It has been a busy summer here at the Social Media Lab. In the last 4 months we have reviewed a wide variety of social media websites and networking tools designed for scholars. More reviews of additional sites will be forthcoming this fall.
As a way to ensure that our reviews are easier to read and more useful to our readers, going forward, we will be adding a new Social Media Lab (SMiLey) rating system built around a set of 5 different characteristics of each website: Site Purpose, Findability, Usability, Sociability and Popularity. Each characteristic will be rated on a 5-point scale. (Each point is represented by a smiley face. One smiley face represents a site that has major deficiencies and five smiley faces indicate a site that has little or no deficiency.)
Bellow is a brief description of each of the 5 broad characteristics:
1. Site purpose: The social media/networking site’s goals are immediately obvious, and the site’s activities and engagements are clearly stated. The site also clearly describes the audience(s) it serves. Users should be able to immediately understand the benefits the site offers them. Prospective users should be able to see how a relationship with the site offers both short term and long term benefits.
2. Findability: Locating key information should be easy, whether it refers to editorial content, product information, network structure, or costs. Information is useless if it cannot be quickly and easily located by new users.
3. Usability: Usability refers to ease of reading or browsing, consistency and fluidity between different web pages, and intuitively organized features. Evaluation is based on whether or not the site is uncluttered and clearly structured, the text is well-organized and concise, and the site is generally easy to use.
4. Sociability: Evaluates the site’s ability to encourage feelings of belonging and loyalty, and whether it motivates you to actively participate in the network. This category evaluates the ease at which users can find other users, join groups and communities that are relevant to them, and share information. It also looks at the quality of the features that cater to community-building, such as blogs, message boards, and discussion groups.
5. Popularity: This is a measure based on http://www.Alexa.com Traffic Rank:
5 stars = Alexa rank is between 1 and 1,000
4 stars = Alexa rank is between 1,001 and 10,000
3 stars = Alexa rank is between 10,001 and 100,000
2 stars = Alexa rank is between 100,001 and 500,000
1 star = Alexa rank is more than 500,000
It should be noted that this is of course a “non-scientific” rating system, and it only reflects the opinion of the author of the review.
We hope that the Social Media Lab (SMiLey) rating system will make it easy for you to navigate through this busy universe of social media and networking sites. And as always, your suggestions and comments are most welcome! Also, if there is a specific website or service for scholars that you would like for us to review, please leave a comment or contact us in private via email.
In conclusion, here are the rating results for the social networking sites that we have already reviewed so far: