Five alternative social networks

RavelryHanging out on Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm has its place (usually the workplace), but just as we all have different friendship groups for different real world activities, social networks serve different purposes online.

If you want to get away from the mainstream and go somewhere where everybody knows your name (sort of), why not check out our suggestions for some smaller networks.

We’ve picked niche networks that provide the best places to feed your passions online.

Do let us know if we’ve missed off your favourite!

1. Ravelry

Who’s it for?

Crafting enthusiasts — knitters and crocheters.

Why is it special?
Ravelry is really quite something. While Facebook and Twitter are hogging the headlines, Ravelry went and won .Net’s “Community Site of the Year” Award 2010. It also recently signed up its millionth user.

This isn’t just for collecting fibre arts enthusiasts, it’s a seriously useful resource. In fact, crafters like me are starting to wonder how we ever lived without it. You can search for patterns, join groups of like-minded craft addicts, show off your latest creations and organise your upcoming projects and patterns.

As a resource for finding great patterns, there’s nothing to match it. And as a community it really is a fuzzy and warm place to hang out.


2. Junkmarket Style

Who’s it for?
People who like thrifting, upcycling, and creating new stuff from old stuff

Why is it special?
This is a fairly small community — just over 9000 people — but that’s what makes it so great. The people who have joined are supreme beings when it comes to skip diving and yard sale thrifting — and they’re happy to share their secrets, ideas and designs.

The site also features special projects from the editors. If you’re into upcycling, this site is a veritable eyeball feast of repurposed junk.

3. Cycle Social

Who’s it for?
Cycling enthusiasts of every variety.

Why is it special?
If you miss Me and My Bicycle (founder Ben is now too busy to keep it going) this is a good alternative. Made up of over 1000 members, this UK-based biking club has everything you’d expect from a Ning network: you can read users’ blog posts, upload pictures and videos and join smaller groups.

It doesn’t feel quite as active as Me and My Bicycle did in its heyday, but there’s something to be said about a social network that you need to check once every few days rather than once every few minutes.


4. Shoot

Who’s it for?
People who love their gardens… or love the idea of having one

Why is it special?
This is a gardening community that’s perfect for people who want to get gardening but don’t really know how. Sign up and you can recreate your real garden virtually, plugging in all the plant info you can find and planning what you’re going to do next.

Once you’ve told Shoot what plants you’ve got, it will send you regular emails telling you what bits of trimming, cropping and planting you should be doing.

The one downside is that if you get too carried away, you’ll need to pay for proper membership.


5. We Heart It

Who’s it for?
Eye-candy fans and aesthetes.

Why is it special?
This is a community where words aren’t really required. Perhaps it’s more accurate to describe it as a social bookmarking site, since We Heart It works like a visual scrapbook of all your favourite images.

It’s a great place to get inspiration — and to follow taste-makers, designers and other photo fanatics.

Originally posted on Jorg&Olif

Katie Lee

Dork Adore's Editor! Katie started out life as a tech journalist and blog obsessive, launching the UK's first and biggest blog publishing network, Shiny Media. Favourite dork things: knitting, crochet, Press Gang, Buffy, Battlestar, Doctor Who and lifehacks.

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