socialnetworkingwallstreet.jpgWe’ve been members of nearly every major social networking site that’s come around. One thing we’ve discovered is that social networking is a lot like dating. When you first come across a new networking site it can be very, very exciting but once the bloom is off the flower, so to speak, interest tends to wane. The stats for the big social networking sites seem to bear this out: after the initial rush of interest and time spent exploring, usage seems to die off.
So what’s wrong with social networking? Well, as The Long Tail author and Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson has explained, part of the problem is that social networking should not be a destination on the web but a feature of good websites. Flickr and YouTube, for instance, have from their beginnings used social networking in this way—turning users of other services into a social network. Especially in its early months, YouTube felt very much like a social networking community.
This leads us to something we’re been toying with for nearly a year here at DealBreaker. Our commenters and emailers are already something of a community, with many regular participants in our comments section adopting regular and instantly recognizable handles or pseudonyms such as Bulging Bracket, Random Banker, Anal_lyst, BSD and Zbignew. We’d like to take this further, allowing permanent profiles for commenters, where readers can track discussions, get in touch with each other and keep conversations going even after certain discussions have moved off the main page. Our creation of the “Recent Comments” page was the beginning of this effort but it is a mere seed for what we hope will eventually grow into a much more interesting social network, user-generated part of our pages.
[More on social networking DealBreaker-style after the jump.]


One impetus for moving toward social networking here is the lack of a usable social network for financial professionals. Linkedin seems heavily geared toward tech, and lacks the fun of a Facebook. Myspace and Facebook are somewhat disreputable, although financial professional participation is growing, especially on Facebook. Why not create Facebook for finance at DealBreaker, we asked.
All sorts of networking possibilities jump out. For instance, stories could include a button that would instantly show readers how they might be linked to the players, or how this story connects to another they’ve already discussed in comments. It would be terrific to click on a Bear Stearns story and discover who in your network works or worked for Bear Stearns.
One thing that seems to be clear is that any features of DealBreaker built along these lines would have to preserve the option for anonymity. Perhaps users could have dual profiles, public and anonymous, so they could connect with colleagues under real names but make comments and track discussions under pseudonyms.
We love the community that has grown up around DealBreaker. We were tempted to say “that we’ve built at DealBreaker” but that’s only true in the sense that by “we” we mean to include our readers, tipsters and commenters. The editors never expected our commenters to become a community, we never really set out to create a community based site, but we’re ecstatic that this is what we’re becoming.
So we’re moving ahead with plans to grow the social network features of our site, and we’d love to hear more from you about what you’d like to see in this respect. Feel free, of course, to leave a comment below or email us at tips@dealbreaker.com.
A parting thought. A great many of our commenters have a quite reasonable fear of publicly writing on the site. Wall Street is notoriously ill-humored about unauthorized comments. This is one reason we make such a big deal of promising to keep comments and tips anonymous for those who don’t want to read their names among the pixels of DealBreaker. But it sometimes becomes confusing with so many people writing under the same name—Anonymous. We’d like to gently suggest that each of you chose a pseudonym and try to stick with it. It’s a small step but one that we think will greatly improve the comments section.
And now back to our regularly scheduled counter-programming. Next up: Bess Levin on Fox Business.
Update: Speaking of community, Bess raises an important point: where is BSD? We haven’t had a comment from BSD since August. Actually, the last one we could find was August 18th. Did BSD get credit crunched?

