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Alexis P.

4
Level 4 Contributor
Australia

Contributor Level

Total Points
4,220

32 Reviews by Alexis

84 Views
6/17/21

Retalk is the newest iteration of the American right trying to provide an alternative to Reddit. This is due to their incessant (and false) belief that Reddit is stifling conservative speech despite having popular conservative-leaning subs like r/Conservative and r/Libertarian.

I think a lot of the issues with sites like this is that they fundamentally don't understand what the issues with Reddit actually are. While there are times where the moderation on certain Reddit subs is an actual issue, that's not an issue that's exclusive to any particular political ideology. It's an issue that comes up because Reddit won't provide a lot of administrative oversight to what mods are doing or what direction controversial subs are going in until it becomes a big deal in the media.

From what I can tell, Retalk hasn't done a whole lot to deal with that issue. In fact, it's quite possible that the site will eventually do less, given that the kind of people who'll use this site will tend to be people who either won't say the things they want to say on Reddit or they've straight up been banned from it. This kind of community will probably tend to skew much further to the right than the centrist/centre-right ideology the site's advertising espouses.

I'm also not entirely sure how the site plans on keeping the discourse civil when it's also using a very similar upvote/downvote system to Reddit. One of the biggest hindrances to open discussion on Reddit has traditionally been its voting system, because once you've gotten a certain number of downvotes, people will be encouraged to make the least forgiving interpretation of what you've just said. Retalk would benefit from transitioning away from this kind of forum to a more traditional style of forum where there isn't a karma system.

Still, this does bring up one of the better ideas that Retalk has implemented. You don't have the option of downvoting posts until you've hit 250 karma. This makes sense in the short term because there probably will be people who'll sign up just to downvote everything they see on the site. I guess it'll also nominally help reinforce its central idea of civil discourse, but I think in the long term it'll probably turn out to not be that difficult to get to 250-ish karma. Most people who can hold in their more jerkish tendencies would probably be able to get to that point within a day or two.

The other good idea they've introduced for the site is that you have to be at least sixteen to sign up for a Retalk account. A Reddit account only requires you to be thirteen. I don't think there's really any way for Retalk to effectively enforce this because I doubt there's gonna be too many fourteen-year-olds signing up just to immediately espouse being fourteen, but the idea itself is good. I think if they nudged the starting age up to eighteen, they might actually be able to avoid some of the issues with pedophilia that Reddit has had over the years.

Still, I'm not holding out too much hope for this site. It's still early days yet, but there's been a fairly storied history of people on the right starting up a site that's ostensibly a conservative alternative for an already popular site, only for it to either never really catch on, only attract the worst possible users from the already popular site, or both. I think Retalk is really gonna have to work on introducing some other stuff that Reddit either doesn't do so well or just doesn't have at all before this site is anything other than a forgettable Reddit clone.

Tip for consumers:
Don't use it. Even if you're generally a centrist or conservative, you're still better off sticking to Reddit.

55 Views
6/15/21

This site was developed by the same people who developed Chat Hour. While this site has tended to be a little less notorious than Chat Hour, they still have an advertisement for it whenever you log in to the desktop version of the site. Just because of that, I suspect that if I dig too deep, I'll end up seeing a lot of the same issues with this site that Chat Hour is notorious for.

Despite presumably being developed by the same people who developed Chat Hour, 111 Dating is somehow even uglier. It really leans into that kind of '90s website design look; presumably because the people making the site have a tiny budget and no skills to work with.

Some of the features of the site are decent, but I feel like for every good thing this site does, there's some kind of downside to it. It's simple enough to scroll through the profiles, but there's no way to narrow them down based on your preferences. Writing your profile is simple and intuitive, but there's no way to add a small bio--something that you can do on their other site, Chat Hour.

The good news is that the user base is small enough that you'd probably be able to find someone you'd want to talk to fairly quickly. The flipside to that is that there probably is only gonna be a few people like that, and if things don't work out between you and them, you're out of luck. Depending on where you live, the only people in your area might be outside of your desired age range as well.

