On creating a social network

Features-discourse chart


After stumbling upon Subreply my interest was piqued - do we still have a place for "alternative" social networks? How hard is it creating such a social network? What are the considerations when creating such a piece of software?

The solution was "simple" - create a social network of my own and try to incorporate what I myself would like to see in such a network.


Now, I'm no stranger to PHP having created quite a few small projects until now, but this was totally different. Here I would have to create something that multiple people can use simultaneously at least in relative comfort and security. Prior to starting, I actually got in touch with Lucian Marin the creator of Subreply hoping to open a discourse and learn from his experience and ideas of creating a "different" social network, alas, he didn't seem interested in sharing his knowledge.

The first step was to roughly understand a bunch of whats: 1. What do I want to create? 2. What do I want it to look like? 3. What requirements does it have?

The general guidelines

The point of this entire endeavour was not necessarily to come up with something revolutionary and never-before-seen, but rather to get some experience creating a piece of software of this complexity.

The main guidelines (I guess you can call them) or guiding principles of this project were: - Focus on discourse. This was most likely the main point of this entire project. This means no images, no likes, shares or anything of that kind. - Keep it simple code-wise. Simple code is easy to understand and maintain. - Keep it simple feature-wise. It would be much more beneficial to create a handful of stable and useful features rather than a bunch of half-assed ones.

I took some inspiration from things of the past: forums, shoutboxes, IRC and so on.