July 29th, 2008

LJ fudge


This actually deserves a separate section, spun off from my previous Social Rules of LJ post. Friending is such a simple thing on a technical level, and such a horribly complex one on a social level.

Friends on LJ

Unlike sites that are pure social networking (collect your existing friends, define the hell out of your relationship to them, and maybe collect more friends), LiveJournal is a social media site, where the main technical focus is on your journal entries and letting (or not letting) people read them, or reading other people's journal entries. The "friends" label for the relationship could just as easily be called "watching/trusted". This means you can add anyone, and they can add you, regardless of whether or not you are actually really friends.

Real friends vs. LJ Friends
Rule number one: Just because you have added someone on LJ as a friend doesn't mean that you're actually their friend offline, or even on other websites.
Rule number two: Just because someone has added you as a friend on LJ doesn't mean that they're actually your friend anywhere other than in that little label on LJ that says that they list you as a friend.
Rule number three: Just because someone does not list you as a friend on LJ does not mean that they're not your friend in any other arbitrary context. It just means that for whatever reason, they either have not yet added you on LJ, or there is some portion of the multi-faceted happy funball that is LJ-friendship that they do not want. If speculating on this makes you crazy, either ask them point-blank, or try not to speculate so much.
Rule number four: Just because someone is your friend in some other context does not necessarily mean that you will or should add them as a friend on LJ. It may mean that you have to have an uncomfortable conversation on the topic of "why my LJ interests are accurate and the erotic fiction I write would probably disturb you very deeply so let's just avoid going there", or a slightly-less-awkward conversation about cat pictures and knitting minutiae.

Friends on LJ means: (Technical bits, cut for those who already have this down cold)
For purposes of this illustration, let's first say that you have added them, but they haven't added you.
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Friends on LJ doesn't mean: (More technical bits)
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Rules of the Road

Friending Rules and How to Find Them

The first thing to do when you're thinking of adding someone is go and check out first their profile, and then their journal. Collapse )

Reasonably Common Scenarios

People use their journals in all kinds of ways. They set their personal friending policies to complement the way they use their journal, which may or may not be the way you use your journal. Collapse )

Getting Friends

There's a Frequently Asked Questions entry on how to find people on LJ! Collapse )

Ways People Use Their Journals

This isn't all-inclusive, of course, but I think it provides a pretty good sampling. These are often mix-and-match, with a journal being used for a mix of scenarios, as sometimes it's simpler to use one journal for a variety of uses. Then, there are the people who keep their journals divided, and have one for each of several uses or projects. Collapse )

Ways People Use their Friends List

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Weird Scenarios

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Yeah, there's a lot more.

LJ friending is a complex, complex, and really interesting thing. Each of the topics I've mentioned could probably fill an essay. But if you see something I've missed completely, give me a shout in the comments.

Event Planning
People use LJ to plan events, issue invitations, and manage invitees, as well as write up the events afterwards.

Issue Tracking
While a community is no substitute for an actual issue tracking system for something that's large enough to need one, it can work as a makeshift one for a small organization, or a staging area if not everybody has access or there needs to be discussion before items are entered. LJ volunteers use communities this way a lot, in fact.