December 30, 2007

10 Suggestions for FriendFeed

Over the last two months, I've become a FriendFeed addict. The innovative service essentially aggregates my activity from a diverse set of Web communities and presents it in one place. That defines the "feed". The "friend" half of their name refers to the fact I can subscribe to my friends, or other interesting people, and follow them as well. Needless to say, as the service gains in popularity, it has become increasingly useful, and I would love to see the following things happen for the site to get to the next level.

1) Add a small bio or profile to each person's individual feed page

As noted the other day, FriendFeed gives every user their own page, but doesn't have any background information - in effect, acting like the "anti-Facebook". I believe the service would have a lot to gain if I could optionally put in my company, my interests, my university, etc. While this would be yes, yet another profile, it would be tremendous to have the option to subscribe to all employees from a specific company or to subscribe to other alumni, for example.

2) Add the option to not see updates from particular services

By opting in to follow a FriendFeed user (like me), by default I see all of their updates, from their blog, from Twitter,, when they add items to their Amazon Wish List, etc. But sometimes, finding out a person has posted 46 items to their Twitter just doesn't have value for me. I would like to be able to block any service I choose.

3) Given the above, add the option to not see specific updates from specific users

If I gained the option to block a service, I'd like to do it on a granular level, for instance blocking one person's Twitter feed, but opting in to another. For those people where I'd like to see their blog activity, and bookmarks, that doesn't necessarily mean I want to also learn what songs they like.

4) Add the option to follow a specific user's comments

FriendFeed recently added the option to make comments to specific updates, or to "Like" them. Often, I see comments from others I've subscribed to on those items. But I bet they're also likely making comments on feeds I'm not watching. I assume from the user's personalized feed page, I should have the option to "See this user's comments".

5) Add the option to make comments directly to the FriendFeed

Last week, FriendFeed had a special "Festivus" feature that let you air grievances directly onto the feed. A few of my grievances? "There's just not enough Festivus for the rest of us", "Paul Buchheit's blog should have a line at the top, saying, 'Dude, I invented friggin' GMail. Have you heard of it?' " and "Facebook applications involving vampires, winking, and throwing crap are completely useless."

But with the close of the holiday, this option disappeared. Obviously, FriendFeed has the capability to bring this back at any time, and those of us who saw its utility would like to see it return.

6) Add the option to share a private message for specific friends

Assetbar has the option to share specific URLs or messages to a subset of users by checking a "Private" box, and then selecting the recipients. Today, FriendFeed shares all activity with all users, without granularity. I would like the option to either send a specific comment to some people, or to specifically highlight an item from my feed to a subset of people.

7) Add a FriendFeed leaderboard

As silly as it seems, geeks like being measured and competing. It would be interesting for me to learn who the most commonly subscribed FriendFeed users are. It's likely there are some insightful people that I'm not familiar with, and this would be a good way to find them. While I could troll my own Subscriptions to see who they're subscribed to, one by one, or I could watch the Public Feed, a leaderboard would go a long way. Taking this a step further, the site could probably show us who shares the most total items, who Twitters the most, who shares the most items from Google Reader, etc.

8) Develop a Mobile Version of FriendFeed

I'm now occasionally sneaking peeks at FriendFeed using my Blackberry or my brand-new iPod Touch when I'm away from the laptop (as rare as that is), and while FriendFeed has an RSS feed, a Facebook app, and the ability to embed the application in iGoogle or my blog, there's no slimmed down version for my mobile phone for quick reading. With more and more people utilizing the mobile Web and surfing on their iPhones, the addition of this will be essential.

9) Customization of the Feed Page.

As with Google Reader's bare shared items page, the default feed on FriendFeed is simply text on a white background. While not every social network service has the option to "skin" a page, offering different looks for text or background colors, it's certainly nice to have. Spokeo offers this ability, offering users a range of colors, from red to orange, green, blue, purple and gray.

10) The Ability for Users to Suggest New Services

As I mentioned a few days ago, only Google allows customers to add an infinite number of services. With both FriendFeed and MyBlogLog, I simply select from a list they've already pre-determined. As there is undoubtedly a certain level of engineering required, I recognize it's not automatic, but I'd like to add my profile for Ballhype (e.g. Louis hyped 3 stories and made 42 game picks at Ballhype) and likely will find other services of note that have a common URL and user name path.

It can be hard to find fault with a service I already like as much as this one, and that's not how this post is intended. I just happen to want the service to be tremendously successful, and think you should be part of it.

If you're not already a FriendFeed user, you're certainly missing out. You can start with my feed here, or if you need a login, send me an e-mail, and I'll be happy to invite you.

For other suggestions on how to improve other popular products, see:

10 Suggestions to Improve Google Reader
10 More Suggestions for LinkedIn
Eight Reasons the Apple TV is Failing, and How It Can be Saved