Glossary of Social Networking Terms

Every community has its own language. We've tried to make all our words and phrases very understandable but a few may still be unfamiliar. Here's a cheat sheet to help you decipher what people are talking about.

Avatar: A small image found at the top of your page. It's usually a photo of yourself but sometimes it's an image of something else you like. It also appears next to your comments when you post on someone else's guest book or in a group journal.

Beliefnet Home Page: While "My Home Page" takes you to your personal start page, the "Beliefnet Home Page" takes you to the front page of There, hopefully, you'll find many other tools, articles, galleries and videos to meet your spiritual needs. If not, return to your personal page!

Blocking: If someone annoying keeps sending notes to your inbox, you can block him or her. You also have control over who posts to your guest book, and can decide whether the comments area on your personal journal is open to everyone, just to friends, or to no one.

Blog: We use the term "journal" but it's really the same thing. (The reason we prefer journal is that blog implies it's for public consumption, and we've found that some folks want to use journals as tools of private contemplation, too).

Calendar: The calendar, appearing as a tool on group pages, serves two functions. It provides an easy way to list and update events, holidays or notable dates coming up. It also has a slick invigation tool that helps you organize events, keeping track of who has RSVPd and who hasn't.

Care Circle: That's our name for when someone uses the Group Tool to create an area to help honor or assist a sick person by providing aid, prayers and updates.

Charity Badge: We call it a "Donation Tool" but you may hear some people refer to it as a Charity Badge. The reason we changed the name is we've set it up so that both charities and houses of worship can use it to raise money.

Donation Tool: A tool that lets you raise money for a charity or house of worship. You can post it on your personal or group page and when someone gives a donation through your badge, you get credit.

Faith Filter: If you'd rather meet people of a particular faith or spiritual practice, you can limit searches and friend-finding to people of that faith by checking on the relevant box during the profile creation process. This faith filter has a few small holes, so if you really don't want to come across people of other faiths you should also steer clear of the common area "main channel pages."

Feeds: A feed is a way of Beliefnet to pump some bit of content that you want right into your page. Beliefnet is proud to offer a wide range of feeds -– inspirational quotes, commentaries on sacred texts, self-help advice, and more. Over time, we'll be adding feeds created by our members. Right now, you subscribe to feeds in your profile creation process. The feed magically pops up on your Home page and your Profile Page, or your Group Page. In a few months, we're going to enable yout o have some feeds inject content straight into a Journal posts, which will enable you to more easily have discussion groups focused on that reading.

Forum: Sometimes called "message boards," these are areas where people from throughout the social network and community can gather to discuss just about any topic under the sun. Private groups can also use Forums to promote discussions or information exhanges. (And yes, grammar teachers, we sadly realize the correct word is Fora but we've succumbed to common internet usage).

Free: Everything on the site is free. What's the catch? In exchange, you have to accept our advertising. We hope to make these ads of interest and relevance to you – and if they are, please click on them! – but if you find them irrelevant or annoying, please try to tolerate them. It's how we can afford to offer you this robust community for free. Thank you!

Friends: In social networks, being a "friend" has a special meaning. It's when you sign up to be associated with a particular page. To become a "friend" you have to actually put forth a friend request on the page you like and the recipient has to accept your friendship. Yes, it's a bit like junior high school but most people are pretty friendly about it. Once you're someone's friend, you can get updates about that person's activities and subscribe to their journal.

Friend Finding: One of the most fun ways to explore a social networking style community is to click on the "interest tags" listed under the "about me" area. Actually, these tags are found throughout a profile page an d other parts of the site and typically have black underlining. Click on those words or phrases and you'll find a sea of other people who also had put that interest.

Friendship Request: Someone wants to associate with your page. But they're not allowed to just show up. They have to ask nicely and you get to decide. If you say yes, they will then show up on your Friends list. They will also have certain privileges like the ability to post comments on your journal (if you like).

Groups: Beleifnet enables you to create a virtual environment centered around a group instead of an individual. The person setting up the group can determine whether to make it wide open to many people or limited to certain people. Groups can also be private, semi-private or public. The "Groups" button on the horizontal navigation strip takes you to a community wide page showing the full range of group activities. You can also find them through search.

Group Home Page: This is the front page for the group. It's where group members and organizers can tell about their group and link to all the interesting things going on within the group.