46 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (46)

  1. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:14 PM

    screw the social networking and bring back keith

  2. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:15 PM

    doostang

  3. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:17 PM

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  4. Posted by girl | October 22, 2007 at 2:19 PM

    how dare you not include me and my alter ego mini-ballerette!
    I agree though, really don’t think any of us want to be chums outside the cosy confines of the comments board

  5. Posted by The Understander | October 22, 2007 at 2:23 PM

    A few years back, I was a “team member” of a trading company. The company had no stated policy about commenting to the press or in forums, but I thought I knew the rules.
    Late one Friday a Bloomie called me wanting an energy market comment. Since I was the only one in the office, and aware of the lack of policy on talking to reporters, I reported that “I heard the market was “well bid” which it was at the time. I told him I wanted it off the record. The Bloomie said, “We can’t use off the record commentary!”. So I said, OK, use my name. It was benign, non-company commentary, just an observation, right?
    The next Monday my Man Dir calls me in and shows me three emails to him about my comment. The emails were from my alleged “team members”. I figure I’m about to get the axe. Man Dir then says, “these emails tell me more about them than you”. Then he told me not to say a word about his comments. My lips were sealed.
    He sent me back to work. Nothing more was said. The moral of the story is that in the vicious world of trading, it’s your “team” that wants you out of the picture, not your counterparty.

  6. Posted by KLW | October 22, 2007 at 2:25 PM

    A Dealbreaker dating service, on the other hand…you might have some takers, esp. if Bess was involved.

  7. Posted by annoyed dealbreaker reader | October 22, 2007 at 2:39 PM

    tell us what happened to keith!

  8. Posted by annoyed dealbreaker reader | October 22, 2007 at 2:41 PM

    you have to tell us why keith left!

  9. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:45 PM

    @ KLW– YES.

  10. Posted by Metlin | October 22, 2007 at 2:51 PM

    Just a quick suggestion – could you please link the “N Comments” snippet on the index page to the comments pages?
    I almost always reach to click on the “N Comments” link and then realize that I have to click on the title. It’s a bit of a pain.

  11. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:53 PM

    As much as i’d like a dealbreaker “community”, i’m sure it would be quickly blocked by our draconian firewall.
    Please make sure they are separate enough entities that i don’t lose access to the blog part!

  12. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 2:56 PM

    I want the right to remain anonymous.

  13. Posted by Seriously, Jewish girls really are hot | October 22, 2007 at 2:57 PM

    By dating service, I guess you mean that Carney should just start pimping Bess out to rich but sexually frustrated Dealbreaker readers.

  14. Posted by bubble 2.0 | October 22, 2007 at 3:00 PM

    So if Facebook is valued at $10-15 billion, and Dealbreaker has the option to implement a social networking feature, what does that mean for the valuation of Dealbreaker? Surely a couple billion dollars?

  15. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:09 PM

    What does facebook have 4 million users? dealbroker has 4,000? that would value dealbroker at about $10 million based on a ten billion valuation for facebook.

  16. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:11 PM

    dealbreaker has more like 300,000 users.

  17. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:18 PM

    how is that possible?

  18. Posted by anon 2.44 | October 22, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    db has wealthy memebers … facebook’s are unemployed toothless …

  19. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:27 PM

    @anon 2.44
    Facebook members are by and large stupid enough to spend $$ on virtual “gifts” for their virtual “friends”. I would hope that DB readers are more discriminating with their money (read: bottle service and underage prostitutes).

  20. Posted by Bulging Bracket | October 22, 2007 at 3:35 PM

    They’re not prostitues, they’re models!
    Dunno bout the social networking thing, but then I’m just a poor schmuck at an invesatment bank and not a college dropout running a multi-billion dollar (maybe) firm in my sandals. What we really need is a block on anyone who has an account at Gawker, etc.

  21. Posted by analyst analyst | October 22, 2007 at 3:35 PM

    Hey Carney how many readers do you have?

  22. Posted by John Carney | October 22, 2007 at 3:37 PM

    Tough to say, given our recent growth. Around 300K is close to the right number.

  23. Posted by L'Emmerdeur | October 22, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    Dear John,
    If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the local bathhouse, “generating user content” in a focused and furious manner. Kindly forward my new gold-plated titanium-reinforced Dealbreaker Legionnaire Membership Card to said undisclosed location forthwith.
    Kisses,
    D

  24. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    I hate social networking.
    No one who values privacy goes on facebook. I thought DB was for a different crowd.
    Being anonymous has a far higher value to me than perceived ‘friendships’ or ‘community’.

