By Kenneth Butler
Pinterest, the social network that lets users save and share images of things they love to digital pinboards, has taken the Web by storm. Since its launch in 2010, the new site has grown to about 17 million users per month. Earlier this year, it shoved its way to third place in socialnetworks behind Facebook and Twitter.
From decadent pastries to travel photos to tattoo art, Pinterest has a pinboard for anything you can imagine, but the service has one limitation: The majority of the social network’s audience is women. That split doesn’t really mean much, unless you’re a guy who wants to post pictures of bacon-burgers, sports photos and fast cars (not to mention avoid pins celebrating new boy band One Direction in poem form). That said, where’s a man’s man to go to pin up some pics, bro?
Luckily, Pinterest’s success has inspired three macho alternatives: DartItUp, Gentlemint and MANteresting. Each alternative is an online man cave of cool with its own personality and slant toward a particular breed of modern-day dude.
Here’s a Pinterest alternative so dude-friendly that to gain access you must take a Bro Compatibility Test. Don’t worry, this one-question quiz is a layup. Once it’s done, you’ll be darting — or pinning — images of motorcycles, Sports Illustrated pinups, ‘80s video game characters, manly Internet memes and anything else worthy of the least fair sex’s attention to a virtualdartboard, the equivalent of Pinterest’s pinboard.
Interface/design: While DartItUp’s clean-looking slate-gray and cobalt-blue interface sets a strong tone, the controls still need work. For instance, DartItUp doesn’t support making new dartboards as you post a new image. That lack of convenience forces eager darters to manually make a dartboard, then go back to the homepage and post a new image. It slows down using the service.
Community: Want to post some darts with your friends? Not here, buddy. Unlike Pinterest, DartItUp doesn’t connect to external socialnetworkssuch as Facebook or Twitter, nor does it hunt down any of your Gmail contacts who are currently darting. Considering there aren’t many users to begin with, it’s hard to find buddies. Plus, DartItUp is something of a ghost town. Dartboards are tiled with posts from the same names over and over. We know this is a man’s pinboard, but it feels like a sausage fest without enough sausage.
Addictiveness: You won’t find a pack of your friends on DartItUp, but you will find some hilarious, awesome posts. The male-minded goofery includes images of million-dollar locker rooms, soccer players taking kicks to the groin, food shots of bacon and epic BBQ spreads and way, way more.
We spent time browsing the Challenges and Debates sections, too. There, users can compete by throwing up darts to best match specified themes like “The Top 10 Bad-Ass Actors” or “Life or Death,” a visual gallery of the things man cannot live without (y’know, cheeseburgers, Captain America, college football, etc.). Unlike pee-wee league where everyone’s a winner, only the darts with the most likes, comments and re-darts gets the prize. The only downside: Users can’t create their own topics, so everyone posts to the same preset categories, which gets old fast.
Want to use Gentlemint? You’d better forget those posts about bacon and start sharing images of prosciutto, the finer pork. Accessible by invitation only, Gentlemint is filled with “mints,” or shared images, on a networkthat’s more upscale than DartItUp or MANteresting. Heck, when it comes to matters of taste, the service even outclasses some of the finer pins from Pinterest’s classy ladies.
Interface/design: Gentlemint’s cartoon logo is a gentleman with a thick, curvy mustache and a monocle. That the logo looks like the little Monopoly guy says a lot about the target audience. Judging by its all-white minimalist look, Gentlemint is designed for men who choose Stella over Bud Light, Macs over PCs, Gruyere over American.
Community: It’s important to note that while many posts on DartItUp, MANteresting and Pinterest simply highlight cool images, many of Gentlemint’s mints often point back to other websites with more information such as special instructions, unique recipes, articles worth reading or funny blog posts.
What kind of mints will you find on this service? We found a picture of Cafe Le Nemours near the Palais Royale in Paris that points to a recent entry in a travel blog and one titled “Smoke Your Own Sun-Dried Tomatoes” that leads to a recipe for just that.
