M (matthew_c) wrote in lj_biz,

The Concept of "Friends"

In the February Status Report it was mentioned that discussion concerning the concept of "friends lists" would be going on in this and other communities. However, the most recent discussion I could find was this one that dates back to January 23rd.

I, as many other people, have noticed a sharp increase in complaints regarding journals being used to add other people (serial adding) and journals created to annoy people (troll journals).

This being a common complaint, I think it is more than appropriate that we begin discussing this in terms of LiveJournal policy.

To do so, we have to grant two differing perspectives on this issue. There are those who have no problem with this phenomona, while there are others who are annoyed by it and fed up with it.

However, arguing over which of those positions is right or wrong will hardly move us towards any sort of viable solution to many members' complaints. The fact of the matter is that some people don't like it. What we should be considering, however, is whether a change in how livejournal works is warranted and if so, how that change should be effected.

There has been talk of splitting up the concept of "friends" to where a person can maintain a list of journals they read (essentially 'bookmarks' of other journals) and a seperate list of people they want to be able to have access to their own protected entries.

I think this is a splendid idea, however I also think it leaves one questioned unanswered: How are people that do not wish to be added by serial adders going to benefit by this? Won't it still be possible for people to add others into their "friend" category for malicious reasons? Or is my understanding of the proposed changes in the "friends system" flawed?

There has been growing support for an idea that I like to call "optional prior friending authorization." In this a system that is already set up for communities that requires people added into communities to confirm this action be set in place for people wishing to add other users to their "friends list." What would happen is when someone is added as a "friend" to another user's personal journal and email will be sent to them asking them if this is ok. It could even be accompanied by a short personal message such as "we have mutual interests" or "we went to the same HS" and so forth. Since it could be written as an optional requirement, not everyone would have to choose to do this. For people wanting others to still be able to add them however they wish, they could do so.

I think that this is a viable option because it gives people the ability to choose what level of protection they want on their friends list (or in other words, it keeps both sides happy). I also think it in a way formalizes the concept of "friending" and in many ways will serve both as a means by which someone could introduce themselves when adding someone as a friend and also cut down on people attempting to abuse the system. Again, I can't stress enough that this would have to be an optional setting for those who choose to use it.

I didn't post this to the suggestion community because I am curious to see what sort of feedback this will get from a policy standpoint. I see no problems with it, but perhaps some of you out there will have a compelling argument against it.

It can also be seen from a business standpoint because many of the people complaining about this are also paying members. Will adding this option give people more reasons to remain paying members? I know of at least a couple people that are so flustered over this that they are not going to renew their membership. I know I might not be so quick to renew membership if journals with names such as "nigger_lovers" (which was around) added me and nothing was done about the system in which that sort of abuse was allowed to even be created.

Anyway, thoughts? Comments?

EDIT: I yield to Brad up above. Sounds like we do have some options to discuss now.

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