These are some things that make Rakontu uniquely useful to small groups with common goals.
In Rakontu, storytellers answer emotionally meaningful questions, about stories and about themselves, which can be used to search for relevant stories for a topic or issue. Patterns in stories and answers can reveal things about the group that lead to useful insights. For example, if you find out that the only people who told stories that made them feel "happy" were dog owners who play chess, you might surmise something from that. Tags, ratings, links and flags also help to surround stories with meaningful and useful information.
This emphasis on complex metadata and linkages for finding stories and patterns is the biggest difference between Rakontu and the many web sites that say "tell us your story" but keep the stories in untidy heaps, so that visitors have no option but to read one story after another, even if there are hundreds.
In Rakontu, people can answer questions about the stories other people told, as well as comment, tag, and link stories; so a Rakontu comes to contain much more than just stories. People can say "that's not what happened" and tell another story, which links back to the original. Or they can say "that reminds me of another story" and create another link. Through their activities people build a collective, multi-perspective view on a situation or issue that is complex, revealing, and insightful.
People share more than stories in a Rakontu: they can also share their observations about stories (patterns) and their own collections of stories (collages). These can come either from individual observation or can be fed back into the system as the result of a group sensemaking exercise (such as are described in the book Working with Stories). By working with their collected stories people can make sense of things together and come to new understandings that benefit the whole group.
Any small group can customize not only the look of their Rakontu but also what it means. For example, groups can create sets of tags that help them find the stories they most need for particular goals, like advocating change or helping people with problems. They can also choose what constitutes activity and what activities lead to what outcomes. (And of course, they can change what their Rakontu looks like too.)
Rakontu emphasizes connections between on-line members, who use the web site frequently, and off-line members who don't use the internet. Through a liaison, people who would otherwise be excluded from the group can tell stories, answer questions, comment on stories, make observations, rate stories, and in general do almost everything on-line members can.
In Rakontu, storytellers can optionally attribute stories to fictional characters. This safety valve helps people talk about sensitive topics and admit embarassing mistakes with near anonymity. Such a device can be enormously helpful when people want to help each other and build something useful together, but don't want to reveal or admit too much. Characters can be customized to the group's context and purpose.
Rakontus have managers (who make the decisions about how the Rakontu looks and works), but there are also helping roles which allow for more fluid contribution to the group. Curators keep the story museum in order, fill in gaps, flag inappropriate content and spam, and clean up links and tags. Guides lead people around the story museum, answer questions, watch over interactions, and add helpful resources. Because helping roles can be taken up or dropped by any member at any time, they represent an intermediate level of commitment to the group. This gives members a way to shift their contributions fluidly and gives the group an alternative to the situation where a few put-upon people take care of everything.
Rakontu has been written to be easily translatable to any language. Once someone has taken the time to translate several language-specific files, the entire system can work in any language.