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Posts Tagged ‘weplay’

Hi all,

Rather than write generally about online communities I figured I’d blog from the inside about one community building effort in particular, Weplay.  A couple of posts ago I talked about my experience and belief that real world structures for the best basis for a successful online community.   We’re putting that theory to the test in a real way on Weplay.

Very soon Weplayers will see much more neighborhood information and features. We all play, practice, shop, study, eat… ya know, LIVE, in the real world.  We believe Weplay should fit as naturally into your offline life as much as possible.   Soon you’ll be able to see what’s happening in your neighborhood, city, county, state and region like never before.  Get the latest news on who’s playing each other (and everything else that’s fit to print!), get the latest scores, find directions to those soccer fields you’ve never heard of, see who else hit a homerun on the local baseball diamond, ask and answer questions of people right in your own backyard.

Of course we’ll make it EASY and FUN to contribute to the Weplay neighborhood experience. We’ve been quietly working on an iPhone application (and figuring out Android, Blackberry!).   We’re being very careful to make sure it’s easy and fast to snap a picture or video and get it up to your group or profile page.  We know when you guys are in the dugout, in the stands, on the team mini van speed is of the essence!  Oh yeah, we also want to make it easy for moms and dads to share pics and keep up to date on where and when to be!

In addition to using a mobile device to update profiles and contribute to the local experiences, we’re opening up the platform for Weplayers to contribute news, venue information, ask and answer questions, tag content and so on.

Read the rest of the post on Weplay >

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Weplay.com - Something to Believe InWeplay.com is a great experience and it’s a great start-up to work at.   At its core Weplay is a clean-well lit platform for parents, kids and coaches helping them do all the things you want and need to do in youth sports and family life. On a somewhat biased note (I’ve got young-ins!), it’s a social platform that younger people can cut their teeth on.

Weplay is exceptional to me because I work on it, I use it and I love it.

Weplay has a responsive and responsible community who help build and define it.

These are remarkable characteristics that, in my experience, are rare for a “new media” effort.   Certainly it doesn’t yet have 25 million people visit the website or use the API or use the mobile app yet (closing in on a million Unique Users and 8 million pageviews ain’t bad, though!).   It does have the core of something special and it has a team working on it that understands how careful and dedicated a company needs to be making something users actually care about.

There are no shortcuts!

When we develop product ideas the decision making process is very simple and very challenging.   Is whatever we’re about to build something we’d use as parents, coaches, and participants in sports?   Is what we just released and are thinking about improving actually being used?

And by use, we don’t mean can we pump some internet traffic through it, can we push ad impressions against it.   Is Weplay actually being used to manage real teams, deliver real snack schedules, help kids learn real skills, help kids strengthen real world friends, and so on?   Is it something that is increasing the engagement in learning, practice, and competition?  I’ve seen the evidence that it is.

Another tough but important question about long term success – if Weplay went away would a user have to change their behavior dramatically?   Not very many services, technologies, media experiences can answer that in the affirmative.   I believe Weplay is a “must use” for a good deal of our 300,000+ members.   Frankly, I’d rather have 50,000 users who must use a service, than 3 million passer-bys.   Perhaps that’s not popular to say in new media, but over the long term of a business it is vital to become a must use for a core set of users.  There are business graveyards full of media/software experiences formerly of 50 million+ “users” because they never became vital to some users’ regular daily behavior.

Great technology is defined by Usage, not Code.

Weplay has very slick code.  I could show you lines and lines of clever ways of delivering the experience.  But that doesn’t matter.  What makes the Weplay technology platform special is that a huge percentage of the code is actually currently vital to the experience is repeatedly put to use by the user base.   I’ve worked on code bases that maybe less than 30% is still actively invoked.  In fact, I’d say that’s very common in the media world.  Of course, if the codebase were small and very simple this might not seem like such a big deal to be so tight.  Weplay is not a simple platform.  It contains calendaring, alerting, social graph integration, profiles, private messaging, online awareness, media transcoding, media uploads, sharing, full blogging platform, points system, friending, groups, “fan pages”, an “answer” system, walls, a full/more traditional CMS, tracking/analytics, and so much more.  It’s high availability, cloud based, and has multiple upgrade deploys a week.   And it’s only team of 6 people building and maintaining that code base!

You can’t fake fun!

Can't Fake These Smiles!

Believably faking a smile and a laugh is one the hardest things to do.  Spend time on Weplay and you’ll run across thousands and thousands of smiling and laughing kids, teams, coaches, grand parents.   Spend time at the Weplay offices in NYC and you’ll see the team smiling.   The Weplay team can’t help it… other people smiling makes you smile… ya know, that evolution, fixed action pattern thing is tough to shake!…   I’ve never worked on a platform that produced and shared as many smiles.   Youth sports is FUN.  A platform about youth sports is fun.   Weplay is a fun experience and you can’t fake that with fancy designs, clever marketing, or great PR.   Don’t take my word for it.  Join the community and you’ll see what I mean.   It’s not “fun” like playing modern warfare 2 on XBOX.  It’s fun like going to a saturday afternoon baseball game with sun shining down and kids running around doing their thing.  You can’t fake that.

Is this blog just spin for something you’re working on, Russ?

If I didn’t think the experience backed it up, then yeah.  But I challenge you to sign up, log in and experience Weplay.   For those that personally know me, you know when I’m just schilling for a product (probably can’t fake real enthusiasm for a product either!). It’s usually the products and companies I don’t write about, post something on facebook, etc that I don’t believe in whether I’m working on them or not.

One of my personal goals for 2010 is to build, design, consult, contemplate, talk about products I believe in and actually would or do use.  Period.

(Just for the record I love windows 7, the iPad, Wolfram Alpha, Mathematica, XBOX live, and several hundred other very cool things…….)

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