Off Topic: A small issue with Facebook OR "Do people at Facebook really use Facebook?"


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

May 02, 2011 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

This is a little “off topic” for a Free Software blog, but since a lot of my Free Software friends use Facebook, I hope that others will suffer me writing about this today.

I have a lot of Facebook “Friends” (at this time, approximately 3300). Maybe this is not as many as some people, but it is definitely more than most.

Many of these people I “befriended” mostly because they sent me a request. For some reason they wanted to be a “friend” to a sixty year-old guy who works a bit with computers, and otherwise likes to repair clocks and automated musical instruments when he is not drinking beer or scotch. I have other hobbies too, but this is a family-oriented blog, so......

(As an aside, it is wise not to repair either clocks or automated musical instruments after drinking beer or scotch).

Most of my 3300+ friends are rather benign. They post things on their wall which gently flow past my screen with no interaction needed from me...and that is cool. I enjoy seeing some of the things that happen to them in life, and sometimes I find out about world events from their postings. Today, for instance, I found out that Osama Bin Laden had been killed from reading my Facebook news feed. I get news other ways too...Facebook just happened to be the first thing I saw this morning.

Other people “involve” me, either on purpose or accidentally. A lot of “involvement” comes from people wanting me to play some type of game (I will forever hate any phrase that rhymes with "armville” or offers me animals of any type), or take some type of poll. How many times do I have to tell people my favorite color, who really cares what that color is, and what is the statistical implication if 10 of your friends answer “blue” and three answer “yellow” in the world population, anyway? Couldn't you have found better statistics by searching the web for other studies?

Now if you are asking me my favorite color because you are going to give me a BMW Z4 Roadster and you want to know what color to order, that is great.....but so far no one has offered that as part of their “poll” of my "favorite colors".

I do not “friend” people indiscriminately. I have certain criteria that I apply before hitting the magic “confirm” button on the friendship request, which hopefully eliminates most of the people who want to be my friend just to have an avenue for spamming people. This is why I have 235 outstanding friend requests....many of these people have not hit the level of acceptance yet. Nor am I going to tell you what those criteria are, because those spammers would then incorporate that into their requests for friendship. But I can tell you that the more information you show me about yourself, the more likely I am to hit the magic “confirm” button.

Now comes the issue with Facebook that I hope someone at Facebook world headquarters reads, slaps their head, and says “maddog has (once again) hit the nail on the head and we really should replace Mark with maddog.....”

Why is it that I can not see a person's “friend” information until AFTER I click “confirm”? After all, this person did REQUEST to be my friend. THEY looked at MY information to make the decision that THEY wanted to be MY friend. After THEY sent THEIR friend request, in one small “click” I will know all of the information that they will share with their other friends. Facebook should disclose to me the information that I need to help me determine that this person may not be a serial killer BEFORE I add them as a friend, instead of after. Yes, I know I could "friend" them, look at the information, and "unfriend" them, but this is a lot of work, and is a bit rude....seeing that I did indeed "friend" you, but then unfriended you just because you like to torture small animals or that you have certain political beliefs. Better to leave sleeping dogs lie.....

Many people that I “friend” show me reasonable information. A picture of their face, or perhaps a cute “tux” penguin, a few photos of them doing various things. Other people I get the default Facebook avatar, their stated name (not always their birth name) and a statement that this person does not share information with anyone other then their “friends”.

HEY, FACEBOOK!!!! One more CLICK and I WILL BE THEIR FRIEND. THEY asked ME to be their friend! Show me who they are! At least show me the information I will see AFTER I “friend” them.

I have talked about this to various people (my own friends, through Facebook naturally) and they told me that I could send this person a message telling them why they are remaining on my “friend request” list, or finding their way to my “Not Now” list, instead of being “friended”, but doing this would take up MY time, for a person that I really don't know....even though they might end up being a good friend.

And there really is not anything that the requesting person can do about it other then exposing all of their information to everyone just to let “good old maddog” see who they are so he can click “confirm”.

No, the answer has to come from Facebook....they have to realize the issue and make the change, and I wonder why they have never done that.

Which brings about the questions:

  • Does anyone at Facebook actually use Facebook?
  • Does anyone at Facebook have any more than five friends?
  • Do they experience the same pain I do?


I do not want this to end up being a “Facebook bashing session”. This is (in my estimation) just a tiny change to the way Facebook works, but it would make a lot of sense to me.

Maybe on of the five Friends that Facebook has will see this and pass it on to them.

Carpe Diem!

By the way, silver with a black interior is a good color for a BMW Z4.....if Mark wants to thank me for pointing out this issue.....

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