Great software! Sad it's paid only though
I've been with SE since 2007 when they first started. They have a good foundation and that is about it. They have a MySpace business model (Kids, Music, Bands), rather then a Facebook model (Adults, business, networking) and favor international clients via language packs / timezones rather then their own country via *location based* plugins.
They charge for their platform (and support to fix their errors) and "continuously" release updates with bugs using their clients as guinea pig beta testers. Management at Social Engine is completely incompetent as they continue to compete against 3rd party developers instead of focusing on the core which is yet (four years later) to be 100% complete. And instead of focusing on completing their platform, they continue to add affiliate based plugins to OUR platform so they can make more money off from their clients.
Bottom Line: If it wasn't for 3rd party developers finishing what they started (and doing it right the first time), this company / platform would be bankrupt two years ago ...
You are absolutely right in everything you said. It's like an unfinished product.
Easy to use for the general public.
Does not work well at scale (I run a site of 30,000 members on it).
I work for a web development company that has installed and managed several socialengine sites over the last few years.
Socialengine appears to be an awesome product when you first try it out. It looks great and in a trial with no members, it seems to function well above expectations. But once you start to use it and your site starts to grow and your members start to become more and more active, more and more problems start to crop up.
These problems are so obvious that it's mind blowing that the se developers either don't recognize how bad they are or they simply don't care.
For instance in their forums, and you were right to say the forums lack a lot of basic features that even free forums have. But for years when people typed messages in the forums Socialengine would take out all their line breaks. Or if they edited a post after they posted it, it would add triple the number of line breaks between paragraphs. They had many customers who complained about this, but it still took them like 2-3 years to fix it.
The company just seems completely oblivious to how end users experience the product. Another problem is the message notification system. Their message notification system is really crazy. When a user posts a comment to a blog for instance, they will get a notification when another user posts a comment. And they'll get yet another notification for the same blog if another user posts a comment. People can end up with a hundred notifications for the exact same content. What makes this even worse is that the notifications themselves give absolutely no indication what content they're referring to.
Again, this is a problem you wouldn't necessarily notice if you were just trying the product out. But once your site becomes very active, this starts to become a huge problem. It annoys users and it drives them away. Yet no matter how many times people have complained about this to them, they simply refuse to fix it. It's like they just don't care what kind of experience end users - in other words your members - will have. The notifications just say something like:
"Bob has commented on a blog you commented on"
with no indication whatsoever about which blog this is talking about. And instead of having a system that gave notifications that said something like:
"Bob and 5 others have commented on your blog 'Title of Blog'"
you get a separate notice for each and every comment with no indication of what the notification will lead you to. And you can literally have a hundred of these notices for just one blog. You comment on two blogs you'll have two hundred notices in no time! You keep clicking on the different notices only to be taken back to the same content you've already seen 15 times. It gets very annoying very fast.
Also, there is little consistency across their platform. For instance, if you get annoyed with all these notices form a particular blog, you can't unsubscribe from it. Once you comment once - you'll get a notice and an email for every single subsequent reply. However, in the Forums, you can unsubscribe. You can also subscribe to forums that you haven't commented in - if you want to watch the conversation. That's a nice feature, but why don't they extend it across the entire platform?
And don't even get me started on the nightmare that occurs for your end users navigating through the comments if you have a blog that gets 50-60 replies.
For us our final conclusion has been that it's a good starter system, but just hope you don't get too many members and if you do, just pray that they don't become very active. They're constantly adding new features, but never fixing the hundreds of annoyances and inconsistencies. It seems like they're more concerned about just selling it to people who want to run networks and to hell with the end user. In other words, they don't care if their platform is so annoying to the end user that it ultimately drives them all away. It seems they just want to be able to tell new potential buyers that it has a ton of features, make the sale and then on to the next sale.
It's a real shame that there is no Steve Jobs at socialengine. No one who really understands and cares about the user experience. No one who pays attention to all the little details that really make the difference. This could be a great platform, but from what I've seen over the last few years working with our clients who use it - they just don't have the talent on staff to actually make it into a great platform. It seems it will always be a "starter" platform.
Summary: SE Software is full of bugs. Received rubbish support to fix their bugs (which has not yet been fixed). SE wants to be paid to fix their bugs. Was initially thrilled with SE, now very disappointed. Advise: look away from social engine and work with a professional company.