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Rastin Mehr

Rastin Mehr

December 15 2010

Will there be a Private Messaging for Anahita?

Many have been asking this question from us. The answer is:

Yes there will be the ability to post a message on a person's profile where only the Author and the message's new Owner(s) can see it. We will be implementing that for the upcoming releases.

I don't think we will be developing any social apps that mimics the behaviour of a desktop mail application. It is quite possible to do that in Anahita, however it is not something that we are interested in. That shouldn't stop you from doing it if that is what you really want.

We think in the age of real-time communication and the fact that many users are dropping traditional email to methods such as sms, tweets, etc. the messaging on social web will be going through a lot of changes and there is little merit in investing in the tradition methods of communication. Even facebook is now rethinking their messaging infrastructure: http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/

#anahita #social #development

Jon Martin
Jon Martin
December 15 2010 Permalink
So this'll work kind of like a basic inbox system? Or will these be posted on the wall?

I agree this whole thing is evolving, and we should be at the forefront of that.
Rastin Mehr
Rastin Mehr
December 15 2010 Permalink
It will be a story item on the owner's story feed just like a public message, except that only the author and the owner can see it.

By owner I mean the receiver of the message.
Jon Martin
Jon Martin
December 15 2010 Permalink
cool, that works. I think as long as there is a unique CSS handle to identify it, it'll be possible to have a nice visual workflow for that.

have you guys considered the ability to tag people in posts? most importantly, it would be ideal for messages in groups. for example I work in a large community that runs a soccer club on a volunteer basis, with thousands of "owners. If I post a message in a group thread, it'd be great if I could tag the finance guy (e.g. @John Turner) and the marketing guys (@Danny Dyer @Rob Wilson). These don't have to be Facebook-style inline tags but could be done via an ajax popup or something if it's easier.

This way they'd be alerted to the presence of my new thread without them having to be subscribed to everything.

This also puts a new dimension on the concept of messaging, because it allows people to engage directly with others whilst keeping the integrity of the original message.

Thoughts?
Rastin Mehr
Rastin Mehr
December 15 2010 Permalink
yes we can add a CSS class like .an-se-story-item-private or something like that to skin it differently. We could possibly even have a view that only displays the private messages. There are all things we need to experiment with.

The idea is that rather than copying what's out there, we better solve it the Anahita way :)
Jon Martin
Jon Martin
December 15 2010 Permalink
I like the idea of being able to filter the view to PMs only.

What do you think about the tagging idea?
Rastin Mehr
Rastin Mehr
December 15 2010 Permalink
"What do you think about the tagging idea?"

Sure, let's talk about it in a new topic, shall we :)
Jon Martin
Jon Martin
December 15 2010 Permalink
let's! :D
Bernd
December 15 2010 Permalink
@Rastin @Julio

I like this idea, too.

However, I have experienced that the streams of the "Story Updates" are rapidly growing. I think that an integration of private messages within these streams may be quite confusing. Additionally, it will be easy to forget to mark a message as private while clicking the "post" button.

So, I think it would be great if one would sort these messages out to a separate location, i.e. private whiteboard.

Wouldn't it be a solution to spent an additional "tab" - called "Conversations" - e.g. right after the "Relationship" tab on every user's profile page.

So, when I would like to post a private message to a user I would have to visit the user's profile page, clicking on the conversation tab and posting the message like any other message here. The messages would be shown as a normal "Story Update" stream on these "Conversaton" whiteboards.

The user will be informed that I posted a message on his "Conversation" whiteboard and will be directed to his profile. The stream would be shown on each Conversation whiteboard of all participating conversion members. E.g. if we would discuss this issue privately and not in this group, we would have the same stream in our profile's Conversion tabs which would be visible only by Rastin, Julio and me.

What do you think?

BR
Rastin Mehr
Rastin Mehr
December 15 2010 Permalink
There are many ways to implement private messaging which is why we have decided not to included it part of the social engine because different services (project management, business networking, or a dating site) could be using different styles of private messaging. Therefore it is better if it is developed as a social app.

The focus of this specific implementation for Anahita is a more real time and quick message exchange between 2 actor nodes (Person to Person, Person to Group, etc ). The story items are packets of information/messages exchanged across the nodes. Allowing some of those message to become private provides the functionality that we would like to have.

"These private postings should support the ability to attach links and/or digital assets, like pictures, documents"

Yes in the upcoming releases we will be able to attach assets to the story nodes.
I am quite fascinated by the shifts in conceptualized structure to actor-node, etc.

I can really see your point in not investing time in a private message system that mimics methods that are quickly becoming outdated - I agree.

I also know that communities like mine rely heavily on private communication, and they often want it kept within the confines of the community (e.g. not in their personal email). They want a history of their communication with any one person easily available all in one place, something that social engines like Anihata seem naturally built for and that current private message systems struggle to provide.

I think something like a view that shows just the conversations between the two people would be excellent. Facebook has kind of done this, but the messages and story stream are still separate (messages versus "view friendship". It sounds like Anihata could make this even simpler.

I think a combination of skinning a private post slightly differently and providing a way to view of all communication between yourself and another actor would accommodate this need beautifully. The "make private" setting needs to be a clearly visible one-click step in posting a message, and you've got yourself an easy to use, easy to find private message system.
@Bethany your guess is right. Private Messaging in Anahita the way I see it will be handled by the story nodes. Some communications can be made private between 2 or multiple people only. We should be able to filter by 2 or multiple people two. Facebook has already switched to that model. Twitter already had it.

