I will have more on China soon, but today I must talk tech again. If you would rather read about China, click here for a short press release from Reporters Without Borders.
TJ Sondermann reminded me about CrowdVine in a comment on my quest for the best social network software. I had quite forgotten that I even knew that it existed. TJ mentioned that their blog claimed they were about to add OpenID which was a major feature that I was looking for. When I went to sign-up and check it out I was quite surprised to find that I already had an account and that I had, hold your breath, signed in with OpenID. See what happened is that the local Providence Geeks group uses CrowdVine. I just thought of it as the Providence Geeks group not as part of CrowdVine. The ability to make the site your own is a very important feature, and apparently CrowdVine got that part right.
So CrowdVine has OpenId and apparently has had it for quite a while. That make it the winner in my book, but let’s look at a few other things to make a fair comparison.
Short URL / Custom URL
The Ning domain is shorter than CrowdVine (obviously), but Ning requires 6 characters for the sub-domain.
Control over Appearance
Ning has a basic control panel and allows custom CSS. CrowdVine gives a choice of 5 color palates.
Ning has a full forum, but CrowdVine has a blog/article posting option with comments which in this context is essentially the same. CrowdVine could use a way to categorize the posts, though.
Both have member profiles. I did not see any important differences.
Both have direct communication options.
Ning has sub-groups which are handy for local chapters, and event based groups, but does add a level of complexity. I like the idea but you definitely have to moderate the setting up of sub-groups or they get out of hand. I am a member of on Ning where there are hundreds of cliques of one.
CrowdVine uses a set of customizable questions to group people by. It solve the same problem in a more manageable way.
CrowdVine has it. Ning doesn’t. As a matter of fact, I checked with Ning and discovered that Ning does not have any developers who understand OpenID well enough to implement it and does not have the resources (or interest) to acquire developers with these abilities.
I get the feeling that Ning has been around a little longer and has a larger user base. This is rather handy for new groups since many people already have a Ning account.
Both have advertising, but CrowdVine’s is less in you face and obnoxious, and thus probably less effective. Both of them could take a lesson from FaceBook if they want better advertising.
Is there any other criteria I should be comparing? Anything else I missed?
If you think of anything else let me know.
Conclusion: Ning needs OpenID and four character sub-domains. CrowdVine needs CSS, and a shorter URL (or let us use our own). CrowdVine’s list is easier, so my prediction is that Ning is going to get its head handed to it on a platter.