Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Blellow – Testing The Beta
March 5, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Article Reviews, Cool Tool Alert, Networking/Social Media

I saw a tweet about Blellow‘s new beta site from Mandi Leman a few days ago, announcing a prize of a free SXSWi pass and a VIP pass to Mash*Bash on March 16th. Since I’d do just about anything to go to SXSW (anyone wanna sponsor me? LOL) I figured I would participate in this beta and check out this new community.

So, for starters – what exactly IS Blellow? According to their website, “Blellow is a San Antonio based bootstrapped start-up” and they believe that “while there are many tools for learning, our best resources are each other.” Basically, this seems to be a community site that encourages its users to post questions and topics and engage other community members to share their expertise on various topics. Sounds OK so far.

So, I registered and set about trying to make my way around this community and check it out. The Groups seem to have a Twitter-esque feel to them. You can attribute  a message to a group or groups by adding a % in front of the group name (sorta like using #hashtags). And replies are designated by placing an @ in front of the username. There are a variety of topic areas, such as Education, Social Media, Business, and Non-Profit, and I started a group called Career Advice – hey, who isn’t looking for a tip on how to land a job these days?

So, having snooped around a little, here are some of the pro’s I’ve found:

  • The design of the site encourages users to solve each other’s problems, which is great for getting people to interact with each other
  • Threading of messages: when you write a question or statement, you can then actually see the thread of responses
  • picture-9You can give people kudos for helping out on a query, and it visibly shows how ‘helpful’ an individual user is by displaying the number of kudos they’ve been awarded. (I have zero; I haven’t been too helpful just yet :))

Now, for the areas of improvement:

  • It’s still quit buggy – when I first signed on, I tried to search for groups and kept getting an error page. However, I notified Mandi of this on Twitter and within an hour, the issue was fixed. So, I’ll put expedient (and pleasant!) customer service under the pro’s as well! 🙂
  • There is no people search function – you can’t search for people unless you click on their av’s within a group. I pointed this out again, and Mandi told me this was a feature that was in the works. Good!
  • When looking at the Group listings, there isn’t anything to visually indicate to you if you’re already a member of a group or not.
  • I would love a splash or preview on mouse-over w/ vital stats on each user, instead of having to click through each profile to learn about someone.
  • I would also love email and/or text updates for replies and/or private messages. I hate having to constantly refresh my browser in order to see what’s new.

That said, I would opine that Blellow, while still a little beta-buggy, has some potential. As it seems to be predominantly driven by user contribution, ultimately the users will make or break this community. That could be its biggest victory or its hardest struggle. If the community is mostly people seeking answers, but not contributing, it won’t work. If it ends up being mostly people throwing their opinions and “recommendations” around but not asking questions, it’s going to be full of a lot of hot air and big egos. Hopefully, it will find a happy medium between the two! Good luck, Blellow – and I hope I win your contest and get to hang out in Austin. My only challenge would be actually getting there 🙂

And on that note – if any one wants a respected blogger to cover SXSW for them, I’m open to sponsorship 🙂 Seriously. Inquire here!

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