There's also only a limited number of places you can choose from as well. While you can choose any country of the world, the site also requires you choose which city you're closest to. That's fine if you live in a place small enough that picking one of two or three major cities is a pretty good indicator of where you live or there's enough cities in your state or province that the site lists that you probably live close to one of them, but what happens if you live in a place where it's feasible to not live particularly close to any of the cities listed?

The other good news is that none of this is hidden away behind a paywall. All the available features are free. The bad news is that there's enough issues with the site that the creators would probably need some extra money to fix all of it, and the userbase is small enough that they're probably never gonna make that money through ad revenue.

Tip for consumers:
I wouldn't recommend the site. While it's easy enough to use, the user base is small enough that you might not find a match easily. It might be better to use a different site altogether.

66 Views
6/15/21

Stan is an Australian streaming service. It's actually pretty popular here, too; apparently it's subscriber count is second only to Netflix's.

In terms of user interface, it's pretty similar to Netflix, which is fair enough, because there's only so many different interfaces you can have for a streaming service like this. Broadly speaking, if you're a fan of Netflix's interface, you'll probably be a fan of how this site is laid out as well.

I think Stan's biggest issue is that it doesn't really have much of a niche. It's more like an aggregate site more than it is its own thing. Most of its exclusive shows tend to be stuff like Looking For Alaska, which were originally made for different services in the United States, or they're Australian-made stuff that maybe two people total have watched. At least with other popular streaming services, the people running them can make an argument about what the niche is--Disney+ is focusing on being family friendly, Netflix has increasingly focused on its original content in the last few years, and Amazon Prime focuses on being the worst overly monetised nightmare imaginable.

The good thing about its content selection has tended to be that it has a lot of older shows from the '90s and '00s that I remember watching in high school (stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stargate SG-1), along with some older movies from the '50s and '60s like Run Silent, Run Deep, Barbarella, and Rear Window. I feel like it'd probably be a good business strategy for the site to double down on this kind of content going forward because there's not really any other services in Australia that are readily hosting a wide range of older movies and shows.

Still, the user interface is at least usable, and it has a pretty respectable selection, so it's still a decent service. I'm not really sure if it's worth $14 a month, especially at a time when there's so many streaming services that paying for multiple services can cost as much as pay TV did 10-15 years ago, though.

Tip for consumers:
If you're looking to stream Breaking Bad, this is the service that has it in Australia

6/15/21

Disney+ is one of the cheaper options among the popular streaming services at the moment, with its monthly fee only costing ~$12 a month (in Australia). The only one I can think of that's currently cheaper than Disney+ is Amazon Prime.

The flipside to this is that its content choice is often very limited: most of what's currently available on the site is stuff from the last twenty or thirty years. While the choices have expanded recently because of Disney's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox having been finalised, there's still a pretty wide range of stuff that Disney had in its own backlog that they could have put on the site. This stuff might not have done as well with the current generation of kids, but it's stuff that'd go down well with most of the adults that are, y'know, paying for the service.

I think Disney has shot itself in the foot in this regard. One of the big selling points of Disney+ that they tend to include in a lot of the advertisements for the service has been that it's stuff from Disney, Pixar, LucasFilms, Marvel, National Geographic, and Twentieth Century Fox. Outside of Star Wars, the MCU stuff, and the more recently released Disney stuff, it's not really taking full advantage of this.

Still, the biggest benefit Disney+ has over other popular streaming services isn't actually anything to do with its selection. It's that it has some parental control features that other streaming services lack. In the profile settings page, you have the option of setting the highest content rating a person using that profile can watch. This makes a lot of intuitive sense because while it makes sense that an adult might want to see a slightly edgier movie on the site like one of the Alien movies, you might not want your eight-year-old to watch it unsupervised.

While I am totally aware that this was a measure taken just so Disney could protect its family friendly image, it's such an easy, intuitive thing to add that I have to wonder why other streaming services haven't added it. Netflix might have a kids' section, but its kids' section is mostly stuff for preschoolers and isn't stuff that'd necessarily be suitable for primary school kids. Disney+'s parental controls allows for that extra nuance that comes when dealing with older kids.

