Potluck: Social Sharing Reinvented

The web is built on sharing. A lot of us use social networks repeatedly throughout each day to either share our own content or that which others have created with the overall intention of ensuring that everyone can benefit from the quirky content or knowledge that creators introduce to the web. However, this content is usually displayed beneath our Twitter handle, Facebook name or other social network identity which means we can be a lot more unconsciously selective about which content we pay more attention to, based on who has posted it.

Imagine if we could see the content first, with no names attached – only the number of friends that have shared it. With Potluck, this is the case. Read on to find out more about Potluck – the latest brainchild of the group behind the innovative Branch discussion platform.

Introducing Potluck!

Potluck is different to many other social networks as there is more focus on the content itself than the users creating it. Where others usually provide more of an emphasis on the user then the content, Potluck always shows the content first, only going as far as to provide details as to how many friends have liked said content before clicking to view it reveals which friends have. It’s a pretty interesting concept and, since it’s launched by the team behind Branch, it already looks quite promising.

The Potluck Homepage

The Potluck Homepage

Getting Started

Jumping straight into the app, Potluck gives us a nice tour to get us familiar with the features before we’re then urged to invite friends. As well as provided a link that will invite users to become friends after acquiring the service, Potluck allows us to also connect with our accounts with the usual suspects – Twitter and Facebook – to see who else has signed up and add them if we think their shared content will be worthy of our attention.

Inviting Friends

Inviting Friends

After this is complete, the shared items begin to show up in the Potluck interface.

The Potluck Dashboard

The Potluck Dashboard

Adding Content

Sharing content with Potluck is as easy as pasting a link into their interface and clicking the share button. The app extracts the title of each page shared and defaults the name of the post to this, though it can be easily reviewed and modified once the link has been pasted.

Sharing a Link

Sharing a Link

The creators of Potluck understand that while the app works pretty well as a means of adding personal bookmarks, a lot of the time, users are going to want to make certain links more noticeable for specific friends. After all, what better recommendation engine than a friend who knows your taste?

Well, Potluck makes this incredibly easy and after adding a link, you’re promptly invited to mention certain people in the discussion page which issues them with a notification – incentivising them to check it out.

Mentioning Posts to Friends

Mentioning Posts to Friends

Discussions

This brings me onto the next major aspect of Potluck – discussions. On each post page, a preview is displayed which, if it’s a blog post or other text-based content, usually consists of the first paragraph or so of said article. Options to click through and view the full link are obviously also there, as well as a nifty little ‘Share’ button that allows users to share the link through their other social network accounts.

Link Previews

Link Previews

Potluck allows links to easily be ‘hearted’ – the equivalent of a Facebook like and in many respects, the feature set is similar to that of Facebook posts, except this is the main area in which you can find out who likes the link.

The discussions platform is supposed to be the primary method of engaging with others in discussion about the content and one of the methods that Potluck provides as bringing users together who like great content is discussions. The idea is that mutual friends can have conversations about links through the comments and hopefully engage further through the system but while this is a hopeful concept, the fruition of this may not be as likely.

A Typical Potluck Discussion

A Typical Potluck Discussion

Room for Improvement

Despite only just going public, Potluck seems to be a pretty polished app on the surface but on closer inspection, there are a couple of areas where it could be improved. These are mostly to do with the user interface itself and there appears to be a couple of areas that have been overlooked.

Users can hide posts that are shown through Potluck and whilst this is a useful feature, if you want to reverse it (for example, if you’ve clicked it by accident, which is entirely possible as there is no confirmation dialogue), you’re going to have a hard time. I couldn’t find a way to do this so I imagine that it isn’t possible yet – but even if the functionality is built-in, it’s not visible enough. There also isn’t a way to remove posts – something I find a bit strange as you can delete comments.

They may not seem that important but users expect these small features so it can make or break the experience if certain features aren’t carried across if the developers want more people to get stuck into the app.

Conclusion

Overall, I thought that Potluck had a lot of potential.

Is it a good app? I believe that it’s incredibly well-made and executed and with some of the small user interface improvements, would be perfect.

Will the idea ever catch on? This, I’m not so sure about.

Potluck is the sort of app that only really works if you have enough friends using it to provide a steady stream of content and with other options like Facebook and Twitter receiving the majority of traffic for this sort of thing, I think the chances of it catching on are quite low. If you’ve got quite a few friends on there, the app will probably serve you a lot better but until it’s optimised and marketed for the masses, the experience may not be as good.


Summary

Potluck is a revolutionary new social network dedicated to simply link-sharing - allowing less of an emphasis on the people posting great content and more of a shift towards the content itself.

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