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What people normally first think in my opinion when they hear "social network". What else could you say apart from social network?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Mitch, RegDwigнt Jan 25 at 22:23

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Why do you need this? I think 'social network' is good enough as is. –  Mitch Jan 25 at 15:57
    
It's for a brainstorming session. –  Lamin Sanneh Jan 25 at 15:58
    
Nice! So ELU is officially part of your session? What is the subject of your brainstorming session? –  Mitch Jan 25 at 15:59
    
So are we all official participants in your brainstorming session then? :-) –  Å Stuart Jan 25 at 16:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

"Social Network" is a buzz-speak word, best avoided unless you're actually talking about Facebook and its equivalents.

A far better word is "community" for a group of persons who wish to be informed as to some common topic, and communication tool for the superset of Facebook et al which includes Twitter and email.

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If anything, community and communication tool are worse buzz-speak still, and (since, as you say, they are hypernyms of social network) they are vague to the point of being completely devoid of meaning. A social network at the very least specifies what type of communication tool it is. –  RegDwigнt Jan 25 at 22:21
    
Are you suggesting that the words don't have meaning, or that I offered incorrect meanings? –  DougM Jan 25 at 23:59

Consider the term affinity group

a group formed around a shared interest or common goal, to which individuals formally or informally belong. Affinity groups are generally precluded from being under the aegis of any governmental agency, and their purposes must be primarily non-commercial. Examples of affinity groups include private social clubs, fraternities, writing or reading circles, hobby clubs, and groups engaged in political activism

While both terms have been in use for decades, the earlier use of social network was independent of the online context and was used in social sciences to mean

a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations) and a set of the dyadic ties between these actors

If you are only looking to refer to online relationships, perhaps you need a neologism, such as

  • cyber-buddies
  • cyber-contacts
  • cyber-chums
  • cloud connections
  • cloud comrades
  • ether-allies
  • ether-peeps
  • iFriends
  • net-mates
  • net-amigos
  • online posse
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