To become a Friendster, first you need to create an account. Clicking the sign up button on the main page will take you to a form requesting your user name, e-mail address, password, country you live in, gender and birth date.
You'll also enter a security question in case you forget your user name and password. Next you'll be asked to upload a photo. If you're shy, just click "continue." Follow the directions to check your e-mail for a confirmation notice, and that's it. You're a Friendster.
Now you can move on to create your profile, which will look something like this.
Sample Friendster profile
The profile is your home base on Friendster. It's also your face to the Friendster world. Here you can manage your account, make connections and customize the information friends (or all members, depending on your settings) can see about you. If you get lost, click the Home tab in the blue navigation bar at the top of the page to bring you back to your profile.
Here are some highlights:
- Add photos and video. Upload pictures and videos of yourself, pets, friends and family. Avoid nudity, copyrighted material or anything explicitly negative or harmful. That can get you kicked off the site (or worse).
- Post messages. Each profile has a bulletin board where friends can leave you messages and vice versa.
- Write a blog.
- Write reviews of music, movies, books and TV.
- Create an avatar. Avatars are character representations of your personality. They can even be animated in 3-D.
Remember those 65 million users? That means up to 65 million profiles, ranging from ghostly shells with no photo and minimal information abandoned after the initial thrill, to tricked-out pages flashing with animation and hourly updates. How fancy you get is a question of commitment. Various cottage industries have sprung up for this very reason. Sites like Friendster-Tweakers, Friendster-Layouts and Pimp-My-Profile can whip up pretty and organized profiles for the time- or technically-challenged. Fees usually apply, but people may think you did it all yourself.
Karen Kong holds the title for most-visited Friendster profile. The Malaysian pop star gets 800,000 page views monthly [source: Liu]. It's hard to say exactly what makes a superstar profile, whether it's celebrity status, creating buzz with a blog or application or simply having a lot of friends. Technically, Kong's page is considered a Fan Profile.
Fan Profiles are the latest feature causing buzz and controversy. Naysayers call them "fakesters." Unlike regular profiles, which individuals use to connect personally with other individuals, Fan Profiles are dedicated to already-famous celebrities, bands, TV shows, movies and characters. The controversy comes in over similarities to MySpace, viewed by some users to be more a networking tool for bands than for everyday users, and bringing into question the whole notion of friends.
How evil are you? Find out who's asking, and what constitutes a "friend," in the next section.