Part 3 in a 4 Part Series: Your 100-Item Guide to the Green Web
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Green is not a spectator sport. It’s all about getting involved. Forums may not be as flashy as the latest social network, but their value and long-term popularity remains. Coupled with the advent of social media (or the slightly older term many prefer, social bookmarking), opportunities to connect with like-minded people online – whether for business, education, or simply doing good deeds – are everywhere. The challenge with forums is that while they are often strong and vibrant, they do not always have the exposure of blogs or prominent social news sites. But the dedicated and curious greenie can glean a lot from participation in niche environmental forums. And voting and sharing on green social news sites is a terrific way to fill out your green social web experience. This list of social media sites and forums will hopefully help to guide the way.
Green Social Media: News, Bookmarking and Community
“It’s Digg for green.” Hugg is Treehugger’s own Digg-like green social news site. Launched in 2006, as of 2007 there were some 6,000 registered users. Though it has yet to break through into mainstream use (Hugg could use some hugs), it is quite active and is a great place to get exposure for green blogs as many green sites will link to posts that make the front page of Hugg. Treehugger posts weekly popularity roundups from Hugg, as well.
Care2 is actually a huge online community focused not only on green but also good causes, ethical organizations, fair trade, and other charitable issues. It’s been online since 1998, way before the boom of “Web 2.0″. With a high pagerank and Alexa rank and millions of visitors, Care2 is an excellent and fairly comprehensive destination for learning, sharing, discussing and voting. The interface used to be pretty old-school but a new-media-friendly design complete with Digg-like voting features has really spruced it up.
The brand-new ecourls.com (still in beta) was created by top green bloggers and social media contributers to promote exceptionally high quality green news and information. You can visit the site and sign up to meet other green bloggers, social media users and find some excellent content. Though just starting, so far the site looks very promising, with an emphasis on content over flashy design or cluttered features.
MindBodyGreen is a fun social news site that focuses on wellness, physical health, and eco news. Popular with both men and women, this solid little site is growing nicely and features an interesting mix of health and green information. The message is clear: humans beings and their environment are interrelated. The content is always fresh and the tone of submissions tends to be very positive and somewhat light, which could be a nice alternative for those turned off by more inflammatory discussion found on sites like Digg or Reddit.
“Climate change is not a spectator sport” says Celsias, and the online environmental community is based around actions, not words. Not a news submission site per se but still a social site. Members participate in green projects, track progress, and share results. A strong, diverse community and useful features make this a worthwhile stop on your exploration of the green web. Big on action, low on chatter – there’s something very refreshing about that.
Though Digg is a social news destination for virtually every type of content imaginable, it has a strong contingent of top users who are passionate about green and determined to bring green into the mainstream. Its green subsection in Science is dynamic and thriving, with breaking green news and exciting eco tech and design being submitted from all over the web. Digg’s front page has increasingly featured green news in 2008, and even if you aren’t interested in the tech-tinged heart of Digg, checking out the green section is always rewarding.
This year Reddit has seen a big jump in popular environmental content, and the Reddit redesign also has helped to give the Environment section more prominence. True to Reddit’s characteristic alien customization du jour, the environment subreddit displays clever, funny and compelling new graphics every day. (Reddit will also give props to green sites like Treehugger from time to time in the logo display.) If you’re looking to share and find green content, Reddit is definitely worth a visit. Be prepared for intelligent, but sometimes snarky debate and fickle voting – that’s just Reddit.
Green Forums: Projects, Actions, Information and Discussion
Jimmy Wales is at it again. Though technically a reference site and not really a social bookmarking site or forum, this relatively new green wiki destination gets inclusion on the list because it is inherently a community – members and editors keep the content dynamic in a way that no standard reference site ever could. Only 651 articles so far, but an active little community and plenty of resources to explore.
Change.org is a clear, simple activist forum with an interesting format: you type the change you want to see in the world and the site guides you to a relevant project, organization or issue. Or choose from the most common changes on the main page. The coolest part about Change is that you can create your own organization (they’re called “Changes”) and get others in the community involved. A great place to connect with people and nonprofits that care about the future of the world and its inhabitants.
If competition gets your blood pumping, this is the place for you. Rather than supporting and connecting with other green minded people, you compete with them. It’s a fun, original concept and though it’s new seems to have a good base of users participating. Compete on teams with those in your real-world community or online pals against other teams on the site. Will you join the Royal Acorns? Looks like they’re the underdogs.
Make Me Sustainable: carbon wise, that is. This site, still in beta, helps members create personalized carbon calculators, among many other features. With support for greening your friends, company, organization and more.
The environmental law section of the Topix forums is a hotbed of debate. A recent thread on Sarah Palin quickly amassed over 1,100 comments within a short period of time; there are more than 1,600 threads. A lively and timely forum for green issues focused on politics, news and law.
Not to be missed is the lively forum on organic living. Though the name implies food only, related threads on organic shopping, health, wellness and green issues make this a valuable place to participate.
It’s pretty straightforward: you join, you rate. This is a well-crafted and easy to use green forum for environmentally-friendly building product ratings; like Consumer Reports for green building. Whether you are starting from scratch or retro-fitting your current pad this is a good resource.
No question: Treehugger is the baddest daddy online when it comes to green. With its own social news network (Hugg) and vibrant, well-populated forums, there’s no stopping this green juggernaut. You’ll find a passionate yet accessible community in these forums, so don’t miss out. Over 4,000 green threads and growing.
Home to many of the best green blogs online, this green network also has forums. Not as populous or deep as Treehugger but definitely worth participation, particularly if you feel overwhelmed by the bigger forums. Connect with others and discuss all kinds of green issues at Green Options.
This organization is seriously credible. With all the greenwash and meaningless certifications, a stamp of approval from the Co-Op is difficult and valuable for businesses seeking to promote themselves as green. Simply joining for the educational value is more than worth it.
This Ning thing is thriving. Ning – basically a community platform for creating your own social network – is a hit and grows daily. If you read blogs like Triple Pundit, work in green business, or simply care about the future bottom line, then Responsible World Citizen’s “sustainable conscious business community” is for you.
Planet Green, brought to you by Discovery and tightly partnered with Treehugger, has launched new forums. They aren’t very active yet but the content on Planet Green is high-quality and the membership so far at the forums is a good crowd. Try it out.
Green Building Talk is an excellent green building community (there are several, but this is one of the best). Like Rate It Green, you can learn or share or both. The site says “Welcome to GreenBuildingTalk – the place to share, ask and learn about green building products and methods.”
The envirolink forum is a bit slower-paced than larger forums like Treehugger or Topix, but its members seem passionate and concerned. The emphasis is on how green issues impact consumers and health topics are popular.
An older green blog with an attached forum, About My Planet has been a favorite of in-the-know greenies for years. The forums are rich with a great depth and breadth of discussion, so be sure to check it out. Especially good for those interested in tech, design, science and animals.
Architecture fans and geeks alike will not want to miss this seriously smart forum for true buffs and industry experts. Featuring “news and resources for sustainable design in architecture, development and construction,” this site also also shares great op-eds from thought leaders and top builders and designers.
The Arch design community features over a dozen well-populated and active architecture and design forums, including green. A must-stop for anyone into technical design, engineering, green architecture and more.
Purely green discussions ranging from tech to energy to politics to health can be found at this thoughtful and calm forum. Sincere members weigh in from all over the world on a number of environmental topics. A recent thread asks: “Can you be a capitalist and environmentalist at the same time?”
A sincere attempt at fair representation has been made with this list. Some forums may have been inadvertently left out due to their lack of prominent social media exposure, so please feel free to share in the comments if you know of one that deserves attention.