Gather.com strives to be an online community based on current interests and passions, unlike many online networks, where groups are organised around past experiences. People who went to school together 20 years ago might now be complete strangers, while those who share a hobby right now, will always find something to talk about.
That's the point of Gather - to get people to create real and lively networks, instead of having them focus on collecting 'friends' they don't really want to talk to.
Gather.com is a site for adults. In this case, it doesn't mean naughty pictures and dating ads, but rather the range and quality of discussed topics. Teenagers and young adults spend much of their online time on random and not very productive activities, aimed at creating their image and socialising, while older adults use the internet for specific reasons.
They rarely get sucked into the world of silly quizzes, but they search for specific, useful information, get advice from specialists, or get in touch with people with needed skills. And Gather is the right place to do all that.
The first step in Gather exploration is, of course, creating a profile. We can add a photo, a tagline, some personal information, and a list of affiliations. It is possible to reconnect with collegues from the past through this site, but it's not emphasized. An interesting functionality of the profile is the 'spotlight' showing the latest articles and publications of the profile owner.
Profiles also contain a 'ping' box, where the user can read messages from others, a mail box and a task reminder.
After completing the profile, we can visit the main page, and tweak the settings of the news feeds. This site has a lot of interesting options, which surprisingly have not been copied by Facebook. Gather allows the users to get a fully customized news feed, choose the friends, groups and topics they want to see, without getting the feed cluttered by unwanted messages. Those who want to take a look at the most popular discussions and news, can join chosen 'essential topics'.
The list of people the user knows is divides into 2 groups - family, friends and collegues, which is unusual, because most services let us have the 'friends' list', which leads to devaluation of the term 'friend'. Gather on the other hand, lets us keep the healthy division between the loved ones and the people we just met.
The site is well designed, with content boxes set in intuitive places. The user doesn't have to search for information, because everything seems to be exactly where we would expect it to be. Boxes are colored with soft gradients, which makes the site more lively, but doesnt strain the eyes, or make the information less visible.
The icons are in good taste and go well with their purpose. Most users would feel at home just after logging in, and would have to spend much time on figuring out where things are. Also, customization of the news feed is really fast, simple and obvious, so even people with little internet experience should not have problems with it.
Gather.com is a really good networking site for people who want to discuss specific topics, get in touch with like minded people, find advice, and share whatever they are passionate about. All without wasting time on getting lost in the contents of the site, taking part in time killing activities, or browsing through dozens of useless notifications, just to get to an interesting one.
Gather.com might be one of the best places for adult people who want to have a meaningful internet experience.