Rails Social Networking

Good day to all of you, thanks for keeping this platform evolving and
making the great sites we interact with daily on the web.

I have hand written the specs (drawings and all) of a social networking
site, and I wanted to ask you folks a few questions that could help me
nail down some cost figures and see if Rails is really the platform that
I'm going to go with. Eventually I may be turning back to this
community to find the efficient developers passionate about their work
who can turn these specifications into a working site.

My questions are:

!. Why do you think Rails is the best platform to design a Social
Networking site on?

2. If we were to use Zaadz/Gaia (a social networking site that I have
been informed was designed on Rails) as a model for the complexity of
the site design - what would the optimal number of programmers working
on this site be? How long would it take them? (www.zaadz.com) If
you have to sign up to view full options, it's pretty similar to
Myspace, however it has a points system similar to slashdot.

3. What percent of Zaadz could be made through Open Source options?

4. What would I expect to spend making a similar site if I wanted to go
with those individuals who wouldn't have to learn on the job, qualified
to create such pages?

I appreciate your assistance, and hope this opportunity piques your
curiosity.

Yeah, but this one is going to be different from all the other ones!
This one is going to be a facebook killer!

@ Ryan, Mike -- Why not keep your answers to technical solutions and
answers? One of the general benefits of the RoR community has been
the widespread help available from experts and insiders. We don't
need your editorializing.

1. Why Rails? As I mentioned above, generally I have found the RoR
community to be the most open and helpful. If you or your team gets
stuck, you'll likely get an answer within a day or two. Along the
lines of free answers... the extensive plugin system makes for quick
development of even the most complex sites with a tried and tested
framework. You get to spend more time on what makes your idea unique
and compelling and less time wondering how to get it done.

On the whole, I also find many, many more RoR developers who
completely love what they do. They are committed to writing the very
best code they can, testing to prove that it works, and so on. In
other communities I find a great deal more pragmatism that ends up
hurting the projects in the long run.

2. The basic framework for Zaadz/gaia (after a very brief look) does
not appear to be that complicated. You might need to spend more time
with the design folks than the developers. The design (ui/css/etc)
tends to be one of the things that really makes you stand out. As far
as how many and how long... that is difficult to answer. It really
depends on the level of competence you find in developers.

3. I see nothing there that is unique; it could all be imitated
through open source.

4. As with #2 it depends on the competence you find. You might be
better off searching for an individual or small group that is looking
for a joint venture, with the compensation being their part in
ownership of the final product. You're more likely to get someone's
complete attention... and not have to pay them!

AndyV wrote:

@ Ryan, Mike -- Why not keep your answers to technical solutions and
answers? One of the general benefits of the RoR community has been
the widespread help available from experts and insiders. We don't
need your editorializing.

Thanks Andy for your comment, I appreciate that. That's exactly why I
was looking for open source options, so that much of the design could be
collected from pre-existing sources, while the programmers are then free
to create the several features that create the niche market for the
site.

The reason I chose Zaadz as an option was because they seemed to have
many of the standard social networking features, plus a few extra- which
is exactly what my product will offer. This model then worked because
one could figure out the extra time necessary, based upon their site, to
create a new site with features above and beyond the normal social
networking.

4. As with #2 it depends on the competence you find. You might be
better off searching for an individual or small group that is looking
for a joint venture, with the compensation being their part in
ownership of the final product. You're more likely to get someone's
complete attention... and not have to pay them!

Andy, if you could dig a little deeper into that answer I'd appreciate
it. I would love to find the highly competent passionate group of
individuals to turn this into a reality as quickly as possible. How
would you recommend that one goes about finding this most effectively?

The option of offering equity to developers has always been on the
table, but a lot of times you find people dedicating more of their time
to something they can get fired over, sadly. Someone working in their
free time may not be able to dedicate the hours necessary to keep steady
on the project.

Do you really find that giving equity betters the chance of getting a
committed individual? What are industry standard %s for designing a
site on equity alone?

I go back to the 2nd question again, which is important for me to
understand - How long would it take to most efficiently create this
site, and how many people would it take working full time, if the
programmers are competent and motivated (whether it be a company
structure that I would hire a pre-existing team or otherwise). And
then, leading to the last question, do you have a bal
lpark figure of how much I will have to pay these competent individuals
or this team, if I were to not offer equity?

Thanks, the helpfulness of this community makes it obvious why Rails is
the best choice for designing our product.

@Ben -- If you want to find someone who can help you, I'd start with a
ruby or rails user group in the area. You probably want them close
enough that you can look them in the eye and gauge their interest.

I don't have any clue about industry standard %s for splitting on
equity positions. The idea is that you try to find someone who feels
as passionately about your venture as you do. If they are that
passionate you might find yourself with an equal partner in more ways
than one -- they may have ideas you've not considered and may be worth
an equal part in the success.

Hiring mercenaries, er, contractors, is not _bad_ it's just
expensive. You run the risk of the initial responses being true --
your app fails to beat facebook or myspace or gaia or the many others
that are flooding the space. Unfortunately if you're the only one
taking the risk you're also the one paying the funeral costs if things
don't take off. I know a few who might be willing to give you an
estimate.

Just a question: where's the rush? Is this a very time-limited
opportunity? If not (except for the hole that passion tends to create
when it burns) then maybe the "overtime" developer is the one you
want. You let things grow slowly and only put both feet on the floor
of your new venture's office when it's big enough to sustain itself.
Many shops are starting this way now because the VC money has gone
away in the wake of the dot-com busts.

Thanks for your warnings.

But, while my passion is strong and I have the opportunity to devote
full-time to this venture, it is best that I find someone else (or a
team) to do the same. If I am not willing to give this my devoted
attention and passion, then it would seem I was counting on failure, and
I'm not.

I am in the Maryland area, and am interested in taking estimates.

How does this process usually unfold? Do developers sign NDAs or
confidentiality agreements?

Thanks