Guest book: At the bottom of each person's public profile page is a guestbook. This is an area where visitors you've never met can post a comment about your page or something you've written or displayed. If you posted something and it didn't show up right away, that's because the person who runs that page gets to approve what posts go on the guestbook. He or she can also limit posts to "friends-only."

Guided Journal: Beliefnet now offers a series of content "feeds" specially geared around helping you to build a spiritual practice using your journal. At regular intervals – usually a few times a week – a new message will appear on your home page with a piece of wisdom and a suggested exercise.

Inbox: You have your own email inbox on your computer. When you create a profile on Beliefnet Community, you also have a special inbox just for your interactions here. Only people who are in the Beliefnet community can send you a note in the inbox (and if you tire of someone you can block them). There is no spam in your personal inbox! We also use the inbox to notify you of whether you've gotten friend requests or updates to journals to which you have subscribed.

Interests: On a social networking site like Beliefnet, an "interest" isn't just a matter of information, it's a way for you to navigate the site. When you put down an interest, it becomes "hot" – meaning clickable – and clicking on it will then take you to other peoplewho have put the same phrase or word.

Journal: Our word for a "blog." (The reason we prefer journal is that blog implies its for public consumption, and we've found that some folks want to use journals as tools of private contemplation, too).

Partner Feeds: In our "Feeds" area you'll eventually notice some offerings labeled "partner offerings." These are feeds provided by partners who, we feel, have content that's valuable to our members. These partners often reciprocate by helping to spread the word to their members about Beliefnet Community.

People: On that horizontal orange navigation strip that appears at the top of each page, you’ll see the word "people." If you click on that you'll go to an area that shows you interesting people from throughout the Beliefnet Community (not just within your own group or friends network).

Profile: This is the page you create that faces the world. (Your "home page" is your personal, private start page).

Keywords: The same thing as "interests" or "tags." It's all the same. The main thing to remember is that these become underlined, clickable and then a pathway to find other people with similar interests or qualities.

Home Page: Your personal home page is the one at the upper left of that orange navigation. It's says "My Home Page" This is your personal start page. It is private. It has easy links to your inbox, pending friend requests, content feeds, updates from blogs you’ve subscribed to and links to anything else.

Message Board: Around these parts, we call them Forums.

Multimedia: In the profile creation process, we grouped audio and video on one page and gave it that jargonny name.

Permalink: On blog posts, audio entries and video posts, you'll see this word. If you click on that, it will give you a web address (or URL) that connects just to that one post, as opposed to the entire journal or page. You can then sent that URL to friends who might be particularly interested in that item.

Prayer Circles: These are one of the first community tools we created at Beliefnet. We're very proud of them. We've now integrated them into this new Community area. It's a way you can create a simple description of a person, group or cause that needs prayers. Below that, people from around the world can add their prayers.

Report as Objectionable: On many parts of the site, you'll see this friendly phrase. It enables the community to help keep this as a safe and wholesome place. Click on that prhrase and it will send a message to Beliefnet's staff, which will inspect and, if inappropriate, remove the offending post.

Search: This is a search field for searching just within the Beliefnet Community, not the broader internet or the broader Belifnet content offerings. It will give you lists of people, groups, journals, forums of interest to you.

Small Group: In the religious or spiritual world, a small group is a term for an informal gathering of people usually 10-25 people who join for discussion, study, support, prayer or activities. Beliefnet is providing tools to help these "in person" groups use the internet to enhance their experience. We're also enabling people who cant join together in person to do so through "virtual groups."

Start Page: Here we call it your "home page" but other social networks sometimes refer to it as a "start page." It's your private page from which you can edit your profile, scan content feeds and regulate your public page.

Tags: This is the techy term for those interest "keywords" that get underlined and then link you to the rest of the world. Tags are the heart of social networking because they enable people to easily find material of interest with a click of the mouse.

Upload: When you're putting a photo, audio or video on our site, or others, it will sometimes ask you to "upload" it. That means pulling it from your own computer and putting it on our server.

Video Embed: One of the great new inventions enables you to take video that you or someone else have posted on YouTube or other sites and plop it right on to your personal page or blog. The garble of computer code that lets you do this is called the "embed code."

Virtual Group: We use the term "virtual group" to refer to a group of people who haven’t necessarily ever met each other in person but rather connected through the internet.