Lets Talk about Facebook Connect
In an attempt not to derail the “1.1 Feature Poll” thread, I thought i’d cut and paste my comments from there into a new thread. Alot of people have been talking up Facebook Connect, but without actually saying what the benefit would actually be. So lets talk it out, so that people on both sides of the arguement, and those in the middle can make a balanced and reasoned deduction.
I’m going to be using quotes from the lovely from the following threads:
“in this day and age people hate having to register a new user name and password for every single site”
I’m not in anyway meaning this in a disparaging way, but this is nonsense. Its the opposite. With email access alot easier now than 10 years ago, with email spam filters improved, with multiple-tabs per browser, with “the average user” used to having to sign into different websites – users are FAR more likely and used to signing up for services than they used to be.
There is a myth that techinical people, who are by far the largest percentage of forum users, project onto the average user; that the average user wants ultra dumbed-down-simplicity and a one-stop-shop coupled with also crazy interaction features.
Its a myth thats been doing the rounds since Flash 4 popped up, or when Flash 5 went really big, or when dHTML became popular or when AJAX became big etc. etc. And yet somehow, these new “omg my users NEED that kk” features all seem to be not quite as needed as we were told after a little while.
“Like it or not, FB is the big social-networking dog out there”
Agreed, totally; and i do like Facebook. But you miss my points mentioned here: http://bbpress.org/forums/topic/11-feature-poll#post-61894.
1) Nothing stays top dog forever. If we were having this discussion 2 years ago we would have been talking about MySpace, before that possibly MSN messenger signings, and defintely before that AoL signing. No-one has made a point about why we should develop something into the core of BBpress that is dependant on the popularity and propriety software of another company.
And lets not forget Facebook has only become the No.1 Social Networking site i the US this past year. MySpace was recieving more pageviews according to Alexa until Feb/March of this year. Maybe lets see if this lasts first? (who remembers AoL?)
Okurt, for example, while is run by google (yet not popular in the western world) is the second biggest social network. What if google pushes that so that it becomes No1. Should we then forget about Facebook Connect because its no longer No1 and demand a GoogleFriend plugin?
2) Facebook is popular only with a certain demographic. I’ve included links to the stats on my previous post, but the sheer percentage of people on facebook that are White, 15-25, High School Educated or higher, and from the Western World (mostly USA and Canada) is staggering. As it stands, creating a Facebook Connect plugin would (statistically) really only benefit White people from North America who had finished High School. Why should that be something that BBpress includes in its core?
“I think all our bbPress sites would see more interactions if FB connect could be used (optionally turned on or off)”
Awesome, what data are you basing this on?
3) If your focussing on the needs of your end user, then surely content should be king. If someone feels strong enough to take part in your discussion then not being able to log in from Facebook probably wont be an issue.
4) Lets say you offered Facebook Connect. The user clicked it, opened a popup that said “please type in your facebook username and password” – how many do you think would automatically do that? We’re constantly reminded to not give out usernames and passwords, and to look out for phishing websites etc etc. So if a user go to a website or forum, and wants to get involved in the conversation, but not enough to sign up, how likely is it that they’ll use FBconnect instead? Can you back this up with data from other forums or is it just anacdotal?
5) The service itself has been woefully rolled out by Facebook. Here’s a quote from Mark Z
“We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.”
That was in February this year, and in that time, they’ve changed the API twice without telling any of the end users. Can you imagine, seriously, BBpress building something into its core that relied on another companies API not changing inbetween BBpress releases? We’d have to release a new version of BBpress everytime Facebook made a change to its API that broke the previous version – which btw, we’ve had 4 such incidents of this year!
6) Beacon. Not sure you know about this, but Beacon collected data from non-facebook websites you went to or linked to or signed into via FBconnect, sent the info to facebook so they could sell the info to advertisers. Yes, while you see the positives of a single sign in, its been used as a Big Brother spyware, or rather was, right up until the class action lawsuit that Facebook lost only 3 months ago – paying out 21million dollars. Orwellian doesn’t begin to cover it.
7) Facebook Connect != New users.
Lets scrap annacdotal Evidence and go with a real live website with stats availible on the internet.
Gizmondo, one of the founding partners of Facebook Connect almost 18 months ago has seen a steady increase of people using Facebook connect, At the start of December it found that circa.21000 page views were through FBconnect – thats just under double what that number was in March of this year. On its own, thats a big number, but the thing is, its roughly 0.6% of page views for the site.
If we take Gizmondo as the average (for this example) – which its not, its slightly above average, in that it has technical people and early adopters using its site in a higher percentage, so these numbers should favour FBconnect.
Gizmondo gets roughly 3million page views a month with 700,000 unique visitors. Thats an average of 4.3 page views per person. Now FBconnect counted for 21000 page views at 4.3 pages per person equates to 4884 unique visitors that use FBconnect on one of the partner sites in which its had 18 months to promote the brand linking. Thats a massive uptake of FBconnect on a partner site – of tech savvy people no less – of… drumroll please… 0.7% (not a shock to anyone as i mentioned the figure above).
Do we really, really, think that this is something vital to having people competantly use a BBpress forum?
If 0.7% of your community on your website want to use FBconnect, how many actual people is that?
To put it in context, for every 1000 people that actually post on your forum, 7 will use FBconnect. Thats not 7 new posters, that 7 posters total. We’ve no idea how many of them are new.
So lets take it a step further, what percentage of that 0.7% are users who would not have created an account and signed in if it wasn’t for FBconnect? What if half of those 0.7% aren’t new users, what if half are people who prefer to use one sign-in. Will an increase in traffic of 0.35% really be worth all the time and hassle involved in getting BBpress (which cant even integrate with WordPress – its parent companies flagship product) to integrate with moving target badly run by another company?
Before you advocaate Facebook Connect, ask yourself these questions:
1) What sort of increase in numbers or percentage of posters would make this worth while to me?
2) Am sure that this is the best option for a global product, given that Facebook’s poularity is localised?
3) Am i suggesting a Feature that I myself want?
4) Does BBpress need this feature to actually funciton as a forum, as per the original remit – outlined here: http://bbpress.org/about/features/ ?
As someone who lives in a country where Facebook is 3rd or 4th favourite Social Network (it fluctuates), and just inside the Top 10 of websites visited, it always amazes me when people go overboard about it as if its the second coming. I like it and use it, but every time i ask someone to back up why they think BBpress needs FBconnect all we get is short annacdotal evidence based on their own desire, so lets get past that and have a nice conversation about it
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