ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

June 18, 2010

Why being a Facebook whale is an EPIC FAIL.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ifindkarma @ 6:49 pm

I love Facebook, but Facebook does not love me. Why? Because I am a Facebook whale. Allow me to explain…

A whale is someone who’s big.??(In??Ocean’s 13, for example,??the whale owned the air south of Beijing. Social gaming companies love whales.)

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On Facebook a whale is someone with 5000 “friends”, more or less. (A “Facebook friend” is a member of one’s “social graph“, and I traced the origin of the use of the word “whale” to refer to a heavy user of a social network back to??Friendster??in 2003-2004. I’m guessing “Facebook whale” came from former Friendster employee Nick Heyman when he moved to Facebook in 2005. By??2007,??Scoble??and??The Guardian??were talking publically about Facebook whales.)

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So… why does Facebook want to beach its whales?

In Facebook parlance: it’s complicated.

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Facebook does not allow its whales to have more than 5000 friends. For years Facebook has said??they want whales to have Facebook pages instead, because Facebook pages make them money. (For what it’s worth, I still think Facebook pages are ridiculous.)
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In any given day, a whale will lose several friends due to people quitting Facebook and people “unfriending” them, because Facebook users value “friends” less than a Whopper. Also, Facebook’s databases don’t stay synchronized so as a result if you keep reloading a whale’s page you’ll see different friend counts. This is how whales sometimes slip over 5000 friends occasionally.
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Once a whale hits 5000 “friends”, Facebook won’t let the whale add more friends until the whale loses some friends. Nonetheless, it is straightforward for anyone who so desires to become a Facebook whale. The more ambitious among us can do it??in a week.
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Facebook hates its whales. I’m not sure why. Possible explanations: whales stress Facebook’s technical architecture, whales detract from Facebook’s belief that you should only friend your friends, and whales cost Facebook a lot of money to serve because their demands are greater.

