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You can't see this discussion on TribeNet if you aren't a member, so I'm copying it here just in case. (CategoryCopyrightRisk)

PhilJones : who is my friend?

I admit I'm a social networking newbie. I never joined Friendster, I joined Ryze but didn't "get" it. Tribe is the first social networking site I've taken seriously. And I've invited some of my "real world" friends to join.

But recently a couple of people I've met here have invited me to be their friends. Suddenly I don't know what to do. I think these people are all interesting and I'm sure I'd be happy to have them as friends. If they were webloggers, I'd probably add them to my blogroll.

Zbigniew says that he thinks of Tribe friends as basically links to interesting people. And under that criterion I'd certainly accept friendship with all the people who've invited me.

But ... would I write them a reference for a job or an appartment the way I would for my IRL friends? I don't "know" them in a way for which I'd be suitable for that.

So what does Tribe friendship mean for other people here? Is it "sounds an interesting person" while you represent a more intimate knowledge by writing a testimonial? Is it like people you've met online and got to know through long correspondance? Is it only for people you know IRL?

A couple of supplimentary questions. Should Tribe support different types of links for different circumstances?

Does a social network like Tribe need a common understanding and expectation of friendship? Or can such a service work perfectly well with different people having widely different interpretations of what it means?


Most excellent point, Phil. I've been wishing for some finer delineations to help me establish layers within my circles. When I first started, I would only add people to my network that I could vouch for having met in person. That didn't last long, however.

So I tried to establish layers in other ways. I did ask the folks who run this if a field could be added for "Notes" that you make, private to you, to remind you of things about that person, like their birthday, what you gave them last year, what foods they don't like (for future business lunches), etc. That could not attach to the "card" or "record" for that person in the system because it would be private to you.

Then further, to establish the layers of trust in my concentric circles, I created some invisible and private groups. These ARE only people I had met in person and could vouch for, at least pretty much. Some I have known online only, but for at least 6 years (esp those from other countries too far away for us to meet).

Then I built those concentric circles out from those invisible private tribes. But it would be nice to have some other address book functions maybe we are used to, besides a Notes field, like a categories field, to say set some categories for contacts like Business, Family, Friend, Hottie, whatever. These should be customizable, and you shouldn't have to invite people for them to be in your category.

In other words, I worry about bothering some very close friends who are in the group of people I work with professionally, but are also people who are part of my social life as well, to bug them, hey join this tribe, now join that tribe, etc.

This business, for me, is about selectivity, not about being a "hub" with everybody in the system listed as my "friend." in life, I'm not a person with oodles of acquaintances. I have a few well-chosen friends in each of the main venues where I spend my time. I've lived a lot of places, so I have more of those close and trusted folks because there would be 2 or 3 from each place I've lived.

So when I encounter folks collecting hundreds of "friends" like chips, like toasters in a bank promotion giveaway, I wonder what it means, as a strategy, since it is not one I'm that interested in employing.


To clarify my view.

I believe everybody here knows "The Strenght of Weak Ties". I would be a defficiency in the model of social network if it did not take into account weak ties. Since the software here directly supports only one type of link - the friend link we have no choice but use it for weak ties.

What's more it is the weak ties that by their quantity need software automatic management. The others can be managed individually.

The practical way I see is to use the friend network here in two modes. First is to filter incoming messages to only those that can be interesting. The other is to evaluate those messages that I really found interesting by going along the nodes of the link and individually asking for a recomendation. This should work in the case of both job offer as well as car buying.


I totally agree about finer delineations because otherwise Friend becomes more and more meaningless. Categorizing them could work e.g. "Ex" "work friend" "best friend" but that would force a lot of honesty that might cross the TMI line. Perhaps it becomes a sort of "Tribal Connection" and then you define that additionally, even just with a write in, like "years known" "Relationship" as in "work" "social" "friend of a friend" "bump into each other" The idea being that I think people need a way to judge how close you are to these folks, especially if they are writing and reading testimonials and trying to judge the validity of them.

I'm connected in meatspace to a lot of people who I don't distrust, a few who I trust implicitly, and a very few I don't know about. Some I could talk about in terms of how they are to date, some only in terms of how they are to work with. Somehow this finely grained distinction needs to be conveyed and the word friend clearly defined.

If you take it on a root level there's a big difference between a fellow member of a tribe you're in and a friend. One you like and trust, the other you may or may not like at all, but trust to be on your side if things get rough. Interesting stuff.

See also :