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Lets Talk about Facebook Connect

  • kevinjohngallagher


    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:

    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.

    As popular an idea as FBconnect is, it’s still not that popular in reality. FBconnect gets loaded 50million times a month, a high number (almost 1.5% of facebooks monthly login); but this 50million actually includes every time a page loads with the FBconnect Javascript file, and doesn’t account in anyway for how often its actually used. It is *not* 50million logins with FBconnect a month!

    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: ?

    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 :)

Viewing 9 replies - 26 through 34 (of 34 total)

  • chrishajer


    I think they’re useful for different things. A forum is more than just the software that runs it, it’s a community.



    To me a forum is a place where people meet to talk or discuss with each other. It doesn’t need to be a community.

    If it is a community facebook connect could be a way to enlarge it.



    What we’re suggesting Dailytalker mate, is that just because you have Facebook Connect does not mean that people will want to leave Facebook to join your forum.

    People on the internet go where other people are. Aol > MSN > MySpace > Facebook. Yahoo > Hotmail > Gmail. wtc.

    For people that use Facebook, and facebook connect, there is the belief that not having it is somehow stopping people from using your forums. The thing is, we have no way of knowing how correct that is, we have no stats.

    What we do have is stats for people that did implement Facebook Connect on their websites, and those stats tell us that people who want to join in the discussion will do so regardless of FBconnect or not.

    The largest success story of FBconnect has been the HufingtonPost, which has seen a spike in the number of people using FBconnect to use its website. Thats a positive for FBconnect for sure, but when you look at their stats they get 1 new person signing up via FBconnect for every 3000 people (*this is the published average) that see their “news story” on someone’s Facebook page/link. Almost all (over 95%) of people that use FBconnect on their site come directly from Facebook itself.

    There is no data to suggest that FBconnect helps people sign-up or join-in discussions on websites. Infact, there’s alot of data to suggest that people will only use FBconnect if they come directly from facebook to your forum post, and that in the best case scenario, you’ll get 1 sign-up for every 3000 people that see what you’ve written on facebook.

    I dont know about you, but nothing i write on Facebook gets seen by more than 100,000 people (for a charity news), which would result in 33 new people on that charities forums. Thats not worth the development time, nor the hassle of constantly updating.

    As always, good talking to you :)

    Merry Christmas



    Kevin, the thing is that I have several facebook groups. Each group has its own forum. What I want is to bring all those groups together in my forum. Each group forum would become a category in my bbpress forum. I’d like to invite the people of some facebook groups to join my forum. I belief that they would login if they could login with their facebook login.

    Maybe it works, maybe not. It’s try and error. What’s wrong with that?

    Merry Christmas



    > What’s wrong with that?

    Again, the only thing wrong is that there are finite resources and there needs to be a good case made to devoting resources to adding new features to bbPress. There’s nothing preventing anyone from developing FB Connect as a plugin for bbPress. If there’s an itch, someone will scratch it.



    I belief that they would login if they could login with their facebook login.

    The thing is, all the data we’ve seen from 18 months of Facebook Connect, not to mention people believing that they could pull people away from AoL/MSN/MySpace onto their own site in the past 10 years, all suggestes otherwise.

    Thats not to say that it wont happen, it could and if it did i’d be very happy for you, but we have alot of data that says Facebook Connect will not be overly benefitial, and no-data to say otherwise.

    Maybe it works, maybe not. It’s try and error. What’s wrong with that?

    We don’t have the development resources. Right now we have 0 developers from automattic working on BBpress, though Matt is now taking an interest. If there was a huge desire or need for FBconnect someone would have build a plugin in the last 18 months. Sadly no-one has, and i think that on the whole, is the most damning thing. There has been a plugin for almost ever other feature mentioned on this thread – apart from FBconnect.

    I think you are giving Facebook way too little credit.

    Facebook has redefined the whole genre of social communication on the internet.

    It has become so widely used, that it’s incorporated in Playstation 3, Xbox 360, several cellphones, and in many countries – Facebook has been the platform for actual change. MSN or MySpace has NEVER achieved this.

