Jan 27 2010
Part of the fun of being plugged into the web and being in touch with new memes and developments, is being able to share the great stuff you find with people who are more casual internet users. It’s sort of like having a friend in the music business who know the great bands before they even release an album. It’s nice to be able to share new, cool stuff you find. In fact, it’s addicting.
The way that most people share interesting content they find on the web is through email, despite the inherent problems. Videos, jokes, pictures, presentations, and such get forwarded around the social network, clogging up inboxes, accidentally spreading viruses, and occasionally perpetuating false information and lending credence to hoaxes and scams (“Well, Gladys would never forward me anything false! I’ll just avoid eating bacon until this whole swine-flu epidemic blows over…”). You might get the same huge video file in your inbox several times because there’s no way for people to know if you’ve already seen the monkey sniff his finger and fall off out of the tree. And if you happen to be using a dial-up connection, well, that’s just too bad.
A better way to share things you like is to have a blog that people can visit, but this comes along with its own set of issues: hosting costs, learning the ins-and-outs of your blogging platform, and, once it’s all set up, you have the issue of actually getting people to visit your blog. It’s worthwhile for many people (which explains the thousands upon thousands of blogs out there on the internet) but most people need a solution that splits the difference between sharing via email and blogging. Those people should check out forwardOn.
forwardOn, a free website started in 2008 by a few friends from the Boston area who were sick of the constant email forwards from well-intentioned friends and family, solves the problems with email forwarding. By providing each user with a space where they can post content, forwardOn eliminates the need to forward via email and gives users a repository for comments and ratings. And, depending on the interest garnered by your posted content, you can rack up some pretty sweet rewards.
After a simple sign-up process, forwardOn creates a hosted page for you, located at . Instead of forwarding your video/image/joke to your friends’ inboxes, you simply send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org and the site takes the content of your email and posts it on your page. forwardOn takes care of the formatting and displays content in the appropriate manner, meaning video and audio clips are played in an embedded media player, and files are displayed in a file viewer.
forwardOn translates YouTube links and accepts file attachments and embedded content. You can also login to your page and manually edit each post, which is great if you realize after you sent the email that the subject line (which becomes the post’s title) is not descriptive enough or chock full of spelling errors (as mine frequently are).
One of the best reasons to use forwardOn is because your page acts as a board for comments and ratings, allowing you to have discussions about posted content in which friends, family, and trolls (you know who you are) can all participate. You don’t have to email back and forth or click reply-all, you can simply comment on the page, like you might do with a YouTube video or a blog post. Additionally, all forwardOn users have access to your page as well (with really great finds being put on the forwardOn front page), which helps build a community within the site. To this end, you can also friend other forwardOn users and view/rate/comment on their recent posted content.
A big attraction that I have to forwardOn is the rewards system. In the spirit of sharing, forwardOn shares their ad revenue with the users in the form of points. Depending on how many views your posted content receive, you’re assigned points that can be redeemed for Amazon.com, iTunes, Shell, or MyChoice gift cards. (MyChoice cards can be redeemed at many stores and online retailers). Or if you’re feeling particularly altruistic, you can redeem your points for a donation to the charity of your choice through JustGive.org. This acts as an incentive to post great, funny, timely content, which adds value to forwardOn, which brings them more traffic which, in turn, gets you more points. It’s a great system that benefits everyone and I’m amazed that other hosted content sites don’t try it.
forwardOn provides a free solution that eliminates can be a troublesome problem. It’s not that there aren’t already ways of posting interesting things you find on the internet for people to view, it’s that forwardOn makes it so simple by taking care of formatting and posting for you; all you need to do is send a single email and then point everyone in the direction of your forwardOn page.
forwardOn takes the scams, the hoaxes, the viruses, and the bandwidth-wasting out of sharing content. It’s easy to use and you get a little something in return for sharing content the smart way. It really doesn’t get much better than that.