Still, I do think Disney+ would greatly benefit from adding to its selection. There's a lot of stuff National Geographic was coming out with when I was in high school that seems to mostly only be available online because of grainy bootlegged copies uploaded to YouTube, for example. While there might not be a huge audience for a show like Taboo, Disney's certainly getting less money for it now that it's mostly only available through YouTube uploads than they would if they gave it an official release on their streaming service.

Products used:
I mostly stream television shows and films. Recently, I've streamed content such as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the film Broken Arrow.

Service
Value
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1.1K Views
6/14/21

OK Cupid is one of those sites I've used at various points in the last ten years or so. There's been times when I've gone out with people on there (though those relationships have been short lived), had hookups from there, and I'm reasonably familiar with some of the major changes on the site over the years.

One of the bigger transitions in recent years has been that more and more of the site has been hidden away behind a paywall. When I first used the site in 2014 or so, most of the site's major features were free to use. There were a few things that you had to buy a premium account for (stuff like being able to see who'd liked you account and so on), but enough of the site was free to use that it didn't really matter. A premium account might have more stuff, but the free accounts were easily used as well.

Ever since I think 2017-ish, the site has increasingly transitioned to being a more premium heavy service. This makes business sense for the company because they have to make their money somehow, and I guess it is a little difficult to be making money consistently when the service is optimally based around a revolving door of users. I'm not really sure it makes as much sense for consumers, because social media isn't a thing most people think of as being a thing you should pay for.

I think that's ultimately the story of a lot of the changes OK Cupid has made over the last three or four years. There's a lot of stuff that makes a lot of sense on a surface level, but the execution doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The best example of this is the like feature. While five years ago, this was mostly just a premium thing that didn't necessarily affect the free user experience, now it's a central part of the site's design. Before you can message someone, you have to have liked their profile.

This makes sense on a surface level because that kind of easy proof that you liked each other's profiles can help with a match. It can also help cut down on some of the outright harassment you might expect to see on a site like this, given that there are people who would harass others if they didn't get a date. However, because you have to pay to see who's liked you, you end up missing out on a lot of potential matches if you're only using a free account.

The search function also leaves a lot to be desired. While once you could potentially search through all accounts, narrowing down the results based on your personal preferences, now you basically only get to see maybe five or ten accounts at a time, and you have to either like or pass on profiles if you want to see others. I think this is a silly design feature because it makes it more difficult to see how many people are currently active in your area, and how many people are just being recommended just because they happen to live in the same state as you.

You're also now unable to see who's viewed your profile and who hasn't. This used to be a fairly major feature of the site that was available with free accounts, but now it doesn't exist anymore. I think it'd make even more sense to have this kind of feature now that so much of the site is based around the like feature, because even if you didn't have a premium account, you might still be able to make an educated guess about who'd liked your profile and who hadn't.

The one good change OK Cupid has made has been to ask for text message verification when you sign up for a new account, similar to what you might go through to secure an email address. This can potentially limit the number of catfish overall on the site, especially over the long term, because less people will be willing to hand over their mobile phone number to an internet company just so they can screw around with other people for a little bit.

Still, overall, I feel like OK Cupid has gotten to the point where so much of the site's basic functions are hidden away behind a paywall for it to really be feasible to be using a free account anymore. I think the company would be better off just switching to a paid service at this point.

Tip for consumers:
If you're not willing to pay for a premium account, you might wanna look elsewhere.

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Quality
5/3/21

Amazon Prime is a service that I think is torn between having a decent selection and being a honey pot for Amazon. Because of this, it's easily the worst of the streaming services that I'm currently subscribed to.

The site has a decent-ish selection, but half of what it offers is hidden behind a pay wall. Like, there'll be a certain selection that you get just because you've subscribed to the service and you're paying the monthly fee, but then there'll be a bunch of other movies also offered that you're still expected to pay for if you want to watch them on Prime.

Before you watch an episode of a show, you'll also get an ad for other stuff also on Prime. You can skip these ads instantly, but they're still a nuisance. The site also offers no way of skipping recaps or show intros.

