Is WordPress.com quietly building a blog based social network with Reader?
I have no inside information, but the answer is, They are half way or more there.
If I were a good (slick) blogger I would fill this post up with neat screenshots of Reader pages that illustrate each of my key points. You could then squint at these unreadable pics to your hearts content. Instead, just go to WordPress.com and register. You can see Reader for yourself.
WP Reader is an aggregater of all the blogs hosted on WordPress.com PLUS remotely hosted installs of WordPress that use Jetpack. Everytime you login to WordPress.com the first thing you see is the Reader. The Reader is also on all the WP mobile apps. You can search for posts and blogs by keywords and subscribe to (follow) any blog in the index. The Reader can also serve up the newest posts on the system whether you have subscribed or not.
- The Reader is fast and attractive, well laid out and easy to use. It’s like a timeline.
- It is everywhere and has a huge user base.
- It can send you notifications if you want.
- You can “Like” a post from Reader.
- I think you can even comment on a post from Reader if the owner of the blog has comments turned on.
- Reader is a very powerful discovery tool.
- Reader is a powerful traffic tool. Not just one time traffic but repeat traffic. It is so easy to subscribe to a blog you will find yourself with followers soon after making a few posts.
- You can see who follows you in Reader. They have a profile page.
Is all of this starting to sound like the foundations of a social network? Admittedly it is a closed one, a silo open only to WP users.
But what happens if they give you the ability to add RSS feeds from any blog hosted anywhere?
What would happen if they adopt Indieweb webmentions from the Reader and all WP blogs? So you could comment on another blog from your blog but all in Reader. And get replies. These types of Indieweb feed reader (see webmention link above) are already available, so it would be just a matter of WP coding these capabilities into Reader. Don’t ask me how, I’m not a coder.
With just a few more features a de facto social network would emerge. I don’t know if it would succeed. I don’t know if it would be a good fun community or be filled with trolls.
If I were WP, I would be at least thinking about it in my off time.
Micro.blog is also a blog based social network and seeing how well it’s features work tells me you can have a successful community built around blogs.
All this is just speculation. A social network may be the furthest thing on WP’s mind. All I am pointing out is that the foundations are there at least by accident.
The inspiration for this post came from Greg McVerry. He very astutely asked the same question in Indieweb chat room a week or so ago. But, other pressing matters were being discussed so no more was said. But Greg’s observation got me thinking so I thought I would start a discussion.
Could it be done? Do you think they are doing it?