How do I know Facebook hates its whales? From talking with other whales. Sometimes Facebook randomly??accuses whales of being robots, and sometimes Facebook randomly disables accounts of whales, which is why??the 5000-friend limit causes anxiety??among whales.
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Nonetheless, it is likely??the 5000-friend limit has ripple effects.
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The benefit of being a Facebook whale is that whales always have someone interesting to talk with on Facebook. Since most of Facebook activity is about commenting on walls, links, and photos, the whales get the most serendipity when it comes to receiving feedback.
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The benefit to Facebook from having whales is that most Facebook activity involves a whale initiating, participating in, or spreading conversations on walls, links, and photos.
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However, there are many problems that come with being a Facebook whale. From my extensive use of Facebook on Chrome, Safari, IE, and Firefox, and via text messaging, as well as on iPhone, Android, and iPad, over many years, here are the top ten reasons by being a Facebook whale is an EPIC FAIL:
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10. Facebook does not stop people from sending me requests to be their friend, even though Facebook prevents me from accepting their request to be a friend.??What. The. Fuck???? In this way, the Facebook service embarrasses me many times a day, every day, because I have no good way to tell people that Facebook won’t let me be a friend. Rule number 1 of a social network: do not embarrass your users regularly. FAIL, Facebook, FAIL.
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9. Facebook does not let me “like” Facebook pages anymore because they’ve co-mingled the “social graph” and the “open graph”. So whenever I try to “like” a Facebook page, I get the message that I cannot “like” that thing because I have too many connections. In what social model does the number of “friends” one has limit the number of things one can “like”? Isn’t Facebook incentivized to collect “like” information from me, so they can make money selling me other things I might “like”? In short: Facebook is both hurting themselves because they cannot monetize me as well as they should, and also embarrassing me every day because Facebook forbids me from “liking” the good and good food??and??wonderful art and good food and??good wonderfully artistic food??of my friends! FAIL.
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8. Facebook has no migration path from profiles to pages.??How about a button I can press that automatically turns my Facebook profile into a Facebook page so I can take my friends with me? How about giving me all the functionality in my Facebook page that I enjoy in my Facebook profile? And while I’m ranting about this, let me add that it’s embarrassing to tell people they can’t “friend” me, they can only “like” me. FAIL.
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7. Facebook inbox rarely loads.??Maybe one in 10 times. I have to look in my gmail for Facebook messages, and usually I need to reply by email or text message, not Facebook. FAIL.
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6. Facebook iPhone app rarely loads.??It crashes often, hangs often, and photo uploading fails at least 80% of the time. This is one of the top reasons I ditched my iPhone??for an EVO. FAIL.
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5. Facebook invite widget crashes the browser. Which means I can no longer invite people to any Facebook events I set up. I have tested this with Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox — on Windows and Mac, on desktops and laptops and iPads. FAIL.
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4. Facebook events page rarely loads and the Facebook requests page rarely loads. As a result, I cannot see events I’m invited to, and I can’t see any requests from friends from applications, and I can’t see the add requests from new people. FAIL.
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3. Facebook’s text message interface regularly delivers responses to the wrong thread or wrong person, and sometimes delivers private messages to public places. Once again this embarrasses the living daylights out of me. Imagine my horror when the text message I sent in response to one status “Work that booty, George!!!” went to a friend who is a woman who is devoutly religious! Not to mention I have to explain to her who George is. Or explain to Catherine why a message to Heather ended up as a response to her thread. “Why are you calling me Heather???” I didn’t; I just texted a response, and Facebook delivered it improperly. Let me repeat that in capital letters. FACEBOOK DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE A MESSAGING SYSTEM THAT DELIVERS THE MESSAGE TO THE PERSON I INTENDED. IN 2010.??This texting snafu yesterday was a personal disaster: Private messages went public, and public messages went to the wrong people. And so yesterday I gave up. I stopped using the text message interface. And I’m really, really embarrassed by the whole situation, thereby violating rule number 1 of a social network. FAIL.
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2. It is impossible to keep track of the Facebook conversations I’ve participated in. I comment on a wall post, a link, or a photo, and then I have to pray that “Facebook notifications” tells me when someone has responded to it. Really? REALLY?? No. More often than not, the communication gets dropped in mid-conversation. Or I can sign up to get an email for every response. My “facebook” folder in gmail now has 24,000 unread messages in a year. TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND. Would a conversation console that is not just a lossy notifications panel really be a difficult thing to create, Facebook? FAIL.
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1.??Interesting conversations get buried.??If interesting conversations are impossible to keep track of and hard to find, Facebook remains??a superficial annoyance rather than a place for meaningful interactions that deepen the relationships we have with people we care about. And yet, because Facebook likes diluting its streams,??threads always get pushed down to the point where we can’t find them. Try to find a Facebook conversation you had 6 months ago. You can’t. I believe Facebook learned this bad behavior from Twitter, where any??gem??will also get quickly??buried. Searching Facebook for past conversations is like drinking the ipecac martini that is Twitter search. EPIC FAIL.
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I point out these ten items not out of hate, but out of love. I love Facebook, and I want to use Facebook more. I wish Facebook would love its whales, instead of making being a Facebook whale equate with EPIC FAIL.
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This post was humbly written by a panda and a whaleme.
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Will this post make a difference???We’ll see.
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3 Comments »

  1. Thank you, Aimee Lee Ball, for this wonderful New York Times piece titled "Reflections in the Facebook Mirror":http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/fashion/20CulturalFacebook.html

    Comment by Anonymous — June 19, 2010 @ 12:38 am

  2. Quora on the biggest Facebook end user challenges:http://www.quora.com/What-are-all-the-problems-with-Facebook-from-an-end-users-perspective

    Comment by Anonymous — November 29, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  3. Thanks for linking over here Adam. This one is going in my "link it rather than rewrite it" bookmark folder.

    Comment by Anonymous — December 23, 2010 @ 8:50 pm


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