The Noise About FriendFeed Noise

I’m actually enjoying the “noise” of FriendFeed. Anyone else?

Corvida, one of my favorite bloggers, has a post up on ReadWriteWeb titled Don’t Be So Naive: Friendfeed Adds to the Noise. In the post, she argues that FriendFeed is contributing to the noise with a lot of stream that hold no interest to her. Her examples include Flickr and Seesmic streams, as well as Twitters without a comment.

Now there is some truth to the noise issue, but I don’t think it rises to a “we’ve GOT to correct this ASAP” level.

In fact, I find the whole thing somewhat confusing. I love seeing the variety of topics and services that cross my FriendFeed page. Heck, I even added the Greasemonkey script to expand the list of items per page to 100 from the current 30. I hated missing stuff by relying only on the 30 items that appear on the first page.

So what am I doing differently from Corvida? Not sure really. Here’s what I know.

Number subscribers. I checked her subscriptions, and I’m subscribed to 55 more people than she is. So seemingly my risk of noise is higher. But it doesn’t bother me.

Blogger bias. I choose my subscriptions carefully. When I’m deciding whether to subscribe to someone, I tend to prefer someone who blogs. That requirement right there is a good one for managing noise. Bloggers seem to have a good level of signal in their FriendFeed streams. If someone only Twitters or shares items on Google Reader, I tend to hold off on subscribing. These rules aren’t ironclad, but they guide me.

Hiding. As I said, I’m not hiding much. I subscribe to one person, whose friends tend to blog in Chinese. I can’t read those, so I’ve been hiding these friends-of-friend on a one-by-one basis. I may need to hide all of his friends. I’m also close to hiding Jason Calacanis tweets as well. His tweets have a low signal-to-noise ratio for me. But it’s only a fraction of what I’m seeing.

See Louis Gray’s post about the various Hide features FriendFeed has – they’ll help clean up any noise issues you have.

Let’s Keep It Simple

Over-engineering a solution to noise is exactly the wrong thing to do. Beware the unintended consequences. The FriendFeed guys have put a lot of power in users’ hands to manage what is seen.

I have suggested a couple possibilities for cleaning up the duplicate links that can show up in FriendFeed. My guess is the FriendFeed guys are working on something related to that. That would be a help.

But really, let the streams flow. Your noise is my signal. I’m enjoying the content and conversations a lot. I even like the multiple times the same link shows up, because I’m piecing together an implicit social network based on that.

Bring the noise!


See this item on FriendFeed:


About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

20 Responses to The Noise About FriendFeed Noise

  1. Duncan says:

    I would have agreed with RWW a week ago, and in part it’s true: FF does add to the noise, but if you control the way you read it, it becomes manageable. In my case absolutely a desktop Friendfeed/ Twitter app; if I’m going back to the page all the time it’s consuming valuable time.

  2. Louis Gray says:

    I’m glad you wrote this up, and that you referenced the “Hiding” article from yesterday. Exactly why I put it up there. I think Corvida’s intentions were good, but she would have done better to cite the article as well. It’s easy to call “Noise” without offering a solution, but they are there.

  3. It is more noise. Everything is noise. But Corvida is pointing out the problem that most people have with a service: they want it perfectly designed for their own uses. It’s the same argument with Brightkite updates posting to Twitter streams, or other items like that. Some people don’t like users who post their new blog entries to Twitter, but that’s one of the things I love about it; I can see them nearly instantly without switching over to my reader if I’m working on something. Louis is right about customizing it to hide or filter based on your use for a service, but each and every one of these social media tools adds more noise. Saying that they don’t is just plain wrong. Shoot, even this comment is more noise. 😉

  4. Mike Sansone says:

    What noise? The hide features help block out unwanted items – but here’s one thing to note: I had never used (signed up long ago, just hadn’t started) Because I saw lots of FF notes of users on, I started using it too (barely, but it’s a start).

    FriendFeed allows me insight into what, where, how people are formulating their thoughts. A delicious bookmark here, followed by a tweet, and a couple days later – a blog post.

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  7. @Duncan – I’ve been seeing a lot of writing about the various clients (Alert Thingy, Twirl). I’ve been holding off because I have a bias for web apps. You make a good point about staying on the FriendFeed page as being time consuming. Maybe I’ll look at the clients sometime.

    BTW – congrats a great start for The Inquisitr.

  8. @Louis – your post was money. It’s a great reference for folks. And will become more so as the FriendFeed user base expands.

  9. @Cyndy – I know your position on FriendFeed. But you’re a Twitter aficionado? I have another post on this blog called, “FriendFeed Is from Mars, Twitter Is from Venus” ( I can understand why you, and Corvida, are more into Twitter.

    And thanks for the noise here!

  10. @Mike – really interesting point. FriendFeed is a discovery machine. Not just for content either, apparently.

    Also, I like your take on seeing how blog posts form. Hadn’t looked at it that way.

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  12. Leigh says:

    Love the notion of FF being a discovery engine. I noted the incremental blog traffic I was getting from FF and decided to join. Now rather than just getting links from Mathew Ingram’s feed reader (my own personal 1.0 filter 🙂 I go to FF.

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  14. Hutch, Twitter is much more immediate for me, and has more of an ecosystem surrounding it. In terms of using it as a marketing tool and being able to effect that immediate user response, it can’t be beat. I don’t love being on it, either, but I at least have tools to manage it more effectively. FriendFeed is scattered all over the place, and doesn’t have those tools in place.

  15. @Leigh – you’re not alone. FriendFeed has become a powerful filter for a lot of people. It’s like having a team of Mathew Ingrams delivering good content to you.

  16. @Cyndy – one thing I hear there…is that as FriendFeed matures and has more of its own ecosystem, you might be more open to it. True?

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