Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plurk vs. Twitter: Who You Got?

Cross-posted on Deb Robison's blog

On last week's Quick-n-Dirty podcast show, my co-host, Jennifer Leggio and I spent some time talking about Twitter wannabe, Plurk, and why it never really took off (see Compete's comparative numbers). In fact, in my wrap up post, I went so far as to say that Plurk "sucked." Well, our friend and listener, Deb Robison, hopped on the show's live chat and told us not so fast. In fact, Deb argued that not only was Plurk not dead but rather that there were a number of reasons why she actually liked Plurk more than Twitter.

This conversation of course piqued my curiosity so I threw the idea out to Deb that we do a "point / counterpoint" on Plurk vs. Twitter. We agreed to divide and conquer with me writing the intro, both of us creating a list of "pro's and con's" and then Deb doing the wrap up. Since Deb gets the last word in this discussion, I have to say, she's done a great job getting me to think more about my harsh criticism of Plurk. That's not to say that I will jump back in and start using Plurk again but rather that I might take a "kinder and gentler" approach when I bring it up.
To make this a little more interactive, I did add my comments on Deb's lists in brackets -- I encouraged her to do the same (hers are in gray type):

Deb's Plurk Pro's
  1. threaded conversations easy to follow, seems to develop conversation better, more in-depth [AWS - fair point. Although there are a few third party apps that do this for Twitter like Mike Langford's TweetWorks]  Deb: yes, but is TweetWorks widely known? Oddly, one of the best apps for following threaded Twitter conversations is the app-formerly-known-as TwiterFon, now called echofon, but is only available on the iPhone and iPod Touch, so it too languishes in obscurity.
  2. consistency of group builds relationships greeting, familiarity, connections- asking about personal/work issues
  3. timeline and response mechanism prevent missing a conversation you were participating in [Aaron: Twitter could benefit from this although hashtags make an attempt to replicate] Deb: but you still have to do a search for a hashtag potentially taking you away from your Twitter stream- obviously not the case if you use Tweetdeck, or Tweetgrid, but both have limitations- there is often a lag time.
  4. easier to decide who to friend-can see them participate in other conversations and how they are connected to the people you already know
  5. groups formed around communities within plurk- plurkshops, plurk weightloss, recipe exchange
  6. constantly adding new features (where does the money come from?)
  7. can post from other services such as and posterous
  8. private conversations take place among a group of people [Aaron: in my mind, this is Plurk's biggest advantage over Twitter. I've heard that this functionality is underway on Twitter but right now, it's frustratingly absent]
  9. **Has anyone noticed my high level of restraint here? I never mention that- Plurk rarely goes down. A lot of folks migrated to Plurk during the season of the FAIL Whale last year, but moved back once things stabilized. [Aaron: great point]
**Deb: I have added #9 as an afterthought here, can't believe I forgot it for the original list **

Deb's Plurk Con's
  1. no community evangelism [Aaron - where's Robert Scoble when you need him?]
  2. karma- it's only a novelty, not sure why people focus on it so much [Aaron - as I mentioned in the podcast, this is the thing I hate most about Plurk]
  3. hard to use on a PC- mouse trackball makes it easier to scroll side to side
  4. no SMS (IM though)
  5. only a couple of mobile apps

Aaron's Twitter Pro's
  1. Sheer numbers: Whether it's 20 million or 40 million (yes, there is a question as to how many of these folks are actually active), many of my friends are here en masse.  Deb: yes, but the numbers are overwhelming, some days I see people in my stream and think "who the hell is that and why am I following them? Or a friend doesn't show up in my stream for days. They were active, but for some reason only some Tweeps show up in the stream. I am sure volume is the issue.
  2. Simplicity: yes, it took a little while to figure out Twitter but it was a whole lot easier to navigate than the land of weird looking animals with bones sticking out of their necks. Deb: again, see my argument about karma- who cares? Are you subject to nightmares after seeing Plurk critters? It's about the conversation.
  3. Third party apps: due to Twitter's open architecture, I've loved the apps that have been developed around Twitter. Deb: yep, the Plurk people missed the boat on this one. Although, I don't understand why the Twitter folks couldn't seem to innovate, Plurk constantly adds new features which seem to play the role of a third party app.
  4. Low barrier to following/un-following: unlike Facebook, I like the fact that following or un-following someone on Twitter has very little stigma. I can "try" someone's stream if I like and then just as easily un-follow them if I don't find value. Deb: never had any problem unfollowing people on Plurk or Twitter, but I notice some people really get upset when unfollowed. What's the big deal? You have a thousand followers and you are going to miss me??
  5. Straightforward stream: while one might argue that this is the biggest strength and weakness of Twitter, I like the fact that I can dip in and out of the stream as I choose. If I want to update and walk away for a day, there's nobody waiting on the other side for me to finish my threaded conversation. Deb: yeah, but I have having to come in mid-stream when a conversation is going on and sort through the tweets to get to the origination of the convo. That is when I reach for TwitterFon (echofon).
Aaron's Twitter Con's
  1. Spam: with mass adoption comes opportunity. With opportunity comes scam artists. Unfortunately, this has become a huge pain in the ass when it comes to determining who to follow back.  Deb: I did not have to deal with a spammer until a couple of weeks ago. It was sending me through the roof. I experienced "SpamRage."
  2. Threaded conversations: while there are third party apps that do this, it would be nice to have this "in-line" on Twitter.
  3. No group DMs: as I commented above, there are many a time when I would love to be able to send a group DM. For instance, I group blog with a number of friends over at Big Papelbon and it would be nice to be able to send a comment to all the contributors via DM all at one time.
  4. Hard to follow lots of users: yes, I do use Tweetdeck which makes following discrete groups easier but it would be nice if Twitter had Friendfeed like capabilities to pre-segment people into groups. Based on Deb's "Plurk pro's" above, it sounds like you can do this on Plurk. Deb: you can create groups and/or private conversations sent to individuals of your choice on Plurk, but I rarely do it. Tweetdeck crashes constantly, so I don't use it anymore.

