May 24 2007

Social networking is no fish story on Angler’s Web site

Published by at 7:45 am under Blogging,internet,Online community

A mentor of mine would often talk about an online niche publishing website that he helped to develop called Reel-Time. At the time of its founding, it was ahead of its time. A saltwater fly-fishing website that directed its focus to a micro-niche community when the Internet was just beginning to find its legs as a vehicle for online communities.

The site contains an archive of fishing articles, a photo gallery, a Reel-Time gear shop, fly-tying advice and articles, an east coast listing of guides and shops and an active forum. There’s also a fish report that tells you where and when the hot spots are during the fishing season.

With all due respect to my mentor, the site’s other founders and its members, I feel that over 10 years later the site is now “old school.” Especially with the recent arrival of Angling Masters International, that, according to a recent post on TechCrunch, is “a social networking site for recreational fisherman that also supports the creation of user generated online fishing tournaments.”

The site’s users can create their own pages and groups, a la MySpace, which they can personalize with photos, links and maintain blogs. The coolest part is that users can generate online fishing tournaments. Duncan Riley from the TechCrunch blog found that users can compete with one another across the North America.

“The vast differences in rivers, lakes and the many fish species inhabiting them is overcome with an interesting twist. Length conversion tables and a series of algorithms allow fish of one species to be compared to fish of another, no matter where they were caught so all participants compete on a level playing field. 12 species of fish are covered and the back end considers how large each species typically grows in each geographic region and scores fish caught accordingly.”

To top it off, cheating can be stopped by requiring the use of witnesses and Angling Masters Measuring Tape for accurate measurements. Online fishing competitions that attempt to stop cheating. How cool is that?

I checked out the site a little more to see how the site could be used on an even larger scale in addition to its singular web 2.0 community features, which is an area of the site called “Cabins.” Users can also create their own communities or an online retail presence in an area of the site called “Marinas.” You can take it a step further by building a “Lodge” that is a community that has stronger ties with the angling community, is also a viable online business, but it looks like terms must be negotiated with the site’s owners for what is probably some sort of profit-sharing relationship.

From an “old school” user perspective, it’s hard to give up the formal editorial articles and guides to this, that or the other on micro-niche websites. But this new model, based entirely on users connecting and sharing their experiences and personal knowledge is at the forefront of today’s web communities. I’m excited to see if Angling Masters International can reel in a permanent place in today’s Web 2.0 culture.

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