Friday, February 26, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) Hey #friendfeed50 - @parislemon was (mostly) right about FriendFeed

Sometimes TechCrunch can't win.

Because TechCrunch is sometimes perceived to be a secret power player aligned with the Bohemian Club and the Illuminati, it sometimes seems that EVERYTHING that TechCrunch writes is suspect.

On Thursday, MG Siegler of TechCrunch wrote a post entitled FriendFeed Goes Down Hard. Both Remaining Users Pissed. The post opened as follows:

FriendFeed is down right now. It has been down for the past 30 minutes or so. Sadly, that’s not news anymore. Not because, like Twitter of old, it’s down all the time, but rather, because it seems like no one really uses it anymore. Case in point, it’s been down for over 30 minutes and there are maybe 50 total tweets about it (and several are from the same users).

Before I explore the reaction to Siegler's post, let me quote one other excerpt:

It’s sad, really. FriendFeed was easily one of my favorite services (so much so that I’m still waiting for another service to replace it). But since the acquisition by Facebook, it has been a ghost town. And now, with its 500 Internal Server Error, it’s really a ghost town. The impressive team behind FriendFeed (most are still with Facebook now) have indicated they wouldn’t let the service wither, but that seems to be exactly what is happening.

The reaction to the post? This must be some machination of TechCrunch! @mitchelmckenna:

Techcrunch decides to kick #Friendfeed while it's down:


50 people notice Friendfeed down? Techcrunch miss the mark again #37moreFriendfeedsearchesontwittersinceIstartedthistweet


Once again @techcrunch and @parisLemon show pure class about FriendFeed being down. Way to be the Perez Hilton of tech journalism... again

And @thevixy also reacted, but she subsequently deleted her tweet about the matter. And even if she didn't, this is a family blog. Let's just say that she doesn't hold TechCrunch in the highest regard.

Now I have to admit that I was not part of the #friendfeed50, but I have a good excuse. I'm on a business trip at the moment, and to catch my 6:30 am flight Thursday morning, I had to wake up at 3:30 am. On Thursday evening I was waiting for NBC's tape-delayed coverage of Laura Lepisto's free skate program, but I fell asleep some time after NBC showed a featurette about logging. So I slept through the first couple of hours of the FriendFeed outage, and Siegler had already written the notorious p.o.s.t. by the time I woke up.

Yet, with all due respect to Johnny, Caroline, et al...Siegler was mostly right about the reaction to FriendFeed's outage.

While FriendFeed undoubtedly has a passionate following - and I number myself among that following - the fact is that FriendFeed's userbase is just a speck compared to the user base of, say, Facebook. In my personal case, I wouldn't describe my stream as a "ghost town," since my stream happens to be populated by people like Johnny Worthington who have stuck with the service. However, FriendFeed usage is down significantly from August 2009.

Now compare FriendFeed's usage to that of, another service that everyone says is dead:

Yes, that's right - MySpace has ONE HUNDRED TIMES as many users as FriendFeed.

So if everyone agrees that FriendFeed is a vibrant and meaningful community, then it only follows that MySpace's community must be the greatest thing since Kim Yu-Na.

Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that some people don't see if that way. MG Siegler's post on Friendfeed, last I checked, had about 30 responses, many negative. Does that mean that if MG Siegler were to write a so-called "nasty" post about MySpace, the post would wind up with 3,000 responses, many negative?

Somehow I don't think so.

In the end, however, the utility of a service does not depend upon the number of people using the service, but the benefits that you receive from it. On Wednesday afternoon, one of my Facebook friends (one who is familiar with FriendFeed) made that very point, which prompted me to respond:

And I do not leave services simply because they are bought by a larger company.

However, my Facebook friend replied that if the smaller service loses its effectiveness because of the acquisition, then perhaps it is time to leave.

In my view, two outages in the last few days does not mean that FriendFeed is dead - if that were the criterion, then Twitter would have died years ago - and Bret Taylor's prompt responses in both instances indicate that Facebook does continue to see FriendFeed as a viable service. Just in case Twitter goes down (again), allow me to reproduce Bret's tweets about both outages. Here's the first:

Network failure in FriendFeed data center. We are working on it, should be back up soon.

9:23 AM Feb 20th via web
Retweeted by 44 people

Only 44 people used Twitter's so-called retweet to spread the word? Where were the other six members of the #friendfeed50 that day?

And here's the most recent:

FriendFeed majorly down due to major power outage for multiple racks. Embarassing; we apologize, and we are working on it.

about 3 hours ago via web \
Retweeted by 45 people
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