Wooxie Holds Twitter's Tweets to the Fire

New Twitter competitor offers interest categories, photo hosting, and 155 characters

A Chi-based Web site with a Star Wars-esque name is gunning for micro-blogging behemouth Twitter

Wooxie, in an apparent bid to out-feature its super-popular predecessor, lets users create 155-character posts, as compared to Twitter's 140.

The other big difference: instead of following any user willy-nilly, Wooxie prompts users to choose up to 15 categories (from over 35) that interest them most.

"Many social networks, including Twitter, allow anyone to follow anyone, and this has caused many users confusion," said Jeff Knize, founder and CEO of Wooxie. "Even with locked updates, users are compelled to accept and follow users only to find that users are either of a different interest or post strong sales pages to them. We want to reduce this."

Admittedly, my own Twitter account makes me seem more popular than I actually am, as the good majority of my 300+ followers are spam accounts.

Categories on Wooxie include Animals & Pets, Family, Music, and Video Games. I decided to go with Computers, Electronics, Government & Politics, Internet, Lifestyle, Music, Social Media, and Society & Culture.

After a user verifies his/her account via e-mail, Wooxie suggests other similar users to follow. So if you're a "foodie," you can find people who are actually interested in your latest chicken lorraine recipe.

Similar to Twitter, Wooxie allows users to upload a photo to their profile and change the website's background and theme.

But Wooxie also comes complete with its own photo album, whereas Twitter relies on third-party websites (such as twitpic and yfrog) to host photos.

Also, when every character counts, URL shortening services become very important, reducing long website addresses into tiny ones. Again, Twitter relies on external sites like bit.ly, tr.im, and Snipurl, but Wooxie provides its own URL shortener. However, considering every "shortened" link from Wooxie begins with "http://url.wooxie.com/", I didn't find it to be very short.

Speaking of characters though, Wooxie believes its 155 character posting limit is a competitive advantage against Twitter's 140 limit.

"[A]fter testing, we find that 155 characters in posts is a sweet spot for completing a users' thought. Sure it's not perfect. ... But it works!" said Knize.

So, will category-specific user accounts, 155 characters per post, and a photo gallery be enough to lure the millions of Twitter's visitors away?

Doubt it. Twitter has a worldwide popularity that will be difficult to overcome.

But Knize promises there are more features in store for Wooxie.

For now, I'll stick around Wooxie to see where it goes. But considering I'm accustomed to following nearly 150 people on Twitter, Wooxie feels incredibly quiet in comparison.

It's similar to being the first person to show up for a party. There's no one to talk to, and there's a bit of awkwardness in waiting for other people to show up, if they show up at all. There may be more decorations here at Wooxie, but the party's already going strong next door at Twitter and doesn't show any signs of letting up soon.

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, checks Twitter and Facebook too often for his own good.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
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