Colin Walker

on social media, tech, blogging and the internet.

The private messaging divide.

PrivateSteve Rubel started a conversationon FriendFeed which really polarised opinion. He asked “Should FriendFeed have a private messaging system like FB, Twitter, et al?”

Divided

Responses ranged from the affirmative such as “Taking conversations private is a great way to further a business relationship” to the complete opposite “Please do NOT add another lame messaging service like the one that Facebook and Twitter have” with some people suggesting a solution where XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) could be employed to hook FriendFeed up to Google Talk.

It is obvious from the divide in opinion that some kind of compromise is needed so I suggested that it might be an idea to use what’s already there instead of reinventing the wheel.

It can be useful to take certain discussions private but it is understandable that people do not want yet another inbox that they need to check. It would, therefore, make more sense to have some kind of ad-hoc system that exists for the duration of the conversation. FriendFeed has its rooms so it seems logical to me to create a temporary, private room on the fly which is destroyed once you are finished.

You would, of course, need some form of online presence system in place (there’s no point trying to start a conversation with someone who isn’t around) and if the person you wish to chat with is not online then – just like instant messaging applications – you could be given the options to fire off an email.

Self contained

Not everyone on FriendFeed uses (or would even want to use) something like Google Talk so why force a third party solution on to them. It is better to keep things in house if possible – one less thing to worry about. An ad-hoc system you only use if you want to keeps everyone happy; those who do not want private messaging on FriendFeed don’t use it – simple.

What do you think?

Is this a suitable compromise? Would it work for you?

Image by Richard Holt.

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July 1, 2008 - Posted by | Social Media |

9 Comments »

  1. What happens to rooms on FriendFeed if/when you're done with them? Do they exist with no administrator or disappear altogether?

    I can see why an internal messaging system makes sense, especially if users are going to migrate from Twitter. I'm sure the feature could be added in an unobtrusive manner, however, I don't want to see FF adopt feature after feature and begin to lose the simplicity an openness that creates the unique experience we all enjoy so much.

    Comment by Julian Baldwin | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  2. In my idea above the room would be destroyed when you end the conversation – totally ad-hoc. Or were you asking in general terms?

    Comment by colinwalker | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  3. I am just wondering how rooms currently work, but the ability to set up a temporary room would be cool. Maybe when you create the room one of the criteria could be the lifespan of the room – 1hr, 24hrs, 1yr, undetermined – and it would automatically disappear

    Comment by Julian Baldwin | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  4. the big question here is whether these services will ever break into the mainstream. is there a big enough need for a friendfeed for my mom? she needs email…and now she needs IM…will she ever need twitter/FF? If so, she'll need some kind of private messaging function even if part of her activity is public. she won't want to dive into chaotic conversations happening across multiple sites…she'll need some easy way to dive in without opening herself up to the judgment of the community. so it can't be straight up private messaging, but it can't be the regular comments we all use now.

    Comment by MikeQW | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  5. I was trying to delete a room, but I haven't figured out how to do so. Other than that, good idea.

    Comment by Mark Dykeman | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. You'd expect it to be in the room settings – nope!
    Doesn't look like it's possible at present.

    Comment by colinwalker | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  7. nice blog

    Comment by Tyler | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  8. I think services like gnip and ping.fm are going to make a lot of sites not necessarily need other features because they will eventually make all sites with API pluggable. I for one recognize right away when a site is adding new features that other sites already do better to keep people there. One too many and the complexity gets to be too much. I like Twitter because it is simple and Friendfeed because of comments. I don't go to Amazon when I want to buy something at an auction. I go to Ebay. And I never go to a brick and mortar Walmart because in an effort to shove everything in, they eventually can't and must appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    Comment by stephanmiller | July 2, 2008 | Reply

  9. I agree that services shouldn't try to be all things to all people but, by the same token, I think there is a convincing argument for some form of basic functionality to avoid the need to go elsewhere.

    Comment by colinwalker | July 2, 2008 | Reply


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