tools to do it. Now, a new service promises to simplify the process. It's a new take on whois for the social web: SocialWhois, a service that uses XFN, microformats, APML, and tagging to provide a more complete picture of that new follower's presence online.When you want to know about a domain name, you jump to whois to get all of the information on the person who registered it. But when you want to know more about the person who just started following you on Twitter or FriendFeed, it hasn't been that easy - even though we've tried to provide you with
The service works like any number of XFN crawlers we've seen, but it's simple enough that anyone can use it. Simply enter the Twitter or FriendFeed username of the person you'd like to look up. The service will do its best to guess who the person is. As we tested it, we found it doing an incredibly good job of guessing - finding all sorts of interesting and relevant links about the users we tried.
If you'd like to tweak the results for your profile - or hide your profile completely - you can always log in using your Twitter credentials or your FriendFeed key.
Oh great. Yet another profile to complete? Not exactly. Thanks to SocialWhois' "voodoo" button. One click and you're likely to have your profile pre-populated with relevant information from your profiles across the Web.
This Isn't a Popularity Contest
One of the things that makes SocialWhois so appealing isn't what it is, but rather what it isn't. It isn't a popularity contest. It's a search for relevance:
"SocialWhois is about everything but popularity. You'll think that it's hypocrisy or irony, but I (SocialWhois' creator) am not popular on SocialWhois! And guess what, I like it that way! Really :) In fact, on SocialWhois, no one is popular.... You can navigate in the graph and discover new faces, and the way this graph is being traversed is different for everyone of us."
With the tagging functionality, you're more likely to find that user who shares similar interests with you. And in so doing, you're likely to have more engaging conversations.
It Just Works
One of the things we've always loved about whois is the fact that it just works. There are any number of services that allow you to look at the data held by the registrars, all of which have varying levels of usability and clutter. But by and large, we run whois lookups because they serve a specific purpose.
SocialWhois has a lot of that same appeal. Simple, straightforward, and it provides the information you're seeking. It will be interesting to add this to the collection of tools we use to find - and better understand - those around us on the social web.