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Ok, so you're sat on MSN Messenger chatting when someone says "Ah, have you seen www.insertrandomwebsitehere.com yet? It's well good lol". What do you do? You go check it out, only to find that everyone you know and love has been a part of it for more than a year. Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me.
This is exactly how I was introduced to MySpace. Someone just asked (without even asking if I knew about it) what my username was. After a quick WTF convo, I decided to go give it a shot and see how it is.
First impressions were medium. It looks like a very plain website, with a bog standard white-and-blue setup with a top menu, and some articles and the like below. It looks like it was thrown together by someone who doesn't really know much about HTML, Ah well, I thought, it'll be one of those gimmicky websites which everyone raves about for a month then never sees again. So I wandered on over to sign up.
Registering is actually really quite easy. Most of the questions you don't even have to answer until after you are up and running. They ask purely for an email address, username, password, and the usual bits of info like gender, date of birth, and what part of the world you live in. After putting in a security code, you are given the option of uploading photos to get a head start on building your profile. After uploading a few or skipping that part, you are asked if you want to invite friends. Now, unlike certain profile websites, you are able to skip this bit without having to give a single friends email address! Then thats the lot. You are now the proud owner of a MySpace profile.
From here you can now do as you want. With the basic skeleton of a profile you probably won't attract many people, so it's probably best to go and add some flesh to your homepage. After reading the complimentary message from Tom, the supreme ruler of the technical land that is MySpace (which basicaly just warns you not to let people hassle you and not to meet up with hairy legged perverts who may try to lure you) you notice that he kindly adds you to his friend list automatically. This is a good
thing, having one friend is better than none in any case! But anyway...
To customise your profile there are unlimited options at you disposal. You can update information about yourself, including your height, body-build, name, and even whether you smoke or drink! These are more questions that I have seen on any site, and the fact that you don't have to answer is fantastic. You can add your school, your workplace, and fill in several boxes which form the basic face of your profile.
For your homepage, the main blocks of information shown are some basic things about yourself, such as what your interests are, what films you like, what kind of music you listen to, and your reasons for being on the site. Are you on to meet new people, or stay in touch with old friends? Are you wanting everyone who sees you to add you to their friends list, or are you preferring to use the site to advertise other sites or services? And theres more...
Does anyone know any HTML? Well, if so you are in luck. With a basic grasp of HTML you can change your profile into a being of beauty (or not, but more on that later). Backgrounds, fonts, colours, and pictures can be changed or uploaded. Don't know HTML? Have no fear - there are numerous websites which can help you out. The best and easiest to use I will mention later.
Once you have your incredible looking personalised profile up, it's time to get your friends along too. Chances are, most of the people you talk to will already have their own profiles, so add them along and you'll soon have more friends than Peter Stringfellow. You can leave comments on their pages or on their photos, and read what they have to say in their blog. To have people leave comments on your own pictures, you'll need to upload them first.
To upload a picture of your own, the only basic requirements are that it is less than 600k, that it doesn't contain nudity, and that it doesn't include violence eg. happy-slapping, or people dying etc. It is one of the best features of the site, and most of your time will be spent waiting for comments from other people! You cna include up to twelve, and set one as your main picture (or defining picture, if you will), and they cna be anything from random webcam fun to big party nights out. If you don't fancy letting people see you however you can get them to leave comments on your profiles home page.
As well as commenting, you can also email people through myspace for them to view next time they log on, or even have an instant message style conversation with them. It is fun to watch your guestbook grow and change with different comments, although you should bear in mind that anything can be written since there are no language blockers that I have come across. If someone writes something unsuitable for your perfect profile of paradise, and you feel it taints the tranquility of the page, you can delete it with no furthur questions asked. This means you can keep all those cocky comments from people under wraps!
Searching for other people is easy to do, and you can search for them using their real names, display names, or even their email address so you can go through your friends to see who's on MySpace and who isn't. If you feel like finding random people, you can search through the profile options like age, name, living place, and the like. From here you can view their pictures, or find out more about them to consider whether you want them as a friend or not.
Now that you have sorted out a basic profile, added a few friends, and watched a few comments appear over time, you can now add the final touches to your page. Why not search for a band and add a song to play for anyone who finds you? Or a video, if you ifnd one that takes your fancy? It is quick and easy to do, and really makes a big difference. The only thing I would say is not to use both, as it really clogs up the loading time and provides a bit of an ear sore.
Which brings me nicely onto the first and biggest fault of the site - badly put together profiles. Ah yes, this may sound like I am being unfair, but the amount of times I have been listening to music already only to find a loud heavy metal song on a profile, AS WELL AS a video playing at the same time is just jaw dropping. Why do people do this? I can only assume that they are trying to be annoying because noone would intentionally be so rdiculous with the layout! You also see some nasty nasty backgrounds, with flashing pictures and hard to read fonts, and pictures of bands clashing nastily against luminous back drops. Some people even have pictures that change when the mouse goes over them, resulting in a sudden flickering if you are scrolling down. Seriously, some profiles are just headache inducing.
Other problems include the inevitability of someone you don't know, don't need to know and above all don't WANT to know adding you as a friend, commenting on your pics and pestering your friends. Although this doesn't happen often it will eventually occur, but it does have to be said it happens to girls more than guys (in mine and my friends experiances, anyway). If this happens, there is a way to report them and you can of course remove them from your friends list. Just make sure you don't respond with insults or anything like that - in doing so you make it posible for yourself to be reported and you won't want that.
The only other problem, and this is serious, is that it is so addictive you will find yourself checking it every five minutes or so just to see if anyone has said or done anything on your profile. Also, there is constantly a nag to add something else to your page. This is a wierd feeling and doesn't go away!
If you overlook these problems however, MySpace is a fantastic website to use, whether you want to meet new people or just want a place to put pictures and see your old friends. It is the most easy to use, frequently updated, and above all fun profile site I have ever found, and above all it is completely free. So why not give it a go?
LINKS ---------- www.myspace.com - The homepage (but you worked that one out already, right?)
www.myspace.com/reddragonflame - Yours truly. If anyone wants a background like mine... then tough luck, it's mine and took a lot of work :-p
http://www.davesite.com/webstation/html/myspace.shtml - The best HTML site I found. It has all kinds of guides on it, and even has some pre-planned layouts for you. I definately reccomend this!