Wednesday, 28 October 2009

How To Be Facebook: Be An Asshole.

The now chewed-to-death Facebook revamp of the timeline has been done to death, mostly by journal and magazine writers who've basically said "most people say they just don't like it!" and leave it at that.  Oh, they do go on about alienating one's users, not fixing what ain't broke, and so forth.  But none of them really give any solid information about what the front end now does wrong, aside from be "not liked."

I opened my facebook page that day and noticed that the unread count was now in a little inverse balloon.  (Yep, for some reason I finished up opening the News Feed rather than Live Feed.)  I noticed right away that stories were out of chronological order, and stories I expected to find in my feed weren't there at all.  "Must be part of that unread count" I hypothesised and clicked the balloon.  After all, that was what would reload the timeline before, wasn't it?

For a moment I was flabberghasted because now I was apparently viewing another feed, the "Live Feed" and that wasn't how things had behaved before.  I also noticed that many events weren't in the Live Feed, that I'd become used to having in my old timeline feed.  And a heap that I'd hidden had suddenly come out again.

I decided I could let the Live Feed stay for the moment, and browsed another few sites, then came back to Facebook.  Again, what was showing in the Live Feed wasn't what I'd painstakingly crafted for myself by selective hiding - and some of it appeared to be out of chronological order again, which is definitely NOT expected behaviour for something labelled as a "live" feed.

Then came the last straw.  My pages suddenly all went to the landing page for my mobile broadband provider, and I discovered that a few hundred megabytes had just flashed past in the course of a day.  I pay $50 for 3Gb of data on my mobile broadband connection, which I have because A) the landline service where I am is sub-optimal to say the least, and B) I like travelling around and that means being independent of wall sockets.

I paid for my next prepaid block of data and then studied the network traffic graph.  Not a lot of "grass" at the bottom of the graph there - but there had been NO traffic in between page loads before.  I established that this traffic could easily account for about 100Mb of my traffic that day, i.e. it had cost me as much bandwidth as an average 8 hours' of browsing and blogging on any other day. Multiple "I don't fucking believe this shit!" reloads of Facebook had accounted for another extra chunk of my precious bandwidth that I wouldn't normally have used, and with that, I went back to Facebook Lite (  and haven't really bothered with the full feed.


Some things such as applications and posting links are really only easily available from the full feed homepage.  So I am still having to open that bandwidth-intensive page to play the games I enjoy, post link-based paragraphs, and so forth.

So to me the main problems associated with the change are:
  • I can't afford it.  Surprising as it is in this day and age, bandwidth still isn't free or even cheap.  Having an auto-refresh on a page without an option to turn it off should almost be a criminal offense as far as I'm concerned.  And no - I don't want to switch to the News Feed as it is now because it is not what I want.  I want the Live Feed data structure because it is closest to what I had before and which was precisely what I wanted, with the option of manually reloading it as I was able to before.
  • I did not appreciate there being no warning whatsoever that a live feed had been instituted, this ended up costing me a day's bandwidth that I on a pension can ill afford.  
  • I did not appreciate there being no way to go back to the previous version of the timeline feed without having to go to a totally different feed, the Lite feed.  You need to provide an option for both the old and the new, and let people come to it of their own accord.
  • I thought that the "Top News" method of culling through the timeline is stupid, because it raises significantly raises the noise inherent in the timeline already.  Total crap floats to the top, the things that I really want to follow are buried down several pages back.  This also increases the chance that a total piece of spam can be raised to the top of your feed just because every one of your friends has written "fuck off spammer!" in a comment.  More activity by my network, surrounding a piece of trivia that someone else who's a friend of a friend of someone in my network, doesn't mean I'll automatically love it and enjoy it.  You can't polish a turd, and a lot of the stuff I'd so carefully hidden from my feed were - let's face it - just shit.
So - had they pre-announced it, given people a way to test it and get used to it beforehand, and listened to feedback during the testing and evaluation phase, they would now have a whole lot of satisfied users, and almost all of them would be using the new feed by choice, but customised to each person's liking.

Instead, they've ended up with another red face, another round of people wondering where the fucking Soup Nazi is, and another page in the history books of the Internet and Social Networking where they're shown to be a backward, awkward, fumbling, and totally anti-social organisation.

Visit The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook and help support my work!


teddlesruss dat who! said...

Yeah, I love facebook myself but it has to be said, they are totally asocial and antisocial, and wouldn't know how to treat their customers if you wrote it in braille and had it engraved on their asses...

Sadly, they have had this exact same fiasco (no communication, no choice given, no apology when the new feature turns out to be a dog) at every turn of their history...

They made a change to the User Agreement about a year back without telling anyone, it nearly cost them a class action suit, then they (reluctantly) asked everyone to have some input into the governance of Facebook. And that is the only time they've displayed anything like remotely resembling a conscience or social consciousness...

affordable seo services said...

i see
so fcebook now is not so high ranker now right?????

college degree online said...

ohhhh facebook really is sick if they are doing that

De Counter Bits

 Subscribe in a reader | Add to Google Reader or Homepage | Subscribe in Bloglines | Ajax CommentLuv Enabled 38bd227bbe6382790452da794a46a311

Email Subscriptions powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe to all my blogs at once!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz