homepage and I found myself wanting to read as many as possible, and give my input when I had it.
I also spent a lot of time trying to find as many conversations as possible about my interests—viral videos, social media, animation and, of course, pets. I shared a video of my dog, gave my opinion about the Seagull steals a GoPro camera viral video, and even gave some job search advice. Even as I write this, I keep checking in to see what people are talking about.
And now, onto the things I thought could use some improvement.
2 Things I Didn’t Like
1. Discovery Could Be Better
I had a bit of a problem with the ‘Discover’ section of the site. The Discover page basically breaks down topics by alphabetical order and is a bit difficult to navigate. Even once you find a topic that you want to find conversations about, there is no easy way to search through it.
I would like to see a more manageable discovery tool and, perhaps, recommendations on the homepage for conversations that the site thinks you would be interested in, based on the topics and people you are following.
2. Finding Friends is Difficult
Chatting with strangers is fun, but if you want to have conversations on Namesake with your real-life and social media friends, it is a little bit hard to find them. When you first sign up for Namesake you are invited to connect either through Facebook or Twitter. A message lets you know that, “Namesake will follow your Facebook or Twitter friends already on the site so you start off with a great experience.” The operative word here, in my opinion, is “or”.
I don’t want to follow my Twitter or Facebook friends. I want to follow my Twitter and Facebook friends. And I’d also like to have the option to search for friends via email. When I sign up for a new social network or service I always like to find as many of my friends as possible that are using the service. It makes me feel less alone, and shows me that I’m not the only one in my network that is checking out the site.
However, discovery of topics and friends aside, I really enjoyed trying out Namesake. I’m still a newbie, but I’m sure I’ll be back often to see what people are talking about, and chime in with my own opinions and expertise. Have you tried out Namesake? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.