Paul Buchheit
FriendFeed. More Like (Fake)FriendFeed - GigaOM -
There seems to be a growing misunderstanding of how our "recommended friends" feature works. Put simply, it looks for common friends-of-friends, since there is a good chance that you may know those people as well. If you haven't subscribed to anyone yet, then it will make recommendations based on the entire set of FriendFeed users. We should probably do something smarter than this, but I want to be clear that this is not some kind of hand selected list, and it automatically changes over time. For example, I used to appear in the default set, but got pushed out by more well known people such as Scoble. The reason for this is that he brought along a large number existing readers from his blog and Twitter. - Paul Buchheit from Bookmarklet
Paul: agreed. I wasn't on that list four months ago, and I probably won't be on that list in four more months as the readership here expands to new audiences. Imagine if Bono or Obama really joined here (the Barack Obama account isn't really him, it's actually owned by a Republican). They would instantly go to the top of the list. - Robert Scoble
Paul: while you're here, though, I find the recommended friends feature to be pretty useless. I want to look for friends who care about certain topics. Not just the popular ones overall. I totally agree with Jim Stanger on this. - Robert Scoble
Robert, the idea behind the recommender is to make it easy to fill out social groups that you are a member of. For example, my recommended friends are mostly Googlers. In your case, you've subscribed to so many different people that the algorithm probably isn't able to identify any social groups. Recommending based on topic is a good idea too, though for now search is probably the best way to accomplish that. - Paul Buchheit
Jim, technically I am sitting around with my feet up on the desk -- that's how I work: - Paul Buchheit
Paul: thanks for acknowledging this and being committed to updating the logic behind the algorithm which controls the display of "recommended friends". What about ranking those users by a new system: Likes/Comment count + category of interest (new feature). This way a user could designate interest in say, technology or blogging or gourmet food; then they would be presented with the most active users in their preferred categories accordingly. *active user = % participation based on comments, likes, etc - Susan Beebe
Paul: good point about using search, that's increasingly how I'm finding interesting people/conversations here. Yeah, I'm there to break all your algorithms. :-) - Robert Scoble
@Paul, It would be nice if we could define our interests in our profile and then your algorithm could recommend people with common interests. As it stands now, all of the people you recommend to me are uber tech geeks, which is fine, as that interests me, but I would also like to find others with a primary interest in photography for instance, which is my other significant interest. - Jeff P. Henderson
Paul: I'm a great fan of FF, but can i ask for a toggle option for "recommendation", so when i want to quick review my friends without noise i can simply toggle it, and when i have time at my sofa, i'll surely turn it on. What's your take on it ? - Ron Shoshani
FoaF Feed, thats what they can call it! - Indio Apache
By the way, the "recommended" feature that I'm referring to is this: (which is also presented during signup). Also, another interesting stat to consider is that Bret has appeared in the "default" list from the very beginning, and yet Scoble has 3 times as many subscribers as he does. Furthermore, I have not been on the list for some time now, but Bret only has about 30% more subscribers than I do (he has always had more). - Paul Buchheit
Jim, that's exactly what the "Subscribe" link on your feed does (if they click on that and then signup, they are immediately subscribed to you). We should probably also make some kind of blog widget or something though. - Paul Buchheit
It's a hard problem (cold starting recommenders, etc etc). The Friend-of-Friend thing is the obvious way to go, but here's some ideas I've been looking at in a similar system: 1) Geographic similarity - people near each other may know each other. IP loc. can help (2) Place of work - you don't collect this information, but email domain names can help (3) Name similarity. Look for same surname. Obviously privacy implication are important, though, with all ideas. - Nick Lothian
How many of the Feeds on Friendfeed belong to spammers? The conversation is all about numbers of Friend-followers, so that's telling me no spammer is left behind. - paul mooney
like this thread and the way paul is participating - dislike om's post, again perpetuating the "something out of nothing" sour grapes that the video created - some folks should get a life outside of this internet gamesmanshiping :-p - mike "glemak" dunn
"Friendfeed needs to learn from Twitter. Of course, maybe all the want to do is attract attention and sell the company to Google." FriendFeed isn't twitter yet people keep comparing the two. If you're friends with thousands of people on FriendFeed, there is literally no way for it to be useful. Om needs to learn that just because the noisemakers want to compare the two sites doesn't mean they are alike at all.That bit about selling the company made me roll my eyes. - EricaJoy
