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Summary:

The number one use of user-created content in virtual spaces, as Metaplace creator Raph Koster once sagely observed, is the screenshot. “That’s actually where the action is,” he said, “things that have a far lower barrier to entry.” Trouble is, it’s difficult for the millions of […]

Vint Falken in SL and RLThe number one use of user-created content in virtual spaces, as Metaplace creator Raph Koster once sagely observed, is the screenshot. “That’s actually where the action is,” he said, “things that have a far lower barrier to entry.” Trouble is, it’s difficult for the millions of MMO users out there to share screenshots and other in-game content with one another on a centralized, user-driven web site, especially for the many who participate in more than one world.

Filling this demand is the new social network Koinup, recently launched by an Italian startup of the same name. It aims to bring together players from World of Warcraft, IMVU, Second Life, and other online worlds. Om passed me the link a few days ago, and since then I’ve been noodling with the cool if still somewhat clunky system.


torrid.jpg

On the plus side, uploading images is intuitive and speedy, and user content (both screenshots and machinima videos) are nicely displayed with user ratings. Key features will presumably be improved over time, but right now, uploading videos is frustrating (I couldn’t figure out how to quickly plug YouTube videos into my account) and searching for contacts is difficult. I finally managed to find a couple of Koinup users I know from Second Life, and though communicating with them through the network’s internal messaging system demonstrated how cumbersome it is, their takeaways were insightful and — overall — positive.

“I enjoy Koinup; it’s like Flickr for virtual worlds,” famed Second Life fashion designer Torrid Midnight told me. Midnight also participates in a Flickr-based SL community, she added, but “it can sometimes feel a little out of place because I don’t post real-life works or photos.” Vint Falken, another renowned SL Resident, also made the Flickr-for-MMOs analogy, “…which we were begging for a few months ago when Flickr was constantly NIPSA’ing avatar accounts,” she told me via the messaging system. (Flickr had a policy of marking MMO screenshots “Not in Public Site Areas,” effectively removing them from the photo stream, and apparently a recently introduced workaround is not satisfying everyone in the system’s MMO-related communities.)

But are there enough hardcore MMO content creators/users for an entire social network? (Since it’s a free system, it looks like Koinup depends on Adsense and other advertising for revenue.) The fun Myspace-style SL Profiles has been around for over a year, but only has about 10,000 accounts. Positioning Koinup as a universal home for all MMOs is a good idea, but at the same time, online worlds are so different, their most avid users may prefer to stick with social networks targeted solely at them, like Rupture, Shawn Fanning’s new startup aimed at World of Warcraft players. It’s too early to tell if there’s a niche for MMO-branded social networks — or whether they’re better off as, say, Facebook plug-ins.

Image credit: Vint Falken (first pic) and Torrid Midnight (second).

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  2. A good example of this is the cohfaces website that has appeared for the city of heroes/villains playerbase. It allows users to upload screenshots and pictures of themselves.

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  3. There are some more social networks around MMOs actually, like allvatar.com which is a german site.
    So in fact there also is competition going on and we have to see how this works out in the end.. It might be of course that these people are simply too early.

    As for posting SL snapshots to flickr I think there’s a great community around it. I actually get a lot more views (at least faster) on my SL pics than my RL pics although my RL account (mrtopf is my RL account, taotakashi my SL account) is older and more established connection-wise.

    I also don’t feel out of place there as I have those two accounts and thus it’s not mixing up and flickr also proved to me having a great community. Still need to check out Koinup though.

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  5. I just want to say that there is a great SL community using Flickr that I enjoy being a part of. I’ve met a lot of great people through Flickr. It’s just that having a site like Koinup be totally dedicated to sharing works from virtual worlds is nice to have also. I’m not about to stop using Flickr and I don’t think anyone else that uses Flickr for their SL photos and works will either. Koinup for now is a nice little extra.

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  6. Well, unless flickr has some nice great idea how to put users off ;-) Back then it was NIPSA, then they solved this with the new filtering system which in turn was then used to filter out most of the photos for german residents. And mostly flickr does this without a lot of communication.

    That lack of communication is bad could be seen this very day at Robin’s office hour because Linden Lab just added VAT without explaining the step beforehand and in enough detail.

    Social networks could learn from these examples how important this is. flickr lost a bunch of people because of that. It also shows that at some point you are at the mercy of the provider. This is maybe the downside of those centralized and still very closed networks.

    (ok, just a general remark)

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  7. No more social networks PLEASE. I have enough and too many profiles to manage…. The thought of a central “clearing house” for objects that I want to share be it an avitar, video, music or other is not unique. The execution is key and then have a link back to the communities that you are active on, FB, dare I say MySpace or the new virtual world networks.
    For gaming what is the purpose of a social networks? [ Boys if your looking for girls, then goto MySpace ]. This is for Voyeurs Narcissists. I want to watch someone play a game or a cool creation (Avitar, video etc) or I want to show off, the Narcissist. That is what is missing!

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  8. [...] or location-aware / mobile, or who knows, maybe we’ll finally even get that 3D web when virtual worlds meet social networks. Hell, maybe it means killing off the browser as we know it altogether. Most likely we won’t [...]

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  9. [...] has been an announcement for Massive Multi-player Online Role-playing Game social network site. I think this seems sort of [...]

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  10. there you go, james, stick to the easy stuff and stop with the non-stories.

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