I think it was perfectly understandable if forum members prefer not to be subject to following and monitoring by people they don't know, or do not want to clutter their Connection Stream with other people's activities. As such, the last community platform update or configuration may have been a welcome change in this direction. It now requires a Friend connection in order to follow people's activities and provides an option to disable Following on a personal basis.
However, when people receive a Connection request in their Inbox, they can Ignore or Reject it, but it could be considered unfriendly or cause unnecessary speculations by the other party. I would like to suggest to leave the Ignore function as it is, but to provide forum members with an option to configure a Reject message, which will then be send when the user presses the Reject button. Such a message could be an alternative contact information, for instance.
It might also be useful to have a global opt-out of social networking in the in user account preferences. When a user chooses that option, Connection requests for that user could be globally disabled, providing a message to the requester that the user decided to opt out of social networking.
I understand that such options are currently not available, but perhaps Oracle can use its influence and suggest such a change to the software vendor.