Social networks are more fleeting than the careers of talent show contestants, these days. But few have a back story quite like this. Welcome to the currency-smuggling, investor-swindling, feature-theiving world of Shufflin...
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the whole Shufflin saga is its founder, Wayne Lineker. Wazza is the younger brother – no, seriously – of nice-guy-pun-machine Gary, and originally wanted to call the project WaynesWorld.com, before changing to Flaveit.com and then finally settling on the equally crap Shufflin.com.
The website has taken well over two years to launch, raking in over £900,000 from investors, at £18,000-a-pop, lured in by Wayne's promise to make them all millionaires. During this time, he's sacked his chief exec, refused refunds to investors with cold feet and admitted legal costs almost left the company facing an application to wind up through the High Court.
Best known for running the Lineker's chain of bars in some of the world's most undesirable locations – Zante, Tenerife, Ibiza – Wayne was also sentenced to a couple of years at Her Majesty's pleasure in 2006, for smuggling pesetas and escudos worth £220,000 into Britain, avoiding taxes of around £90,000. Mark Zuckerberg, he ain't.
So, you sign-up – name, email, password, the usual stuff – and then you're greeted with this convoluted car crash of language:
Today has finally arrived! A great big welcome to all the shufflers out there old and new! We hope you enjoy the future of social networking and join us on this roller coaster as we open up a whole new dimension! Shufflin.com will be coming to you live in your home, your phone and your street!
Thank you for climbing aboard, now lets ride this monstor!!!!!!!!!!
Instead, we're saluted with this carnival of slack grammar, shit syntax and child-like spelling. This would never happen on Faceback.
Maybe I'm just a massive square, but surely, having spent considerable time and other people's money creating “the future of social networking”, you'd want a moderately pithy welcome message. Instead, it's the above carnival of slack grammar, shit syntax and child-like spelling. This would never happen on Faceback.
After signing in, you're taken to the dashboard page – imagine Facebook on a Commodore 64 – where you can create a profile which “lets you easily share anything. Post text, photos, links, music, and videos or whatever you can think of.”
The first thing you notice on your home page is that you immediately have 11 friend requests. These range from Wayne Lineker himself – in an avatar reminiscent of a picture from a hairdresser's shop window, in the 80s, in Gateshead; to Mr Shuffle Help Agent, who looks needlessly nefarious – all shadowy and bespectacled; and an assortment of various other reprehensible creatures you'd expect to find awash with vodka Redbulls, in your local high-street kebab house at four in the morning.
If you accept one of these friend requests – and why wouldn't you – you find out a little bit more about each person. Wayne, for example, appears to be a 101-year-old, level 5 heterosexual. He, at the time of writing, has 1335 friends and 1145 photos – mostly of people making W-signs with their hands. There's also two other options: 'Tickle', which I did, and 'Send a message', which I also did: “Dear Waz, you look exactly like your Gaz in your profile picture... Well, if he hadn't made it as a professional footballer, had to turn tricks as a stripper and had head-shots taken in some backstreet photographer's attached to an arcade. Party on, Wayne.” He hasn't replied.
Shufflin can achieve the same wealth of photos it took Facebook years to accumulate in an instant. But no one will want to look at them. Why? Because they'll be outed as the filthy voyeur they are if they do.
Usefully, Shufflin gives you the option to import all of your photo albums from Facebook. Stupidly, other users can see exactly when and how many times you've viewed their profile. Its most appealing feature – the ability to transfer your Facebook photos – is therefore made redundant by its ill-thought-out privacy settings. People like to stalk people on social networks – particularly their photos. It's sad but true. Shufflin could garner the same wealth of photos it took Facebook years to accumulate in an instant. But no one will want to look at them. Why? Because if they do, they'll be outed as the filthy voyeur they are.
Other features include: Photos, obviously; Activities, needlessly; Check This Out – it's unclear what this is for; Groups – waste of time; and, inexplicably, the option to add your CV – send prospective employers to the place where you store photos of yourself planking, of course.
Instead of just liking something; you can dislike, stick your middle finger up, pull a moonie and say “whatever”. Each of these images look like those little icons from old Nokia phones, before they had colour screens.
Basically, Shufflin has adopted a throw-as-much-shit-as-humanly-possible-in-the-hope-something-will-stick approach to social networking: multiple profiles, like Google Plus' Circles feature; a Facebook-like interface – familiar but substandard; and the option to create your own website – like Blogger or Wordpress – and maximise your Google search results. Simple things, made complicated, unattractive and clunky.
So, why should you join Shufflin? Over to Wayne and his team of Wildean wordsmiths:
We are mobile, beautiful, private and professional. Get your business, private, and main profile now and be anything and do everything.
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