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I'm just curious for everyone who is developing social sites out there. When you build a method for connecting users, do you prefer to use a following-style system (follow me, you can see all of my information and I can just choose to follow you back), or instead do you choose to have a friends-style system (I have to allow you see all of my information on your homepage, even if it is open to the public, vise versa).

Why and under what circumstances do you use each? How do you manage privacy between your users? Have you use another way to connect your users?

Examples of what methods you've choose and how you manage the user's privacy (private by default vs open to the web) are awesome; it could show correlation and provides an actual look.

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migrated from Jan 14 '11 at 18:23

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Hasn't facebook and twitter pretty much defined the methods of approach? – Aaron McIver Jan 14 '11 at 19:09

For me these are the circles:

Only Me.

Me and my wife/lifelong partner.

Me and my family.

Me and my personal friends.

Me and my wife's friends.

Me and my wife's friends spouses and families.

Me and my son's friends.

Me and my current friends, old friends, childhood friends.


I'll just stuff on my website and let the world decide. If it doesn't get on my website, assume it's just for me and my wife.

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It depends on context.

As you've pointed out, "friending" implies a handshake, and "following" implies a subscription. If a handshake isn't required, then the subscription model makes more sense.

Usually when you implement a subscription model, you want your information to be public. You could make some information private in the sense that only followers see it. But that is about it, sans any context.

With the handshake, you have more options for privacy control. Just look at Facebook as a good example. The main categories I can think of are: everyone, friends, transitive friends, specific fiends, nobody.

There are different ways to sugar coat these two concepts, but in the end, whatever you do will boil down to one of them. In cases like Facebook, the "everyone" option really is just the subscription method.

Focus on what you want to accomplish, and then think about what would be the best way for your users to interact with in the scope of your application/idea.

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