Meetup is an interesting idea. It’s a social site based around groups of folks with common interests that want to schedule meetings. Of course the meetings could be face2face or online.
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Site has all the features that you want, probably.
It looks like facebook in a lot of ways, except that there are no advertisers, and no games to waste your time. The template is customizable to some extent with many styles to choose from and some customization beyond that.
Way too expensive. 3 months for $45 or 6 months for $60. I pay $70/year for my unlimited/unlimited hosting service.
Ning is as little as $2.95 a month / $20/year for essentially the same service.
These sites are different from blogs and facebook since they allow members to self-sign up, and then contribute to the group discussion. Facebook is more about shared individual discussions. Facebook is apparently doing something they call groups, but it’s not clear that they segregate group content. Ning and Meetup segregate content based on your interest in a particular topic.
Just my opinion,