Last updated by Mmeal Comments (18)

The actual "core-default" Elgg friendship uses the same model as Twitter: the relation is not reciprocal and it's not required to confirm a friend request. It is really "following" rather than "friendship". The interesting thing is that there are plugins to change it to the reciprocal/confirmation model of Facebook/LinkedIn.

When you friend someone you can then see their activity in your friends section of the river.  You can only see activity that they marked as available for public, logged in users, friends (if they added you as a friend), or a custom friend collection.

Friedship is one of the options you can choose to restrict access to the areas with a customizable access level, such as blogs, groups, pages, activity and so on.


  • What does the friendship implicate? Why it is not required to be reciprocally confirmed? What differences between the case that I make a user my friend and he makes it too, and the other case that I make him friend but he doesn't?

  • Elgg uses the same model as Twitter - really following rather than friendship. I don't know why the original developers called it "friends". There are plugins to change it to the reciprocal/confirmation model  of Facebook/LinkedIn.

  • If would be better for the platform if reciprocal friendship was a part of core... May be??

  • The following relationship is more appropriate for certain contexts - eg. a corporate network, educational institutions, etc.  Basically there's use cases for both, so it's either use reciprocal friendship in core, and try to remove it via plugins when it's not needed, use the following model in core, and add recipocity via a plugin (current method), or support both in core with some option to enable/disable each.  The more features that are pushed from external plugins to core increases code overhead and maintenance though - which slows further development.

  • I tried to synthesize your comments.

    So, when I make someone my friend (unrequited) can I always see his activity in my river, or he can exclude me by privacy settings?

  • Yes, although I don't know why the model was chosen though - that doesn't need to be in documentation.

    Yes, when you friend someone you can then see their activity in your friends section of the river.  You can only see activity that they marked as available for public, logged in users, friends (if they added you as a friend), or a custom friend collection


  • Ok, updated. check for mistakes or missing info!

  • For the record, I'd like to change the core language to "follow." I'll echo the sentiment that I don't know why the original devs made that decision, but I think we should update the language to match the behavior as it's been defined today by other social networks.

  • I think we should work a lot the way to create friends/contacts lists, it is really unusable right now. We can insipre in google's circles.

  • @all Brett is right that this should must change to Add to circle

  • Circles? May be 'followers' and 'following'

  • @sem - have you seen my extendafriend plugin?  It really simplifies the friends/collections interface:

  • what i feel is, an option must be there to select the behavior of user friendship in the settings page(Configure Tools)

    user can select his friendship/relationship behavior as "Allow Users to Follow" or "Conform Friendship Request."

    if Allow users to follow is selected then elgg's default friendship should work and if Conform Friendship Request is selected reciprocal thing should work..

    what u all say?

  • In the beginning I had found this 'Friend'/'Friend of' concepts a bit hard to understand. It just did not make sense. Only when I learned they were as 'Following'/'Followers', then it was easy.

    In Elgg, it is so easy and neat to get Facebook/LinkedIn style 'Friends', thanks to FriendRequest plugin (

    The thing is, there is a need for BOTH 'Friends' (facebook, LinkedIn style) and 'Following'/'Followers'.

    I feel that as a concept, 'Friends' (facebook, LinkedIn style) is more intimate than 'Following'/'Followers'. I need friends but I should be able to follow the public activities of some others without getting intimate with them... There are also advantages of one-wayness of 'Following'/'Followers'.

    Could this be the reason why Facebook has introduced 'Subscriptions' in addition to 'Friends'?

  • I think you all are right. Let's try to unify all this!

    What do we want when we follow someone? Basically we want to KNOW something about him. And in making him a friend? Basically we want to SHARE something with him (as İşöğünçi says, it's something more intimate).

    So, what does Elgg actually offer? We start knowing something with the "Add friend" button that, as Brett suggests, should be changed to "Follow". On the other hand, when we create something, we decide how to share it choosing one option from the Access level settings.

    So, how can we make this following and sharing processes unified, well-ordered and intuitive?

    Imagine you have two categories: “followers” and “friends” (so you have to add the “followers” option to the access levels): everyone can decide to follow someone else, but to become friends there must be a request and then a confirmation. In addition to this, when you accept a friend request you can place that user in one of your friend collections (or better “circles” as Evan suggests): Matt made a good work on this!

    Now think of the Wire and the Blog. We can imagine the wire as a bit more intimate channel set by default to friends access. Here circulate thoughts, news and sharings among friends, like facebook: the wire should be part of the main page, the activity page. Then there's the Blog, my personal editing platform, where I post my creativity, my talents and my interests. The Blog can be by default oriented to followers (obviously the default access settings can be changed).

    A complete social network that makes me able to enjoy friendship (the wire), study or work in groups (files, pages and groups), have my personal talent window to the world (blog), and so on!

  • Mmeal brings a good point that there are two main use cases for establishing a connection to a user: 1) You are interested in sharing content with that user and 2) you are interested in seeing that user's activity. I'm not convinced followers and friends are the best terms to use to describe the distinction, though. Right now Elgg doesn't make that distinction--a friend is a friend (is a follower).

  • Found this page as I searched for the possibility to use both types, friends and followers. Has this discussion been settled somehow? Is it possible today to have both at the same time on a site. If not what would it take to build it in a plugin? Anyone have any bright ideas?