Node references, or noderefs, are small blocks of text used to exchange node information and allow direct communication between two nodes. Node references must be exchanged with other Freenet users to connect to friends and to enable Darknet.
Sharing your node reference
You can find your node reference by clicking "Connections to friends" under the "Friends" drop-down menu on the toolbar within Freenet. Your node reference is then located near the bottom of the page. You must copy the node reference text exactly as it is shown, and paste it into another file or program for sharing. Altering the text in any way will, in all likelihood, prevent your node reference from working. You can then deliver the copied node reference to the desired friend. However, in order to establish a connection between your node and your friends, you will need his node reference as well.
Connecting to a friend
After obtaining a node reference, you must enter it into the "Add a friend" link in the "Friends" drop-down menu. You can copy and paste the node reference manually, enter a URL address to the node reference, or open a file on your computer. If you enter the node reference manually, be careful not to modify the node reference!
Next you must choose how much you trust this friend. Choosing a higher trust setting will yield better performance and be more beneficial, but will not be as secure. A lower trust setting will be much more secure, but performance gains will be minimal.
Next you must choose whether you want your friendship to be seen by, and shared with your other friends or kept secret. Allowing all of your friends to see one another will benefit performance, but you may not wish to publicize your friendship with some individuals.
And lastly, you can enter a description of your friend for your own reference purposes. Then click the "add" button.
Due to the limited means of private communication using Freenet, it is more practical to share your node reference using other another medium besides Freenet. However, beware, that many other mediums such as email, instant messengers, forums, et cetera, are logged by third-parties, and are insecure. It is recommended that you either encrypt your node reference prior to sending it, or to exchange it in person, offline.
You should only exchange node references with people you trust. Exchanging node references with total strangers removes most of the security gained, and will negatively affect the routing between nodes.