I think some people miss the point of Friendfeed, just like they miss the point of Facebook or any other social network. A social network is all about networking and reciprocating. It’s all about talking to one another. But if you subscribe to someone and they don’t return the favour, that isn’t networking, that’s just being downright rude. It’s like standing in the middle of a street and talking to a brick wall. It also defeats the whole point of social networking in the first place.
The people who miss the point of Friendfeed think that the actual purpose of doing it is to amass as many followers as possible, that it is an online popularity contest (“look! I have 1000 friends! I’m REALLY popular!”). When in actual fact, it should be the opposite. What you SHOULD be doing to make the most out of it is to refine your Friendfeed network to the people you are friends with the most, the friends you talk with the most, the people whose content you appreciate the most, and who appreciate YOU the most. If you don’t do this, then all you’re going to end up with is a whole lot of noise and other people’s content pushed upon you while your content gets lost and ignored.
To help you do this effectively, let me point you in the direction of a very powerful and effective tool called FriendVenn written by a Friendfeeder called Felix. Right away, you’re going to shriek at me and say “aaagh! this app wants my Friendfeed password!”. Well, what can I say? Felix professes to be trustworthy and a lot of other Friendfeeders also trust him enough to have used the app in the past. No-one has complained yet that their accounts have been taken over. So I guess it’s ultimately up to you. If you’re really freaked about giving your password, you can do this and then change the password immediately afterwards to something else. Then you can sleep easily at night, knowing that your account is safe and secure!
Right, with that out of the way, what does FriendVenn do? Well, what this tool does is analyze your Friendfeed friends and separates them into three columns :
- Those that ARE following you but you are not following them
- Those that are following you and you are also following them (the ideal scenario)
- Those that are NOT following you and you are following them (the worst case scenario)
Now obviously you want everyone to be in the middle column and if everyone is already there then congratulations. You don’t need to do anything else. You can move on and do something else. But if any of your contacts are in any of the other two columns then you have some work to do to fix that.
If any of your contacts are in the first column then that is easily solved. Go to their Friendfeed profile and follow them. Easy. They’ll then move into the middle column and everyone’s peachy. But if they are in the third column, then it’s time to consider whether or not you should unsubscribe from them. As I said, Friendfeed is all about reciprocating and meeting you halfway. If you’re subscribing to them but they are not showing any interest in you, then what are you getting out of the deal? A bunch of names who couldn’t care less about you and your work? Is that what you call a “friend”? If so, you might want to redefine the word “friend”.
Saying that however, if you only subscribed to their feed a few days ago or last week, you might want to give them a little more time. They may be on holiday or they may be sick or they may be busy at work. So try to remember when you subscribed to that particular feed if you can. Not everyone is a big web junkie who checks their email and their feeds every few minutes or every few hours (believe it or not). I got rapped across the knuckles some time back by someone who reminded me not too subtly that he “wasn’t married to his email” (unlike me – I live virtually 24/7 in my email inbox!).
I managed to filter out 21 people whom I was subscribed to who weren’t subsequently returning the favour. Using FriendVenn, it was then a simple case of clicking through to those profiles and unsubscribing.
FriendVenn is a web app you should keep in your favourites and use on a regular basis to houseclean your Friendfeed profile. Maybe by unsubscribing from the people who don’t “get it”, those people will get the hint that social networking really is all about reciprocating and meeting you halfway.
That’s what “friends” do, you know?
By Mark O’Neill