Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FriendFeed commenters, check your email...then check your settings!

Earlier today I wrote a post that pointed out three imperfections of FriendFeed. For purposes of this post, I'll concentrate on only a small portion of that post.

As for Twitter making changes on a whim, many notice that FriendFeed does the same thing also. Now I'm not of the school that believes that all of the changes in FriendFeed's latest beta had to be submitted to a vote of the users, but you have to acknowledge that FriendFeed entered the beta period, rarely communicated what was in the beta, didn't give advance notice of new features that would be in the beta, and didn't give advance notice of the time when the beta would be turned off and the new features would become standard in FriendFeed.

guruvan (Rob Nelson) took the time to respond to every one of my points. Here's how he responded to the point above:

FriendFeed gives [plenty] of advance notice to planned maintenance, changes and so on. You have to actually pay attention. Nobody can say that they didn't warn their users that the beta would take over. It ran for nearly a month, iwth a huge percentage of the most active FriendFeeders using it and talking about it. FriendFeed's staff regularly communicates with users, and was out actively helping people during the beta period, and was out In Full Force when the beta went live - it was an "all-hands-on-deck" roll-out for them. I saw FriendFeed staff everywhere on FriendFeed for that. When was the last time you saw a Twitter employee publicly (or privately) answer a question? Do you know how long it takes to get a support request answered on Twitter? More than months. Every single one of my support requests on FriendFeed have been answered personally by one of their staff.

I didn't read Nelson's response until this evening, and I thought he brought up some fair points. (I plan to try f2p when I get a chance.)

But then I saw an item from Susan A. Kitchens.

Did FriendFeed just do something different? I'm now getting emailed contents of FF posts or something.

That was the second comment of this type that I had seen this evening, so I went to check my email. Sure enough, I had several emails from the Empoprise-BI group, and one from my Natural User Interface group.

In the process of poking around to figure out what had happened (it turns out this was a bug), I discovered something else, as Tudor Bosman noted in FriendFeed Feedback:

We pushed a change to send email by default whenever somebody comments on your entries. You may turn this off from the notification settings page: http://friendfeed.com/settings/notifications

In essence, there was both a bug and a feature...and Susan was experiencing both of them.

Time to email tech support; they were helpful the last time around. I got emailed both your comments to this post.

Let's ignore the bug for the moment. Bugs happen. Let's go back to Tudor's explanation of the new feature, in the FriendFeed Feedback thread:

Note that we're only doing this for people who haven't already set their email notifications (if you went to the notification settings page and clicked "Save changes", we'll continue to obey your settings as you saved them)

This change was primarily aimed at users who don't check FriendFeed every day, who would like to know when somebody has taken the time to comment on their posts. I'm sorry if this is causing a huge volume of email for you active folks :)

Leather Donut captured my thoughts exactly:

Some heads up would have been nice.

At this point (a little after 10:30 pm), I don't know if this settings change is widely known. Some people are going to be mighty surprised when they check their email Wednesday morning, then find out that FriendFeed changed a setting behind their backs so that they'd know about incoming comments.

To those people, I guess we should just say "You have to actually pay attention."
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