Gee, I feel like David Brooks and Gail Collins of the New York Times' The Conversation blog where the opposing parties exchange niceties about summer vacation, then give their POVs. The Conversation ends nicely and we politely agree to disagree. That having been said, while I wouldn't use the word "sucks" about Twitter, I don't like it as much as Plurk, but feel I have to use it for my work- held hostage by a little bird and a whale. Thanks for the lovely discourse Aaron and I hope your summer on the Cape didn't leave you with too bad of a sunburn. [Aaron: Deb, this has been a blast. And as you know, I love doing the point / counterpoint thing. Normally I spar weekly with Jennifer on the Quick-n-Dirty but I always welcome engaging with other smart folks like yourself.]


  1. Cross-posted comment from Deb's blog:

    New comment on your post #297 "Point/Counterpoint: Plurk v. Twitter"
    Author : On a limb with Claudia
    URL :

    I feel like Twitter is for announcing and Plurk is for conversations. In fact, I believe Ed Dale from the 30 day challenge says something like this.

    One of the way plurk matches real world interaction is via history. It's easy to see what someone said yesterday or the day before or even the year before. Through a person's history, we gain a sense of who they are as a being.

    Twitter is about NOW, this moment. What I'm doing today - not yesterday or last year but NOW.

    In this way, Plurk leads to a deeper level of relationship and conversation. People come to Plurk to have this history and deeper relationship. Some people leave Plurk because they can't keep up with the depth and breadth of conversation.

    You can see all comments on this post here:

  2. Claudia - interesting point. I don't completely agree, at least on the Twitter front, since i have lots of conversations on Twitter but it's an interesting compare and contrast. The second part of your comment may very well be true. In full disclosure, I never used Plurk enough to realize the full extent of its conversational capabilities. Good to know.

  3. I have conversations on Twitter as well Aaron, but they're different than the ones I have on Plurk. Mostly because they are about NOW vs. who I am or what I'm doing in a larger context.

    Again, that could just be me. I use both to interact with different people in different way.

    In an effort at full disclosure, I'm a middle child. ;)

  4. Claudia - love it. Thanks for sharing. And I'm chuckling at your last sentence (I'm the oldest of three so that's probably telling) ;/

  5. Another comment cross-posted from Deb's blog (she's way more popular than me)...

    A new comment on the post #297 "Point/Counterpoint: Plurk v. Twitter"

    Author : Mack Collier
    URL :

    Ok I'm going to reserve my comments to Plurk, because all I do is yammer on about Twitter ;)

    I was indeed a HUGE Plurk evangelist last summer during the great Twitter Outage (because that was the ONLY time Twitter was ever down, right?). I loved the threaded conversations, and still do.

    But I honestly think Plurk was aimed at teens, and an exodus of Twitter users happened to crash the party. Quite honestly, the main reason why I stopped using Plurk was because my network migrated back to Twitter when it came back up.

    And really that's the bigger takeaway here, IMO, is this really about the tools, or where our networks are? Remember that last year we were all complaining about Twitter, but that's where everyone stayed. Identica, Kwippy, Jaiku and whatever 10 other microblogging 'competitors' popped up, but everyone stayed with Twitter...cause everyone stayed with Twitter. I remember Beth Harte and Amber Naslund talking about how they still loved Plurk, but their networks weren't there, so they decided to follow their networks. I did too.

    I will say this, I don't think Plurk has very many 'casual' users. Those that are still around are big time fans. There's no inbetween, you either love it or hate it!

  6. Another cross-posted comment from Deb's blog...

    New comment on your post #297 "Point/Counterpoint: Plurk v. Twitter"
    Author : Sam
    URL :
    I was already a user of Twitter, but wasn't really seeing any use for it other than announcing information, proclaiming a company's importance, or someone informing me they have decided to eat a sandwich. I found Plurk while I was looking for marketing "conversation groups" so I could learn more about marketing beyond the books and classroom.

    Plurk is all about conversation and *meaningful* interaction. If someone posts a product/company announcement without any form of follow-up or substance, no one replies to it, makes mention of it, "re-plurks" it, or gives it any consideration. Twitter users will happily repost any junk, while Plurk requires substance.

    You can see all comments on this post here:

  7. Mack/Sam, great points.

    -Aaron | @aaronstrout

  8. I can't really take an objective stance here. I just don't put much cred in Plurk, but it largely has to do with trying it a handful of times and not being able to figure it out.

    Plus, in the end, most of my online network is on Twitter, so it's much easier to justify spending my time there.

    I'll go post this on Deb's blog, too!

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

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