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Vox: It's great! It's crap!

davextreme has posted his early review of the Vox service, and seeing as I got my invite from him I thought I should follow with a review of my own. I agree with what davextreme says -- Vox looks great, has great features, but I won't say more because I can't actually use them yet as I'm still stuck in a "Starter level" account. So, instead I'll talk about how "starter level" accounts + a brand new service is a crack-smoking way to run a beta.

A "Starter level" account only lets you leave comments and add friends. Vox doesn't have many users with full accounts and most of them are prominent bloggers and SixApart employees. Put the two together and you get a beta experience that consists of adding a bunch of SixApart employees to your neighborhood and watching them have a conversation about their family tree -- you can comment if you like. As a beta user, it just feels creepy.

If Vox wanted to impress me, it would have to demonstrate that it is as capable as LiveJournal in building and supporting communities. The only impression right now is that it's a great tool for being a wallflower in the SixApart corporate community. Wait to give out "starter level" accounts when people can at least lurk in their own communities.

Comments (4)

Yeah, I'm with you.

My understanding is that they wanted to open up the service some, but don't think it's in a state where they want to actually release it. If they allowed invitations to go out freely, it'd grow at internet speed and would be de facto released.

The question being, why bother with the whole "Starter" invite thing in the first place? Why not just only have Standard invitations, but limit them at first to a few per user like Gmail did?

kwc:

Exactly. We understand it's beta, we can wait if necessary, but don't come up with some half-ass account when that half-ass account can't give a favorable impression.

I do understand your frustration, but this is kind of a no-win situation for us. If we open up the whole service to all the people who've requested in, nobody would have a good experience, especially as we're still making significant changes and improvements to Vox. (it's still *very* early in te process.)

On the other hand, there's lots of people in Vox who have no connection to 6A staff people or our friends, and friends-only posts aren't going to have any value to them unless their friends have a way to log in and see those private blog posts. So this was the compromise we came up with, along wiht having starter accounts turn into full posting accounts as quickly as possible. Like most compromises, ou can tell it worked well when both parties are a little frustrated by it. :)

Anyway, hang in there, the starter account will turn into a standard account ASAP. There are lots of people telling us "without the starter account, I wouldn't have been able to post private pictures of our baby for my parents to see", so I don't think we'l get rid of them, but you can feel free to hold off on visiting Vox until your account is upgraded; You should get an email then. And then you can consider your starter account a place in line for a non-"half-assed" account. Cool? :)

kwc Author Profile Page:

Anil,

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a thoughtful response. You were kind in person answering my questions at Maker Faire and it's no surprise to find that you're kind in leaving comments online as well.

Reframed as a "waiting line," a starter account is more grokkable. There was a mismatch in expectations when I first signed up -- I probably should have bothered to read the invitation e-mail that explained the limited capabilities, but my first inclination with invitation e-mails is to skip straight to the link. It would be nice, perhaps, if 'kwc.vox.com' had the same 'Starter level' explanation text as 'www.vox.com' for people like myself who don't RTFM.

I look forward to trying out the full service!

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