@simonssmith I think @ralf is a scumbag for making user search when the designers of the service didn't, but he is probably an inevitable scumbag, and from his own posts, clearly thinks he is serving a need. And more people probably agree with him than me, so maybe I am the scumbag for wanting a place where I try to write interesting things that don't spread.
Search, in social networks, has the same flattening effect that maps have on geography, which is that it destroys any advantage of being a local. Almost every sublime experience I have had on social media in the last year has been on services where the designers intentionally _made things hard.
I can't tell you the pleasure generated by seeing new people drop by http://chat.meatspac.es and ask 'How do you all know each others names? Where's the user list?' and seeing everybody just point to their heads. No user list. No database. No profiles. No logins. People there just remember each other's names, after introducing themselves to each other, one at a time. There is zero efficiency gain over real world introductions.
That's what it's like (was like) here: I would never ever in a million years have found @lilimist or @lallaeffulgent in any sorting mechanism that made sense. The idea that part of my week now includes seeing photos and posts from @glenvision, a photographer in a state I have only ever driven through, is an odd accident, but the sort of odd accident that can't survive automation. ("Find more users like @glenvision?" Hell no, find more users that are different from me _and from @glenvision.)
This all goes into my Master Theory Of Teh Social Immerwebs, which is minimally positive use as a strange attractor. Any system that rewards its creators for growth will tend to steer users to the last increment of positive use, which is to say towards the last possible interaction the service can extract from that user before they unsubscribe in disgust.
So one answer to 'how do you get started around here?' is 'follow anybody, then look at their followers, lather, rinse, repeat.' Ello would be a better place if new users were given a friend feed populated by a dozen random users who posted in the last week than 'Follow These Popular People!" because oh my god, really? And people who don't have the patience for that might not like the service.
But that's easy for me to say, I don't owe anybody a return on a $5M investment.
Pioneers always create environments inimical to pioneers. I am remembering jwz's complaint about the moment Netscape went from being staffed by people who wanted to make a great organization to people who merely wanted to join one.