FriendFeed – save me from myself

FriendFeed is becoming less useful to me and it’s my fault. As i’ve written previously, people often ruin their own experiences and it’s up to good product design to help solve this challenge.

FriendFeed, like many new communication channels, was originally very high signal:noise — i tracked just a few of my friends and thus was always interested in checking out what they had posted, shared or favorited. Then i started adding more friends as people joined the service, in reciprocation to those subscribing to my thread and because FriendFeed released a “find your friends” tool. Whoom – much noise introduced. And FriendFeed exacerbated this by adding Friend of a Friend posts to my default view.

So as much as i love FF, i’ve already seen my usage patterns change. Now i’ve primarily turned it into EgoFeed where i check just my own feed to see if anyone has liked or commented on my items. My rate of looking at my friends has dropped dramatically.

What do i want? Better filters on my combined feed view. For example:
> allow me to only see Friend’s posts that were liked or commented by others or allow me to sort by this
> let me mute one of my friend’s services or a service in general – maybe i really don’t care about Picasa web albums for Friend X or Picasa web albums in general
> let me friend but not follow someone – i know this is totally counter to the whole purpose of FF, but it will allow me to remember that an acquaintance uses the service without adding them to my combined feed view
> let me turn off Friends of a Friend postings

FriendFeed, URLs and squatting

When some former Google colleagues launched FriendFeed this week I immediately signed up. Then I did what I always do when a new high-profile Internet service launches — I checked if they registered the normal set of typos. One of my earliest gigs at Google was helping to build our AdSense for Domains business before the general internet (and investment) community really understood the power of direct navigation. So i’m pretty familiar with users and their traffic patterns. If you’re going to build a large destination site, snapping up the following URLs is usually a good idea. It’ll save you money later.

The destination URL
FriendFeed.com: Owned by Bret Taylor (FF founder), registered 2005

The usual suspects

  • The Dot.Net variant
    • FriendFeed.net: NO – Owned by someone in Arizona, created July 2007, redirects to a Google Apps iGoogle page
      • note – .com extensions are much stronger than .net, you really don’t get as much “oops, was that a .net or .com, but people often register the .net as a safeguard anyway
  • The most common misspelling
    • FrendFeed.com: YES – Owned by Bret Taylor, registered in Sept 2007 (must have been when they were getting serious about launching).
      • other misspellings should be considered based upon how likely they are and the size of your audience, etc (see below)
  • The WWW variant
    • wwwFriendFeed.com: NO – Registered by a squatter in NY on Oct 1 – the same day FriendFeed launched (surprise!). Has a two-click ads implementation (where the landing page has categories, then you click to get PPC ads for that category). Look at their WhoIs entry. When your Technical Contact is “Legal Department” do you think that looks a little guilty?
        • the www is a common typo. Free advice: register this for your trademark
  • The Com.com variant
    • friendfeedcom.com: NO – Another squatter. This one Romanian and registered on October 2. Two-click ads implementation.
        • Same advice as above – the com.com is another common typo

For all these, the subsequent variations and misspellings then are just a function of how large the parent domain gets. For example if you get 100 hits a day to friendfeed.com, then frendfeedcom.com likely isn’t getting any traffic. But take that to 1 millions hits a day, and you might see even a few hits going to very strange variants. All of this can be influenced by factors such as:

  • the savvy of your audience (young/old, english speaking/foreign)
  • feed vs bookmark vs type-in traffic for your site
  • complexity of your domain name (coined word, generic noun, length, sound alike?, synonyms, etc)

Good luck to Bret and team! You may want to spend some of Fenton’s $ to get those other domains before you get too big or just start your WIPO Domain Dispute now since they take a while.