None of these things are issues with the other streaming services I'm subscribed to. It's pretty clear that Amazon built this site to be the cheapest possible site they could make while still being as profitable as possible. Unless there's a specific thing you want to see on Prime that's not offered elsewhere, you're better off not paying for Prime.

Tip for consumers:
The adds can be skipped instantly

Products used:
I streamed Farscape and several movies

Service
Value
2/26/20

I'm someone who's used a number of sites like this. While Penpals Now! Isn't the absolute worst of the ones I've come across, I think it's towards the bottom of the pile.

The one thing that makes this site stand out as particularly bad is that anyone is able to see your email address after clicking to see it. This strikes me as the kind of thing that ought not happen--it's an easy way for people to find your email address and sell it to mailing lists. It'd be much better for the site to have something like Students of the World has (or at least used to have when I used it) where the site lets you type the email but it sends it. That way you'd still be able to email someone you're interested in, but people wouldn't be able to see your email address unless you decided to respond.

My other big issue with this is that some of the people who use this site are 16-18. Previously the site allowed kids aged as young as 13, but they changed that to be compliant with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation that was implemented in 2018. While they do warn that anyone can see the email address, I feel like this isn't an issue that should come up at all; especially when it's required to give them the email address and when anybody can see that. Knowing how the internet is, and especially given that a site like this can sometimes attract unsavoury people, I'm not convinced the people who run the site have thought this "feature" out.

I think the site itself is a bit of an eyesore as well. While I understand that a site like this most likely won't get a whole lot of ad revenue, surely there's some way of monetising sites like this without the ads regularly taking up half the screen.

The search function is fine; it does what it's supposed to do and is intuitive enough to use. That's really the most I can say about this site--at least the search function is what it's supposed to be. The major downside to the search function here is that the results are limited to five per page while on other sites like this, you might get ten or twenty results per page.

In terms of the actual userbase, there's something offputting about a lot of the people on the site. On any other site like this that I've used, there's always been a few people who've mainly been using the site as a way to find a date or to convert other people to their religion. However, on Pen Pals Now!, there seems to be a disproportionate number of people like this.

I'm not entirely sure if the website designers intended this to be the case or if they were hoping it'd sort itself out over time, but I can't imagine too many people wanting to spend much time there. This is especially the case with younger people, most of whom are probably going to be hesitant to reply to a guy in his fifties telling them about how Jesus saved his life or something.

All in all, it seems like there's really not much positive to be said about this site. If you're looking for something like this, maybe go for another site. You'd probably have a much better time there.

6/26/19

Global Pen Friends has a few things going for it. The search function is easy to use, and it's relatively easy to find people from the countries you're interested in and who are in the general age range you're hoping for. Compare this to Interpals, a site that I've previously said (and continue to think) is the best site like this, where the search function can be haphazard at times.

The obvious downside to this site is that registration can be a little more time consuming than it is for other sites like this. Unlike with other sites where you can fill out your profile at your own pace and as you see fit, this site requires that you fill out something for just about every part of your profile straight away, and with a minimum number of characters filled.

That might be fine for someone who naturally has a lot to say about themselves, but it's not so great for people who might prefer to talk about themselves with other people as opposed to writing about themselves on a public profile. It doesn't help that the minimum number of characters for the "What you're looking for" field is 90. The statement, "I'm looking for penfriends from the United States of America" takes sixty characters, which I personally think would be fine as a reason for that field when you're first signing up. You're almost forced to follow it up with some low level joke like, "Oh, and for someone to scientifically prove that Tonight Alive isn't the best pop punk band ever created."

Once you've filled out the profile, it can take at least two hours, and they say profiles are usually registered within ten hours. Maybe they've had huge issues with spammers in the past that I don't know about, but this is still an incredibly slow sign up speed. With other sites like this such as Interpals, Students of the World, and Pen Pal World, the registration speed is faster--almost instant, in fact; you just need to click the link they email you and it's fine.

The only way to get around this is... to pay a premium fee. And that tends to be one of the common issues with sites like this: they'll do a couple of things really well, but then they'll follow it up with a thing that's either weirdly limited, or they'll want you to pay them money to get the additional features which are more or less standard in other similar sites.

