It is, like many new and as yet comfortably small things, a pleasure from start to finish, with just a few raw spots. The biggest selling point is the people; App.net has not as yet been overrun by marketers, spammers, celebrities, and similar “personalities.” The place is full of early adopters, very bright early adopters. At the beginning, as the name would indicate, the site-slash-service was developer-heavy, which is not at all a bad thing; geeks are a hot item right now. As the numbers grew, more and more non-developers showed up, and there is now a fine blend of interests and personalities.
App.net does not collect or sell information of any kind about its users. Aside from the people that it has attracted (and those it has not attracted), that is the primary difference between it and Twitter, along with the marvelously open API and the clients that it has spawned, each giving a slightly different experience. There are almost as many ways to use and enjoy App.net as there are people to meet there, if all the permutations are considered.
In order not to collect and sell information about its users, App.net started out as a (modest) subscription-based service, which was my philosophical reason to join. Recently, it has become to offer a “freemium” membership with certain limitations, giving people a chance to try before they buy. The jury is still out on how well that has worked, both in converting free users to paid users and in not diluting the heady and intelligent waters of ADN. Only time will tell. It is easy to control your own experience here, so YOUR App.net need never go bad.
The bottom line is that this is the best social networking experience that I have enjoyed since the halcyon days of CompuServe. Yes, I am that old, and I have made many stops between that aged service and App.net. This is where the smart action is in social sites right now and, because it is intelligently extensible, it may remain that way for a long time to come.
It is very Twitter-like at its base, so most people will feel at home at App.net. You’ll need to bring your best game; it’s that kind of place. That said, the variety and quality of members is astonishing, and must be experienced to be understood.
Come by and see for yourself; jump in with both feet.
The following links might help, all from ADN user @eyes, who knows what he is talking about, literally. These are all podcasts, each less than 10 minutes long: