Tapuz is not a social networking site, though it is possible to get to know people there – that’s not the emphasis. The emphasis seems to be on blogging.
The front page is a bit like the front page of a news website, with headlines to get you clicking and reading certain posts, links to different sections, pictures here and there to make it more lively. There’s a tab for the bloggery, and other tabs for stuff like forums, groups and chat. Groups can be made private, like here, but blogs and forums are public – no option to post some stuff as private as we have here. (I’ve no idea what the privacy levels are for chats as this isn’t something I’ve explored at all. There’s a lot there that I haven’t checked out… like the link that says “shopping” for instance…) They do have a private message feature, so if you want to talk to someone one-to-one you can do that.
if you want to just get an idea of the visual impression, click here for the Tapuz front page. and click here for the bloggery front page, which you’d get to if you clicked the appropriate tab from the main page.
the blogs are accessible to all, and each blogger has the option to say if they allow comments from the general public or if they want to restrict comments to Tapuz members only. so people don’t necessarily have to set up an account just to be able to comment, and with rss feeds you don’t have to set up an account to get regular updates either.
since I’ve got onto the subject of getting regular updates – here’s where I feel like Multiply have really spoiled me… I am so used to the inbox system here, seeing new posts and new comments straight in my inbox, being able to easily keep track of my contacts’ posts and also group discussions all in the same place – on Tapuz that side of things is very bitty and clunky.
if you come across a blogger that you want to read regularly, you can opt to get regular updates by email or by SMS or (if you have a Tapuz account) by internal Tapuz messages, or of course you can just rss it without any intervention from Tapuz. (no private posts there, remember, so there isn’t a question of not everything coming through to your rss feeder.) I tested the email update method early on, and was stunned to discover that if someone signs up for email updates from my blog, I get to see their email address! so there’s no way I’d use that method for anyone I don’t know personally. (of course, me being me, I blogged about that as soon as I discovered it…)
and when you comment on someone’s post, if you want to get an update when there’s been a reply you have to remember to tick the box for that – if you forget, once you’ve posted your comment that’s it, there’s no going back. (no editing of comments either! or deleting.) and the update for comments is very clunky – say I’ve commented on Meg’s post titled Cute Kittens, and Meg replies to my comment, all I’ll get is a message saying something like: you’ve had a reply to your comment on post http://www.tapuz.co.il/blog/viewEntry.asp?EntryId=1810567 – click on the link to view it. There is no way you can know from this whose post it was or what it was about. Here at Multiply the URL for a blog post starts with the poster’s user ID, but there they just get these impersonal serial numbers :(
updates from forums I still haven’t managed to work out :(
(groups I haven’t checked out at all. I just know they exist.)
there’s also a personal profile page, which is the basic thing you get when you set up an account there – the blog is optional, you don’t automatically have a blog page like here, and you can have more than one blog assigned to your account (like on Blogger). on the personal profile page you have all sorts of pre-set stuff you can fill in (or not) like age, occupation, hobbies and interests, favourite music, books, etc etc etc. and like here, you can add a headshot or stay with a blank grey/white person shape. there are pretty good privacy settings for all the info you put in there, there is a set-up for adding people as friends and you can choose to make certain information available to them only. (but this friends thing is not connected to your blog in any way.) oh, and there’s a freestyle box where you can just type in whatever you want to say to the world, including html code, which is cool.
one thing included on the profile page there which is totally non-existent here on Multiply is a kind of “what has this person been doing” listing – though you can opt not to show it, so it’s not invading your privacy. it shows things like: meirav has posted a new blog post titled Chocolate Chip Cookies; meirav has posted a comment on john smith’s post titled Marmalade Sandwiches; meirav has changed her blog design; meirav has updated her profile. (it doesn’t say when I sneezed.)
when I chose to set up a blog there, I found it hilarious that I had to choose a category – you can’t just come along and say, I want to blog, they want to know where to file you. (blog categories are one of the ways people can find you, say you write about cookery and someone is interested in cookery, they can click on that category and see your recipes.) and once you’ve chosen a category, you have to choose two sub-categories as well! and no, you can’t just repeat the same one, they won’t let you. I thought that was very strange – what do people do who really want to write about one subject and only one subject, I do not know…
I liked the ease with which you can design your blog page – though it took a while till the technical glitch disappeared and I could actually start playing around with it… Technical glitches seem to be rife, but generally I’ve found that if I’m trying to do something and it doesn’t seem to work, the best thing is to leave it alone and come back the next day and, more often than not, I find it works now. (There is a forum for reporting technical problems, I reported the problem with access to my blog design but it still took forever and I don’t know if they actually fixed it or if it went of its own accord – nobody ever got back to me to say. Every other site where I encounter technical problems makes me appreciate Multiply Customer Services even more!)
