FriendFeed Flaws – The Wrong Kind Of Attention Grabbing

I did mention FriendFeed in a recent Blogcatalog post regarding their activity widgets, and have been looking at it in a little more depth.

There are lots of posts about how wonderful it is, or pointless but very few delving into some of the flaws or missing features. I know they have support and feedback on Google Groups… but I hate Google Groups, and the feedback from the groups isn’t necessarily making it out into the blogosphere.

I am going to keep this a little shorter than normal, I am working with Blogcatalog who have a couple of competing features (their dashboard and activity widget) thus it wouldn’t be fair to delve into this too much.

  • It seems to take forever for FriendFeed to update StumbleUpon (8+ hrs) – that is forever in Social Bookmarking and news
  • Stumbleupon reviews are not included with the listings, though for some reason Delicious bookmark descriptions are imported as comments
  • Whilst the friend suggestion interface is great, reciprocating 40+ friendships of people who have just joined is just an impossible task – I need to see who hasn’t been friended yet, and some nice Ajax to reduce page loads to a minimum (Mixx has this similar terrible problem)
  • How many people are actually following me? There doesn’t even seem to be an obvious total count.
  • Not storing username and password just isn’t enough – I honestly hate any application that thinks it is ok to share Google account details – do you really want to give them access to your private email, Adsense and Adwords account? For ex-Googlers to think this is OK is extremely perplexing, or even worrying

However my biggest gripe with it, which some people seem to love is the way it takes away part of the conversation from the original source. Duncan highlighted this FriendFeed flaw very well today (warning strong language)

if I want to participate in a conversation about a blog post or similar content, I’ll leave a comment on that blog, not a third party app, because if someone writes something worthy of conversation, they should have first call on the conversation, unless of course the topic is one that requires a blog post in itself.

And going on to express this even stronger

Correct, I didn’t “like” anything because when I want to comment on an item, I’ll do it at the source, like the vast majority of people would. If it’s a Tweet I’ll reply on Twitter. If it’s a blog post, I’ll leave a comment. Why the f#$% would I want to use a third party service? Why the f#$% would I want to comment on a Tweet on FriendFeed? Or is it that I should just because he says so? Pass the bong…

I agree with Duncan

I am not sure how someone will achieve this, but what is needed if commenting is included in Lifestream services is a way to respond in the medium of choice or origin, and that includes responding to blog comments, but Lifestream applications are never going to be able to keep up with the speed of conversation on blogs, or Twitter.

You effectively create a comment echo chamber, and fragmented conversations often with people not even reading the original content.

For a content producer that causes major problems. may be the answer, in private beta -I generally don’t sign up for private betas in areas Blogcatalog could be potentially working on, even if I am not aware of it which is quite frequently.

Don’t Expect Me To Respond To Comments On FriendFeed

It might seem anti-social or against the ethos of social media, but as Brian Solis explained, my account on FriendFeed isn’t actually intended for me.

It’s not about you per se. It’s about those who enjoy following your activity online. And yes, there are many tools that do this, but at the end of the day, why not make it easier for people to connect with you using the tools that they’re most comfortable with.

New Social Neworks?

I haven’t looked at Social Thing yet, Read Write Web compares them both – honestly the only service that will get all my passwords is a desktop application, and even then it will be encrypted on my HD.

FriendFeed use a secure page (probably need account to view page) for providing your account data – they know it is sensitive – why would you share it with them?

Lumpy Porridge

When I was a kid I hated lumps in my porridge, I suppose that has never changed.

Whilst writing this post, FriendFeed finally caught up with my Stumbleupon submissions, but they are provided as “clumps” of posts and updates unless there has been specific FriendFeed activity on the item, such as a comment or someone “likes” and item.

lumps or clumps of content

I am aware that they are having difficulty with access restrictions to 1000s of feeds on the various services, and this will represent a scalability problem, especially with the new influx of users.

This occurs in every interface – online, Facebook, email daily broadcast, iGoogle – they are choosing what I should see at a glance

MyBlogLog API & Blogcatalog API & Social Graph API

When I visit any of these aggregation services, they don’t know who I am, and who my friends are. The best they can currently manage is to use Facebook, and in fact Facebook is currently the best way to add friends to FriendFeed.

MyBlogLog and Blogcatalog know who you are – using a combination of what you have defined within your profiles, and possibly using Google’s Social Graph API a lot more is possible, allowing you to collate friends from multiple services.

Note:Plaxo is meant to do something using the Social Graph API, so when creating an account I added my MyBlogLog Profile which provides tons of data, and to be honest with recursive use of the API it should be able to find a number of profiles, blogs etc.

Privacy advocates might think I am odd, but when I arrive at a new service, I just want it to have all my public data available, that can be reasonably obtained. I don’t want to have to provide private data such as passwords.

No one has quite got things right yet, more on Techmeme

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  1. says

    To me a lot of these new, twatty sites are just the same ingredients but mixed in a different way. The problem for me is if the people in my industry start using them, then I have to as well to know what they are talking about.

    You may as well get a copy of Carp and build your own system.

    • says

      Hi Martin

      Sorry but I haven’t even tried to get a beta invite – they normally involve some kind of non-disclosure agreement, and as I am partially involved with Blogcatalog, it wouldn’t be right for me to apply.

  2. says

    That looks like an interesting service, with lots of flaws as you have pointed out. I came across FriendFeed in my usual rounds around the blogging world, and thought it was something to come back to. I don’t like the fact that they don’t search through websites often enough, you mentioned “clumps of posts” and such. Thanks for the update, it is good to hear what others are saying before you dive right in ;)

  3. says

    It’s starts with more basic flaws than that – thousand ways to include data, but no way to exclude it, making redundent data over and over again. Plus as you said – you rather go to the source than to have it scattered in million places …

  4. says

    I find the site interesting because the only way they can get that data is via APIs. But almost all of those companies don’t allow commercial use without approval. I’m curious as to whether they got approval or just went ahead and did it without approval. Since there are no ads that might be ok – until they raise x million dollars (as they did recently), at which point it seems clearly to be commercial.

    • says

      Owen you will probably find having been involved with so many projects whilst at Google, that they know a lot of the founders of the services they support.

  5. says

    Andrew, you have pointed out the reasons I got frustrated with Friendfeed. The slow stumble upon updates were ridiculous. Who wants things 8 hours late? By then they are old and newer information likely replaces it. Also, why wouldn’t you just comment on a post or tweet through the respective source? It’s just flawed. Also, as Lyndon pointed out, it seems these sites are popping up like crazy; same stuff, new mix. It’s getting old real fast. Friendfeed has some potential, but it has some critical flaws to fix. (Which may have been fixed, but I’m tried around this post date.)



  1. Friendfeed foe-fight

    Quick look in on the blogosphere this Sunday shows a bunfight breaking out over Friendfeed. Leaving aside the personalities, I had a little play with the software, and found myself agreeing with Andy Beard:

    – It seems to take forever for FriendFeed to