Hi Ravelry people! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It’s clear you are all very passionate, which bodes well for the long-term future of Ravelry.
A number of you have argued that Ravelry is more than just a social network. I agree, and I think this an important development in the business model for these kinds of sites. Flickr was the first “social networking” site that I saw that offered useful features beyond the social network. This is a great model. Few people want to dive into a new community without first spending some time learning the rules of the group. What Flickr does is give you a reason to return to the site before getting involved in the social aspects. So you start of using Flickr just to store your photos and then perhaps over time find your way onto the various groups. In my case I never make use of the social features of Flickr, but Flickr still benefits from my custom. In comparison sites like Friendster give you nothing to do on the site beyond the social interaction, and consequentially I never visit the site.
Where I see Ravelry going beyond Flickr is in acting as an intermediary connecting buyers and sellers in the knitting and crochet community. While Flickr offers some commercial services, it is a very asymmetric model with only a few big sellers. It seems that Ravelry is pursuing a much more egalitarian model, where any community member can easily engage in either end of the transaction. Ravelry is essentially the market maker, and you just have to look at the London Stock Exchange or NASDAQ to see how important this function is. What makes the Internet wonderful is that it allows someone to make a market (and a living) in something as informal and fun as knitting!