If someone were to ask you - “how do you network socially”, your answer would most probably have to be Facebook in this digital age. This despite the social network’s issues around privacy, fake profiles and uncalled for trolling. Facebook continues to reign in India with over 82 million users in the country, which means real tough competition for emerging players in the space. But, how about a new network that ensures a clean, enlivening social experience?
The answer lies in ‘The Decent Planet’, a social network founded by Piyush Grover and Piyush Pandey, that has been conceived with the need to have a decent place for positive, healthy and enlightening interactions for its members. This feature alone merited a review of the site, what with ‘decency’ sounding quite utopian in this age.
Getting started with the network
For starters, The Decent Planet has something very unique to it - you need to apply through a signup form which houses a few questions related to your interest in joining the network and what the term ‘decency’ means to you. Based on your answers, you would get an approval mail as an entry. I got approved in a day; the site does not mention standard approval/rejection time however.
Once you’re in, you can invite your entire network from a number of places by importing contacts from Gmail, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, etc. After updating with basic details, my profile page looks like this screenshot below. In addition to putting up a status, uploading a photo, link or creating a poll, I can also add a blog, which is just another long post with a title. Besides all this, I can post my mood from a range of happy, sad, surprised, chilling out, to ‘need a hug’ and more.
Things you can do on the network
Clicking the list like icon at top right corner opens up a colourful, tiled dashboard. From here I can select what I want to do next. Activities on The Decent Planet reflect the usual online social behaviour - one can read blogs, browse photos, visit the forum, watch a video, solve quizzes, answer a poll, check out events or follow pages. In fact, one can also answer or ask questions.
The icons in the line above help you open up a neat and colourful, card-layout menu for each of the categories. The camera icon opens up a dashboard for all the activities you can perform around photos. You can either choose to see all photos or there are options to filter by ‘Most Viewed’ and ‘Most Discussed’ too, apart from ‘Friend’s photos’ and ‘Latest photos’.
Similarly, the videos section also offers filters like ‘Most Discussed’, ‘Most Viewed’, ‘Most Liked’, along with the choice to watch the videos shared ‘today’, ‘this week’, ‘all time’. These filters are available for all the pieces of content on the network - blogs, events, polls, quizzes and pages.
Interactions are the usual ones found in any network - like, comment and share. Also once you are inside any blog, there are options to share it outside the network onto other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
The ‘Pages’ feature has some fan pages created for artists like Adele, Jay Sean and Mohit Chauhan. So apart from a personal profile, you can also create pages for your brand, institution or your favourite celebrity, similar to Facebook.
Can ‘The Decent Planet’ make it?
For a social network that claims to ‘Decentifying the Social Networking Space’, The Decent Planet does pretty well. It is an ideal social network for those who dislike trolls, spamming and fake profiles, but still prefer a public social network to a private one. The manual selection of members, though not foolproof, serves as a good firewall for trolls. Perhaps the startup could introduce a mobile number authentication process as a further deterrent to trolls. This could be the network’s USP when pitted against giants like Facebook, Google Plus and the many cool private social networks and interest based social networks that are going strong.
Design-wise, it offers a simple interface and an appealing layout with smooth navigation offered by the dashboard icon. Each of the activities have extensive features designed around online behaviour and the human tendency to ‘do more’ on a social network. Despite the challenge of including so many features on the social network, the design is un-cluttered and user-friendly. Navigation is smooth too, once you get a hang of the features.
However, there are way too many features on the network and these are just the early days. Most of the features could have been added in a phased manner depending on the growth in users. Quizzes, Forums, Pages, Answers, etc. need more users to really flourish on the network. Hopefully, the startup has viable plans to get more users soon and bringing a mobile version will certainly help in that direction.
So if you are looking for a ‘decent’ place for intellectually stimulating discussions, The Decent Planet is the place to be!