While I understand the logic behind doing stuff like this, I don't think it's really a viable thing when you have sites like Interpals and, for school kids, Students of the World which offer every feature they have for a premium account. Surely a better solution would be to have certain aesthetic things you can put on your profile if you pay a donation or something, but otherwise have it as is.

The other big downside to this site is that it assumes you'll only be interested in a single culture. While they'll try to hide this by asking you to pick a continent rather than a country, this is still implicitly the case. What if you're interested in both German culture and Indian culture, for example? Well, the site assumes that's not going to be the case and doesn't seem to allow for it.

While the search function is great, I think it suffers from a few glaring issues in the registration process. Surely there's been a number of people who've been driven from the site just because they feel it takes a little bit too long for their liking.

4/2/19

The Atheist Foundation of Australia is one of those things I have mixed feelings about.

On the one hand, I agree there is a need for the organisation. Promoting a separation of church and state and advocating for a fact-based worldview on life are good things to be promoting and I think these things are ultimately beneficial to everyone, regardless of their beliefs and background.

On the other hand however, I believe the culture on the site's forums tends to be somewhat insular. Most of the forum's active users seem to either be moderators or admins at this point, and the forum activity seems to be pretty low.

I think a lot of this is just because online atheism is less popular than it was a decade ago. However, by the same token, I think it does the foundation in general a disservice because at times it has produced a culture which can seem unwelcoming to newcomers, even if they broadly agree with the political and philosophical leanings of the site.

It's a shame, because the Foundation probably would be able to do a lot more good for this country if it weren't for some of the excesses of its forum culture.

3/27/19

I think the biggest issue with Outlook is that they try to roll a little bit too much into it. There's no particular reason why they should be trying to integrate elements of Skype into Outook other than the same company owns both products.

Of course, you might be inclined to make the argument that some people want these things, but I don't think there'd be too many people like that. Just about everyone who wants a Skype account already has a Skype account. Really the only reason they might be inclined to do this would be to compete with the gmail IM system--a service that I doubt many people use.

Honestly, if it weren't for this and the constant promotional offers, I'd probably think it'd be fine to use Outlook as your primary email address. Other than these two issues, an Outlook account functions well, and you don't get an excessive amount of spam.

GMX
24.3K Views
3/27/19

I think there's some tiers to email servers. At the top, there's stuff like Gmail that generally have a reputation for being fairly secure, and then there's some of the B-team servers like Outlook, Yahoo, etc. that aren't always the most secure sites or try to integrate weird features that don't add anything to the user experience.

The bottom tier would be stuff like GMX which are barely passable as throwaway accounts. I can see someone using GMX maybe if they wanted an email account to set up an account somewhere that they were only planning to use for a week or two.

While it takes less than a minute to sign up for a GMX account, there are certain benefits to having a backup email address ready for these accounts. Hell, there's even a reason why you'd want to have a phone number attached to your email address. But none of this matters here because GMX doesn't really give a $#*! about your account security.

1.4K Views
3/26/19

When I first heard about this site, I was expecting it to be the kind of site where they're passing some kind of moral judgement against every movie. This was not the case.

Instead they give each movie a score out of ten for each of three categories: one for sex and nudity, one for violence, and one for coarse language. So, essentially the three things that might make a parent reluctant to show a movie to their child.

They'll also give a list of every incident of these things happening on screen in fairly dry language. Consider this from their page on Kill Bill Volume One: "A woman bites a man's lip (or tongue, it's not clear) and pulls, he screams and falls onto the floor motionless, his face and chest are covered with blood, and she is covered with blood. We hear panting and moaning, pan onto a woman with a very bloody and bruised face and see her shot in the head. A woman cuts a woman's arm off: blood sprays and pours and the woman flails and screams..."

This is the kind of language used when they describe the violence they see on screen. It's dry, and it doesn't pass judgement on whether or not these things should be shown to children. It's left up to the parents to decide whether or not it's okay to show their kids this stuff.

At the end of these sometimes monotonous lists of every single violent, sexual, or foul mouthed incident, they'll provide a list of discussion topics related to the movie (presumably so a parent can talk to their kids about what they've just seen), and the general message of the movie. The discussion topic list for Kill Bill Volume One reads, "Respect, murder, mercy, revenge, changing one's life, death of parents."

