TimesPeople: the social network for the New York Times.
[Warning: This post was written in 2009 and information may not be kept up to date.]
TimesPeople says it is not a social network for Times readers, but that is exactly what it is. It is built on the merits of Twitter – allowing you to ‘follow’ and be ‘followed’ by other TimesPeople – while incorporating some parts of Facebook. Sounds neat, but just how good is TimesPeople and what does it offer?
You sign up, and TimesPeople updates your feed whenever you do something on NYTimes.com – so it logs comments on articles, articles you’ve rated (or recommended) and comments on blogposts. But you have the option of turning your ‘sharing’ off – so you just follow people but they cannot see what you are doing.
Once you have added lots of users – their activities come up in a news feed (like Facebook). You can also see when people you are following are being followed by and following others, like Twitter.
This pops up at the top of nytimes.com when you do something new…
The Latest – a feed of what TimesPeople (including ones you are not following) are doing and looks a bit like this:
Happening right now on TimesPeople
|Carol Bateman recommended an article: How to Raise Our I.Q.||5:26 am|
|Globaltechbroker commented on an article: Afghan Women Protest New Law on Hom…||5:25 am|
|gattopardo recommended an article: Yankees Win Game, but Lose Nady||5:22 am|
|eddie recommended a comment: Disney Expert Uses Science to Draw Boy Viewers||5:21 am|
|Manon Sheiman recommended a comment: Dinosaur at the Gate||5:15 am|
|Ember recommended an article: Big Profits, Big Questions||5:15 am|
TimesPeople looks like a great advancement on creating smaller social networks which have the newspaper as their base and articles as their common point of interest.
You can also add TimesPeople to your Facebook account – one of the best functions of the service as it into the sphere of the big social networking sites which can all be collaborated with Facebook – and means article you like can be shared with all your non-Timesey friends.
When viewing TimesPeople comments, there is a drop-down box allowing you to see the ‘editor’s selections,’ ‘readers recommendations’ and oldest and newest comments. This is a great feature for sieving out comments you don’t want to read.
If you comment on an article it awaits moderation before being published – but it looks as if it has been published already – which gives you some level of satisfaction.
You can see other people’s news feeds which is quite cool – as everyone, with different followers, has a completely unique news feed. Although you’ll soon realise due to the small nature of the network, everyone is following the smae people so there is little variation.
When you post a comment you cannot post it as your TimesPeople ID – you have to enter a name which is attached to the end of the comment. This means when other users read your comment they cannot click on your name and add you as a person to follow – this would make perfect sense because if you could see someone writing comments you enjoy you should be able to follow them, as they are probably also a Timesperson.
There is no ‘bio’ so you cannot find out anything about a person you may want to follow apart from their name, pic and location. You would have to Google them – which is annoying.
Your news feed of friends activities is pretty much just ‘— recommended an article…’ followed by an extract from the article. The extract makes it look like they have commented on an article. The recommend button is on every article. So after a while you begin to feel like the whole service is just people recommending articles – so it feels pretty limited. Although on the spec nytimes.com says they are thinking of adding a “notes” feature to go with recommendations. So you could recommend an article, and add a note (which would not go under the article liek a comment but stick to your activity page). If they gave you more things to do on the website, there would be more ‘activity’ – which probably would make it worthwhile joining up.
The community is quite small – I followed someone doing the most activity and added all his followers and soon realised that I am following just about everyone using TimesPeople.
In general, the network works pretty well and adds the element most users want when reading articles on news websites – to be able to share articles they like.