Posts Tagged ‘Multiply’

A lament for Fandom on MSN Groups

December 8th, 2008

I’ve been blogging about the pending demise of MSN Groups, and some about the replacements – most specifically Multiply and Windows Live Groups. Multiply because it is the chosen replacement for MSN Groups, and Windows Live Groups since it is Microsoft’s own answer to MSN groups.

So far nothing has come close to the versatility and ease of use that MSN Groups has had.

Nothing.

No other service allowed for custom webpages, for custom logos and buttons and separated messageboards. Nothing was as easy to use as MSN Groups. Just fill out the forms and bingo! You’re good to go. The webpage interface wasn’t exactly WYSIWYG, but it was close and allowed for far more colors than Windows Live Groups allows for (in fact, WLG doesn’t give you background colors for your discussion pages, which is the only place you can use HTML. Pretty much the same for Multiply.) You could easily hide pages, rearrange pages, add new albums, use the pictures from those albums in other spots… the learning curve was as shallow or steep as you wanted it to be. It accommodated both the novice webmaster and the more experienced. It was a great starting place for fandom groups; and a lot of fandoms were represented there.

What will happen to those many fandom groups? Well, some of them will be lost forever come February because their owners just sort of abandoned them to the spammers before this point. There’s at least one Thunderbirds group I know of that falls into this category. It has a lot of interesting fanfic on it, but the owner has grown beyond it and has left it for the “lonely singles” spammers to keep it active (otherwise, it would have been deleted years ago). Some groups will migrate to Multiply, some to Geocities, some to Windows Live Groups… they’ll be scattered all over, and harder to find. The close-knit communities that had developed over the years will be broken up, never to truly be reclaimed again. A lot of interesting and unique fandom creations will disappear forever. I’ve already had that happen once to me; the thought of it happening again makes me sick.

Is there a perfect solution to this forced diaspora? Not really. If you want to have the same flexibility as MSN Groups has, you’ve got to create your own website, and very likely, you’ll have to pay for it. And if you want to continue having a free site, you’ll have to pay in other ways, with intrusive ads or with a loss of those features you’ve become accustomed to.  (Yes, MSN Groups has ads, but because of their placement, they are ignorable.)

As a side issue, I’ve been poking around the Windows Live team blogs for the past few days, and I noticed that they’re not asking for feedback on WLG. Everything else, yes. Windows Live Groups, no. I think they know what kind of response they’d get there: a very angry one from a large group of disgruntled MSN Group owners.

So, we’re losing a piece of fandom property. What’s to go next?

ETA: I’m also aware that AOL is/was dumping their Groups. So there are more fandom communities disappearing. Let’s hope that Yahoo doesn’t join the pack.

Looking for a new home.

October 23rd, 2008

MSN Groups made the February closing official, with announcements at the top of every MSN Group, and created a page for helping Groups ease over to Multiply. The migration utility is now available, and a lot of Group owners have questions.

Ever since I heard about the closing, I’ve been looking for a new home for my two Thunderbirds groups. Several people have been giving me suggestions, and I’ve checked into a couple of them. But today, I looked into the official destination. I joined Multiply. Joining gave me a personal page, and with that, I created a sort of personal group.

There seems to be a way to change backgrounds and colors – kind of like LJ, in a way. I can put pictures into the Welcome section, and have separate albums for the various pictures. Found out, however, that though there will be photo albums transferred, the actual photos won’t be. They’ll have to be uploaded from my computer – Multiply doesn’t have an uploader function that will work with MSN (yet). In the case of one of my Groups, and its background site, I’ll have to download the pictures to my computer and upload to either the site itself, or to photobucket. Some of my graphics are at photobucket already, but a lot aren’t. And to add them to the pages, you have to use HTML. Not a problem for me, but for my assistant managers? Might be.

From the comments at the Multiply Migration help site, the messageboards are a mess when they import over. I’m half tempted to import one of my sites anyway and see how much of a mess it is, then decide whether or not to keep it.

I’m still of the opinion that starting from scratch at a new site of my own will be better. But I promised I’d wait to see what Windows Live Groups has to offer. And I’ll keep poking around at Multiply – I do want to give it a fair shake.

At least I’m not at AOL…

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