Archive for March, 2012

You always hurt the ones you love. Now, I love Facebook, and I’d like to think that Facebook loves me. Not “me” me – I’m a few years to old to think of FB as a way of life, but about half a million fans on FB do love my little company and interacting with them is the sweetest part of my day. When we ask ourselves why do we  work, very few people have a fanatical community who wants to explain it to them.

So with all this Facebook love to go around, it’s no wonder that I keep on getting hurt. Behold the ugly side of Facebook’s motto “Move fast and break stuff”.  A motto like that is like having ‘Heartbreaker’ tattooed on your butt: it sounds excitingly subversive, until you remember that having a broken heart is really really horrible. And hearts are technically free, whereas every time Facebook decides to play fast and easy with its features I lose a chunk of cash. And that hurts.

Every few months I end up with a mental list, the relationship equivalent of “Facebook, we should probably talk about how you acted at the party the other night.” It’s not a breakup talk, just a friendly reminder that you’ve been an insensitive jerk and I expect some serous flowers to make up for it. But unlike my long-suffering guy at home, I can’t force Facebook to pretend to listen to me. I can technically list my gripes as bugs, but I’ve seen so many long-running FB bug threads closed with no resolution that it seems silly. Which leaves me ranting to my social media manager, or, more often, muttering to myself in the shower.

Well no more! Why rant alone in my shower when we can keep score of FB’s biggest offenses together! Here are the two that currently have me venting my spleen at the shampoo bottle.

1) Facebook Fanpage Hidden Posts. Every successful Facebook fan community is going to attract spammers, trolls, and folks who want to enlarge your anatomy. Let me illustrate two different scenarios for dealing with it. In the first, FB culls posts that have subject matter unrelated to the page topic, or suspicious links, or repetitive content (like a chain letter or ad). The offending posts are hidden from the public, but not the page admin who can deal with them at their leisure.

In the second scenario, FB culls posts that come from high-volume posters, thereby penalizing the most important fans for being ‘too engaged’. The offending posts are hidden from the page admin, but NOT the public who are still free to read and reply away. So you probably won’t know that there’s a screaming flame war going on in your page until you happen to check your spam filter days later.

I’m sorry to say FB Fanpages use the latter scenario, and the only workaround is to think of your ‘Hidden Posts’ area as a second Wall that needs to be curated in paralel. It makes it so much more difficult to catch spammers than it would if this feature used a proper algorithm, or actually “hid” its hidden posts, or, say, didn’t exist.

2) Facebook Comment Box. The most amazing idea ever; the ability to embed Facebook commenting threads into any html page. I can only assume that whoever thought it up was immediatly given a raise and a pony. It has every little thing a coder could ask for to host long, multi-threaded conversations with easy admining and crowd control. It even looks pretty.

So what’s the one thing, the only possible thing that could make this amazing feature completely useless? How about an inability to have comments default to chronological order? Yes, you heard right, this tool, created to follow developing conversations, has an arbitrary default order based on the commenter’s ‘social clout’ (an internally calculated number only FB understands). A crazy out-of-date comment can take priority over something said 5 minutes ago. Questions and responses no longer come before, or even near each other. The laws of causality have been suspended!

What does it mean? Well, at best, someone viewing the page will see really dated comments and assume the topic is old and busted. They’ll leave and tell all their friends that your page is lame. At worst, because, let’s face it,you probably have the highest social clout of all your commenter, your posts will float to the top and it’ll look like you’re the only one commenting. On your own posts. So lame.

You think I’m kidding, but right now the  only visible comments on one of my threads are: Me:It’s Yellow, to match!(4 days ago) Me: Aren’t bunnies great? I think this one should be pink(5 minutes ago) Me:I totally agree, but you should have seen it before(1 day ago) Me:Go Axolotl!(2 days ago) Me: I’m really sorry to hear it, could you send us a picture(5 days ago). Facebook has tried to offer some kind of solution by offering reverse chronological order as one of the hidden options available, but as of right now I have yet to see even one user try it. How is it possible to somehow overlook the”Thread” part of having a”Commenting Thread“?

Anyway, Facebook, I’m not dumping you, but you really can’t keep breaking this fragile heart of mine.  I’m expecting some serious flowers, buster.


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