8 reasons why I prefer FriendFeed over Twitter
On account of the recent Twitter reply system fiasco (see Twitter blog entries 1, 2, 3, 4 and related backlash spewed across the Internet),
I recently joined FriendFeed on recommendation by Jaykul. It didn’t take long for me to be really impressed with this service, and for Twitter to look pretty rinky-dink in comparison.
If you just want a basic short message service with almost no frills, then sure, Twitter fits the bill. But if you’re going to be using your communications service a lot, I think you might be pleasantly surprised, like I am, by all the great things FriendFeed is and does. The following points may not provide enough justification for you to join FriendFeed (or completely switch over), but it is for me.
Of course, there are other features of FriendFeed beyond the ones I list here, but they are not the main selling points for me personally. You can read FriendFeed’s own sales pitch on the FriendFeed home page.
8. Quickly find friends already on FriendFeed
While signing up, you are given the opportunity to find your friends who might already have FriendFeed accounts. After one click (and giving my nick), it imported everyone I knew on Twitter who were already on FriendFeed. Granted, Twitter has a similar on-join feature, but Twitter only imports from popular email services, whereas FriendFeed also imports from Twitter and Facebook.
7. Comments are second class citizens
I care about what I post to the Internet. I believe in the quality of my postings. I think that I owe it to my readership (and potential readership) to make everything I post on the net worth reading — something that would, if even just a little bit, enrich the life of the reader. This holds especially true for this blog of mine, but also applies to my microblogging, even if only to a lesser extent.
Sometimes we want to reply to or acknowledge a tweet, or maybe just chuckle with the tweeter when they make a joke or witty remark. On Twitter, what am I to do? If I reply tweet with nothing but “@Jaykul lol”, I’d have degraded the quality of my tweetstream. If I’m not willing to do that, then I have effectively been suppressed by the limitations of Twitter.
On FriendFeed, everyone has a main feed to which they can post messages, just like on Twitter or Facebook. But over there, I can comment on Jaykul’s tweet with my one-word laugh message, and my main feed is not polluted.
6. Like or Share, not retweet
On FriendFeed, I can indicate I like something with a single click. Then, everyone who cares to know (dependent on their account settings) can see what I marked. The advantage there is that I don’t need to expend message text on attribution (”RT @nickname …”). FriendFeed records and displays that metadata for me. This character savings becomes more pronounced with further degrees of retweeting; you lose dozens of precious tweet characters when trying to preserve multiple attributions (”RT @nickname1 @nickname2 @nickname3…”). Not so with FriendFeed.
Full-fledged sharing is also possible, to any of several other social sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and Delicious.
5. Shortened URLs are expanded
Those of you wary of (or downright averted to) URL shortening will be pleased to hear that FriendFeed expands URLs for you in your FriendFeed homepage. If you don’t know what the problems with URL shorteners are, I’ll let you exercise your google fu and find out.
4. Echo to Twitter
FriendFeed allows you to echo your messages over to Twitter, so you still have a heartbeat over there while you wait for people to get FriendFeed accounts. This of course removes the need to post the same message manually in both places.
3. Aggregate other services, including Twitter
FriendFeed has this great feature called “imaginary friends”. Yeah, get the giggles out of your system from that name, then let’s move on. By creating an imaginary FriendFeed friend, you can in effect follow (subscribe) to their accounts on other services — 57 other services, to be exact, including Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and many others. This way, you can effectively import your Twitter friends who haven’t joined FriendFeed yet. Once added as an imaginary friend, all their Twitter updates (or Flickr photos, or Facebook updates) appear in your FriendFeed home page.
Let’s recap the last two points again: You can post to Twitter from FriendFeed instead of at Twitter, and you can receive your Twitter friends’ updates on FriendFeed instead of at Twitter. In other words, it’s really starting to look like you don’t need Twitter much any more. I only check it once in a while for direct messages, or for updates from people I haven’t turned into imaginary friends yet.
You can also follow any RSS feed with FriendFeed, which makes it a sort of primitive or summary-only RSS reader or aggregator. I’m not an avid RSS collector (uses up too much time, a resource of which I have precious little to spare), so this suits me just fine. For example, it’s allowed me to follow my personal github.com feed on FriendFeed instead of in a separate github browser tab. Nice and tidy and unified.
2. No 140 character limit
For the most part, I do not communicate in short squirts.
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve tried to tweet something, then had to trim it down because of the 140 character limit, and also because I was trying not to break a message across two tweets. One time I used “shorthand” like “2″ for “to” or “u” for “you”, and was almost ashamed of myself for doing so. Those of you that know me know that writing like that is so not me.
So, not having to restrict myself to the limits of an archaic technology was a huge selling point. I don’t use my phone for text messaging, and I definitely don’t use it for updating Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed. So that 140 character limit feels annoying at best.
1. Very high usability; nice design
FriendFeed’s website is extremely well-designed. There are many signs of the user interface being well thought out, and it’s clear that usability was given importance during development. You should check it out for yourself, so you can experience what I’m talking about first-hand, but I can list a few items here.
The FriendFeed site strikes a great balance between AJAX versus full page loads. You get a spinner (AJAX) or popup (JS/CSS) where appropriate; a full page refresh where appropriate. This lends to a snappy and fluid user experience.
Hover over an account or group, and you get a handy JS/CSS popup that gives info and links for doing things or learning about that account or group. This in effect reduces click depth, which gives the feel that the information you want is that much more accessible and readily available.
Text boxes start out small, but automatically expand in size as needed, when the text you type gets lengthy. This lets the interface remain tidy and concise, but grow dynamically if there is a functional need.
When viewing a feed (such as the one on your personal FriendFeed home page), it updates in realtime with AJAX/JS effects. Contrast that behaviour with the pages on Twitter.
FriendFeed is very customizable. You can tweak notification settings, Twitter publishing preferences, and numerous other little things. As with all software, options help to give a very satisfying experience, because the same software can be tailored to satisfy many different tastes and preferences.
Multiple messages are compressed into “see more” links, which further helps keep the interface tidy. You can also Hide things with one click. With another click, you can hide similar items, too. For example, you might choose to hide a particular flickr photo of one friend — or go the distance and ignore their entire flickr photo stream.
When viewing someone or a group you might subscribe to, it tells you that the person posts “about 5 posts per day”. This lets you quickly gauge how much activity the person or group would add to your feed.
In summary, I think these reasons combine to make switching from Twitter to FriendFeed very compelling. FriendFeed offers everything Twitter does for me, and it does it much better, while also providing several enhanced features that Twitter does not provide.
If you’re a Twitter user, you at least owe it to yourself to make a FriendFeed account and test drive it. Compare and make a decision for yourself.
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Syndicated 2009-05-19 15:45:33 from Catholicism Computes