- Go to this generic Facebook help form.
- Subject should be: convert group to page
- In the body provide the URL of the group and the page
Viewing entries tagged
Photo via Flickr by B I R D As I pointed out in my previous post, I use Facebook in the same way I use MySpace: a bit of personal communication but mostly artist-to-audience communication in the form of announcements, videos, calendar, etc. Because Facebook does not let you send messages to all or groups of your friends (I have 944 of them) and because I wanted to give people an explicit choice to receive such messages, I created a Facebook Group. I called it "GLOBAL Fans of Comedian, Author & Vigilante Pundit, Baratunde Thurston." The "GLOBAL" was because the first fbook group I created was limited to the Harvard network, and Facebook's staff said they could not change it once set that way. It's also because I will be taking over the world shortly. Over time, this group grew in size to nearly match the size of my email list. In fact, with the growth of these social networks, I noticed fewer and fewer people signing up for the email list at all. I used the group mostly to send my NewsPhlash email messages to group members, three or four times per month at most. It helped get people out to shows, announce cool accomplishments and get feedback from people on ideas. The Facebook group complemented my other "channels" if you will, which include
- My regular email list
- MySpace friends
- Blog/Podcast and associated RSS feeds
- Upcoming calendar and Twitter
Friendsterdecommissioned summer 1996 due to lameness
We are aware of the problem that you described and hope to resolve it as soon as possible. Sorry for any inconvenience. Let me know if you have any further questions.Between then and today, I had tried repeatedly testing the message feature. Nothing. So today I got ahold of a an anonymous source at Facebook. This person was kind enough to talk to me about some of what's going on. Out of respect for this person, I'm gonna keep the exchange anonymous and merely summarize many of the points we discussed
Point 1. Facebook is nervous about groups using the messaging system for SPAM and has some "limits" set up.SPAM? That's why I created the group in the first place -- to give people an explicit opt-in to my messages. Unlike actual SPAM, people can leave my group at any time. The message source is transparent. If people feel they are being spammed by their groups, they should leave. I wrote back explaining my frustration and thanking the person for taking the time to be in touch with me. Always thank people for their time yall, even if they disappoint you! I basically said I had been building up my group over months only to have it broken. The response was quite revealing. Again, summarizing some points.
Point 2. People sign up for Facebook assuming we're like MySpace, and we're not. We're a very different kind of service.Ok, tell that to your investors and the media and your users and the public and Microsoft and Yahoo who thought they were trying to buy something a lot like MySpace for $1 billion or more. If people sign up for your service expecting something, either provide it or make it clear to those people that they won't find what they're looking for. Don't get folks all invested then pull the rug out and say, "we don't support that." As for being a "very different" kind of service, I'm not so sure. Different, yes. "Very" different? Meh. More summary:
Point 3. Facebook is focused on "connecting real people with the people they know." Groups were designed for this, but users re-purposed them for things like promotion. We don't want to do the MySpace thing in the area of promotion. We think we can do it better.I can partially respect that. Facebook does get that users will build whatever they want and can with your tools but is not comfortable with that. Again, there is this point of not being MySpace, and I don't fully get it. Maybe they want less noise than the MySpace system which overwhelms me with event invites and grotesque HTML comments all over my profile. Man, it's good that Facebook's pleasant environment doesn't overwhelm me with meaningless communication like zombie bites or friend comparisons. Again, I gotta give it up to this person for a very professional and empathetic tone. I actually got screamed on by another Facebook engineer who was upset at how I tagged a video and, rather than discuss it with me, bitched about me behind my back to a friend. Good to know there are mature, thoughtful people at the company. Sad to know that the company is being so rigid about how people use a tool. Through continued correspondence I discovered that Facebook says it sets a limit for group messaging. Based on my experience, this limit must be around 500 or 600 people, but perhaps it's a bit different for different users. This, of course, doesn't apply to sponsored groups like "Apple Students" with 400,000+ members, but Apple is paying for the privilege. Me? I'm not spending any money except on silly $1 gifts. All I'm doing is being an active node in the network and