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Heard of Orkut? Well for those who have already joined Google’s Orkut bandwagon and loving every moment of it, the question might seem utterly strange but Facebook enthusiasts and others might have some question marks on their faces. Named after its creator Orkut Büyükkökten (A Google employee), Orkut is Google’s very own social networking website on the Internet. In spite of its failure to match up to Facebook, which remains to be the numero uno in social networking and is extremely popular in America, Orkut has managed to create a strong base in countries like Brazil, India and many other non-US countries. With a recent interface make-over, Orkut seems to be doing quite well in the online social circuit however its comparison with Facebook remains to be a question that is bound to give way to heated competition.

Website Features of Orkut

Like any other social networking website, Orkut has its own set of unique features that enable users to make new friends, maintain friends lists, send messages and scraps to friends, rate friends according to their cool, trustworthy and sexy quotient and of course create and join communities based on their interests where they can create forums and polls.

Scrapping: Orkut allows users to send offline as well as online messages through its unique scrapping feature. Although earlier people were skeptical of the fact that these scrapbooks had unrestricted access to one and all, Orkut has upgraded the feature and now users can actually make their scrapbooks accessible only for their friends. This scrap booking feature has caught on with the younger generation, and for Orkut addicts, the number of scraps has come to being a matter of pride for many. However scraps from unknown people often with obscene messages and lewd remarks are a menace for the scrapbooks. With the new upgrade, Orkut has introduced a feature using which users can directly reply to their friends’ scraps from their own scrapbook wherein every scrap is followed by a ‘reply to scrap’ option which is more convenient as compared to the earlier version where people had to visit the friends scrapbook to reply to every single scrap.

Groups, Ratings, Fans and Testimonials: Orkut also allows users to manage their contacts by slotting them in distinct categories or levels that define your relationship with concerned people. These levels are ‘haven’t met’, acquaintances, friends, good friends and best friends. In addition to this, users can create their own friend groups based on any criteria that the user prefers. Once you’ve categorized your friend groups you also get to rate each individual on their level of ‘coolness’ ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘sexiness’ on a scale of three. The coolness quotient is depicted with ice cubes, the trustworthiness with smileys and the sexiness with red hearts, on a scale of three cubes, three smileys and three hearts. In case you admire a person, you can become their fan, which will result in your name being shown in their fans list. The number of fans, and other ratings are supposed to imply how popular a person is. (However we all know how true these ratings might turn out to be!) Also Orkut allows its users to write testimonials for each other which are displayed on the user’s profile. Of course the user has the right to accept or reject a testimonial according to his will.

Communities: The communities that one can create have no restrictions as far as the topics are concerned. Starting from conventional topics like food, countries, movies, music, poetry, books, television, celebrities, you might also run into rather unique communities like ” I don’t give a damn’ community, ‘My name starts with an A’ community or even ‘Crying in the rain’ community. There are no limits as far as the topics are concerned which leads to redundancy. Often there exist more than one community about a single topic, which makes it a bit confusing.

User Lists and Teasers: Orkut users get to add people in their own personal lists which include: The crush list ( users can add people in this list if they think they have a crush on that person), hot list (users can add people who they think are hot) and of course for the unwanted lot you have the ignore list to dump them. In addition to that users can send each other ‘teasers’ which are one-liners or messages that are categorized into categories like: sincere, romantic, humorous, flirtatious, movie lines and computer generated.

Photographs, Videos, Blogs: Orkut allows users to upload their pictures, videos and also share links to their blogs on blogspot. Although the number of pictures one could upload earlier was restricted, once can now add as many pictures in their Orkut album as they want. Also the photos and videos can be locked for security and be made accessible only to selected friends according to the preference of the user. Being Google’s brainchild, Orkut can also be linked with other Google applications like Picasa and even Gtalk.

Whether the popularity of this social networking website would match up to Facebook or MySpace is a matter of debate but as for now most of the people on Orkut seem to be more than happy.

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