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Hey guys,

A lot of people have asked this question but have been referred over to an automated solution such as SocialEngine. My question is this, how can I make a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace from scratch? By scratch I mean from an empty folder and an empty TextMate window on my screen into a site with all the functionality of Facebook. What language would I use (php, javascript, ruby on rails)? Also, where would I learn the language skills necessary without school (books, websites, online courses)? I have very little programming experience but really want to get into it.

Thanks, talonthegeek

asked May 29 '11 at 01:13

talonthegeek's gravatar image



Unfortunately I'm 14 so I can't get a dev team LOL. But I have a big attention span and am willing to work into the wee hours of the morning to get it done!

(May 29 '11 at 01:28) talonthegeek talonthegeek's gravatar image

I'm 13 and I'm learning Java. I've made Bukkit plugins. I also know HTML and CSS but I haven't done it in a while. I'm sure you could teach me things (I saw you mention something about a clustered web server...) and that I could teach you things. Not sure why I'm saying this, but I saw that you were 14 and thought I'd say something.

(May 29 '11 at 03:34) DanielHep DanielHep's gravatar image

@talonthegeek you're freaking me out... My name is talon, I'm a geek, and I'm 15. now THAT's weird :D

(May 29 '11 at 12:56) iGeek3 iGeek3's gravatar image

12next page »

I cant hire a dev team

then quit. To start a social networking site that will ever have any remote chance of gaining popularity, you need to have a team. I'm sorry. There is SO much to do. Programming, design, marketing, investing, servers, hardware. The people over at Facebook (thousands) are trained professionals that went to top notch schools to get where theyve gotten. Kid, GO TO COLLEGE FIRST. You will need MILLIONS of dollars of servers, or do you not even know what that means? If so, just quit.

Not trying to be a downer, but you don't stand a F* CHANCE. Oh, and can I guess you just watched the Social Network? No offense, but you aren't as smart as Mark Zuckerberg. Nor am I. Back then, what he had in mind didn't exist, so there was no competition. MySpace is different. He also had a rich friend. He was also a Harvard student (that's like saying he was also a genius).

answered May 29 '11 at 02:04

dmarquand's gravatar image


I'm sorry if this comes across as rude to you. But I have a functioning website and my own clustered web server in my room and use Debian as my primary OS. Also, I know I don't stand a chance, but we all have to start somewhere right? Mark started in his dorm room with an iBook and an idea and look where it is now. I have a concept, I just lack the basic knowledge to implement it. He created Synapse when he was in high school and I'm gonna be in high school in a couple months. Thanks anyway though :)

(May 29 '11 at 02:16) talonthegeek talonthegeek's gravatar image

Mark had years of programming background before he slowly started creating his empire.

If you're serious I would start by finding some open-source forum software and tweaking the **** out of that.

(May 29 '11 at 03:25) Illusion Slayer Illusion%20Slayer's gravatar image

haha, alright kid, chase your dreams, I'm not stopping you. Just know you have a long road ahead of you.

(May 29 '11 at 04:42) dmarquand dmarquand's gravatar image

You sound like a complete ass hole dude, mods ban this guy

(Feb 20 '13 at 12:49) gbyers gbyers's gravatar image

Wow I started a social network. It is not easy. First and foremost you do need a team. You also have to decide what age group you are after. Next are funds. I have spent over a $1,000.00 for domain, hosting company, branding, and for a couple scripts, plus template.

This is not easy at all. Movies make things look so cool. They glamorize the process. But you think you will be up a few nights a week sorting through the site doing cool stuff. I admit some of it is cool, but not all of it.

Start checking out CMS's. Learn all you can about them, what makes them tick, and what they ARE capable of doing, plus what they lack. Be sure they have good spam control, and you understand how they run the site. Or else as soon as you hit a snag, the site will go down, and you won’t have a clue.

Hire a team that can bring something to the table that you need. Obvious you won’t be able to pay them, so finding them will be hard. I suggest hiring someone that has marketing experience, scripting/coding experience, CMS experience, plus someone that is a people person is great to have also. Incentive would be to make them part owner of the social network. Someone needs to be good writing out your privacy policy, how to, user agreement, plus handle twitter, LinkedIn, you have to link to these and use them because many of your members will come from them.

Biggest advice I can give you is keep a cool head, think before you act, don't try to make another digg, Facebook, MySpace, or twitter. You have to create something new, and not be a copycat. If your grabbing content from another website then you make sure you also have something on your website that is entirely created by your team or your members, or else Google will drop you before you even get started.