increasing its value by providing valuable, ad-monetizeable metadata about myself and my friends. All I'm doing is being Facebook, but what do I know? This is all very troubling. I invested a lot into Facebook, but I've discovered, painfully, that Facebook doesn't value me nearly as much as I'd hoped. I took one of my most important assets, my relationship with my fans, and allowed Facebook to mediate a large portion of it. Sure, I still have my email list and blog subscribers and my pedophiliac MySpace friends, but the loss of access to my Facebook group will be felt. Facebook users are still largely college folks, and that's one of the few groups that will actually pay me to perform. Meanwhile, I have to come up with a way to patch this hole. Unlike an email list, I cannot simply load my Facebook friends into another system as I would if I moved from Topica to Constant Contact. There is no Internet standard for a "Facebook user" like there is for an email address, and that's one fatal flaw in the system for anyone who plans to outlive Facebook. At least Facebook and MySpace have not been my end-all, be-all web presence like some folks I know. This has served as a wake-up call for me and hopefully others. Build and own your online presence. I knew this when I registered baratunde.com way back in 1998 and began managing my own email. I got a bit lazier in recent years, but I'm glad I still have my Baratunde-controlled universe to fall back on. Too bad I can't message my Facebook group and tell them about it. Epilogue - My Plan of Action I cannot afford to wait for Facebook to fix my group messaging, and even if they fixed it sooner, I no longer trust the service with such valuable information. I will keep my Facebook account, but I have closed my Facebook group to new members (what's the point if I can't communicate with them?) and will be sending them individual Facebook messages asking them to follow me in some other, more open, portable, non-hostage-taking way. I'll be adding forums to my own site and encouraging people to follow me with RSS. This will take a lot of time, but it's worth it. Contracting out major parts of your business has a huge long term cost, though on paper it looks more economical. I think we've all learned this lesson. It's sad, I had fun making people random officers in my group with such titles as "Dirty South Regional Enforcer of the Family Name" and "Awkward Turtle Whisperer." I had hoped to eventually make 50 people officers, but Facebook has an officer limit. Nice. More artificial limits on my creativity. I wish it were as simple as saying, "see Baratunde, that's what you get for believing in Facebook," but it is not that simple. I didn't just "believe" in Facebook. This was not a faith-based decision. I used it because that's where the people are. I stopped using Friendster because the people left. The "Internet" has all sorts of more open tools I could use to do what I was doing with Facebook, but millions of people have chosen Facebook instead. It seemed foolish to ignore that. Will people show up just to see me without having their friends, photos and Zombie bites one glance away? Facebook has become to the Internet what RSS readers are to the blogosphere. As I mentioned in a comment on my previous Facebook post:
...no matter how open a system I build/take advantage of, it is worthless if no one is there to use it. I don’t use facebook for fun. I do it because the people I want to communicate with are there, and they are not willing to work with me right now to cobble together the equivalent of an open social network / event manager / messaging platform / internet application storefront / discussion board. Yes it is true that I could individually manage all those pieces, but I guarantee you, only a handful of the people I’m trying to reach would follow me.I suppose it is time to find out. You can follow Baratunde's musings, show schedule, videos and more at www.baratunde.com, and he promises not to hold you hostage.
- Fix the distinction between what's available to profiles and groups. I've created a group on Facebook for fans. I post select photos and videos, news updates and gigs there, but I cannot install apps to my group.
- I'd love to put a SplashCast player in my group or a blip.tv channel of my podcasts.
- My profile has the wall, but so does my fan group along with a bulletin board. So messages are spread all over my Facebook experience
- allow me to create custom groups and give me the choice of these groups when I add a friend. For me, I'd choose groups based on conferences/events and real world friends vs fans. Example groups: high school friends, track team, SXSW black bloggers, comedians, BookExpo crew, Iowa State gig, people denied habeas corpus by the Bush administration, etc.
- allow me to use the information about my friends. Most important is for me to message them all at once whether based on their user info (like geography) or my user tagging mentioned above. For example, I'd like to send a note to all SXSW friends in advance of the festival next year to see who is returning.
