This blog (and most of my blogs, really) run on Typepad. Typepad has a "social networking" aspect to it - it allows people to "follow" you. In the last couple of months they ran into a massive spam follow problem seemingly as part of their free microblog service. They have now put in some functionality for Tyepapd users to take control of who they want following them which is great, if not a little late in coming.
I was thinking about how this all could be prevented in the first place and I came across this piece of functionality on Goodreads (my social network of choice for books and reading) - the Challenge Question. So simple, yet so effective.
This is what it looks like in your profile settings:
Now, LinkedIn does something like this when you ask to make a network connection. But it pre-populates with standard "We should connect on LinkedIn" which 97.6% of the people who send me a request don't bother to edit. So I like GoodRead's approach where they give you an example Challenge Question, but leave you to actually fill it in.
For an additional level of security (in case you are reading classified documents and then posting about it on a social network), you can also specify a one-word Challenge Answer. When you activate this option, it looks like this:
I really like how the example prompts change as this Challenge and Response is intended to be much more personal.
This kind of functionality would really help with spam reduction but would also create stronger "weak ties" that are key to maintaining online social network relationships. What would really be great is if this data were then stored and visible in your view of your friend's profile on that particular social network (so, when Ben (the example above) looks at my profile on Goodreads, he would see how I answered his challenge question). That would go a long way towards maintaining those weak ties.
I look my friends on Facebook and while I have made a half-hearted attempt to organize them into lists (conference buddy, Squidoo lensmaster, person I met at a Tweetup once who is best friends with at least 5 of my friends), it's ineffective and there are still several people who I am just not 100% sure who they are.
LinkedIn in does something very smart in that they allow you to add notes and tags to an individual's profile.
I don't use services like Sales Force, or any real contact management system, but I imagine that they have similar kinds of note/tag mechanisms.
Has anyone seen other social network spam filters/meta info collecting like the above that they particularly like? Or, do you have any tips on how you organize your friends/contacts on the various services? This kind of meta content around our online social lives seems to be a cruicial component that isn't widely available yet, but should be.