  25. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 3:43 PM

    so sweet

  26. Posted by options | October 22, 2007 at 3:44 PM

    @3:38 -i’m sure these social networking features would be optional. you wouldn’t automatically be signed up for the social networking aspect of this site. I think its a great idea and people that want to join the social network can, and those that don’t, won’t. Pretty simple, and a good way to gain some substantial revs Carney. Good job.

  27. Posted by Mr. Benson-Perella | October 22, 2007 at 3:54 PM

    I’m graduating from anonymous and claiming my pseudo-status.

  28. Posted by Benji Graham | October 22, 2007 at 4:06 PM

    Carney, so much for your Black Monday prediction…you owe me a case of beer.

  29. Posted by Zbignew | October 22, 2007 at 4:14 PM

    I thought that you knew that I use this handle for the off the cuff comments that I don’t want attributed to my “serious” persona?

  30. Posted by Keith Fahn | October 22, 2007 at 4:25 PM

    bring back Keith, rable rable

  31. Posted by Disorderly conduct | October 22, 2007 at 4:28 PM

    Carney, you might want to think about the potential downside to adding a social network to the group. I think we can all agree that the comments on the board are usually on the subject and DB still has that Good Ol’ Boys fee even though there are hundreds of thousands of readers. Now look at sites including your brother, AboveTheLaw, who has 100 comments on any given article. With that kind of volume you get commenters that simply use the board for a sense of fame. That contributes to the irrelevent and futile comments that will come to this board. I read almost every comment posted and all are funny and insightful, at least try to be. If people start posting “First” after every article i will be severely disappointed in the site and the new growth. Just something to think about.

  32. Posted by sekysmit | October 22, 2007 at 4:37 PM

    Disorderly, I agree with you but this little dealbroker is all growed up, and it’s ready to turn its intimate and sometimes-useful comments section into a massive revenue generating factory
    Hey, that’s progress for ya. It’s hard times out there, anything for a buck.

  33. Posted by Lee D | October 22, 2007 at 4:48 PM

    So, are the best known commenters going to be able to monetize their notoriety in the New Dealbreaker Order?
    And where the hell is BSD, anyways?

  34. Posted by Fake Jeff Epstein | October 22, 2007 at 4:52 PM

    I’m excited by this idea.
    Would I be able to send emails to people I’m interested in establishing a financial relationship with?

  35. Posted by Anonymous | October 22, 2007 at 5:15 PM

    If everyone had just bought more Mikes Hard or more copies of Trump’s book then they wouldn’t be searching for more revenue generating streams.
    Perhaps I’ll click through the top banner now and buy me a new HP StorageWorks 1200 All-in-one Storage System.

  36. Posted by Anal_yst | October 22, 2007 at 8:55 PM

    Appreciate the props, butt neither I or any of my alter-egos either on DB or in the ‘real’ world are so sure an increased social networking aspect would really improve the site.
    Anon status is paramount any way you do it though, and just a hint regardless of what you try to do, perhaps speeding up page loads/commenting wood be a good idea.
    Keep it gangsta,
    Anal_yst
    p.s. how do we ensure that our personas are protected, are we to have any I.P. rights? Recourse? No?

  37. Posted by Read NEWS | June 12, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    [...] The problem is that complete anonymity can result in incoherent chaos, and as a result the editors encourage a move to pseudonymity instead: A great many of our commenters have a quite reasonable fear of publicly writing on the [...]

  38. Posted by Zach Kouwe fired again « The New Economy | June 13, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    [...] The problem is that complete anonymity can result in incoherent chaos, and as a result the editors encourage a move to pseudonymity instead: A great many of our commenters have a quite reasonable fear of publicly writing on the [...]

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