Paul - just to clarify, my post yesterday was not really about the right panel "recommended" but instead the people who you have selected to present when someone creates an account - these are defaults - Allen Stern
The "default" recommended friends page would be perfect for some Social Graph API goodness. No friends get recommended until you put in some of your own info at which point FriendFeed figures out who your friends are on other sites and recommends them if they're FF users. - EricaJoy
Paul - Great to see you here answering questions. I would suggest Kevin has been more visible this way and that's simply why he has more subscribers. Agree with Mike ... The dialog is more important, in this case, that the original piece. While I'm at it (since you're getting a little bombarded), there is a Friendfeed Feedback room that IS read ,or has been in the past : - Charlie Anzman
Paul, my biggest issue with it is that I can't remove them. I get no suggestions other than the push of the "popular" people. Why do I need to see them there AND at the top of every profile page? When Bob Lee released Twubble, I specifically asked for or a "deScobleizer." We all know who they are, and if we wanted to subscribe to them, we would. Yet I can't get any OTHER suggestions unless I accept these. - Cyndy
Odd. I read that piece and while he calls it a flaw Om winds up really being rather neutral on the topic. It's about virality IMO. New users will grok FF far quicker by subscribing to 'high node' users. You'll still subscribe to others and invite friends. Is this the 'silly season' for FF press? - AJ Kohn
AJ, how do you figure? I'm in no way a high-end user of FriendFeed, and even MY participation here is exponentially higher than Mike Arrington's 1133 vs. 17 all-time comments, for example). How will a user grok FF by viewing one more feed of TechCrunch posts? - Cyndy
@Cyndy, at the very least, there should be a "Not interested" or "Show me more" recommendations page past the first nine. How they handle it is up to them. Should people put in their interests first and FriendFeed would figure it out? - Louis Gray
However Bob did it was awesome, and others have done it with a slider. Show me less popular. I don't even need specific interests; I just need options other than digging through pages of my friends' subscriptions because the A-list is always at the top. - Cyndy
+1 Cyndy: Highlight the people who really interact vs. those who are just here for more shameless self promotion. - EricaJoy
@Cyndy: Mike doesn't participate much here on FF, but I'd bet he has quite a few subscribers. So he becomes a high node in the algorithm. BTW - the interest route can only go so far and becomes too narrow IMO. The beauty of the open format is you can expose multiple sides of your life. You can be a tech geek and love art at the same time. Unless FF has each piece of content tagged, the interests are isolated to user input, which is self-limiting. - AJ Kohn
I do agree that once you decline, the list should be re-populated so it doesn't become stale. - AJ Kohn
It's true what Paul says. In the early days of FriendFeed I remember seeing Erica ( once on the Recommended list and she isn't an A-list blogger. (no offense Erica :) ) - Shey
i'm happy with the recommend feature because it jump started this service. it forced recommended people to take notice and participate as they constantly received invites. the community would leap in size again if other "celebs" were recommended as scoble points out above. not sure if you want to break away from algorithm, but if you could get some musicians, politicians, artists, photographers etc.. and recommend as "featured guests, they would receive a bunch of invites and be drawn into the conversation. - Travis Parsons
@Travis: +3 I like the idea of a 'featured guests' as another branch of recommended. Would be a nice way to get writers, musicians, artists, politicians etc. into FF in a more dynamic fashion without breaking the current algo. - AJ Kohn
hey paul, so how hard would it be to make the 'default' list a little bit smarter? seems like you could keep a few big names static, but dynamically suggest others / less well-known folks based on some other logic pretty easy. (anyway, i know you guys likely have a feature request list a mile long...) - dave mcclure
If users were allowed to "rate" some of their friends on a 1-10 basis this could be *very* valuable data in providing better recommendations. These ratings could be non-public info that the algorithm could use to weight recommendations. This could also be a powerful tool towards serving up a new flavor of FF based on weighted relevancy vs. more static likes/comments that produces the "best of" today. - Thomas Hawk
One very easy fix also would simply be to page the recommended list. I agree with a lot of the comments here though. It would especially be interesting to filter the recommended list by the SF Bay Area. - Thomas Hawk
I think people already understand this, but just in case: if you are invited by anyone or connect to Facebook or your address book, you never see the list of globally popular people. You just see the friends recommended based on the people who invited you. Most people come to FriendFeed via invitation. - Bret Taylor