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A writing buddy is a friend on the NaNoWriMo website. The term can also refer to a writing buddy in the general sense.
Any Wrimo registered on the NaNoWriMo site can add another Wrimo as a "writing buddy" and see their buddy's word count listed with other buddies on the "Writing Buddy" page of their user profile (along with the buddy's halo if present). Writing buddies can be added from a friend's Nano page using the "Add as Buddy" button. When the feature was added in 2005, due to a bug, only the first 11 writing buddies, in order of user number, were displayed. This bug was fixed in later Nanos and the number displayed increased to 50. As of the new Ruby on Rails redesign in 2011, the writing buddy list shows all the writing buddies of a given user,with ten writing buddies per page. This paginated list is sortable by word count, date joined, and other parameters.
Writing buddies are typically fellow Wrimos who offers friendly encouragement throughout the month of November. Some writing buddies may know each other outside of Nanowrimo, or one may be responsible for the other joining NaNoWriMo. Others may meet through one of the NaNoWriMo forums. Writing buddies may send NaNoMail messages containing encouragement, run word wars together, or even strike up a friendly competition over wordcount (often seen among overachievers.)
Adding a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website is a one-way relationship; you may add someone as a buddy without obligating them to add you back. The writing buddy list functions like a bookmark for the users you add; only information the buddy has chosen to provide is displayed. Wrimos receive a NaNoMail whenever another participant adds them as a writing buddy.
To view your writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo website, hover over the 'My NaNoWriMo' pull down menu and click 'Writing Buddies.' You can also view someone else's writing buddies by clicking the Writing Buddies tab of their profile.