Stuff I’ve played with in designing my page includes: choosing a “skin” from a selection on offer; choosing how many columns I want – unlike here where the normal layout is a main section plus one side rail (either on the right or on the left), there you can have two side bars, and I like having one on each side, it looks more balanced and it gives me space to add a whole load of stuff. (This is what my blog page currently looks like. I say currently because… well, it is a work in progress… Anyway, you can see I’m making use of that real estate…)
I messed around a lot with where different bits go. I moved my tag cloud from the bottom to the right hand side as I think it’s more visible that way. I shifted the ad to the bottom of the page – was very pleased to find I could, especially as some of the ads have moving/blinking components, which can be horribly intrusive when you’re trying to read something! I don’t remember everything I did now… it’s very easy, you just go to the layout design page and you see all the boxes on there, and you just grab and drag them to wherever you want. or delete the ones you don’t want.
They do provide a whole load of options for bits you can add. One that I’ve got on my left hand side is a box with a list of some of my posts – you can choose from various options, like latest or most read, you can set how many should be shown (up to 20 max), and you can say if you want it to show just the title or the title plus summary (as I have it) and/or plus a picture (if you included a picture). I’ve opted for a random selection, so it shows different ones every time. Another one I’m using is the freestyle box, where you can just put in whatever text you like, including html code – I’m using it with text, but you can equally use it and just embed a picture or a video clip or whatever, I’ve seen people use it in different ways.)
one thing they don’t have is an equivalent to our Tagged Content box, which is a shame, it’s such a useful tool! but they keep coming up with new things, so who knows…
oh, and a cool thing that comes as standard is a box that shows the latest comments on my posts.
what I keep seeing there is lots and lots of different ways of drawing people’s attention to the various posts available. one of the methods used is that when you’re viewing a particular post, at the bottom underneath it you’ll see a “you might also like…” box, with a list of four posts, sometimes from the same blog but sometimes from others – there seems to be an attempt (computerised) to suggest things on related topics, so it can be quite an interesting way of surfing.
and there’s an editors team reading through new posts and choosing which ones to promote on the front page. (I discovered that very early on, as my very first post there was the main editor’s pick one day and I got lots of viewings! I’ve had a few others on the front page since then. When you do, they stick a kind of badge on your post saying “editor’s pick” with the date, and that stays forever.) (and you can say if you don’t want your post to appear on the front page, so those who prefer to stay out of the limelight can opt out.)
I also discovered at some point that they actually encourage a particular form of self-promotion – there is an official bloggery forum, run by the management, and every day they post a new thread titled something like “what to read today” and you can just go there and post a link to something you’ve written. I felt kind of weird doing that, feels cheeky… but I thought, well, if the management is suggesting that people do this then who am I to argue…
there is also a tag cloud on the bloggery front page, so people can use that to search for stuff they’re interested in. they’ve got quite a clever mechanism there, where you can not just look for posts with, say, the tag Chocolate, but you can search within that too, so you could look for anything with the tag Chocolate that also includes the word “cookies”. (yes, I do remember we had a network tag cloud in the inbox here, not the same because it was limited to our network but still, it was fun.)
something I find annoyingly clunky there is the comments section. when you post a comment on Tapuz you have to give it a heading – which I find very weird – and then when you view a post with comments, the default is you only see these headings. you have to either click on each one to open it, or you can click on “open all comments” and they all show. and they show in threaded view only – unlike here, where we can choose our preferred view (I’ve always been a Chrono gal!). I guess if it has to be just one view then threaded makes the most sense, but it does make it more difficult to see what’s new if you’re revisiting a post. (there’s an icon next to new comments, but if there are lots of comments it can take quite a while to glance through them all.)
generally I find navigating there is not very intuitive. it took me ages to realise that when I’m in the blog design page, the way to get to my blog is by clicking on the bit where it shows my user name at the top. and how to join a forum is something I’m still not sure I’ve worked out, but I definitely am not getting updates from all the forums I thought I signed up for…
still, it works, and I find it a great place for blogging (if one wants to blog in Hebrew, of course). I really like all these different ways that posts are promoted, I like the ease of designing your blog page, composing a blog is pretty straightforward, with a button editor a bit like we have here (plus an option to edit html, like here) and an option to preview before publishing, also an option to save as draft and come back to it later. and – yes, I know some people will want to kill me for this or at least exile me to MySpace but, yes, I am ready to confess: I really enjoy the mood feature! not that I use it to indicate my mood – not relevant to me as it’s not that sort of blog, I’m not there to pour out my most intimate thoughts and feelings… but they give you this huge selection of icons you can attach and I pick whatever I feel is kind of connected to what I’m posting about. Today I posted something food-related and the mood icon I used was a picture of a fried egg. I just think it’s fun.
which reminds me of another bit where I discovered how spoiled we are here on Multiply – when I wanted to add an image to a blog post, and found that there’s a size limit! there’s so much we take for granted here…
p.s. I gave you those links so you can see what Tapuz looks like, but if you don’t know Hebrew may I just say: don’t try using online translators on that stuff, they just can’t do Hebrew to English, I’ve tried and the results are hilarious…