Mystampworld: social networking for stamp collectors
It has been a while since I reviewed a website here, but I recently heard from Rod T., who asked if I would consider taking a look at a current project of his, mystampworld (not to be confused with MyStampWorld.com, a different site). “Membership is free,” Rod wrote. “Everything is free!” How could I say no to free?
My first stop, naturally, was the signup page, where I chose a username and password and completed other required information. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you do not have to give your real name if you don’t want to—a pleasant nod for those trying to maintain a modicum of privacy. You also have the option of creating an account and using your Facebook or Google credentials to sign in if you don’t want to have to remember another username and password.
After you complete the signup process, you’re apparently supposed to receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your account creation. For some reason, that e-mail never arrived for me—not even after I used the site’s functionality to resend it. I was able to log in, but could not access the “members only” content. That presented a bit of a speed bump, but I sent a message to Rod and he was able to manually activate my account for me.
At first glance, mystampword looks like a sort of Facebook for stamp collectors. When you log in, you have a news feed, notifications about new activity since the last time you visited, and so forth. There are some distinguishing features that make it more than just a Facebook clone, however.
One feature in particular really stands out: mystampworld gives you your own web store. I tested this by listing a stamp for sale, and the process itself really doesn’t seem that much different than creating fixed price listings on eBay or Delcampe. Here’s the difference: mystampworld doesn’t take a commission when you sell something. This is a big win in my book, particularly if you’re trying to sell lower value items.
(In addition to giving you the ability to list stamps individually, mystampworld offers an import tool that purportedly helps you list multiple items at once. I haven’t tried that myself, but it looks like a nice idea.)
Mystampworld offers instructions on how to set up your PayPal account so that users can pay for their stamps without any direct intervention from you, but due to how I use PayPal, I wasn’t able to test this.
Other nice features include a classifieds section (Craigslist for stamps, anyone?) and a forum where you can swap stories and tips with other members. You can also join groups, loose bands of collectors who share your philatelic interests.
Additional areas of the site include photo albums where you can share images of items in your collection, and blogs. I’m not overly impressed with either of these offerings, but then again, I have this blog and website where I can share images; I’m already sort of invested in this endeavor. If you’re just getting started, you may very well find mystampworld’s blog and photo features sufficient.
Another interesting twist involves the concept of rewards. For each action you perform on mystampworld (logging in, replying to a forum post, uploading a picture), you receive a set number of points. Once you’ve accumulated a certain number of points, you have the opportunity to claim a reward such as stamps or a book.
These rewards obviously depend on the generosity of mystampworld’s sponsors, and I wouldn’t sign up with the sole purpose being earning points so you can get a “free” reward. You probably have better ways than chasing points to use your time. Still, it’s a nice concept, and if you get involved on the site, you may discover you’ve earned free stuff without really thinking about it.
In general, I think mystampworld has a good thing going. The personalized stores, in particular, really caught my attention, and it’s nice to see an activity feed about stamps rather than Farmville updates and posts about what that person you met one time ate for breakfast this morning and so forth.
There are, of course, some areas where mystampworld has some room for improvement. There seems to be a little inconsistency in layout from one page to the next. The help section, in particular, made me ask, “Am I still on the same site?” That’s probably all but inevitable when you’re trying to do so many different things. As long as mystampworld continues to be actively developed, minor issues like that will no doubt get worked out.
In my opinion, the biggest hurdle mystampworld faces is getting more collectors signed up and actively involved in using the site. I know from personal experience that getting people involved is easier said than done, but it can happen, and I wish Rod all the best with his project.
Related: me on mystampworld