When we started rebuilding the Collectivus platform, two things on the to-do list were:

  • Integrate and connect with popular social and geosocial services (Facebook, foursquare, Gowalla, & Twitter)
  • Save everyone the pain of having to import the same friends to yet another app

You put the two together and we came up with this idea: Automatically make and connect people on Collectivus who are already connected to each other on the social and geosocial services we're already integrated with.

On paper: Genius. In practice, as many of you know: Not so much.

First, there were the issues of keeping the connections between Collectivus accounts and the other services. Friends were also appearing and disappearing, seemingly at random. We think we've mostly got those bugs worked out, except Gowalla, which is partially out of our control and would require a blog post all its own.

Second, people were discovering each other on Collectivus and had no direct means of connecting with each other. In plain English: No "Add as Friend" button.

A third issue that came up: Twitter has an asynchronous social graph. In less geeky terms, this means that I can follow you and you don't have to follow me back. This led to confusion and questions about how Collectivus defined a "friend." Additionally, other services are adopting this model for some or all of their connections. A good example of this is foursquare, where certain user accounts (like Collectivus) can be followed and not friended.

wtf-thingieSo basically, our testers sent us back a "WTF?" Thingie of their own, asking for an easier way to give Thingies to others. We listened and have now updated the social connections on Collectivus to use a follower/following model instead of a friend one. Here's how it now works:

people-following

New People Listings

  • We still try to automagically connect you to people you're already connected to on other services. If you're curious, we check based on the order you connected them. So, for example, if you are connected to someone on both Twitter and Facebook and connect Collectivus to Twitter before Facebook, that person will be a Twitter connection.
  • You can follow any person in the system. People listings and profiles now have a button to follow (or unfollow). If you follow or unfollow, they become a Collectivus follower and any connection on other services is ignored.
  • You can see who is following you as well in a new tab in the people section. We figured it's fair for you to see who's got you on speed-dial to send you Thingies.
people-nav

New People Navigation

Now, while we hope we have the kinks worked out for people connections, please continue to send us feedback if you see something odd.

Next, we move onto other features and feedback notes from our early adopters. You should also expect at least one new Thingie to pop-up this week.

Happy connecting!

P.S.: We recommend following Collectivus on Collectivus.