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An Open Letter To Whoever Controls The Fate Of FriendFeed

with 18 comments


To Whom It May Concern,

If I was writing a movie based around the current scene at FriendFeed, I would cast you as the big, evil corporation and all of us FriendFeeders as the people at the community centre standing in the way of ‘progress’. But I don’t write movies and, frankly, Channel 7 News isn’t going to show up to our placard-filled rally.

So, I am simply writing you this letter.

I am FriendFeed. I have the shirts. I have the stickers. I co-host the FFundercats, a podcast dedicated to FriendFeed. I have skin in this game. I also want to assure you that I am not a Facebook hater. I was every one’s Facebook guy (still kinda’ am) and have held an account there for a long time. But still, my blood runs FriendFeed Blue…

If someone were to tell you that your entire high school experience essentially boils down to the memories and opinions of the football captain or the head cheerleader, they would be sorely mistaken. Defining my years based off the experience of a small section of ‘popular kids’ belittles all the friends made, the things learned and the extra curricular adventures that existed far beyond the pages of the yearbook.

So it goes with FriendFeed.

FriendFeed is more than a few noisy tech bloggers. While I agree that there is thick filling of tech and social media content here, it sits on a delicious base of personalities and personal connections. Over the 18 months I have been here, I have seen births, deaths and marriages. I have watched children grow, others fight cancer, couples fall in love and felt very real support through my own family issues. I have emotional currency in here, and I am sorely in debt.

In short, we have a vibrant community here and we continue to use the service until the ship sinks. FriendFeed fits. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing at night. Two FriendFeed icons sit on the permanent bar at the bottom of my iPhone. My wife uses it. My 3 year old has an account. I find it more valuable every day.

We FriendFeeders use the site to have fun. We use it to learn. We use it to be sad. We use it to get happy. We use it as a chat room. We use it as a central point. We use it… still. See, that is what rocks about FriendFeed, it’s not just the technology, but what we do with it that makes it a great place.

So, since the sale to Facebook, we have seen the filling leak out, but I believe that this crisp base remains. My feed still rocks, as do those from most my friends, and I have even met new people, sharing in their lives as they do mine. Engagement may be down for a number of high profile users, or topics, but this can be explained in a number of ways.

Interaction Equation:
FriendFeed is all about interaction. We tell everyone who asks that if you want comments or likes, you first have to comment or like on others. The amount of time spent here interacting with others directly correlates to the amount of interaction you get in return. That equation also works in reverse. A number of high profile users ‘left’ after the sale so using this equation, as the amount of time decreased, so did their interactions.

The Bleeding Edge:
Some people want to be on the bleeding edge. Once a service is sold or changed, they seek other places because they must always be ahead, never paddling in a still lake.

Long Held Beliefs:
Some people just don’t like Facebook, sorry. They don’t like being where they see you are. I can’t change that.

We are not dead, we are just without certainty.

So, now to the hard stuff.

What are you going to do with Do you even have a long term plan for the service?

I understand that you have a brand to protect and you are in the business of making money, but how hard would it be to keep the servers turned on? Would you be open to ideas like an ad-supported model? Some other way way of ‘paying our own way’?

The difficult part is I have no really good reason to offer that might convince you keep everything switched on… so I’m asking nicely. The thing of greater difficulty is you have no good reason to do what I ask… except to totally rock.

What I ask is for a time period, a stay of execution. After all we have put into this place, give us a chance to keep finding new ways to use it. We are a fast moving, inventive and creative bunch of users, we may just surprise you with ideas you can use.

Many Thanks,

Johnny Worthington

Special thanks to Louis Gray for his counsell.

Written by johnworthington

October 21st, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

18 Responses to 'An Open Letter To Whoever Controls The Fate Of FriendFeed'

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  1. Well said, Johnny.

    The force is strong in this letter.


    Roberto Bonini

    21 Oct 09 at 7:45 pm

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Friendfeed by Roberto Bonini: An Open Letter To Whoever Controls The Fate Of FriendFeed – (via…

  3. Johnny, I wish I could be as sanguine as you, but when I see things like the Amazon feeds that have been broken (and reported) for months and nobody’s found the time to fix current, advertised functionality, I wonder about the infrastructure.

    I find it hard to put time and interaction into a place where I worry that the site will either shut down or break and its management won’t care. FriendFeed used to be great at communicating with its users, but after there being content there every month (usually multiple posts), there has been only one post since the Facebook acquisition and nothing has been posted there in more than two months (since Aug. 13th).

