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Can a Twitter Alternative Survive on Politics Alone?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 19 2012

A Conservative British member of Parliament who has recently had some trouble with Internet and Twitter trolls has co-founded a new social network to discuss politics.

Conservative MP Louise Mensch is working with Luke Bozier, who worked for Tony Blair as head of digital communications at the headquarters of the Labour Party and and founded the local government utility, on the new website, "menshn."

The website, "formed around a simple idea - talk, on topic," will focus for now on the U.S. election. Plans to add a U.K. site ahead of the summer Olympics, and to expand to other topics, are also in the works.

Mensch told the Guardian that the site's name is not inspired by her name, but is instead a play "on the word 'mention.' She said the website would eventually seek venture capital funding since it has "fairly large commercial applications."

"With all the great political forums out there, we noticed that there was no place to talk about politics live," Bozier says on the website. "Whereas Twitter is not organised around topics, on menshn you have a permanent place to go online to talk about the things you're most interested in. menshn quite simply caters for passions, and the best ideas are often the most simple ones."

"On menshn political junkies like me can talk live to their peers about every poll, every swing state, every twist and turn of the world's most enthralling political contest," Mensch says on the site. "You can also donate to your favoured candidate right in-room."

Currently, "42 menshners" are talking about the 2012 election, 28 are talking about the Obama campaign and 31 are talking about the Romney campaign. Users can post messages up to 180 characters as well as links to websites and videos.

Menshn assigns new users 100 random followers from the start in their area of interest, and assigns users to follow another 100 accounts, the rules explain.

Users can also rate comments, the rules explain. "The top 5% of best-rated menshners are always seen in a community's stream (although you can block them like anyone else). menshn is designed to reward intelligent chat. You know - we talk on topic."

The site also says that most comments, or "menshns," are not kept indefinitely, but will age off the site after a week "and not stick around like Mount Rushmore," except at the site owners' discretion for comments that have been reported or requested by legal authorities.