So while this site could have quite easily have become just a shoehorn for someone to moralise about what a child should and shouldn't see, they seem to have largely avoided this. Instead, they've taken a much more common sense approach to what they're doing: they advise parents that a movie might be violent, sexual, and profane, but they also give a list of discussion topics so that parents can have the opportunity to use any movie as a learning tool to discuss serious issues with their kids.

5.7K Views
3/26/19

The best way to describe iMeetzu is that it's a smaller, more niche version of Omegle. I'm not entirely sure who the people who'd be attracted to iMeetzu are that wouldn't just be using the larger, better known Omegle are, but apparently there's around 350 or 400 of them right now.

No, that's not entirely true. There are some legitimate reasons to use iMeetzu over Omegle. When you're using the site's text chat, you have the option of adding pictures to the chat. This option is currently unavailable on Omegle. Plus there's less bots on the site.

However, outside of these two advantages, there's not much reason to use iMeetzu over Omegle. There's still a pretty high number of perverts, and you don't have the option of at least nominally adding tags before you start talking to people.

This probably would be a legit competitor for Omegle if it caught on, but nobody seems to know or care about it for the most part.

64.9K Views
3/26/19

Omegle is one of those sites a lot of people have a lot of nostagia for. They remember the glory days of when you could go on there and not encounter any perverts or bots. A lot of people are looking at Omegle through rose-tinted glasses.

Here's the thing: Omegle has always been filled with bots and perverts. Even in 2011, when the site was ostensibly at the height of its popularity, the site had a lot of bots and perverts. The only difference between today and 2011 is that less people use the site, so the perverts and the bots become far more noticeable.

Omegle is one of those sites that I've used on again and off again for several years now. I'm always amazed at how long some of the bots and spammers will use the site. I'm fairly sure that one of the bots on there has been going for something like three or four years now.

There are some genuine people on the site, but don't expect to be having long lasting conversations with them. Most of the people who use Omegle are people who aren't looking to make new friends or anything, they're just looking to waste a bit of time before they have to go do something else.

So long as you go in knowing that most of the real people on the site are just there to waste time, you'll be fine. But that's the kind of expectation you should really have of any chat room, not just Omegle, so I think that's more than fair.

If the powers that be in charge of the site would crack down on all the bots, the site would probably be okay. I don't think it'd ever be the best site ever, but it'd be a passable place to spend a bit of time if you're bored. As is though, you'll probably walk away frustrated after twenty or thirty minutes because of all the bots you encounter.

3/25/19

People complain about the mods and admins of Christian Forums banning people who disagree with Christianity. To be quite frank, I'm not entirely sure what people expect from a forum like this--it's literally a forum for Christians to discuss Christianity. There should be no real expectation that this would be an open forum for debate with non-Christians.

While there are places on the forums set up for debating theology, I think the trouble is that these kind of discussions have to be moderated quite heavily. Due to the personal nature of religion, it's extremely difficult for many people to debate it as merely an intellectual thing. For many, their religion isn't just an intellectual exercise, it's a part of their identity: their church life is a part of their identity, or their lack thereof is a part of their identity.

Maybe the mods could do things differently when it comes to these discussions, and maybe the standards should be more clearly communicated. This has always been an issue with the social internet, though: community guidelines and exactly where the line between acceptable and unacceptable input is rarely communicated effectively.

To some extent, it's difficult to do that, because ultimately it is a judgement call. However, I think how much criticism of Christianity will be tolerated on a Christian forum is one of the things that absolutely needs to have some kind of guidelines. But I think any kind of firm guidelines with clear examples of what is and isn't accepted won't go down well with non-Christians like myself due to the culture on these forums.

Culturally speaking, Christian Forums tends to be filled with the worst stereotypes of Christians. These are your Republican voters who think Jesus will be coming back in the next twenty years, the people who think they can pray the gay away, and the kind that have issues with a large chunk of secular culture.

