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A blog or weblog is a type of easy-to-maintain website.

Blogging software typically offerS users a selection of templates so they can create an attractive, professional looking site. Content is submitted using a post template, typically with form fields for a title and the main body of the post. This makes it very easy to have a good-looking and well-organised website with little or no knowledge of code; users just have to worry about their content.

Most social networking services offer their members a blogging tool, although these vary in terms of how much customisation is offered. Not all of them come with a web feed, which may restrict the sharing of content to within the host site only.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licences build upon copyright law, signalling the owner’s permission that work can be used in a variety of ways, not automatically allowed under copyright law. This allows people to make a greater range of work available to others to reuse without having to seek the permission of the person who holds copyright. Creative Commons search engines can help people discover materials that they can freely and legally share or build upon.

See for further information.

Functional permissions

Functional permissions are the minimum permissions required by a social networking service in order to do its job: the permissions you need to give to service providers to store and access your data to use your account.

Sites may also request additional permissions, for example they might make it a requirement that you agree to let them reuse your content for purposes other than running your account.

You can find out what permissions you are agreeing to by reading carefully the terms of use and privacy policies.


Granularity refers to the degree to which users can set permissions with regard to their information ? the choices a member can make over who gets to see what information and data they upload or create on site.

Most services offer basic permissions within broad friend categories: you can share all your information with no-one, with all friends or with everyone (the public).

Granular services allow users more flexibility over what they make available and to whom. Members may be able to assign permissions to different areas of their on-site activity ? make parts of their profile or particular blog posts available to specific groups. They may also have greater group granularity ? the ability to create more finely controlled groups ? for example, putting other members into smaller specific groups and assigning permissions to them (for example, allowing only a small group of friends to view a message).


Online moderation of members activities and uploaded files can be provided by social networking services in a number of ways. The Home Office Task Force for Child Protection on the Internet (2005) defined these as including:

  • Pre-moderation: in a pre-moderated service, all material supplied by users is reviewed by the moderator for suitability before it becomes visible to other users;
  • Post-moderation: in a post-moderated service, all material supplied by users is reviewed after it becomes visible to other users. The length of time between the material becoming visible and being checked may vary;
  • Sample moderation: a moderator may “patrol” a number of spaces or otherwise examine a sample of content, but not all content is reviewed after publication.
  • Reactive moderation: in a service of this type, moderation takes place only after a request for intervention is made.

“Skin” is slang for a site template. Just as human skin is the outer layer of the body, so the skin of a blog, website or profile is the design element that determines how web pages look. Many social networking sites offer users a wide variety of skins or templates, allowing members to customise their spaces to better reflect their interests and aesthetic preferences.


Tags are the keywords given to content – web pages, posts, pictures, videos, music or files – by a user or by other people. Tags aren’t predefined – they are chosen by the user to best describe the content. Tags offer a way of informally classifying and organising content that makes it easy for users to find and share information.

Third party applications

Third-party applications are elements of any service which aren’t produced by the host service but by another company. Widgets are often created and managed by other services. Profile templates and other site add-ons might be produced by someone other than the host company.

All third-party applications have terms of use that are separate to the main provider’s, and these should be carefully checked, particularly when the application requires you to give access to the data and to friend connections you have on a social networking service.

Web Feed / RSS feed

Web feeds are a great way of accessing frequently updated information. Feeds allow users to share (syndicate) their content, and allow other people to subscribe to updates. This means you don?t have to check back and see if new content has been posted to your favourite sites ? the content is delivered to your feed reader as soon as it is published. Many sites now provide or can generate web feeds for content, and these can be subscribed to through a feed reader or run through your own website or space.

You can get web feeds for all kinds of content: updates to websites, new posts to blogs, picture or video feeds, or audio feeds (audio files that are syndicated in this way are called podcasts). Some sites also generate feeds for specific users or keywords, allowing users to produce custom feeds.


Web widgets are chunks of code that have been designed to be added easily to a user’s website or profile page. They usually add an interactive or automatically updated element to static web pages, bringing information which is generated or stored on one part of the web to another. They allow you to decorate your space with fun and/or useful content, or bring in content and links to other sites or social networking services you use. Widgets come in all shapes and sizes: a widget might be a mini computer game, a video clip which is uploaded to a video-hosting site, or an update of the latest music someone has listened to or sites they have bookmarked.

Many websites now generate code for embedding their content into other sites. The data remains hosted at the original site, but the code opens a direct view of that data in another site.

Widgets are often third-party applications – content from a source other than the web or social networking service.

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