Oct 132011
 

I read on Webpronews.com today that a Google software engineer managed to spew his criticism about his employer to his public feed on Google+, despite that the platform makes it easier to limit who sees which posts. Ha ha, how ironic! And sad.

Apparently, Steve Yegge meant to post his comments only to his fellow Google employees but the rant actually went out to everyone who has him in their circles (today’s count was 7,669 but that might be higher than it was before he was famous for making an idiot of himself on the Interwebs).

Before he managed to get the material deleted, enterprising folks captured a few quotes. Webpronews.com had this to share:


“Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.”

“Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: “Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let’s go contract someone to, um, write some games for us.” Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.”

I suppose it’s fair that Google+ can be called a study in short-term thinking, but does anyone believe that Facebook is successful because they built a great product? C’mon guys, in Facebook, we users ARE the product. And any illusions of quality are to be heartily laughed out of the room. Facebook is like a big, live tabloid mag, complete with its scandalous accidental revelations, spam and outright pandering. When I go to Facebook, I try to ignore as much as possible so that I can focus on the one small piece of information that I really want, like when Jenny’s baby is due and how she’s feeling this week.

As for the assertion that Facebook built a bunch of products that allowed its users to build out what they wanted, I call BS on that. Facebook has been dictating how we are to use its service every day that it’s been in existence. This company has changed its rules several times without properly informing its users that their privacy settings have changed, or that apps can now spam their friends, or that their photos are now searchable, or that others can now tag them in photos that have nothing to do with them. What about the process for not accepting a friend request? It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to decline a friend request, you had to hit the “ignore for now” button or something like that. Now, you have to hit the “delete friend request” button. I wonder what the requester is seeing? Nah, I don’t care. That’s like expecting a sale flyer stuffed behind your windshield wiper to contain a pithy new poem on the importance of nonviolence. Silly me.

Can Google+ be faulted for trying to offer the same types of things that Facebook has offered, so that when users do the shallow, fast comparisons they end up shrugging and saying “I guess Google+ is just as good”? “Just as good” has no meaning here since we are talking about two platforms whose content is created by the users, and most of us are not professional writers. The ONLY value Facebook or Google+ has for me as a user is a way for me to connect with my family, friends and acquaintances. I don’t care one bit what games are being offered. If I did, I WOULD PAY FOR THEM.   Good content is worth money.

I can definitely sympathize with a software engineer that is being asked to keep retooling and creating things on the fly without any real strategy behind it. My software designer husband says in some ways, having a long-term cohesive concept about what you are building is more of a waterfall frame of mind rather than an example of agile development. I am not a programmer so I can’t speak with authority about that but it rings true to me.

But I can say that when staff resources are finite (and when aren’t they?) focus is needed in order to accomplish a vision, and that focus needs to keep a company from shifting direction in a way that makes it impossible to get there. Do users really care if Google+ is keeping up with the games offered on Facebook? Nah. At least I don’t.

Attention, Facebook and Google+, in case you care, here’s what I want from my social network:

  • Make it easy for me to find my tribe.
  • Don’t communicate with my tribe for me
  • Stay out of my email address book and friend list, and photos and other stuff.
  • Have a published way for us to reach you for customer service. No, it won’t kill you to answer your phone.
  • Don’t change the rules more than once every few years.
  • Stop this sanctimonious insistence on verifiable identity and admit you are just trying to make sure advertisers are getting good demographics data.
  • Be judicious when selecting partners who will be able to directly contact users or impact the user experience.
  • Find a way to offer me a higher quality experience for a reasonable monthly sum of money so that I don’t have to wade through all this crap.
  • Once in a while, amaze me with something I would never have expected but now cannot live without.
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