We also noticed posts more common to the other man-focused socialnetworks, such as a poster of Ron Burgundy and characters from the movie “Anchorman” with the text “Stay Classy” and a racy-but-tasteful photo gallery of “The Hunger Games” lead actress Jennifer Lawrence.
Addictiveness: Gentlemint probably won’t hold the abbreviated attention of today’s modern man. Posts on the site are often esoteric and vague. Plus, clicking on most mints requires users to browse elsewhere along the Web. And without the ability to follow specific users, there’s no guarantee you’ll find anything of interest. Gentlemint is helpful if you want to keep a running list of awesome Internet treasures, but in terms of sharing all that’s awesome, this site isn’t the best.
On this Pinterest alternative, you “nail” images to “workbenches” instead of pinning them to boards, a metaphor that underpins the site’s working-stiff theme. The interface and especially the content reflect that bootstrap mentality, too, right down to the construction-style stenciling of the site’s banner.
Interface/design: If MANteresting is the image-pinner for hard-labor dudes who wear Timberland boots 9 to 5, that sweat-and-toil ethic isn’t reflected in its interface. All drab tones and steely grays, MANteresting.com is uglier than Cee-Lo Green in a G-string. The main page is a layout of staggered tiles, just like Pinterest. But where Pinterest offers an elegant five-column layout, MANteresting has a lamer three-column take.
Clicking on a nailed image takes you to a light box with a larger version of the image that’s surrounded by uneven buttons for adding a comment or renailing an image to your work bench. Worse yet, some of the buttons aren’t even buttons, they’re just hyperlinks. The end result feels junky and confusing.
Community: You can signupfor MANteresting with login details from Facebook or Twitter, but, oddly enough, you can’t leverage either social network to make bro-friends on the site. Instead, you must hunt-and-peck through hundreds of nails, following the bro-ddies and workbenches of your choice. You can post nails to Twitter, but there’s no direct Facebook integration. So if you want to share posts with friends and family on Facebook, fuhgedaboutit.
Of course, there’s tons of content to browse. Nails range from black-and-white photos of General Patton to women’s volleyball players to “Walking Dead” memes to throwing knives, hawk axes and guns. There are so many guns. Spear guns, stun guns, shot guns, pug guns, a gun mounted beneath a car steering wheel and even a two-foot sword attached to the hilt of a handgun. If these sound like your kind of dudes, you are a very MANteresting person indeed.
Addictiveness: Despite the somewhat lackluster design, it’s easy to get caught in MANteresting’s net. Not only are images of awesome meatball subs and swank alcoholic beverages fun to scroll through, you can also vote “Bump It” or “Shame It” on each nail as well. Nails with the most (Fist) Bumps are gathered under a Top Voted section. Shamed posts are gathered on — what else? — the Wall of Shame.
So which manly Pinterest alternative should you use? It depends. Each service has its own following. MANteresting is for blue-collar, rugged types. DartItUp is good for college-minded, sports-loving bracket-finishers, and Gentlemint is the image-sharer for stylish men who respect craft beer and boat shoes. Though each network tightly matches — and appeals to — the collective personality of its users, none offers a user experience as robust as their progenitor.
Like a dusty construction worker, MANteresting’s interface looks shabby, and since Gentlemint doesn’t allow users to follow one another, the service mimics snobbish hipsters. If we could pick one winner, it’s DartItUp. That site’s look is fun, and despite the unpolished controls, it was simple to find new Dartboards to follow.
Plan B: Man up on Pinterest
Huddle up, men, because here’s another option: How about we just use Pinterest? The original image-sharer has millions of users, finds your friends via Gmail or Facebook (though not Twitter) and it’s dead-easy to use. So what if 80 percent of users post images of Parisian fashions, flowery home decor and cupcakes? If we all rush in, we can take back our half of the socialnetwork. After all, there’s room for all of us.
More from Laptop: