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- User Ratings
Summary:Strong Offering Haunted by the Past
Cost:Tiered with Free Option
Cost Info:Free option is ad supported with storage and web page limitations
Pros:Feature-Rich, User-Friendly, Easy migration from Ning/YahooGroups/GoogleGroups
Cons:Reputation, Poor Implementation of SubGroups
Update 3/14/2012: Thanks to an astute reader of Social-networkreviews, it's come to our attention that Grouply is no more. This was recently, and apparently abruptly posted on their home page:
"We regret to inform you that as of February 24, 2012, the Grouply service and all individual group websites built on the Grouply platform are no longer available.
When Oodle acquired Grouply in November 2010, the intent was to leverage the Grouply code base to add a community layer to the Oodle Marketplace while continuing to run Grouply as a standalone service. While the integration of Grouply with Oodle was successful, unfortunately, the economics are such that we can no longer justify supporting the Grouply service on its own.
If you are the creator or administrator of a Grouply group, you can request a copy of your group member list and select group datahere.
Thanks for using Grouply.
Founded in 2006 and recently acquired by Oodle, Grouply touts the unique ability to follow all of your Google and Yahoo Groups in one place while also creating new social communities. Grouply is another offering that aggressively marketed to Ning owners and provides migration tools. They might actually be in a position of competing directly with Ning if it hadn't been for the deluge of bad publicity they received in 2008, due to multiple reports of abuse. Vast numbers of Yahoo Group owners claimed that users were utilizing (in some cases, unknowingly) Grouply features for phishing and spamming. They also reported users were able to publish content from those groups without the permission of the owners or other members of the group; something the owners had to join grouply in order to "opt out" of. People also, justifiably, had security concerns with providing Grouply their Yahoo and Google login information (the only way, at the time, to access those groups through grouply). There were even reports of Grouply changing people's Yahoo Groups settings. Grouply appeared to have promptly responded to complaints by making system changes (here's one of their responses to the spamming). It seems that a lot of damage was done, though it's impossible to determine the extent of the impact.
I found it interesting that searching for information on Grouply turns up a plethora of reading in 2008, most of it connected to the aforementioned complaints. Then, it appears, everything went quiet. In November of 2010, they were acquired by Oodle (a cross between craigslist, Ebay and Facebook), an upstart trying to break craigslist dominance on local selling by allowing people to attach their identity and reputation to their sale. The fact that they weren't grabbed up by Yahoo or Google or another large organization certainly begs questions about whether the Grouply business model was in trouble. It should be interesting to see what happens with the product over the next year.
To the matter at hand, Grouply is a pretty strong offering that falls down in a couple of significant places. It offers a wide-array of "applications" (modules), covering everything you might want with the notable exception of polls. Likely a result of their strong effort tie in with YahooGroups and GoogleGroups, Grouply also offers strong email integration so that, even when users are away from the site, they can get regular updates via email. This includes the ability to respond to forum posts directly via email. Tie ins to Facebook and Twitter are also readily apparent and provide the ability to post content creation across the cloud. Grouply also offers a user-friendly, easily customizable interface as well as several nice administrative features. Where Grouply falters most, however, is in its implementation of subgroups. While it appears that you can add certain modules to subgroups, it does not actually keep separate content. For example, the activity feed and whiteboard show anything group members have posted to the entire site. Interestingly, Events operate as expected but there is no ability to have a separate photo or file archive for a subgroup. If Grouply were to address these issues and add recurring events, they would likely go a long way toward moving beyond the past and putting a dent in Ning's user base.
Significant Feature Notes
Resources - FAQ, technical support through email.
Pricing - Tiered with free option. Free option is ad supported and has limited storage and additional web pages.
General Use - Lots of invitation tools including tie ins to Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and address book imports.
Admin - Can quickly change to viewing site as different roles (owner, moderator, member, etc.). Several levels of analytics.
Layout - Nice modular drag and drop interface while looking at your group. Themes allow you to change colors and textures. General look remains the same. Rename and re-order menu items.
Forums - Threaded, but quoting only occurs inline, like email, but without separators. Does have bookmarking and post rating features. Ability to create broadcast messages.
Events - Can add many details, but no recurring events. RSVP includes "maybe" and comments. No calendar; just a listing. Yahoo Maps integration for locations.
Groups - Customize which modules you want available to subgroups. Unfortunately, modules like the activity feed and whiteboard show anything group members have posted to the entire site, not just to the specific group. No separate Photo, Files, etc. mods. Posts bleed into the general site forums, etc.
Chat - Included, but is embedded in a web page so you cannot utilize it while browsing the rest of the site.
Average User Ratings
Ease of Use Rating: