Ten Minutes With Zorpia March 5, 2007Posted by Jeremy Wagstaff in photo sharing, social networking.
Intro: Zorpia is a social networking site that, according to a very ‘official’ sounding description on Answers.com allows members to upload photos, journals, the usual stuff. It was originally called Photopointz but was renamed in 2003. There are no addresses given on the website, but it appears from this press release to be Hong Kong-based. The article claims there are more than four million members mainly concentrated in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Mexico. More on this at the end.
Things don’t start well with Zorpia. Invited to join by a friend, I click on the link to find that, as usual, I have to sign up before I get any idea of what the site and service is all about. Neither am I impressed by the blatantly nudging to spam my friends when a page appears not only inviting me to add all my Gmail contacts, but filling in my password for me. (Does it know I have a Gmail account because that’s the email my friend used to send me the invite? If so, creepier still.)
Signing up looks Web 2.0 but isn’t. First off, there’s no AJAX to tell me whether the username I give is already taken, and when the page reloads to tell me it is, I have to fill in my password fields again. In this attention deficit age, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have given up by now. If I was still going, I would for sure have dropped out on the next page, which invites me again to spam my friends. This time, it’s not just my Gmail friends, but my Yahoo!, Hotmail and AOL.
And less savvy users might think they have to do this, since the button at the bottom of the page ‘skipping this step’ is grey, as if it wasn’t active. I’m beginning to loathe Zorpia by now. It’s not as if you can skip the next step: You must enter a first and last name, your gender, your birthday and your country. Try to skip that and you get lots of red messages alongside the field. You’re also encouraged to add a photo, with the ‘skip this step’ virtually invisible.
Finally I’m in. Not too much that is exciting about the Zorpia page, except for the ads. Having been told not to click on a box next to the upload profile photo box that says “I agree not to upload photos with pornography, violence, racism or copyright infrigement.” [sic] I find the Google ads are very much slanted that way:
And of course there’s the tried and tested indicator of a site’s willingness to make cash at the expense of its members: the inevitable smileys ads. And still Zorpia is encouraging me to spam my friends.
Weirdly, given I’ve only just started, I’m told that two people have visited my homepage already! Given I haven’t put any information in my profile, or any pictures, or a profile photo that may attract attention (mine’s a Skype button), I’m kinda surprised, and perhaps a little skeptical. Perhaps the explanation lies in the message alongside that says I “have 7 days to enjoy this feature for free. Upgrade to royal membership now.“
Given I was invited to sign up by a friend with the words: You must be a special person, your friend [deleted] just invited you to her online photo albums and journals at Zorpia.com. You should go to Zorpia, and see why [deleted] thinks its such a great site! I must say I’m kinda surprised that I can’t find her automatically on my list of Friends, or Requests from Me, or Relationship Change Requests (the mind boggles there.)
By now I’ve pretty much had enough. Zorpia’s ten minutes are up, and I’m pretty disgusted.
Footnote: I was puzzled not to find anything on Zorpia in Wikipedia, until I found the page in question (from which the Answers.com article above is taken) has been marked for deletion. This usually happens if the article has caught the attention of the editors. In this case, they were suspicious of the talk of 4.6 million members, which they say is not verifiable, found that much of the Wikipedia entry on Zorpia had been written by someone with the profile name, er, Zorpia (a conflict of interest, in Wikipedia’s and my book) and that since January the domain zorpia.com had been blacklisted by Wikipedia for spam. For Wikipedia and me, Zorpia no longer exists.
Marks out of 10: 1