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What All Social Networks Got Wrong!!

Posted on: August 5th, 2011 by sathish View Comments

You all know what a social network is right? So, lets skip the first paragraph about what are social networks and how awesome they are.

The Story is short. I was thinking about some random things yesterday. Suddenly, realized All Social Networks are handling Relationships Wrong. I’ll explain, All social Networks have groups like friends, acquaintances etc. Lets say you go to Golf Club and Strip Club, and you have acquaintances in both places, you’d put them both in the same group. But, Such a group without context of what it means to us, is really not doing any good.


I’ve had Friends Grouped Like that forever, maybe, circled like that for a month. That is No good. Your acquaintance group or friend group are never going to be any good.

So, the solution?

Acquaintance, Friends, and Best Friends are not group of people, Its the level of social value you assign to each person in context of their role. May be this is not the best way to explain it. So, This is my napkin, where I sketched this.

So, According to this perspective, Once We’ve Added a person to a Group say, Golf Club and another person to Strip Club. We Assign each of them Level of Relationship from barely know to Best Friend, Depending on the standards of Golf Club and Strip Club Separately (Damn! I don’t really want my site to rank for the keyword strip club).

If you already don’t see, how this is useful to organize friends. If you organize a super secret important project, then you can invite all best friends from work. when you share your vacation photos, you can share it with, family, good friends and above in personal group, Best friends and above from work and so on.

Notice, Every Group (context of how user knows them) has different trust levels. User can share things with particular group of people, who meet particular trust level.

So this is the idea. Here is a mockup I’ve done.

I really don’t feel like building a social network from scratch, so, if you think it is useful, take it and run with it. Thanks for taking your time to read one of my random thought.

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  • http://twitter.com/kevinsimper Kevin Simper

    I think you are totally right, but all that can you do with the groups. 

    Make a group for close friends, that you share pictures with.

    Make a group for people you talk to often :) and so on..

    Else you have to use both you idea and group them like bike friends, too complicated i think.

  • Sathish

    I thought about “people you talk to often” also, In my opinion that should be automatic. Simply because people I often talk to today are not the same people I talked with few months ago.

    If users were to make manual decisions about it. It will be wrong after a few months.

  • http://www.vexeddigital.com/2011/08/05/the-changing-face-of-corporate-facebook/ The Changing Face of Corporate Facebook « V E X E D

    [...] How Social Networks Should Build Relationships [...]

  • Alain Collins

    There’s so much more that is fundamentally wrong with social networks than you present.

    Ah, for a piece of all this bubble money floating around right now….

  • http://bradhubbard.net calciphus

    I think people don’t actually grade users exclusively based on trust. I group a lot of my friends based on activities and, well, social circles. Many users fall into multiple groups, and the folks I’m closest to fall into the most groups.

    The reason for this is simple – why do you share something on a social network? Is it to brag about your accomplishments, or to form a connection with people who share common interests? If you’re just polluting the streams of your friends with uninteresting drivel, they’ll generally begin ignoring it. 

    When I post, I consider it to be an imposition on those that are reading. They’re giving up time and attention to see what I have to say. If I post to all my friends who like to play video games how I’m going rock climbing tomorrow, it has very little interest to them. However, to my friends who go climbing – it might be a great chance to meet up.

    Point being – I don’t rank-order my friends based on how much I trust them with my life, and I think most people don’t have such a single-criteria for who should see a particular post. Strictly limiting a social network’s sharing policies to such a graded scale is a severe limitation.

    Both Google+ and Facebook SUPPORT this activity though, if you wanted to set up your groups/circles in this way, you certainly can.

  • Sathish

    Thanks for taking your time for this elaborate reply. My point was to limit groups to activities as you’ve pointed out. Like Video Games and Climbing.

    But, inside each group there could be friends in different levels. I’m sure each group has few great friends and not so great ones.

  • http://twitter.com/Jestercomplex Jay

    I think there’s two sides to it: 1. how you want to distribute information and 2. how you want to receive info. I think this is why FB groups doesn’t work. People don’t want to create a separate groups for things, they just want a way to filter their input & output. If I had an inside joke to all the people I went to play soccer with last Sunday, I don’t want to create a group just to talk to them about it. 

    I think It’s taking privacy and relevance to the next level: only publish feeds to those who would find the info useful. 

  • http://www.discursive.com Tim O’Brien

    Right…. so I’m going to sit down in front a computer an assign a “friendship weight” to all of my friends.  Then, every time I type something into the Social Network, I’m going to think  ”What level of friend needs to know about my daily flatulence habits?”

    This seems like even more complexity to turn off the majority of the non-technical audience.

  • Jonathan Locke

    There’s one even to the left of “seen a few times”. In social networks, there’s “a friend of a friend” (that you’ve never seen).

  • Sathish

    haha.. true.. but that list will be soooo long than your friends list..

  • Kamesh Kompella

    I think the process of creating circles is not only overly cumbersome, it is also unnatural.  When you hear something funny,  do you decide on a criterion to determine whom you share with? You, mor likely, determine on the fly whom to let in on the joke. You probably cannot even articulate why you decided to form a ad-hoc circle. That is why the circles crap is just that, crap. Most people don’t have time to sort people into various overlapping buckets and maintain them over time. And why should they? What do they gain out of all these work?

    A better way to figure out relationships is to do what gmail does today. Observe users, determine circles (after translating the observations into some conditions in another space), and suggest other users to share with. The conditions may translate into something like ‘my-friend-on-a-full-moon-day’ or ‘friend-when-pollen-content-is-high’ or some such thing. Point is, who cares what determines the circle, so long it is the same circle the user agrees with?

    This kind of formalism also has the advantage of building dynamic circles. People change with time. If your jokes are not funny anymore and the reader in the circle is not even reading them anymore, the software can simply drop him.

    Flip side, the software can then manipulate whom you share stuff with and make you a marketing tool.

    -Kamesh

  • Mreider

    I would like to organize my friends by weight, gender, ethnicity, religion, and marital status. That way I will know who I am offending before I make a careless comment about fat Buddhist divorced men.

    Overcomplication is the software engineer’s bette noire.

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