Plurk. Twitter. Plurk? Twitter? When Twitter is down (which is often) many denizens of the "life streaming" site rush to plurk to continue sharing news, blog posts, gossip, and general tidbits of interest.

The difference between the two is that Twitter doesn't put any pressure on your to tweet. Sure, your "followers" can "nudge" you to update, but it's not the headless-dog-staring-at-you-on-every-page pressure of plurk. If you haven't plurked, that may be lost on you. So let me explain.

Plurk is partially a karma-based site. You can raise your karma by inviting friends, gaining followers, plurking, and responding to other plurks. There's an icon of a dog that starts out headless on every page and as your karma increases your dog gets more body parts and accoutrements. Cute, right?

Except that the karma system feels too much like high school. Even the encouragement to meet other plurkers makes you feel like you're a loser: "Check out more interesting plurkers" it says. As if you're not interesting enough to check out.I know, it could be read as "more" as in "other" but when that headless dog is staring you in the face you just know it means "you aren't interesting". It's a popularity contest that rewards people with more social skills than I am apparently endowed with special emoticons (I admit I will miss the dancing banana) and a full bodied dog.

So the more questions you pose, and the more answers you give, the better your karma. But if you're like me, this begins to feel like a popularity contest. If I don't say the right things or ask the right questions or share the right sites, no one will respond to me. Not only does this keep my karma from rising but it actually decreases my karma.

Twitter doesn't judge me. It accepts me for who I am. It doesn't grade my tweets, it doesn't make fun of me with headless dogs for not being social enough. It doesn't urge me to become a social networking pimp by inviting my friends to plurk in order to increase my karma. It doesn't distinguish between "friends" and "fans", or make you feel bad that you don't have fans, you just have friends.

Plurk just makes me feel like an awkward teenage geek (again) and honestly, I prefer the simpler interface of Twitter and the quality of information and questions shared among those I choose to follow.

I guess I just prefer a social networking site that doesn't punish me for being me.

So so long, Plurk, and thanks for all the fish.

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