Yahoo Mash: Thoughts On Invite-Only Social Networking Sites

Posted on September 17, 2007. Filed under: My Musings, Yahoo Mash |

– via toprankonlinemarke ting’s flickr

A moment ago I noticed a post by my Facebook friend Kevin Dando linking to a NY Times story on Yahoo Mash.

I’m not really feeling the motivation to hunt down an invite to any more social networking sites, especially this one. What for? The ability to alter my friends profile layouts? Zzzz. Change their information? (Is anyone else thinking of Spock? And who cares about that anymore?) All of this is perhaps fun for two seconds, but what productive adult truly has time to do that on a continuous basis? Aren’t we all wasting enough time playing Facebook Scrabble?

The novelty of being “invite only” may generate an initial healthy stream of blogger/industry buzz, particularly since Yahoo Mash will offer more enterprising developers the opportunity to build modules for it (making it yet another ad market to dip your brand ladle into). But then what? A wiki-style model requires people – lots of people – to showcase it’s true potential. So why start out limited?

What makes Mash worth including in my already precious free time used on Facebook/ Friendster/Vox/Yelp/Flickr/etc.? Can I even integrate my existing Yahoo apps into this thing? Even if Mash is targeted primarily to Yahoo users, I’m still not sensing the relevance. What need are you filling that doesn’t already exist – the need to make my friend’s profile blue? Sorry, that’s not enough.  Is it such a good idea to prevent the public from experimenting with it from the get-go? Time will tell, but unless Mash has some tricks up it sleeve that provide services the LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, MySpace and Facebook crowd aren’t already enjoying, I’m very skeptical.

Some Services I’m Still Not Getting

– Organize my planner on the go and compare it/sync it up with my friends calendars

– Translate the pages of my friends profiles in various languages

– More relevant video search within social networking sites and the ability to have playlists automatically created for me defined by tags/settings

I’m not discounting all private Betas. With a P2P service like Joost, it makes sense to start with a small group of users and grow from there, as bandwidth, tech, and usability issues are resolved. But I will never understand why, beyond the very temporary appeal of exclusivity, a social networking site would risk dangling invites out as if they were pioneers in a brand new market where we don’t already have a bunch of options.

Edit: You can read the Mash blog here.

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