Keep an open mind, if something is not working out; be OK at making some changes. Don't make the changes if you have only been live a few months. The same can be said about your CMS setup, and scripts you decide to use. Not everyone will like the same stuff you like. So learn now to get along with your team. It is not just you running the website... It is your team. It takes years to really get established. Marketing is at top to your social network working, so is your will to succeed. Patience will help you to go far.

answered May 29 '11 at 03:17

weebit's gravatar image



Thanks, what's your site called?

(May 29 '11 at 12:03) talonthegeek talonthegeek's gravatar image

If you don't already know the answer to your question kid, then theres no real point in answering it... Start with a smaller project first. Not just anyone can create their own social media network

answered May 29 '11 at 02:09

Arty's gravatar image



I don't mean just starting one, even if I could get a basic messaging system I would be happy and slowly progress it over 5 years into a social network. I didn't think I could just start one. But thanks for taking your time to answer me :)

(May 29 '11 at 02:13) talonthegeek talonthegeek's gravatar image

Perhaps start an irc network?

(Feb 20 '13 at 12:53) gbyers gbyers's gravatar image

Like everyone else said, start small. Building an entire social network from scratch is a ton of work, even for someone who knows programming. I would recommend learning basic HTML, PHP, etc. Having a good foundation of this is key to any good website. Then start making small sites. Do it locally with something like XAMPP. Learn your way around MySQL and learning to debug PHP errors or Javascript errors gone wrong, You need a lot of knowledge, so take the time you have and start learning this stuff.

answered May 29 '11 at 03:06

jwire4's gravatar image


Well to start you've definetly got the right attitude and some basic server know how. Anyways I am like you young (13) and motivated to create a community site. I already have basic posting (like tweeting), messaging and friendship on my site. I personally am using PHP for my main language for functionality and obviously HTML and CSS for styling. I still only the know the rock bottom basics but find I am learning best by creating not by doing tutorials and reading. I highly recommend webintersect.com to start off with it has great basic site functionality (in PHP and JS) and is free to use. MAKE SURE you understand how the site works before making any of your own major changes as like mentioned above, if you try to make changes and you don't understand how they work you WILL have problems. The webintersect platform also has youtube tutorials on how the developer made all of the various parts, so you can re-create it yourself using these tutorials.

answered May 29 '11 at 04:07

Aidan%20S's gravatar image

Aidan S

Well Facebook was done using PHP. So that might be the best way to go if you want to make a social network site. I wish you good luck however you will need more than just yourself to create an entire social network. If you are expecting a lot of traffic then you will need a good host.

answered May 29 '11 at 12:59

TheTechDude's gravatar image


I've tried making one in PHP... it's such a messy language. I haven't touched it in months. I suggest Ruby on Rails or Java (I'm learning Java).

(May 29 '11 at 14:02) DanielHep DanielHep's gravatar image

i don't use PHP so I don't know. I am using ASP.net.

(May 29 '11 at 17:21) TheTechDude TheTechDude's gravatar image

Go with a CMS like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, etc.; add some plugins/modules/extensions, and volia!

answered May 29 '11 at 17:48

archaeme's gravatar image


If you want to want it free for hosting use Heroku. There entry level hosting is free and will server good amount of request. That is if you are using something Ruby on Rails. You don't need a Collage degree to program.

I am a Ruby on Rails Dev myself and here are some pointers

  1. Use Test Driven Development or TDD a. I would use RSpec
  2. Use Version Controller (git) it will make your life easy with Heroku
  3. As of posting of this answer, use Rails 3.1
  4. Use New Relic to help track down issues
  5. Make your know Authentication System
  6. If you to have your uses upload photos use Amazons S3 Storage, It will be very fast scene Heroku uses Amazon's EC2
  7. If the least six things don't make scene, don't make one.

answered Jul 22 '11 at 13:37

Mab879's gravatar image


Start it at the High School level, since your 14-15 wait until your Freshman year or so, see if anyone can help you.

answered Jul 22 '11 at 13:39

DJ%20Scooby%20Doo's gravatar image

DJ Scooby Doo

I'm 15 and during the past few years I've created a fairly successful blog that gets about 50K views a month and is ranked 584,541 by Alexa. A blog really isn't a social network but the making of ZL Studios has really given me a lot of great experiences.

So I have to say start a smaller project that won't require a team or anything like that. Let the project grow and experiment with it. I learned a bunch of programming languages and other things just because I wanted to improve my website.

The experience you gain with the website should help you in the future with that social network. You can start it up maybe during or after college when you have a bit more experience. And you can also take classes in school to help you with your website and that kind of stuff. And you can even put ads on your website to make a little bit more money and use that money to hire a team in the future for your social network.

answered Jul 22 '11 at 13:52

Liam%20Quade's gravatar image

Liam Quade

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Asked: May 29 '11 at 01:13

Seen: 9,908 times

Last updated: Apr 02 '13 at 01:50