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Extremely popular, and every day more so – Twitter currently has an obvious monopoly on microblogging. Not that it is very surprising, because it is an incredible website.

It’s proven its usefulness in incredibly diverging scenarios, ranging from loud egocentrics to real-time news aggregation during disasters. For a more extensive read on Twitter, check out the MakeUseOf PDF Guidebook to Twitter Twitter: Best Practices and Tips Twitter: Best Practices and Tips Read More .

Nevertheless, it’s always refreshing to see a Twitter alternative hit the market and challenge the active powers. After all, competition lies at the very foundation of progress.

Yahoo! Meme

Meme, Yahoo’s new microblogging platform is a Twitter-challenger that should be taken seriously. Even though it’s been running a short while in Portugal, it’s just recently been launched for the English-speaking public. I was lucky enough to receive an early invite.

The opinions on Meme deviate – it’s been called a serious Twitter-killer by some, a superfluous clone by others. In this article we’ll try to compare the features of both platforms – not to blatantly conclude which is better, but to look which prevails in what area.

Where Meme Beats Twitter

There are a few areas where Meme makes Twitter bite dust – a few features that aren’t included in the latter contestant, or not as actively.

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Media-rich and extended post functionality

Contrary to Twitter, which is mostly text-based, this Twitter alternative not only supports, but focuses on media-rich posts.

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There are four different kinds of posts; text, picture, video and audio. The latter three allow you to post media from your hard drive or an internet location – as well as supply it with a caption. Video and audio players are embedded in post overviews so you can play everything on spot.

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Obviously, Meme also supports text posts. The main difference to Twitter, however, is that you can type up to 2000 characters – the equivalent of roughly fourteen tweets.

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Meme also supports basic HTML mark-up, allowing you to type in bold, italic and create links.

Reposting and commenting

Another defining feature of Meme is the reposting functionality. Sure, retweeting is possible as well, but it’s far more limited.

Next to each post you’ll see a repost button, as well as the number of times it’s been spread around already. By clicking the button, you instantly repost the item to your stream. As you can in the screenshot below, you can attach a personal comment to the repost – this will be visible to the source, as well as your followers, but will not be carried in any subsequent reposts.

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Each repost also includes two names at the bottom – the one who you reposted it from, and the original source. This ensures that the spiritual ‘legacy’ of a post is always carried on, no matter how many reposts have passed.

Of course, reposting isn’t the only way to comment on someone else’s activity. Every post in Meme also gets its own page. On there, multiple people can comment in a threaded view.

Where Meme Fails Twitter

Every coin has two sides, and Meme is still far from perfect. There are a number of areas where the Twitter alternative still fails Twitter, due to missing features or functionality.

Content

I hate saying it, but Meme is still far inferior to Twitter in terms of content. A large majority of people on Meme just post ‘funny and cool’ pictures all day long – which is entertaining at the start, but quickly gets tiresome. At the time being, there’s a huge shortage of people who have something meaningful to add. Looking solely at content, Meme might be heading the same way as Tumblr.

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Of course, this is not a permanent conclusion. Twitter started out the same way, and quality of content is bound to improve over time. Nevertheless, it can’t be ignored.

Searchability

The searchability of Meme is very limited at the moment – not to say ‘nonexistent’. It’s not possible yet to search posts, or search ‘topics’ like in Twitter.

Twitter’s real-time search is one of its great strengths, and because of its complete absence in Meme, this is an obvious failure.

Third-Party Backing

Last but not least, third-party applications also aren’t available. Where Twitter is supported by an abundance of online and offline client applications, as well as hundreds of cool ‘bots’, Meme is completely stand-alone. The biggest (and only) link to the outside-WWW is RSS functionality.

Conclusion?

There are a few wins, a few fails. Whom you regard as the winner is completely subjective. You’ll have to carefully consider which features you value most in a microblogging platform. Personally, I’m a Memer – what are you, and why?

  1. Chris Hunter
    October 26, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I like what I've seen from Meme so far.

    And it's easy to attach to your Twitter account, especially with services like Hootsuite or Twitterfeed, with the RSS functionality. Using those tools with the RSS feed, I can broadcast anywhere!

    Very cool.

    Simon, thanks for letting us know about this service! I linked to this post on my blog because I liked it so much.

  2. Phaoloo
    October 26, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Maybe I have to register Meme now to keep my name on it but I stay on Twitter. The strength of Twitter that other alternatives don't have is the simplicity. Others try to add to their products many features and the results would be messes.

    • Aibek
      October 26, 2009 at 11:10 am

      I agree, simplicity is key. KISS always works!

  3. Dean Soto
    October 26, 2009 at 3:38 am

    As with any social network, it has it's positives and negatives. I've tried it out and I like it so far. Does it come close to Twitter? Not really, but it's still nice to have in your social networking toolbox.

  4. Christopher
    October 25, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    It seems really strange that it wouldn't have good search functionality. Isn't that suppose to be Yahoo's primary business interest.

    One thing that I don't like about twitter, is clicking on shortened links, that I don't know where they lead. I do like to idea of inline content, to some extent, but I also agree with the previous commenter on the length of posts. There are times when I need an extra 10 or 20 characters on twitter, but 2000 characters may be too much.

  5. reinkefj
    October 25, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I don't care for the name. Meme, like gene, is supposed to represent a defining concept. Paradigm is perception. Meme is the mental construction that we can share. (A meme can be "wrong" like government. But it's something (an idea) we can exchange and understand. I think Yahoo has muddled the pond. IMHO!

  6. Mitchel Berberich
    October 25, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Indeed, there are features implemented in meme (as described above) that I miss in twitter: Being able to post images and a good reposting method which allows me to add a short comment, so I can say what I like or dislike about the original post.

    Other features like relaxing the char-limit or being able to include videos are quite useless in my opinion: What I like about twitter is that the authors have to think about what they want to say and how to say it in a short way! Relaxing the 140 char limit to 4000 characters or including video each reader has to spent more time to figure out what each posting is all about. It may be easier for authors but it "steals" my time as reader ... If these limits fall, then I / we can go back and use normal internet forum threads, as there is no real advantage of the then not-so-micro-blogging any more.

  7. gadgetpure INFO
    October 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

    It seems I have to create my Meme account since I think meme will be popular as twitter

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