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A friend of mine wants to create his own niche social network for a specific target audience.

I want to give my friend an idea about how practical this is on the software side. What kind of work would go into this? Is this a practical undertaking?

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closed as too broad by gnat, GlenH7, durron597, Ixrec, MichaelT Aug 15 at 19:17

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Have you tried Googling "open source social network" to see what you can find? –  Bernard Feb 23 '12 at 19:34
I found lovdbyless.com, but a framework is just the very start. I am looking for the questions that need to be answered before he starts off on this venture. –  F Oak Feb 23 '12 at 19:38
What kind of platform are you wanting to use? Microsoft or LAMP (or other Linux/Apache platform)? –  jfrankcarr Feb 23 '12 at 19:53
Hi F Oak, asking for framework recommendations is off-topic here (especially since this is a very broad and likely impractical project for one person to do), but your question about its feasibility should be good and on-topic. –  user8 Feb 23 '12 at 19:59
I had a friend that created the basic functionality of Facebook in a week because someone said he couldn't do it in a week. Its easily possible to do, it takes a while though to get something that is user-friendly though. –  Ryathal Feb 23 '12 at 20:27

3 Answers 3

Why would your friend not just set up whatever he wants on Ning ? (Wikipedia page also good). It'd let him get straight on with the (IMHO far more difficult) problem of building the community without all that bothersome coding. If it's a runaway success you can worry about migrating off Ning onto something which scales bigger or lets you implement more custom features.

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I think you are thinking on a much too larger scale.

First of all, you should not count on the fact that if you create a social network it will be successful. Google is the most famous company on the internet yet their social network is not so popular.

Second of all it takes a team of skilled programmers to create quality websites such as Facebook. We're talking multiple languages, HTML, PHP, Javascript, more. We're talking website design artists, software engineers, you name it. It just doesn't go that easy. The more work is involved the greater the success.

You should consider taking on a smaller scale project, or if you wish to undertake such a huge challenge, you would need:

  • Money
  • Some friends that can program
  • Documentation and lots of time.

You can take Bernard's suggestion and look for some open source local networks to see what you can use, but as I mentioned this will be an enormous challenge even for a team of skilled workers.

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Google's social network just started out... how can you say it's no successful? –  Dynamic Mar 27 '12 at 18:52

It doesn't matter.

When Facebook started, it was a small project used by a small amount of people. At this state, it didn't matter if it was full of spaghetti code, if there was a framework, a clean separation of concerns, a solid infrastructure, a high quality hardware, etc.

Today, Facebook is used by lots and lots of people. And still, it doesn't matter, since no matter what they used meanwhile as framework or language, they need, at their actual scale, to reinvent the wheel. If they were using a framework, they would abandon it and write their own, for their specific needs. They were using PHP, now they are writing their own implementation because they have specific performance/load needs ordinary PHP can't respond to.

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+1, such huge projects require colossal ammounts of effort. –  Bugster Feb 23 '12 at 19:40
+1: Before thinking about scale, think about users. If no one will use it, scalability doesn't matter. If people are using it, then sell advertising to pay programmers to rewrite it to be scalable. –  S.Lott Feb 23 '12 at 19:47
Relevant: HipHop PHP -> C++ Source Translator written by Facebook so they could produce native code and reduce the number of servers they'd have to run. One project among others Facebook started in their search for scaling. –  birryree Feb 23 '12 at 20:07
Facebook also use the Varnish HTML accelerator. There are articles about this in Communications of the ACM. (And if you don't know what that is, and want to be in the software profession, then you should find out). –  quickly_now Jul 14 '13 at 12:25

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