Monday, February 27, 2012

Hooked on Pinterest, but it could be better

Pinterest is fascinating, addictive ...and frustrating. Well that's how it seems after a few days of trying it out.

I wanted to experiment with something different from the collections of pictures of women's shoes, clothes, home decorating ideas and fancy foods its users currently specialise in. And I wanted to use its collaborative features to build a little Pinterest corner with the help of other users.

My Places As They Used To Be (below) has done pretty well in a few days: 144 followers, and growing daily, 81 pictures (or "pins" in Pinterest parlance) and 50 people able to contribute.

What's more, only 17 of those pictures were "pinned" by me. Several sociable people I don't know came up with the rest. And one has even gone the extra mile and put corresponding pins in my linked Google Map, which I also opened to general contributions.

So I haven't got much to complain about. But my frustration comes from the clunky process involved in doing what I said I'd do at the top of the board: to invite "as many people as I can to contribute to this board - just follow and I will add you." Pinterest is set up so you can't let people contribute to a board unless you follow each other

So the first job was to follow people who have shown an interest in my board. But that wasn't so easy.

If you look at your Profile page on Pinterest you can click on "Followers" and simply press a button to Follow them back. But on an individual Board, for some reason the Followers sign doesn't click through to a list. Nor does the Profile page Followers link include Followers of your separate Boards.

The only way to invite Followers to contribute is to go through all the emails from Pinterest which tell you who is Following the board, click through to them on the site, and Follow them.

Then, unless you want to write down everyone's names, the quickest way I've found to add them as contributors is to go through the alphabet letter by letter in the 'adding contributors' box and click on each of the names suggested that begins with that letter.

But even after all that you can't count on your contributors staying on the list. Within about 20 minutes of adding a load of names, half of them disappeared (and I'm convinced they hadn't all taken themselves off the list). One person has already asked me to put him back on the contributor list twice because Pinterest's system dropped him for no apparent reason.

These are minor problems. My point is this: why not have a system in which a user can start a board and simply have a setting to allow anyone on Pinterest to contribute to it?

Pinterest is still a work in progress, still in beta: that's why it's officially 'invitation only'. It has so much potential, and no doubt these are just teething troubles. But to move beyond its existing demographic, I'd say it needs to create easy, different kinds of usage by coming up with small technical tweeks that lead to new results socially.

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