Proposal to Clean Up the FriendFeed Clutter

FriendFeed is wonderful for giving you so much interesting information. But there are times where the flow of information is excessive and redundant. This occurs when the same the link shows up multiple times for the same user:

  • Post it to your blog
  • Share it on Google Reader
  • Bookmark it to
  • Post it to Reddit
  • Etc…

Eric of Internet Duct Tape blogged about this. And a really good discussion about the clutter occurred here…on FriendFeed. A couple different perspectives:

FF could make this easier and ‘collapse’ multiple items into one i.e. if I share something from Google Reader and bookmark it on delicious, only one item should appear in FF. I wonder if FF is too focused on where we doing things rather than what we’re doing? – Andy Davies

what I’m saying is that, if you add the same links to 2 different services, there’s no need to add both services to FF. Just one would be enough. Of course, if there are things that are unique for each one of them, it’s understandable. – Alejandro S.

Andy wants a technical solution, Alejandro is looking for a change in behavior. I lean toward the technical solution because there is information in the service that the person uses. A save to means the person has a personal interest in it. A save to Reddit means the person is explicitly putting the page “in play” for others to pick up interest. I don’t want to lose that.

I propose two alternatives for reducing the clutter of same-link feeds:

  1. Person-centric: if a user has the same feed more than once, the same-link feeds are aggregated together under a common link for the user
  2. Link-centric: all same-link feeds for all friends appear under a common link

The two alternatives are really different. #1 amounts to a small clean-up mechanism. #2 is more radical. It changes the FriendFeed experience. But perhaps in an interesting way.

Is it more important to track action around the link or the person?

Person-Centric: A Lightweight Cleanup

The “parent” consists of the user + web page title . All user actions that relate to the parent URL are aggregated, as shown below:

Each time a new feed with the same URL is posted by the same user, it’s just added to the list. Note that Tweets with the link are added as well (even with a URL shortener).

This would clean up the feed, but retain the current person-centric nature of FriendFeed.

Link-Centric: Centralized Comments,FriendFeedmeme,

In this scenario, the web page is the “parent” All user actions fall under a common web page link:

A couple things happen with this approach:

  1. For a given item, all comments are centralized in a single place. This makes the conversation easier to follow. Comments can still be attached to a particular person’s action to retain specific conversational preferences.
  2. The combining of all actions for a single item creates a visual meme, showing how much activity surrounds the item.

These are all feeds and comments you’d see under your ‘friends’ tab. They’re just aggregated.

Person-Centric or Link-Centric?

Is it more important that John found a bunch of different links interesting (person-centric)? Or that John, Susan, Mike, and Cheri found a single link interesting (link-centric)?

What better defines the experience of FriendFeed?


See this item on FriendFeed: