Antisocial Networking Gets Hip * Snubster
05-04-06 suggested by: Zé Vance
Online social networks are usually all about bringing together people who like the same things.
The founder of a new anti-social networking site, however, is finding that shared hates can be an equally effective bonding tool.
Software engineer Bryant Choung intended to satirize social discovery services when he launched his beta site, , last month. The site lets members create public lists of people and things that rankle them.
"The whole concept of online social networking was really starting to irk me," said Choung, who initially envisioned Snubster as a way to stem the often irritating flow of invitations to join networking sites like Friendster and LinkedIn. While such sites seemed like a good idea at first, their usage too often devolves into "an attempt to get as many fake friends as possible."
Snubster members, by contrast, focus on what irritates them. Targets of discontent include individuals (President Bush is a popular pick), groups (guys who talk at urinals) and things (bologna). Besides storing lists, the site has a tool for sending an e-mail to someone newly added to a list to tell them why they're being snubbed.
Chuong's inspiration for Snubster was a whiteboard-list that his boss at Raytheon, in Northern Virginia, used to publicly name people who displeased him. Like Snubster, the list was intended as a joke, based in part on a on the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report.
Snubster is among the latest in a series of sites created to poke fun at social networking. Others include , a spoof site that claims to be "helping you find where other people are not," and , which bills itself as "an online community that prevents stupid people and friends from harassing you online."
The temptation to poke fun at social networking sites probably stems from the fact that many people don't know how to make use of the personal connections they've forged online, said Michael Arrington, editor of Techcrunch, a blog about web startups.
"There are all these great social networks out there -- Orkut, Friendster, LinkedIn. But for the most (part) they exist to celebrate your connections," Arrington said. "People don't really know what to do once you're connected to somebody."
At Snubster, the opposite is the case. Lately, Chuong says the application he created to poke fun at the idea of online community is becoming its own place to network. People surf each others' hate lists and occasionally make contact.
"It has developed into a sort of community atmosphere," he said. "It seems as though people find entertainment and connections in finding other people that hate the same things as them."
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