Advantages and disadvantages of a public or private network

At one point you have decided to start your own network or review your existing network
Important is ofcourse to think about what you do or don't want to make public in order to choose the right setting for your network. How do you decide this? To be quite honest there is not a single rule to make this decision easy. So let's take a look at what has to be considered:
  • What is the purpose of your network? Is it a commercial site, informative, social etc.
  • What is your goal? Do you want to sell products or services? Do you offer information etc.
  • Are you aiming at as many members as possible?
  • If so does it matter to you whether they are active or is the membercount most important to you? I.e."high quality members" or not
  • Is it advisible to have your content and that of your members displayed all over the www?
  • Do your members appreciate their content to be public?
There can be many reasons to why you make your choice.
Here are the most important advantages or disadvantages of the different options

100% PUBLIC NETWORKS
Advantages:
  • Anyone can see your content. information and products/services
  • Your site will be noticed by search engines and you might achieve a high ranking
  • Your site will have many hits and probably make you a lot of money (dependable of what you are offering) and reach more potential members and/or clients
Disadvantages:
  • Only when potential members wish to purchase something or want to participate they will be triggered to become a member
  • So if you are also aiming for a high membercount this might not be the best way. Afterall why become a member of something that is free accessable anyway?
  • You are at high risk to be hit by spam and need to apply everthing you can to fight this (member approval, captcha, etc.)

ONLY FRONTPAGE PUBLIC
In my opinion the best choice if your network doesn't have to be private

Advantages:
  • You are able to inform potential members about your network, products or services without giving away all content and raise their interest
  • If your visitors are interested in what you are offering they will have to become a member in order to read more.
  • You will achieve a higher membercount
  • You can make your frontpage dynamic to attract more visitors and thus potential members/clients
  • Search engines will notice your network and you might achieve a high ranking and thus reach more potential members

Disadvantages:
  • If you want to trigger potential clients to buy your products/services they can't see them without becoming a member first
  • Content of your members will end up on the www and might not want this
  • Again you are at high risk to be hit by spam and need to apply everthing you can to fight this (member approval, captcha, etc.)

PRIVATE NETWORKS
You should always make your network private if the content of your network and/or members is not to be displayed anywhere on the www. However there might also be other reasons why you would want to do this ofcourse.

Advantages:
  • Members will feel safe and feel more free to add (personal) content and therefore become more active
  • Members are assured that what they contribute won't be public anywhere. This can be an absolute trigger to get more members
  • You are less likely to be subject to spam as none off your content can be picked up by malicious sites

Disadvantages:
  • Your network will not be noticed by search engines
  • You'll have less hits and therefore less potential members*
  • Your content and what you are offering remains hidden*
Ofcourse as said in the beginning of this article there are many other reasons to base your choice upon. These are merely the most important ones as a guide to help you make your choice. However you have to feel comfortable with your choice and know whether your members don't mind their content to be public as well (very important).

* In my next article I will inform you of a way to maintain a private network with 100% private content and still get noticed by search engines and attract more potential members



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Comment by Haitians United for Haiti on November 7, 2010 at 9:59pm
This is very interesting! Our community was public-only the main page was viewable and now it is all public. We wanted to give potential members access to the site before they join. We'll see what happens. We might change it again, who knows.

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