But this is exactly the kind of person you would expect to be going to a forum like this. These aren't your culturally Christian people who might go to church once or twice a year or who are from some of the more progressive churches, these are the people who not only identify as Christian, but some have even mistaken their religion for a whole personality.

In light of this, the issues with the moderation when it comes to dissenting opinions aren't too surprising. If anything, they're to be expected.

1.6K Views
3/22/19

Let's say you're somebody suffering from depression or a similar mood disorder. That's fine, it's more common than most people realise, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. You should see a therapist for it, though.

This is advice that most of the users on Take This Life are receptive to. Of the people I interacted with on the site, the overwhelming majority of them were seeing a therapist and had been prescribed medication. For them, these forums were a support group rather than anything else.

However, Take This Life should probably be taken as evidence that mental health support groups should probably have some kind of mental health professional or social worker heading things to keep them on track. Without it, the group will eventually plummet into a perpetual feedback loop of negativity.

That's essentially what's happened with Take This Life. While intended as a support group, many threads plummet into perpetual negativity. Everyone's situation is completely hopeless; everyone's fighting a war they're doomed to lose. It's a defeatist mindset that I'm not entirely sure is helping anybody on the site.

Perhaps this line of thought is completely accurate for some of these people. Perhaps for some, it really is this bad. However, one of the common symptoms of depression and other similar mood disorders is a sense of hopelessness. Of course any support group that is overwhelmingly populated by those suffering from this kind of mindset is going to end up like this if there isn't someone there dedicated to guiding some group discussions.

While sites that attempt to provide a more productive approach to the online mental health support group exist, to my knowledge many of them are sites like ReachOut which are aimed at a very specific demographic. There really isn't anything that can fill the gap for a depression support group that is guided by a mental health professional of some description.

The more cynical part of me suspects that this is impossible. With Take This Life in particular, there's over 32,000 registered users and about 130 active users. This is according to the analytics at the bottom of the site's home page. Unless there was a very strong, concerted, well funded effort to make a more productive counterpart to this site work, it probably wouldn't work.

Plus, let's not forget that a number of the people who'd be drawn to a site like this are drawn there because they don't want to have to deal with professional therapists for a while. Maybe that's fair enough.

I don't think that Take This Life stands alone in the criticism that there needs to be some kind of guiding force to support groups like this. Certainly the mental health subreddits are prone to the same sort of issues that you see on this site.

While the intentions of Take This Life are inarguably noble, I feel like there's a better way of doing this. Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic in thinking that could ever be the case, however.

(If you or anyone you know are contemplating suicide, please consider calling a suicide hotline.)

3/22/19

Mibba is a very user-friendly site. It's easy to work out how to use it, which makes it pretty easy to post content there. That's pretty much what you want for a site that was primarily aimed at teenagers (or at least was when I was using it).

From a design perspective, Mibba's interface looks fine. It certainly looks a lot better than sites like fanfiction.net and AO3. There's a part of me that thinks the site looked a lot better in 2010 when you could essentially do up your profile like you could with a MySpace profile, but I think that's a more nostalgic part of me that's romanticising my teenage years. God knows that some of the profiles on both MySpace and Mibba were an eyesore when you had the option of doing that.

While marketed as a site for aspiring authors, there definitely are certain genres of fiction that will typically go down well. The number one genre I ever wrote was smutty fan fiction. No matter how much praise I got for my other (admittedly quite lackluster) stories, it was typically my smutty Harry Potter fan fiction that got the most views.

That kind of thing is great if what you really want to do is write fan fiction. However, if you want to write anything else, you have to either be really good at gaming the social networking aspects of the site or you have to be posting at just the right time for a lot of people to see your work.

So while Mibba is easy to use and it certainly looks a lot better than some comporable sites, there's no denying that there's an aspect of it that's essentially a glorified fan fiction website. But you can quite easily turn that around and say that about any site like this: even places like Wattpad that tried to be the "serious" writing website for "serious" writers essentially became just another fan fiction site after a while.

Mibba is fine for what it's trying to be. It may not be the best site like this--I don't know; I haven't really used any sites other than this--but it's pretty easy to use and parts of the community weren't too bad.

