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What is this site?

skip to the patterns!

The Designing Social Interfaces patterns wiki is a companion site to the book that Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone are currently writing for O'Reilly Media.

We decided to share the patterns as we write the patterns and the book to get community feedback. We think that hearing a variety of opinions about these topics will make the material stronger and more representative of what's happening in social interfaces. As we complete sections of the book, we will be adding the patterns.

If you choose to contribute, we ask that you don't delete sections out right, but rather add your information with attribution. We want to incorporate contributions into the final book material and would like to know who contributed what. Every page has a discussion tab for conversations about the topic.

We look forward to talking with you!

What's a Pattern?

A pattern describes an optimal solution to a common problem within a specific context.

A pattern is not a finished piece of code or design. Rather, it reflects the sum total of a community's knowledge and experience or expertise in a given domain.

When we talk about patterns, we often start by noticing social behavior patterns. These are patterns in what people do, with or without interfaces designed for those purposes. These patterns are interesting and fun to talk about and they help us understand what's likely to happen, but they are not the primary focus of this project.

The patterns in this collection are social design patterns (a.k.a. social user experience design patterns). They are interaction pattern for people designing social interfaces.

Want to work on a pattern? Use this Pattern Template.

Social Patterns & Best Practices


cute name: Social to the Core

Fundamental Principles

  • what other high-level principles are we missing?



cute name: You're Invited


cute name: Where's the Rest of Me?


cute name: We Are Here! We Are Here! We Are Here!


Would You Buy a Used Car from This Person?


cute name: Where’s the Action?

Collecting & Communicating


cute name: Long Time Listener, First Time Caller


cute name: Potlatch


cute name: Barnraising

Social Media

cute name: The Media is the Massage


cute name: One of Us, One of Us”

Personal Connections

cute name: We Need to Talk”

Community Management

cute name: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Place, Geography, Location

cute name Where in the World?

Both geophysical place and virtual sense of place (relates to presence, identity, relationships, and community)

Other Considerations

Open for Business

Other Contexts

  • On the Edges
    • Mobile and Social
    • Social in the Enterprise
  • Demographic differences
    • Youth
    • Boomers and Elderly
  • Games and Social Design

Appendices & Misc.

  • Glossary
  • About the [Yahoo! Design Pattern Library]
  • About the [Yahoo! User Interface Library]
  • Poster-Sized Concept Map of Social Patterns Ecosystem
  • Deck of Pattern Cards
  • Possible: A Brief History of Social Networking
    • BBS’s at 300 Baud
    • The Well
    • Imminent Death of Usenet Predicted, Film at 11
    • AOL and the endless September of 1993
    • Blogs, Social Networks, Social Media Filters, Walls and Feeds
  • Index

Getting started

Talk about patterns

Yahoo!'s Writing Patterns forum

Presentations about patterns

Some good talks defining patterns and about specific pattern types:

Pattern Sites

Pattern Collections

Other Related Sites

The Site and The Book

Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience

by Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone
Coming Soon! from O'Reilly Media and Yahoo! Press

This book presents a family of social web design principles and interaction patterns that we have observed and codified, thus capturing user-experience best practices and emerging social web customs for web 2.0 practitioners.

This wiki presents the collected patterns for community feedback and discussion.