自从社交网络Friendster宣布平台将于5月31日暂停运作后，许多人开始猜测其中失败原因。CNET Caroline McCarthy就此发表了800字看法，抛出了平台过早达到顶峰、平台缺乏足够多元化用户及平台规模过小等观点。
Why Friendster Died: Social Media Isn’t a Game
Ever since the news broke that social-network prototype Friendster will, for all intents and purposes, end its sad existence on May 31, many have speculated as to why it ultimately failed. CNET’s Caroline McCarthy flails around for more than 800 words on the topic, throwing out theories that the site peaked too early, didn’t have a sufficiently diverse audience, or simply never got big enough.
I think the answer to why Friendster died is more clear than that. From the start, Friendster didn’t understand some basic tenets of social media. It can be forgiven for that—very few did at the time. But in hindsight, it’s apparent that Friendster put way too much emphasis on the media, and not enough on the social.
The short answer to why Friendster failed is the news feed—or rather, Friendster’s lack of one. I remember first logging on to the site, and seeing a big empty profile to fill in with photos, personal details, interests, and the like. But once I had a meaty profile (right down to my timely lamenting of the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the next thing to do was… what, exactly? Sure, there were testimonials for friends, but after writing the half-dozen or so I actually wanted to write, it seemed that the only thing to do on Friendster was polish my profile.
On Friendster, you could browse your friends (of course), send them messages, or even join groups, but the focus was definitely the profile, specifically, filling in your personal history, adding photos, and gathering as many testimonials you could. And, if we’re being honest, getting your friend count as high as possible. It was fun for a while—and very popular (circa the site’s peak in 2003-2004, most of my friends were on Friendster, and I was first invited by someone I’d never think of as technical)—but the service didn’t offer anything substantial that went beyond merely “decorating,” at least not when it had an audience.
In its early days, Facebook was about profiles, too. Decking out your profile page with “boxes” and ridiculous games like Knighthood used to be what you did on Facebook. A massive chunk of its users came to the network almost exclusively to play Scrabble. Really, the whole practice of polishing one’s profile, arranging boxes neatly (remember that?), and curating your Facebook apps was kind of a game in itself.
Then Mark Zuckerberg and his team stopped playing around. Zuckerberg rightly recognized that Facebook’s news feed was the key to its long-term success. While the site was still attracting new people, he revamped it to elevate the news feed’s importance, pushing apps and boxes to the rear and putting friends’ updates, shares, and discussions front and center. Even the popular Facebook status update became more like a Twitter message, dropping the “so-and-so is eating bacon” format and losing its special prominence on profile pages.
Naturally, users freaked. But Zuckerberg stuck with his gut, and a funny thing happened. People got used to the new design. They started to miss their apps less and less. They started commenting on everything. And (most) stopped caring about how many friends they had. Along the way, Facebook got bigger than ever.
So the long answer to why Friendster failed isn’t just its news-feed problem, but also focus and timing. For a social network to be successful, the focus needs to be on social. When you create a Twitter or Facebook account, one of the first things you’re encouraged to do is put up some kind of status update. (With Twitter, it’s not just encouraged but the essence of the service.) Both sites steer you toward immediately reaching out, seeing what’s going on, and putting yourself out there.
Friendster—and to a large extent, MySpace—really didn’t stand a chance once Facebook made the news feed its focus. Even if either service had introduced a comparable experience to the news feed, it was far too late. You need an audience for anything to care about what you’re doing, and both sites’ playgrounds had been abandoned for a long time once Facebook had figured out social networks. In short, they had no sense of timing.
Facebook’s genius is that it first lured us in with the candy of gaming and profiles, then, after we’d gorged ourselves on them but hadn’t left yet, snared us with the feed. Ultimately, Friendster sowed the seeds of its own failure by not fully understanding the subtleties of social media when it mattered most to its own existence. It didn’t realize that user profiles are only one element of the experience, and not even the most important one at that. Crafting a great profile can be fun, even satisfying, but it’s really just another game. And like all games, it eventually bores you.（Source：pcmag）