Many of us have been put off by social networks due to the rising number of fake profiles, spammers and trolls. But, it is these negative entities that inspired Piyush Grover and Piyush Pandey to build a network that enabled positive, healthy and enlightening interactions for its members.
Having known each other for more than 8 years, the two of them always wanted to get into entrepreneurship mode, only they didn’t know when and how. But, one day while out on dinner, what started as a discussion on how the internet has become a playground for fake profiles, spammers and trolls, ended till the wee hours, by which time the duo had concurred to launch a platform that addresses these key issues.
Having realized the seriousness of this problem, and how (in a broader sense) it impedes the flow of intellectually stimulating discussions, and the fact that they couldn’t find a solution anywhere, they thought of coming up with their own solution – The Decent Planet, where a member can join only after approval.
We caught up with the duo to know more about how ‘decency’ is gauged, challenges and further plans for the network, after having reviewed it lately and finding it quite promising.
Here are the edited excerpts from the email interview with Co-Founder Piyush Grover (the guy on your right in the above image):
Prasant Naidu: What made you go for another social network?
Piyush Grover: We’re pursuing this as this affects a significant number of people. And solving this problem can bring in a cultural improvement (culture of decency) on the internet and its impact could be humongous and in all kinds of sectors from social networking to dating, matrimony, employment filters, real- estate (renting houses).
[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]Social networking websites are not as much about the features as they are about the people.[/pullquote]
While there are a number of social networking websites on the web, ranging from big players to the ones catering to niche segments, we still thought the world needed another social network, but this time it had less to do with any technological breakthrough and more to do with the human psychology.
Social networking websites are not as much about the features as they are about the people. While features most certainly serve as a great medium to interact with the people, they are not the deciding factor when it comes to the user experience. You may be part of a website with the most amazing features, and still end up with a negative experience!
PN: Registering a user is quite an important phase on the network, your thoughts? Do you plan to have features like mobile number authentication to make it a more strong process?
PG: We believe there are 2 important considerations in the case of fake profiles/obscenity-lovers.
1. I want to ‘make a fake profile’/’post obscene content.’
2. It’s easy to ‘make a fake profile’/’post obscene content.’
We’re addressing both crucial points simultaneously.
Someone who wishes to be a part of The Decent Planet needs to fill the sign-up form which has some basic questions and some not-so-basic questions.
1st step: While studying their form, we try to gauge the thought process and the applicant’s interest level about this concept.
2nd step: We check their online presence to see if there’s any tendency or history of indecency.
There’s always a pattern which makes it easier to recognize the potential trouble-makers.
Having said that, we’re working on making the sign-up process extremely authentic but at the same time hassle-free for the users.
So, we’re working on an algorithm to automate the 2nd step of checking their online presence, we’ve named it ‘Decency Quotient’. It will also serve as an automated control mechanism and as an alternative for manual selection. Also, mobile number authentication is an aspect we’re trying to explore.
PN: What would be the new features a user should be excited about going further?
PG: We intend to integrate ‘Gravity’ which will be a clean, non-intrusive, curated dating application which will take into account Decency Quotient while addressing the problem of approaching the potential ‘SO’ (significant other).
Also planning to bring in an online debate platform, 3rd party apps & social gaming, astronomy themed design, ‘The Best Of The Internet’ (feed of the best content floating on the internet where users can also subscribe to sub-categories such as The Best Of Technology, The Best Of Nature, The Best Of Business, The Best Of Entertainment etc.) and mobile app.
PN: How has the response been considering the space is dominated by big players? Would you like to share some numbers?
PG: Considering the fact that we haven’t gone full throttle on the promotion yet, we have managed to get 235 applications, of which 121 have been approved. And the feedback that we’re getting from these early users is very encouraging.
PN: What would be your present challenges and how are you tackling them?
PG: We’re sort of budget-strapped and that has been a major challenge in terms of our marketing activities. But, we’re looking at interesting and in-expensive ways to promote our venture. We went around the city meeting people & also sent e-mails to those who’re making great contributions, we gave them certificates (not that we’re any kind of an authority but as a gesture to appreciate their courage & efforts). We located them at Teach For India Campaigns, Blood Donation Drives, Various NGOs.
Since we intend to promote a culture of decency through our social network and the fact that a lot of the people we met were also tech savvy youngsters. This turned out to be a good marketing campaign.
PN: The network has features like brand pages, I am sure at some point you would like to get them on board. Any thoughts on it and what would be your other sources of revenue going further.
PG: While display advertising, branding within apps, sponsored discussions, virtual currency & possibility of a freemium model are the major focus areas, we want to make sure the ads consumed on The Decent Planet do not interfere with the positive user experience we intend to provide. This would mean that interesting ad content, their positive reviews and social relevance would be crucial factors in their selection. Yes, we also have selection criteria for the advertisers.
Apparently, the team is working towards a foolproof method for maintaining decency in all features, including the selection of advertisers. We wish to see The Decent Planet grow and change our idea of social networking as we know of now.