    If the powers that be can’t find enough of their employees’ time to fix a changed feed so that it works again (which doesn’t sound like it should be a time-consuming fix), I have no confidence that FriendFeed will exist to support our interactions.

    THAT was my fear when the acquisition was announced, and while I’ve tried to stay involved, time appears to be confirming those fears.

  4. [...] Worthington who is one of the more dynamic and interesting people on FriendFeed issued an open letter to the developers of FriendFeed to find out what is happening with the web site. Many of the FriendFeed users (myself included) [...]

  5. [...] Johnny Worthington who is one of the more dynamic and interesting people on FriendFeed issued an open letter to the developers of FriendFeed to find out what is happening with the web site. Many of the FriendFeed users (myself included) [...]

  6. This mans voice needs to be heard

    John Piercy

    21 Oct 09 at 11:25 pm

  7. I haven’t had Scott’s experience, so my perspective is somewhat different. From my perspective, things are pretty much business as usual.

    I’m seeing my feeds update; the only wrinkle is the Disqus 4-hour issue, which had been around for months BEFORE Facebook’s acquisition, and the multi-comment thing on Google Reader stuff, which hasn’t seemed to happen lately.

    I’m also seeing FriendFeed push stuff out that I’d like to be pushed out. I use FriendFeed to notify Twitter of my blog posts, and all of my FriendFeed stuff shows up in Facebook.

    As to the service itself, I’m still seeing interaction. Yes, some people have left the service altogether, and Scoble’s feed primarily consists of tweets these days, but I’m still seeing activity on my feed, and Johnny’s still dropping his pants at a moment’s notice.

    Let me cite the example that I’ve cited before – when the US government effectively became the owner of General Motors, did people suddenly park their Chevys in their garages and refuse to drive them? So from my perspective, there’s no reason to quit FriendFeeding.

  8. Well said, Johnny. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask what the future holds.

    Paul Buchheit did say things would carry on but the implication was that it would develop into something new. Change is scary, and unclear change doubly so.

    When Robert Scoble said that Paul has been ill which accounts for some of the silence on FF about the future it could have calmed people down, but quite the reverse happened.

    People *are* unclear about what the future holds and don’t want to see FF disappear. We have made real connections with people – Social Media at it’s most pure. Mostly it’s the connection that people want – there is little selling done but lots of sharing. And it is downright insulting to be told that “…all the geeks have gone…” when the implication is that all the ‘good’ geeks have gone.

    Excuse me, but I value people in a different way. The people on FF have made me laugh and cry tears of joy and pain, and yes, I don’t want it to disappear. I’ve met people I could never hope to meet in real life and I’ve gained so much from that.

    I hope that we find out what the future holds soon, and that in the meantime there is less speculation and aspersions, and more bacon. Er, I mean LOLcats. Er – intelligent, warm, friendly sharing.


    22 Oct 09 at 3:24 am

  9. Fistbump, bro. Well said. It’ll be alright either way, though, man. You’ll see. :)

    Josh Haley

    22 Oct 09 at 3:40 am

  10. [...] am also glad to learn that the service will not be disappearing. Johnny Worthington wrote a good letter to the Friendfeed team today. [...]

  11. I wrote a brief post friendfeed is fading (, after I first heard of the buy out.

    The problem we face is that our social connections are owned by a social service. This isn’t going away simply by keeping friendfeed going. We need to take ownership of our social networks. We need to own our own rollodex, not facebook, or friendfeed, or twitter.

    Distributed social media is the only way we can guarantee our connections lasting as long as we do. It’s how the Internet stays alive after all.

    Mark Essel

    22 Oct 09 at 5:15 am

  12. [...] good enough. Long time proponents of the service like Robert Scoble, Louis Gray, Duncan Riley, and Johnny Worthington just to name a few have written about their thoughts on the whole [...]

  13. Well said, Johnny. And it elicited a response from Paul, stating that FF wasn’t going anywhere. That’s great news for all of us!

    Jason Huebel

    22 Oct 09 at 7:09 am

  14. Lets hope the learned masters heed the call, lets hope it is not just absorbed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dave Food

    Dave Food

    22 Oct 09 at 7:16 am

  15. I love you Mr. Worthington.

    Dennis O'Neil

    22 Oct 09 at 9:17 am

  16. very well said Johnny, very well said.Hope someone is listening.


    24 Oct 09 at 3:37 am

  17. [...] An Open Letter To Whoever Controls The Fate Of FriendFeed. An Open Letter To Whoever Controls The Fate Of [...]

  18. [...] sweet nothings of venture capital in their ear, things haven’t been the same between us.  I’m not the only one crying over FriendFeed, [...]

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