Friday, June 6, 2008

FriendFeed: Be Careful What You Ask For...

Part of the problem with FriendFeed for me is that if you don’t care much about Twitter, FriendFeed or Plurk but are interested in following early adopters who like tech, you’re going to wind up inundated with notes about Twitter, FriendFeed and Plurk. Blah.

For me personally, talking about that stuff over and over again isn’t particularly entertaining, productive, educational or useful, but I understand it and don’t have much of a problem with it. It’s easy enough to hide stuff on FriendFeed. I need to find more people who are interested in sports, television, and technology, which is easy enough to do. But finding the people who are interested in that who aren't also into all the items about Twitter, FriendFeed and Plurk is a little trickier.

One of the great things about FriendFeed besides its developers being smart as hell is that they listen to feedback. In the process they added a “Show Best Of” feature which easily allows you to see the best of the day, week or month based on how many people “liked” the item or commented on it.

It sounded really, really good in theory and I was asking for it, too. It turns out that in practice I’m not sure I actually like it much.

From the ability to browse the information that way I do like it. But what winds up happening is that people are finding "best of" items so easily that they naturally are and adding more “likes” and comments to them which causes them to jump to the top of my regular FriendFeed stream (even outside of “show best of”). I don’t love this. But I’m sure they’ll add a way for me to hide all items two, three and four weeks old eventually.

Sometimes we have to be careful what we ask for. The new features work exactly like what I thought I wanted, but wound up having an effect on the overall service that I don't love.


Adam Lasnik said...

Yeah, when I saw this, I thought two things:
- Hey, cool!
- Ouch, really annoying feedback loop. Age-old problem, and not sure what the solution is.

But it strikes me as not helping the "rich get richer" syndrome.

Should Friendfeed do more to surface interesting but not-yet-popular viewpoints and info? They're already bringing in "friend of friend" stuff which I largely think is cool. But is there more to be done? Hmm...

Robert Seidman said...

I'm not sure of the solution either, Adam. But the FriendFeed founders are really sharp and I'm sure are thinking about these issues.

there's lots of potential, it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Solacetech said...

One Word: Two-Edged Sword :)...Living in a database world is about getting results but not the web 1.0 way.

Ken Stewart said...

Robert, I found it funny that you are writing a post about posting about friendfeed ;-)

At any rate, I completely agree. All of us are very busy doing "stuff". That stuff is important to us, and whether it is important to other people, while a little ego-deflating, is a matter of much debate.

Interestingly enough, Adam really hit it on the head with regards to the "rich getting richer".

I have an extremely hard time sifting through all of the data - whether it be FriendFeed, Twitter, Plurk, or the lastest P&L or Project outcome report.

I think we would all agree, we don't need more data - we need accurately targetted and presumably useful information.