Tag Archives: social news

Social Media Boulevardiers


Several of you wrote to ask what a “social media boulevardier” is. Let’s not get hysterical, I’m not trying to go all Umair Haque on you and invent my own jargon to make you feel stupid. A boulevardier was a fashionable Parisian man of old, who dressed well and lived well, flitting from place to place to see and be seen. More often then not, however, the boulevardier spent little money and was an observer rather then a true participant. A Parisian cafe-owner, for example, would love to have a few of well-dressed boulevardiers sipping absinthe at the bar– it made the place look fashionable and provided a nice backdrop. The last thing he’d want, however, would be an entire restaurant full of skinflint nobodies taking up all the tables. Likewise, lots of community-based sites struggle with users who flood the site with pageviews, but do little to increase actual value. Keeping the boulevardiers happy while still bringing in the regular customers is a tough balancing act, and one that every site needs to juggle.


Mixx.com: Nice Site, Shame About the Community


Digg wannabe Mixx has been at it long enough now to give them a hard look.

Unfortunately for them, it appears all their clean code, slick design, integration with large sites like LATimes.com, and good intentions hasn’t been enough. The main thing about a site like this always will be strength and content of the community. A passionate, dedicated community with shared wisdom and a point of view? That describes Digg, Fark, Metafilter. So far the main community that seems to have embraced Mixx is people who want to “succeed” in social media. In other words, people who want to use social sites like Mixx to help their own failure-worthy businesses. These are “users” in the worst possible sense, people who want to “use” Mixx, rather then the core community on Digg, which wants to improve the site. The most visible evidence of this is that most of the most popular stories on Mixx are current events, breakthroughs in technology, etc. but rather crappy how-tos on how to run your “startup”, how to spam social media, and what a great site Mixx is.

Further adding to the misery, the “groups” area, which is the very first thing in the top navigation bar, is not useful, and the groups themselves are faceless link aggregators rather then anything unique, vibrant, or useful.

Mixx is proof, thus far, that even with the best tools, building a valuable online community is very, very tough. Even more difficult is changing the site’s community profile once its hit a certain point. Normal people like me who just want to find interesting news will be increasingly turned off by the site, and social media boulevardiers will continue to rush in, creating a useless echo chamber.