3/21/19

A long time ago, this site tried to cover the same kind of niche that Students of the World covers. It was the e-pal site where the ads would let people contact you via email without having to put your email address up for anybody to see. The difference was that E-pal World was open to everybody while Students of the World was mostly catering to students.

In 2013 or 2014, the owners of the site made the decision to make the site more like a social networking platform. The new design of the site was something of an Interpals knock-off, if Interpals was done on even more of a shoestring budget.

This was a decision that made sense to some extent. The old design, much like the design Students of the World has almost always had, was perpetually stuck in the nineties.

However, the decision was a mistake. The new design wasn't much to look at, and it wasn't necessarily as user friendly as the previous iteration. It wasn't as user friendly as Interpals either, a site which I'd generally consider to be the gold standard for a site like this.

While the site was nothing special, I wanted to give it another try today. It seems like the site is down now, though there is still a listing for it on Google. Their Facebook page is still up as well, with a single status update from February 2014. That status is a simple description of what the site is, and seems pretty similar to the description of the service that was present on the site itself for a long time.

I think the mistake they made was that they wanted for the site to be more of a social media type thing. This wasn't necessarily why the people signing up for E-pal World wanted to use the service, though: some, especially Baby Boomers it seemed, were using the site because it gave them an excuse to use their email address. These aren't the same people who were hoping for a social media website--those people mostly go to Interpals, which was the case in 2013-2014 when the change was made as well.

I can understand the appeal of a decision like that, though. To some extent, you would hope that a huge change like that would help the site make money. However, I doubt even Interpals, with all of its regular users, would be making that much money in a year. With an epal/pen palling website, you're probably never going to be making huge amounts of money because it's such a niche interest.

12/29/18

Goodreads is like a counterpart to IMDb--while IMDb is mostly geared towards movies and T. V. shows, Goodreads is all about books.

However, in terms of actual usability, Goodreads suffers. While the base functions that make up the site--the ability to rate, review, and list the books you've read--are intuitive enough, a lot of the other functions can be difficult and decidedly less intuitive if you don't already know what you're looking for.

There's also the issue that the mobile app version of the site is even less intuitive, and makes some of those base functions that make the site desirable at all difficult. This isn't the kind of thing that you want from your site, especially when there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of viable alternatives.

In terms of the culture on the site, a lot of the reviews are essentially trash that don't tell you a whole lot about the actual quality of the book. They tend to either be quite shallow one-paragraph reviews that read more like a blurb a publisher would write for the book, or they're so. Gif heavy that it's difficult to get through them at all.

While Goodreads is a good concept, it needs a bit of work to make it everything it could be.

12/5/18

A long time ago, I thought Facebook was great. This was in 2008-2011 when it was mostly just kids in high school and in university who were using it (I was 14 in 2008). But as it became more popular and more baby boomers and Gen Xers starting to use it, it started to go downhill as it slowly became more and more inundated with the most mind-numbing political memes and personal drama imaginable.

From a business perspective, having the site be as open and as accessible as possible makes sense. It's no secret that Facebook makes a whole lot of money from knowing everything about everyone. But from a personal level, I don't think it's worked out so great.

Social networking sites are often at their best when they have some kind of niche that they're geared towards. Reddit is a forum site that's geared towards having a lot of different communities talking about the things related to the theme of the subreddit. Tumblr is a social network made up of various fan communities and special interests as well, but in a microblogging/photo blogging kind of format.

But what does Facebook have going for it? It's the site for keeping up with old friends and with family members who live a long way away. It's a great idea on paper, and for the most part it has been a profitable one, but in reality, it turns out that if you let these people connect with each other in an online environment, they're mostly going to be sharing the most inane stuff imaginable. The people I thought were great once upon a time turn out to be the most annoying people.

Unfortunately, it's also socially required to have an account. Our culture assumes you're trying to hide something if you don't have a Facebook profile now, even if the reality is that you just don't want to know every passing thought of everyone you've met.

So I think it's one of those sites that would work better if it was mostly geared towards people who are/were still in school. Once the scope of the site expanded beyond that, the site began to spiral downhill.

Alexis Has Earned 160 Votes

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