Friday, July 6, 2012

Website Review - Earthineer

For my first website review, I have chosen to highlight the social media site Earthineer. Earthineer is a social media site for those interested in sustainable living. The site was started by Dan Adams less than 2 years ago, and has already grown to over 11,000 members, as of the time of this post.

I discovered Earthineer as I was reviewing the list of vendors for the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA. I decided to check out the site to see what it was all about, and signed up right away. It was obvious that Earthineer was the type of community I wanted to be part of, and would be a great source of information and inspiration.

The basic functionality is what you'd expect from a social media site. Each member has a wall, where you can post messages. The Friend Feed is where you'll see anything that your friends have posted on their own walls. In the early days of Earthineer there was a user (Open Beta) that was friends with everyone. Since everyone sees everything posted on the Open Beta wall it eventually evolved into a community wall, where questions could be asked of the entire community, rather than only those in a member's Friends List. Open Beta was eventually moved to the community section of the site, and is still heavily used today. Like other social media sites, Earthineer also supports Private Messages.

Once you get past the basic functionality, the similarities with other social media sites end. Members have the ability to write blog entries, which are listed on the community page where anyone can read them. There is already a wealth of information in the blogs, with nearly 1,000 entries listed. I've read entries on everything from DIY Solar Panels, to making natural hygiene products, to the dangers of GMO foods. I suspect that eventually the blogs on Earthineer may become one of the best collections of sustainable living articles on the web.

There are also several others features that have been announced, which have not yet been released. The latest of these features is Pinning, which appears to have real potential on a site like Earthineer.  The feature I am most excited about, however, is the Bounty Trader, which will allow members to setup local trading networks.

No matter how feature-rich Earthineer becomes, however, the real value continues to be, and I believe always will be, the community itself. Without members, the usefulness of the site would be minimal at best. This is, perhaps, where Dan has done his best work. By recruiting members via venues such as the Mother Earth News Fair and Backwoods Home Magazine, Dan has managed to attract a diverse group of people, who, nevertheless, share many common interests, values, and goals. Yes, the discussions do lead to disagreements at timed, which is going to be true with any group of this size. I have yet to see an exchange, however,  that I would describe as mean-spirited or anything other than civil. If one's online experience was limited to Earthineer, the concept of flaming would not only be unfamiliar, it would seem like a figment of someone's imagination.

I urge everyone to head over to the Earthineer About Us page to read more about the site and the inspiration for its creation. Better yet, become a member and witness the community first hand. 

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