Currently the PM feature is an experiment on Anahita and we will be gradually improving it as we move forward.
Myles Orme
Myles Orme
June 27 2011 Permalink
Hi Rastin,

I'm right behind you on the 'not replicating email' thing. Although many of the users love it (for just that reason)

I think the conversation you've been having with Bethany outlines a really welcome solution, and I am sorry that I can't really offer much to enhance - you clearly have it covered -

instead I have to come in with the blunt question: What time-frame do you have on this?

Please forgive me, it is an essential feature for us, nothing close to 'nice-to-have' but a show-stopper.
Myles Orme
Myles Orme
June 27 2011 Permalink
By the way... Since I am feeling a little devilish - don't your arguments against PM-as-email also apply to Forums?

I mean, I'm comfortable on them because they are sooo yesterday - what are they doing here?
Andy Nash
Andy Nash
June 27 2011 Permalink
Agree with the above -a quick thought on PMs - I've found that they currently have a tendancy to get lost in the 'stream' of the story feed. I'm fairly sure that I would end up accidentally ignoring some eventually.

Being able to filter your story feed by:

PMs only
PMs between me and Bob and/or Dave
Any interaction between me and Bob/Dave
Photos/New Topics etc only
Updates from specific Groups

would certainly help. Limitless possibilities there to suit any viewer/network, especially if a customisable logic existed to allow the site owner to manage the various filters according to what is required... Is that broadly what you have in mind Rastin?

With PMs though, what if you don't think to filter them because you are not aware you have received one? Some form of 'read/unread' feature, or notifications (on screen in addition to email as some will change settings and not receive email notifications) would get around that perhaps?
I am in the same boat as Myles with the private conversations - it's a must-have for my community. I can't move to anything that doesn't provide with equal or better privacy options than they currently have with CB. They don't have to look the same, obviously, but they do have to exist in some form.

As for forums, I am ALL for a change in the "typical" format. I really like the format I'm starting to see more and more of "discussions," but don't really like when they are confined to groups. My community needs a one-size-fits-all place to go talk about the things that are concerning them and see what other people are talking about. A lot of it is questions/answer format, but in discussion form. Having some relevant way of categorizing the discussions is also important, whether it be tags or categories, or whatever.

I think an important element in any of these development discussions is to remember that a great number of social network users are still in the 30+ generation, and need a transition plan from the old ways to the new ones. I think eventually we will be in a more starburst format than outline, but this interim period needs to put a little bit of outlining on the starburst to help people acclimate.
Myles Orme
Myles Orme
June 27 2011 Permalink
@Bethany I love the idea of starburst discussions - could we map them visually like this does!:

http://www.visualthesaurus.com

which uses
http://www.thinkmap.com
Myles Orme
Myles Orme
June 27 2011 Permalink
@Andy - I also find the constant streams difficult to interpret, particularly on this site - even within groups - I'm used to nice ordered lists, paged, with clicking to read more and viewing the comments.

Just everything in one big stream - and if is really big, how do you know what you've missed - how many pages worth?

The implication is that you have to be there to participate - and that is how the students are using facebook - they conduct their social life on it in real time, and since they are all at school together they don't miss anything... other than the lessons that is!
Jon Martin
Jon Martin
June 27 2011 Permalink
Hmmm... by "nice ordered lists, paged, with clicking to read more and viewing the comments", do you mean this?

http://www.anahitapolis.com/component/discussions/board/2786/anahita-social-app-development
On a theoretical level - the human brain is built to think is visual patterns. This is why mind mapping (see Xmind for a good application) is SO effective. Recall of details from a mind map is much better than from ordered lists, and this improves with continued use of mind mapping techniques. (For science folks, here's a good study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12028392)

I think the best example I can think of off the top of my head of presenting information this way is the Amazon Kindle or iBooks stores. You go to a major category that you like, say Top Sellers, and then start browsing. You pick a book, and then are offered ten other books like it that you might be interested in. You browse through those, and each time get more books you might like. You may find books that you really, really like but never would have found buried in the ordered lists of categories. A similar structure is employed with news outlets and related stories/feeds.

This structure of related topics/discussions/searches is becoming more and more relevant. Although we are habituated as consumers to the ordered list/category method, the mind mad is a much more natural function for our brains. I can see this becoming the mainstay in the future, especially with a whole generation that is now growing up having ALWAYS had infinite social networking at their fingertips 24/7.

The key is to just make sure there is some sort of tag so that us old folks can still find an ordered list when we need one :-)
Andy Nash
Andy Nash
June 27 2011 Permalink
@Myles I think you misunderstood me slightly - I was mainly talking about dealing with the difficulty of keeping track of PMs if they are in the story feed, rather than not being keen on streams per se.

I don't think people really mind missing the fact that someone changed their avatar, joined a group, or enjoyed going to the shops this morning - that's just the online equivalent of 'keeping up with the latest gossip' and you can dip in and out at will. I don't think anyone, student or anyone else, actually keeps up with every single update on Facebook - they just get the gist of things by taking a look occasionally, and looking more closely at a particular friend's page if they want to check something from last week.

However, a specific message between two people should not be lost in a stream of more banal things. The same would be true of an invitation to an Event, being made Admin of a Group, or perhaps being assigned a Task.

If PMs (and Event invitations etc in future) are to stay in the stream rather than have their own interface (a goal I support if it can be made practical), then that difficulty needs to be addressed, but I think it can be.

All it would take is the ability to find important items in the story feed quickly (filters - proactive) and to be nudged (a notification system - reactive) until you confirm you have dealt with (read, responded, postponed, ignored etc.) the PM, invitation or whatever. And it appears that those features are indeed being thought about, so I'm not worried :-)

p.s. the bonus is that if you have filters for important things you might as well allow people to use them to sift through the less important things too - however, scrap that last example in my list earlier - of course updates from specific groups can be found on the group profile page so a filter for them isn't necessary... Don't know what I was thinking ;-)

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