I am against FriendFeed etiquette. Over the past few months I have seen several suggestions and discussions about “FriendFeed Etiquette.” I would characterize all incidents as innocent suggestions by users trying to solve small problems they were having with FriendFeed.
The first example I saw of this was Duncan Riley mentioning FriendFeed etiquette. He posted,
“Thinking FriendFeed Etiquette. Obviously duplication is an ongoing issue, but I think people purposely reposting links to content directly on FriendFeed moments after the original person has it up is poor form. Sharing is one thing, doing this intentionally for attention isn’t.”
Duncan Riley was seeing abuse was attempting to suggest a way to curb the abuse. He was seeing blatant duplication by a few “bad apples.”
Next, a post by David Risley titled “FriendFeed Etiquette” that I liked but totally disagreed with. Here is an excerpt,
“Proper etiquette on FriendFeed is making your feed valuable to subscribers. Part of this is not only sharing interesting links, but also making sure you’re not adding to the noise by subjecting them to the same post multiple times when you use aggregate posting services like Ping.FM.”
Like Duncan Riley, David Risley was simply seeing abuse of the system. He was seeing users posting duplicate content for personal gain.
Finally, a posting by Mark Krynsky. He posted,
“FriendFeed etiquette. Find the original blog post to “Like” when you see other users promote it.”
I am not the only dissenting opinion. The following was posted by David Knight in a response to Mark Krynsky,
“It’s a nice idea but that’s not a point of etiquette, you’re being nice to do that but it shouldn’t be a required code of conduct – it’s too much trouble and people won’t do it. Just enjoy the discussion that popped up wherever it is and bask in the attention and extra traffic that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.”
FriendFeed is a great service but is certainly not perfect. I want to mention the level of development by the FriendFeed development team has been outstanding.
Noisiness is probably the main issue for the young application. Hope is evident as that this will change soon.
FriendFeed user Michael asked today, “Does friendfeed do post duplicate detection yet?” A comment by Bret Taylor indicates exactly their intentions as he stated,
“No, we don’t yet. But the engineer next to me is working on it”
Noise in the stream has been a topic of conversation for months. I first saw Hutch Carpenter mention it back in April when he wrote a post titled “Proposal to Clean Up the FriendFeed Clutter.”
But an informal Etiquette is not the answer even for the short term.
The FriendFeed Herd
A herd mentality can become a terrible thing. I am worried about the slippery slope of the herd judging user behavior. Self policing can be great. A good community though can go bad in a hurry. I was a active Digg user in the early going. The community did change.
I asked users on FriendFeed this question recently;
Former Digg users: What about Digg made you leave?
One user responded mentioning “Problem 1 – The cliques Problem.” As a casual Digg user I could easily see the power of the cliques. The top users on Digg still are the leaders of the herd. The system is controlled by the herd and more specifically the small herds in the form of powerful cliques.
FriendFeed has had a much different feel. FriendFeed has been well pretty friendly.
There will always be bad apples in every bunch. Although sad and a shame the inevitability of people abusing a service and ruining things for everyone seems to be a social networking fact.
Wikipedia describes herd mentality as;
“…how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items.”
The point is that etiquette although well intentioned risks moving further. It would certainly be easy for cliques to grow strong like Digg. Then what is stopping the cliques from making their own rules.
I do not want the FriendFeed herd to become an angry “unfriendly” mob.
Down with the Etiquette
FriendFeed is social networking. FriendFeed is sharing, learning, exploring, and experiencing new things. FriendFeed is about community but ultimately letting each user have there own experience. Each user can and should have the freedom to choose their own experience.
FriendFeed is also about community. The developers have given users great tools for self policing.
The Hide and Block functions are the appropriate means for eliminating noise and removing the bad apples from your stream. For more on the Hide function see this Louis Gray post.
Since FriendFeed is friendly let’s keep it that way.
Down with the etiquette and down with rules for each user. FriendFeed is in active development and the problems that etiquette seem to help with will not be around forever. Etiquette is not a noise solution. I fear it a rolling boulder that will snowball as it speeds down the FriendFeed mountain. The friendly place would be ruined.
User freedom should not be encroached upon. I am for user independence.
Down with FriendFeed etiquette! Long Live The User! Viva La FriendFeed!