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Looking for input on the best approach to having a chat sidebar similar to Facebook's web app. I'd like to display a list of online users so users can chat with each other. However, I was looking to implement a "Follow" system instead of a "Add as Friend" system. Since a friendship is mutual but a follow is one way, would it be proper to allow user A to follow user B and allow user A to chat/visibly see if user B is online?

I know on Pinterest you can message people if you simply follow them (im sure there are some privacy settings). However, I do not believe it shows if they are online?

What would be best approach for something like this?

  • Welcome to UX StackExchange. This site is not suited to "please design my app" style questions, because they tend to be helpful to just you rather than the community. Your question presents compound issues (follow vs friend, showing online users) that are not just UX but relate to app design as a whole, so it's probably too broad for UX.SE. – tohster Apr 13 '15 at 16:58
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    @tohster my apologies I can revise the question if you give me some recommendations? Is there a place for this type of question? – Alex Lacayo Apr 13 '15 at 17:01
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You would have to ask your users to find out if they find it creepy and untoward to have strangers chat with them. One way would be that a person has to opt in to be part of a chat (meaning that the person will not be pinged/IMed if he has not selected to be active in the chatrooms (as opposed to simply being on the site).

There are many options but first you need to

  • know your users and what they expect
  • educate your users to the conventions of your platform
  • give your users options regarding communication

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