- Highly relevant to me, I'd like to send out performance announcements to people in a particular city. Right now, there is no group messaging capability short of creating a Facebook group for every subsegment. When I announce a show using my fan group (the only way to send bulk messages) I have to send it to everyone. A show in New York reaches people in Hong Kong. It's a waste. You know what I do today? I open two Facebook windows: one to write the message and another where I search for friends in the city of interest. Then I manually type in addresses up to the 20-recipient limit, and I do this until I'm finished. This is so weak. This may have something to do with preventing SPAM, but I would pay for a workaround.
- I would also like to do interesting mashups and cross-tabs on my contacts. I'm a data analysis junkie. It's what years of consulting has done to me. What apps are popular among my SXSW friends? What books are my high school friends reading? You have the data, Facebook. Let me at it!
- save messages into folders
- search my messages
- send messages groups of people, defined by "how do I know this person" or geography or whatever
- flag messages for followup
- block receipt of messages by certain people
- basically, facebook needs a gmail-like email client built in, not this cheap "messaging" crap. That's great for Red Bull-infused college kids with no real responsibilities, but in the real world, I need to keep track of my messages and actually follow up with people
- a an apps dashboard which ranks apps by the total number of users and the total number of my friends using it
- a way to view apps by type. There are several apps that do exactly the same thing. Bundle them so I can compare more easily
- app ratings should be built right into the platform
- I want to screen app notifications based on ratings and the app type. I could tell Facebook not to notify me of any game apps with a rating less than 3 of 4 stars. This would cut back on a lot of the crap out there. MS Windows is a platform that I use on a regular basis, but I don't get notified every time a developer launches a new windows application or every time my friends install a new version of Word.
- There should be a category for "Stupid" apps as well so I can block those. If I get another Zombie "bite" I'm going to have to dig up a dead person, inject them with the Rage virus, and set them loose on the developers of Facebook.
- allow me to join multiple geographic networks.
- consider a "primary" network with multiple secondary networks
- total photo views, video play counts and profile views
- especially for video, a way to see where the viewers came from: my profile page, a pass-along, a friend's profile page
- just give me something like "Facebook Analytics" and call it a day
Jeremiah, I have over 900 facebook friends, and I'm telling them to avoid your application and all Slide.com apps due to the massively irresponsible way in which you built the program. My Questions spammed my friends with a question about "Las Vegas vs. South Beach." I was not asked if I wanted to send this question. I only knew because I started getting responses back. If you do provide an opt-out, it is horribly unclear. In addition, your program emails me on my personal email account anytime someone asks or answers a question. I can find no way to change this setting. I am severely disappointed in your implementation of this app and will do all in my power to prevent my friends from using it. I am looking for three things from your company. 1) an apology for the irresponsible manner in which you built the app and the valuable time you have wasted in people's lives 2) a revision of your app to prevent such massive spamming, and yes, it is spamming since I did not authorize it in a clear way 3) better controls on how the application notifies users, specifically a CLEAR way to opt out of emails.
My friend and social network expert extraordinaire, danah boyd, is curious about how/why people use the messaging service, Twitter. After seeing (via Twitter) that my boy Jason Toney posted his responses publicly, I was inspired to do the same. danah's got questions. I've got answers.
note: you can follow my tweets right here.
1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?
I started using it at SXSW 2007 as a way of
- alerting fellow conference goers of my impressions of panels, concerts and whereabouts
- finding out the same from them
- replacing Dodgeball, which I never really liked
- pure communication. I had lost my speaking voice, so my tweets supplemented that
Now I use it as a micro-blogging tool providing updates on everything from my emotion at the moment to funny observations to short opinions on the news. I also:
- carry on conversation threads with twitter friends
- post links to some of my published blog and podcast entries
- use it as a light social bookmarking tool, visiting recommended links from friends
- use it as a light RSS reader, with some friends being blogs like Ars Technica or TechCrunch
If RSS readers and widgetized portals are an abstraction of the online experience, then Twitter is an abstraction of this abstraction. I like it because it gives me just enough access to a wide range of Internet functionality. Dodgeball was great for declaring and discovering one's location, but that was too limiting
Twitter is a micro-blogging, micro-email, micro-IM, micro-newsreader, micro-chatroom, tool which is very easy to use. I like it for its versatility and the many interface modes it supports. I find myself switching from IM to Web to Twitterific to SMS seemlessly depending on my circumstances
Dislikes. Not many. These are more "would like to haves" I I agree with Jason that a warning about SMS traffic should be prominent from Twitter. Even the mobile IM client gets overloaded and bogs down my phone from time to time.
