To start using orkut, even just to find users and read community forums, you must create an account and sign in to the online community. Orkut requires a Google user account, and it uses the same Internet cookies for your login session as other Google applications. That means if you're logged in to Google Reader or Gmail, you're logged in to orkut, too. If you do not have a Google account, orkut prompts you to create one. After you're logged in to your Google account, orkut prompts you to complete a form to add an orkut account on top of your Google account. As part of the form, you must agree that you are age 18 or older.
While you're logged in to the orkut social network, your home page provides links to all the site's features. Edit your profile to add personal information and to set whether just you, your friends, or everyone at orkut can see some or all of that info. You can also edit your settings to set sharing levels for things you post, to customize other orkut features and to delete your orkut account (which does not delete your Google account).
Like other social networking Web sites, orkut includes features for sharing your own interests and activities:
- Upload photos and videos
- Promote things you like, including YouTube videos
- Keep a scrapbook, similar to a blog, with each "scrap" including your post, and maybe a photo
- Add to your Apps section from more than 5,000 orkut applications like music, games, and quizzes
To network with others on orkut, you can add friends and participate in communities. You can also use the orkut search in the upper right corner of your screen to search for other users or for topics of interest. From there, you can link to any community you like, with access to its forum, online polls, member list and related communities. You can even create a new community and control how members can join and interact there.
By adding friends in orkut, you can interact more directly with other users. Similar to other social network sites, the orkut "friends" status lets you control who can see certain things you post on orkut. When you add a friend, orkut sends a friend request to the target user who must approve to create that friend connection. Some places to find friends on orkut are the suggestions on your home page and your acquaintances at orkut communities.
You can interact with your orkut friends in several ways:
- Updates: On your home page, you can update your status to let others know what you're currently doing or thinking about, and you can follow the status updates of your friends. too.
- Messages: Send messages to a single friend or to a group of friends.
- Testimonials: Post testimonials for friends to help establish their credibility to others on orkut.
- Chat: Expand the Online friends panel by clicking its title bar at the bottom of your browser window, and use Google chat there, which includes your orkut friends and any other Google contacts.