    I don’t think Facebook is going away any time soon. When it comes to instant messenger, MSN has been top dog for ever, contradicting your philosophy about topdogs. Everyone in my country uses MSN, and has for the last 10-12 years. I dont even remember anymore. So I think Facebook is pretty much gonna be the number one social website for a very long time.



    Hi Marius,

    Thanks for contributing. I suppose that the issue comes down to one of stats and hard facts versus beliefs – and as we all know stats dont always win.

    I think you are giving Facebook way too little credit.

    I’m not, its a wonderful website and tool that i use often.

    But these exact arguements were heard during the rise of MySpace, Okurt, LiveSpaces, MSNmessenger, AoL, Bebo etc etc etc.

    Nothing lasts forever, and in the internet world, becoming the most popular and staying the most popular are two different things.

    The question remains though, and no-ones given me any data otherwise to come up with a case we could debate, how benefitial would spending the time on an FBconnect plugin be for BBpress?

    When it comes to instant messenger, MSN has been top dog for ever, contradicting your philosophy about topdogs

    Except, that isn’t true!

    AoL was top dog for a very very long time. Infact, MSN piggybacked onto AoL’s AIM service for its first 2 years, because by that time, AoL had been top dog for 5 years.

    Then Yahoo and MSN were tied for years, infact Yahoo prospered greatly during Microsoft’s failed Hailstorm/myPassport/MSN-messenger-is-tied-into-outlook-express failed rollout.

    Its easy to say with hindsight that MSN has always been top dog, but if you were there, you’d know its simply not true.

    MSNmessenger really took off with WindowsXP, and as a Microsoft developer at the time, i can tell you that before then its market share of IM chat was alot lower than its percentage of possible users.

    Everyone in my country uses MSN, and has for the last 10-12 years

    Awesome. Its only been out 9 years though (unless you had Windows ME where this could be in your 10th by 7 weeks), but i’ll not quibble. The problem with these sort of statements is that “Everyone” is a statistical statement that means 100%. I’m confident not 100% of people (that use internet or even instant messaging) in your country use MSN messenger for the last X years.

    The same is my issue with these generalisations about Facebook (or any website) once it become incumbant in its field. “everyone” uses facebook, like “everyone” or “most” use MSN simply isnt true.

    Facebook has redefined the whole genre of social communication on the internet

    I fail to see how it has redefined it actually. Simplified? Unified? Sped-up? I’ll grant you all those.

    But publishing data to a group of people who’ve you’ve preselected to be allowed to see said data is not new; Neither is the instant messaging, sharing of photos, emailing each other etc.

    It has become so widely used, that it’s incorporated in Playstation 3, Xbox 360, several cellphones, and in many countries – Facebook has been the platform for actual change

    Thats a massive leap there mate, loads of things are on PS3, Xbox360, Cellphones etc.

    Heck they all have an API so people can develop applications for them.

    Bebo is on all of those platforms, are we now suggesting that Bebo is the platform for change? (and btw, Bebo is the # 1 social network in my country – not facebook).

    My phone in 2004, and as i recall to some degree my xBox in 2005 – at least in signing in, had MSNmessenger on it. Sharing status updates, chatting, emailling and sending photos. Surely, given that this was on game consoles and cell phones over 5 years ago, this would be far more likely to be the platform for actual change than Facebook (was wasn’t even built then).

    I think Facebook is pretty much gonna be the number one social website for a very long time

    Again, its based on “i think” and not stats. For the record, I also think the same as you, but when it comes to committing resources, i base them off facts and not randoms hunches. Plus, i’m sure there were countless people who said the same about AoL, MSN, MySpace etc etc.


    I’m real happy for these conversations, but i’m worried that we’re getting away from teh original point. I am not being disparaging of Facebook the website, platform, nor movie (is it still going to be Aaron Sorkin writing??).

    But with so many people posting so often about how Facebook Connect should be the top priority/feature in BBpress, i am asking for your data so we can see if its worthwhile :)



    “My Mom’s on Facebook” music video:

    Some language probably NSFW or kids.

Viewing 9 replies - 26 through 34 (of 34 total)
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