Taking a bite of Ello: The official review
Stepping into Ello is an exclusive experience. No, really. The beta platform is invite-only. You can try to call ahead to get a reservation, but your best bet is to be invited by one of the elites that already made it through the door. It’s all about knowing the right people, dahling.
Ello is your favorite speakeasy, an underground club, a secret restaurant. You can be anyone you want, and solicitors are left outside, trying to peek in the blacked out windows.
Discretion is rule number one. The owner of the joint may be fast and loose with the rules, but he won’t rat you out for using a fake name. Heck, we’ve all been there! Gruesome strangers that are hungry for phone numbers are often surprised to call “Michelle”, and realize she didn’t fancy them enough to pony up the real deal. But fun-loving gals like “Michelle” are at a crossroads. Facebook won’t allow members to use fake names, and Ello has no privacy settings. None. Zilch. For now…
Drag queens and performers are having a rough go with Facebook, as they are no longer allowed the freedom to have a stage name as a profile name. These performers are encouraged to create fan pages for their Drag Queen alias, in order to behave more like a brand than a regular Joe. So they are taking their wigs and their fake nails and their high, high heels and leaving Facebook in droves. Like my mother always said, follow the drag queen and you will know what to do in love and life*.
Ello has the illusion of trendy, because you need a freakin’ invite code to get in. Only the best places have a waiting list. In reality, Ello is your typical bargain basement Sam’s Club tub of cheesy poofs. But I mean that in the best way, honestly! Have you ever eaten those cheesy poofs? Once you try them, you’ll be forever blessed with orange fingers. Très chic. There isn’t much substance, its flavored (internet) air. After being confused with the overwhelming buffet that is Facebook, it is refreshing to go back to basics.
Super exciting stuff happening on my profile.
Journalists are sniffing about the lack of privacy settings on Ello. The platform is on the INTERNET – if you don’t want anyone to see it, don’t post personal information on it, you idiot. Share as much as you’d like, but know that someone might see it. Privacy is a funny thing, isn’t it? Sharing something on the internet is like standing on a chair in a quiet crowded room and screaming at the top of your lungs.
Once you are inside of the club, and you are gobbling up friends and posting up GIFs (pronounced like “Gift”. Choosy moms choose “Jif”), you start to realize just how underground and underdeveloped this place really is. They don’t even have a sign! But really, the design is so stripped down, you wonder if it’s supposed to be on purpose. They have a wish list of features coming soon, but it’s hard to love the interface – it’s harder than $2 steak!
The privacy issue is one thing, but Ello also claims to have no advertising – no flower ladies walking from table-to-table making you feel bad for not buying a rose for your date. Can Ello survive without branded products and paid sponsors? Hard to say, they did raise venture capital from Vermont-based FreshTracks Capital. And they might rely on tip-money to keep running, but they’ll need premium services in order to supplement donations from users, if they want to keep the big bad advertisers out.
Navigating around Ello is a mind-trip, even Relativity makes more sense. On Ello, you steer around the “Friends” activity tab to check out the hot gossip, and search for friends under a button that has no priority over the settings button. Stalking is hard.
Wow, 15 friends! I’m…popular…I think?
I doubt Ello will overthrow the empire that is Facebook. Ello will have to rely on a cult following in order to survive. Sites like Reddit aren’t particularly pretty, but they have massive fanboys and girls that login every day. If Ello can keep up steam, and entice new patrons, they might have a shot with niche groups.
*I lied, she never said that. But she should start!
- October 2, 2014