As time has passed, I've become more selective. I've formulated certain ground rules for myself. They run something like this.
- Don't post quizzes or surveys. I don't read other people's results or answers, so it doesn't seem reasonable to expect them to read mine.
- Only post polls on occasions where I think I've got a truly funny idea for one or when I'm requesting specific information from my friends, usually snail-mail addresses and the like.
- Link, LJ-cut or resize images for photo posts. When uploading a photo gallery, caption and title all images to try to create a complete story.
- Don't post more than twice a day. If I post twice in one day, I'll usually wait at least one day before posting again. This allows me to spend time on the last ground rule, which is
- Comment regularly and substantively on my friends' posts, or at least be sure to answer the comments on my own posts. This is probably the most time-consuming effort on my part, and it's why my friends list doesn't grow very quickly.
I think I've built up a strong core community of online friends, some of whom have turned into very good real life friends. LJ also lets me keep faraway real life friends up to date when I don't necessarily have time to write individual e-mails to fifty people. I'm fairly comfortable being public with what's going on in my life, probably at least partially because I feel very secure in my romantic relationship and my relationships with my parents and very close friends. I lock down and filter anything that is potentially drama-inducing, e.g. when I'm working through a particular social problem and haven't come up with a solution yet. I'm happy with my ground rules and I think I've been disciplined enough about following them to optimize the time that I spend reading LJ. I also feel that the people who've stayed with the community for some time now have adopted similar ground rules and hence the quality of the posts from my friends has gone up steadily.
As a result of the change in focus and depth, it's become more rewarding to read LJ, but it's also become more difficult to expand my personal community. I would like to add more new and interesting people, but I have trouble gauging how much time is necessary to keep up with and comment on another journal. Some people don't care whether or not you interact with them on their own journal as long as they interact with you somewhere, which is how I feel. I also have trouble deciding to add someone, particularly if we haven't met in real life or interacted much online, because I'm not sure how much automatic trust is justifiable.
Also, I generally wait for someone to add me before adding them back, which is part of the problem. I rarely add anyone who has added me unless they interact with me in my journal repeatedly. I wait to be wooed, but rarely woo anyone else. I probably need to make time for that - and be more willing to put my ego on the line - if I want to attract more of the kind of people that will be stimulating company in this medium, but it's tough when I already allot so much energy to making sure my current LJ friends don't feel neglected. My friends list has become fairly static as a result.
Common interest searches usually don't turn up very much in the way of interesting people. I've had mixed luck with recommendations from other friends. I feel bit like I've boxed myself in here. I don't know whether to simply make myself comfortable with the company I've already got in this box, or to attempt to expand it further. I'm curious what other people think about the social politics of LJ. What criteria do you use to decide to add new friends? Do you feel yourself getting bored if you don't have fresh stimulus by adding new people? Do you use filters or keep multiple journals or both? If one and not the other, why? If you're friends-only, what's your rationale?