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I am building a platform that will have a similar structure to Twitter and I am tirelessly looking for something that could replace the terms for connections between users.

On Twitter the terms "Follower" and "Following" are used to describe such relationships, however, those terms were established in the Twitter ecosystem and I feel like it might not immediately be clear to users what those terms refer to. Do you have any suggestions/synonyms for terms that convey the meaning of the aforementioned words ?

In Twitter's ecosystem the term "Following" describes a unidirectional relationship between user A and user B, where A is interested in events of user B, but not necessarily the other way around.

The term "Follower" describes the inverse relationship, where user B is interested in events by user A, and not necessarily vice versa.

Bonus question: Can you name a term that depicts a bi-directional relationship between user A and B, where both A and B are interested in each other's events ? (Bi-directional connection).

I tried to come up with terms that seem quite... obvious ... but they might not be semantically correct.

Followers: Connecters/Connected [users]

Following: Connectees (not an official english word)/Connected to

Bi-directional relationship: Connections

While very abstract, do you think these terms would convey the intended meaning ? I ask this because English is my second language and I cannot afford to gamble on those essential terms.

marked as duplicate by BiscuitBoy, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, jimm101, Roaring Fish Feb 8 '16 at 15:05

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  • @BiscuitBoy My takeaway from the duplicate is that I should use "Followers" and "Following" ("Followee" sounds like a very rarely used term and thus could potentially lead to misunderstandings), the other suggestions seem to even be more unclear than "Followers" and "Following". – the_critic Feb 5 '16 at 11:41
  • 'Community' is often used for a subset of interrelating people under consideration. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 5 '16 at 11:50
  • @the_critic- Yes. An acceptable alternative for Following/Followers seems to be far-fetched as they both seem well-established and widely used across various social media sites. – BiscuitBoy Feb 5 '16 at 11:56
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A bi-directional relationship could be called a symbiotic relationship, with each partner being a symbiote

Symbiotic: living in symbiosis, or having an interdependent relationship: Many people feel the relationship between humans and dogs is symbiotic.

Thinking out of the box, someone that you follow could be a luminary, and the followers could be called fans, devotees or admirers. So, following would be replaced by luminaries, and followers by devotees.

Dictionary.com

  • +1 for the creativity, but I think especially for non-native users this would be confusing (I like the term "fans" for followers though, but then again, the counterparts (e.g. "luminary" and "symbiosis") seem disjoint/too elaborate for the terminology) – the_critic Feb 5 '16 at 13:29
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Here are some ideas all of which follow the Twitter syntax of "-ers/-ing":

  • watchers and watching
  • trackers and tracking
  • surveyors and surveying
  • observers and observing
  • viewers and viewing

Regardless of what you choose, you can still use connections for those who follower a user and are followed back. I like it since it carries connotations of intimacy, as in "we made a connection".

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Connections is certainly clearly understood on LinkedIn which uses that term for those you have directly associated with. And Silenus gave a list that only misses "Stalker" and "Stalking" if its a dating site.... ;-)

Other bi-directional ideas might be "Associates", "Collaberators", or perhaps "colleagues" if it for professional associations

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