2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.
I have many different networks of people in my life. The folks following my Tweets are part of the new media, SXSWi, wacky web kids network. I would actually love it if more of my networks were in my twitter world, most notably comedians, political activists and more of my personal friends.
This is the quandry I face with any network-based communications/publishing platform: my people are too dispersed across several platforms or not on any at all. Facebook grabs my college folken. IM is good for work people and friends with gmail. Flickr is very narrow.
What I'd really like is if Twitter had some gateways between it and my status message on these other platforms. I completely stopped updating my Facebook status once I found twitter because Twitter was superior. I just feel bad that my Facebook folks are missing out.
Right now, I leave my facebook status as: www.twitter.com/baratunde
3. How do you read others' Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?
I generally keep Twitter running on my BlackBerry via Google Chat. If I'm at my Mac, I leave Twitterific on. Twitter is the stock ticker of my social web world. I don't feel the need to see every single message, but am happy knowing that I can drop into the conversation at any moment and see what's up.
Aside from my wacky web friends, I use Twitter to follow commentary by influencers I respect, such as Robert Scoble. It absolutely made my day when he responded to one of my Tweets. I've heard of this man for years and never come close to engaging with him, but the day his tweet started with "@baratunde" I thougt I'd die. It was like Michael Jordan mentioning my name at a press conference or something -- what an acknowledgment
I miss the tweets of Leo Laporte, but I've pretty much gotten over it.
Generally, the tweets I read are a way of maintaining a link to people I've met but maybe didn't know that well. It's a way of keeping the conversation going well beyond the initial handshake
I've only "left" one Twitter friend so far, and that's because he Tweets in German, and I don't understand that language.
I've been tempted to leave @spin several times because he uses Twitter as a long form stream of consciousness which happens to be broken into 140 character chunks rather than writing for the 140 characters. He is by far my most prolific Twitter friend, but I've stayed on.
4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?
I avoid the super personal that may involve others not down with Twitter. I won't post Tweets about my love life or use friends' names. I use the same rules as blogging but have to be more careful because Twitter is such an easy, impulse-driven tool.
The fact that updates are so short removes a lot of the thought process which would go into a blog entry and perhaps slow down my urge to publish.
I try not to Tweet when I'm very angry. I also try to keep a lid on information which is professional in nature (client work I'm doing) or sort of unconfirmed (like my audition for a certain TV network. I don't want to put that out there until I get it!)
5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don't know coming across them? What about people you do know?
Absolutely yes, but if I were not pursuing a public career, I doubt they would be. As with most social media type tools, I view Twitter as part marketing. It's another "thought outlet" for me and the brand I'm building as a comedian and political satirist / analyst and all around guy to know. Twitter is primarily a publishing platform for me, and Iwant as many people to see them as possible.
I want folks to know that I'll tweet about CES and SXSW and George Tenet's punk ass book and the DC Comedy Festival. Twitter regularly rives a good portion of my web traffic (18 5 percent over the past week), and it's a piece of my overall media empire.
Twitter is a way for people to get to know me, and I'm cool with that.
6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?
Twitter does not work with friends who are essentially private in the old school way. Many friends don't see the point of it at all and think they would have nothing to share. Most of my friends have no idea what Twitter is or that I use it. It's a very niche tool which only exists for the plugged in or the super-curious willing to experiment with being one of the plugged in.
Many of my friends still don't use IM, so Twitter is just insane.