Thank you so much for the post, L.J. I really appreciate your suggestion.
My co-founder (who is the non-technical part of the team) suggested something like this as well. So many features, so little time.
Having someone else also suggest this is very helpful, since it validates our thinking. We do plan to have community areas.
You hit on the issue of anonymity and abuse, which is a concern. We don’t have the resources right now to monitor content, except with automated tools.
The objective is to kill off the trolls. A “down voting” feature, like Slashdot has, might be the way to go. The architecture of nderground is constructed to control access to content .At some point if someone gets downvoted enough we would probably make them disappear from the forums.
The problem with being a bootstrap startup is that we have to do one feature at a time and it always takes longer than we wish. As with all large projects, however, someday you wake up and the feature you planned is live on nderground.
One of the problems that we recognize with both nderground and even Facebook, is that when you join, you’re there by yourself. One of the founders of Glassboard, an early social network designed for privacy, commented on this as well.
I’m working on adding a feature to allow users to invite people to join their Karass using their email contacts. Hopefully this will help a bit with the “I’ve joined nderground and I’m talking to myself” experience.
One path that we don’t want to follow down is Facebook’s leakage of friend-of-friend information. This allows you to quickly build up a group on Facebook, but it also allows people to see material that is not meant for them. It would probably not surprise you to learn that Facebook creeps me out.
We also want to make it easier to move between your page and the pages of your Karass (group). I am planning to move the Karass links from the Karass page onto the main board page.
Another feature that I want to add is the ability for someone to post on someone else’s board (right now they can comment, but they can’t post). The board owner will always be able to remove posts and comments from their board.
The other major feature that we have scheduled is a gallery. Many people interact with their friends and family by posting photos (e.g., Instagram).
One of the groups that we hope to attract to nderground are parents with young children. Many people are (rightly) reluctant to post pictures of their children on the Internet. A photogallery may be their path to using nderground to share photos of their children with their family.
We also believe that a mobile app will be necessary, since many people interact with social networks via their mobile devices, especially phones. We have tried to build nderground so that it is “responsive” and works on mobile devices, but this will never be as good as a custom phone app.
I’m going to do an Android app first, since this avoids jumping into Apple’s walled garden immediately.
Being a bootstrap startup means that features take more time. But it also means that we don’t have the pressure that Venture Capital funded start-ups have to get huge numbers of users, quickly. nderground is going to be around for a long time. We have time to add features and refine our design. Building a social network community does not happen overnight.
http://www.nderground.net — nderground is a social network built for privacy. Follow the “request invitation” link at the bottom of the page.