Why B/R Beats Facebook At Its Own Game

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2009

In case you're unfamiliar with it, Facebook is a worldwide social networking website designed to allow people who don't live near each other a way to keep in touch. But it has expanded further than even its founders could have hoped.

Some Facebook users now spend countless hours on the website talking to their closest friends during the hours of the day when they don't see each other at school or work. Others put everything about themselves on their profile page to maximize the chances of meeting new people.

Since you're reading this piece, I assume you're at least somewhat familiar with Bleacher Report. It allows you to write, edit, or just read and comment on sports articles written by actual sports fans like you, not some jaded paid professional. The attraction to this concept is undeniable and is evidenced by the 100,000+ registered members of the site.

The general layout of B/R promotes networking. Furthermore, it necessitates networking. To move up in the world of B/R, one must engage other members by writing, editing, or reading and commenting on articles. As you do these things, you meet other people who are similar to you. You make friends. B/R's formula for success, inadvertently or not, accomplishes the same goal as Facebook.

But you can meet new people the Facebook way, too—by sending private messages and posting notes on their bulletin boards. (Just a note to the tech people who run B/R—it would be really nice if the text in private messages wasn't displayed as a massive block. It makes the message harder and more daunting to read. Plus it goes against general writing rules of B/R.) Heck, you can even exchange email addresses with someone and email each other if you want to.

But B/R is much safer than Facebook.

It's easy to create a fake identity on Facebook. Just come up with a fake name, age, and occupation. You don't have to release any other information to the other members of Facebook if you choose not to. Granted, that's conceivably all you have to do break into the masses on B/R too.

But it's very difficult to meet new people on B/R just by getting an account.

Folks who use B/R use the site for one reason: to discuss sports. Hence the B/R slogan: "The Web's best destination for sports community, news, opinion, photos, and more". If you don't have something intelligent to say about sports, no one listens to you.

The sick people who scour Facebook looking for helpless or gullible (sometimes both) young people to take advantage of likely won't go to the trouble of coming up with enough logical things to say about sports that they can convince someone to meet in person. Plus, in my year on B/R, no one has ever suggested meeting in person. Nor have I ever mentioned it. The idea of meeting in person just isn't part of the B/R culture.

In addition, B/R's registered members are mostly college-aged or older. There may be a couple kids younger than 13 who use B/R regularly, but in general the youngest regular users of B/R are at least 13.

But again, the 13-17 age range is easily the smallest member demographic on B/R. There are no children for child predators to find here, making B/R an unattractive place to look for children in their eyes. But predators probably wouldn't even think to look for kids to take advantage of on a sports website.

Bleacher Report beats Facebook at its own game.