I was at a breakfast with Martin Dalgleish last week and he had a couple of smartypants comments to make about BigPond’s useability. Another lady piped up and asked him how much of PBLs budget goes on NineMSN’s useability studies. Gently smacked down – PBL keeps NineMSN operational budgets seperate of course. But I do know what she was implying and she’s right, NineMSN’s useability is a shocker. People in glass houses shouldn’t caste the first stone (or mix metaphors). But bad as it is, thats not the worst part: its the Sociability. From NineMSN’s mediacentre.

Reach 73 percent of Australians online
The ninemsn network reaches over 7.48 million people each month and 850,000 Australians visit our home page each weekday.
Forty five percent of time spent on commercial websites in Australia is spent on ninemsn.

Cool, 7 and 1/2 million people per month on your portal? Nice. But what about the community aspect? How much dialogue are people participating in?

People and Groups:
Page Impressions: 80,493
Unique Browsers: 10,344
Session duration: 10 min(s) 25 sec(s)
Traffic source: Nielsen SiteCensus May 2006

So, NineMSN have over 7 1/2 million visitors, 10,000 of whom vitit the community forums (I didn’t check number of posts) and spend an average of 10 and 1/2 minutes there a month? That’s a lot of people who don’t hang around after logging out of Hotmail. In real communities, we count stickibility in the hours per day.. Nah, don’t count Messenger – its installed in Windows by Microsoft. NineMSN can sell advertising for it, but they better not dare take credit for creating ‘community’. Or else. The lovely Rachel Slattery pointed out that at least Martin Dalgleish talks passionately and with confidence. I dont’ think I agreed with a single thing he said but it’s nice to hear some decisiveness in this market. I think. Maybe. Not sure. When bringing millions of people to your site, get them talking, to each other. Or they will find a nice niche community to do just that…

Talking about sociability and talking, the shock jock tactics over at NowWeAreSlagging are getting a bit much aren’t they? Underdogs can fight back, Top Dogs can’t. Its the rule of the game and its not changing just because everyone else is getting fair say online these days. No waaaay is Joe and Josephine Public gonna say “oh poor Telstra, those big boys are being mean to liddle widdle you?”. Nuh uh. Telstra is the ultimate Big Boy. However, debate – lively, vitriolic, libellous even – is better than silence. Put on your hard hats and flak jackets if you click through please to NowWeAreTalking.

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