Sorry FriendFeed, But I Agree With Robert Scoble

FriendFeedI’ve been with Friendfeed since February 2008 and I still love it, but I admit, probably not as much as I used to. There have been lots of ups and downs but mostly ups. It was very exciting seeing new faces and watching the site grow and gain popularity. But over time, something changed.  What was it?

What I’ve noticed:

Things got cliquey. Unpopular opinions were quickly and combatively damned.  There’s nothing wrong with having a different opinion, even if it’s wrong.  But tolerance for diverse viewpoints is no longer a strong point for Friendfeed, as it was at its peak.

Those who agree with me will admit they’ve held back opinions and participation because of this.  I believe this is a big contributor to the decrease of interaction in Friendfeed.  Where have the political discussions gone?  What about the important conversations about race, world issues, etc.  And I mean real discussions, not just a thread full of affirmations.  This has been a real loss for Friendfeed as it has affected the number of interactions on all threads.  And what we’re left with is what Scoble is troubled by, which, more or less, I agree with.

Now, it’s not all bad.  I appreciate all the random stuff that pops up on Friendfeed.  I just wish there was more balance.  It’s easy for anyone to speak up when they know most of the people around support their view.  However, if we don’t encourage diversity of opinions, all we encourage is the echo chamber effect.

This is not to say that I’m done with Friendfeed, because I still find it very useful and rewarding.  I just don’t use it as often or for the same purposes.  Do I think Friendfeed is doomed?  No, definitely not.  However, I think there needs to be a change in mentality of the community.

What’s been your experience with Friendfeed lately?

  • holdenpage

    I agree about differing opinions.

    But that has been a problem for a long time

    When scoble was active on FF I said in a thread I am “more or less republican and I feel odd here being so”

    Scoble called me, and all other republicans, idiots. I will have to find the thread but it was despicable.

    He lead the mob that time and he might talk about being open all he wants, he isn't. All he does is push his own agenda, otherwise, I would take what he said with at least a grain of salt.

  • Scoble has a lot to answer for in his own behaviour. I'm not agreeing with his behaviour, just his sentiment about chatroom/forum problem

  • Diversity is something that seems to be dwindling on FriendFeed, so I agree with you there. It might also have to do with the fact that many people are not investing their time and energy into FriendFeed as much as before because there is still that uncertainty that it will be around in the long haul. I think what you are saying is the opposite of what Scoble was saying though. You are asking for diversity and acceptance of each other's opinion and interests, while Scoble was indicating there is a lack of one subject (i.e. tech-related discussions) being discussed. Great post.

  • You're absolutely right Shevonne, I think the lack of diversity is a contributor, not necessarily the root of the problem.

    Scoble and I use the site for different purposes and objectives, so we expect different things out of it.

    Thanks 🙂

  • ahr19

    I feel people are just wary of investing time and a lot of energy into Friendfeed b/c the future is still cloudy. I just to have it logged on all day and now only two or three times a day. I will still aggregate stuff there but not much convo going on. Good thing for the IM notifier.

  • Definitely a concern as well. I think interaction has decreased since the Facebook announcement, but it's been downhill since before then.

  • Sorry, Republicans are idiots. 🙂 Geesh, it's politics. If you want to identify yourself as a member of a group then expect to be called an idiot. I get called an idiot all the time. I'm sure you're calling me one under your breath. At least I'm transparent about it.

  • Holden, stop trolling Scoble all over the web. (Signed, your boss) 🙂

  • My usage of Friendfeed has gone way down over the last few months. Part of it is because I now have a full time, steady design job and I don't have as much time to be on Friendfeed. But, at the same time, since the Facebook buyout things just don't feel the same when I go there and it really gets kind of depressing.

    Friendfeed has always been a place where I felt I could go and be around people who have the same interest as me. Something I can't really get out of the people I live around for the most part. It has always been separate from Facebook and Twitter for me as I try to use each one for different purposes. I just hope that all the great people there will be easy to find and keep up with across the internets.

  • holdenpage

    Oh, trust me scoble. I think you're an idiot 🙂

    I don't think there is much of a need for me to be more open about it

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  • app

    Yes, the really great discussions are fewer and farther between than they used to be, but I don't think it has anything to do with friendfeed becoming cliqueish, because I don't think it has.

    I would like to see more of that type of discussion, myself. There were a few channels that I thought had some hope, but they seem to have fizzled out, with nobody posting in them any more.

    But at the same time, you have to understand that anywhere you go, an unpopular view isn't likely to be embraced, and is likely to be jumped all over. Subjects like politics, religion, race, and gender disparity are traditionally topics that can cause much heated debates and argument when opposing viewpoints are expressed. But that's a good thing, in my opinion, so let it be so. On most “nice” forums, they are the forbidden subjects, for just this reason. They can turn friends into enemies at the drop of a hat and make otherwise nice people turn into “monsters”.

    But if you have something on your mind you'd like to discuss on these subjects, by all means, post your views, no matter how unpopular you think they are. When kept to oneself, an unpopular view can be nothing but. But out in the open, no matter how heated the debate gets, it has a chance to becoming more popular, as you have the opportunity to change minds.

    It is better to post the topics you'd like to discus than to complain that nobody else is posting the topics you'd like to discuss. Take charge and be in control of the content in your feed. And don't worry, I won't unsubscribe if you say something I don't agree with. I am not that petty, and I prefer to follow people that speak their mind, even if it is contrary to my point of view.

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  • Shey this is a great write up. My tardiness aside in responding (I know… busyness), I think the amount of affirmation on friendfeed is relatively high but it's low by comparison to twitter. My involvement on twitter has unfortunately very gradually declined because of the repetition and constant affirmation. It doesn't only apply to tech posts, this problem applies to every topic ranging from ebooks to creativity — it's a massive cultivation of groupthink. Maybe I've become philosophical or too introspective (not to take from your blog's name) …

    Very few ideas are challenged seriously, fewer are built upon into something larger, and even fewer controversial ideas are discussed. I'm not attempting to be negative but it's as if everyone is adverse to discourse. Some may say that twitter isn't the proper forum for it and that may be true but if people aren't even willing to respond with a few words to disagree, it illustrates to me (at least) that the probability of them responding in a lengthier context is relatively low. That said, twitter, friendfeed, and Facebook tends to be large platforms for people to output or regurgitate content.

    If we talk about diversity of opinions and ideas, then both twitter and friendfeed (or any of these social media tools) ultimately fail because despite its growth only a select demographic and market will utilize these tools. I know I may regret saying this at some point but currently, the most diverse group of opinions I've observed so far tends to be on newspaper websites — Globe and Mail for example.

    I should stop now … 🙂

  • Why stop? You're making some really key points here. Social media sites like Twitter and Friendfeed only emphasize the conundrum of the so-called “wisdom of the crowd”. Without discussion and consideration of viewpoints, how do evaluate merit? Without that, it just ends up being a popularity contest.

    I totally agree with you on the newspaper websites — I've seen opinions from all kinds of angles there.

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