OK, now I’ve had a bit of time to play with Google Buzz and everywhere I look I see a badly-executed copy of FriendFeed.
With two important exceptions:
1. Google Buzz actually has a lot of users and much better information flowing through its veins. There’s a reason that FriendFeed doesn’t have many users: it has some very anti-user features that retard user adoption (back when I was excited about FriendFeed I kept hoping that FriendFeed was going to fix some of their issues).
2. It has pretty nice location features built in, especially if you use Google Maps on Android.
But, they made some horrid mistakes. Let’s detail them:
1. They are infatuated with real time flow (items flow down my screen) but unlike FriendFeed they didn’t give you an option to turn that off. For users who are following a lot of people, like me, that makes Google Buzz unusable.
2. They love comments, but that leads to the chat room problem I talked about earlier. But Google Buzz actually made comments worse than FriendFeed did. They didn’t give us moderation capabilities. They don’t let you block people right from comments like FriendFeed did.
3. Unlike FriendFeed they don’t let you group your friends into lists. This makes using it with more than small groups very frustrating and pushes me back to Twitter where list support is an important part of my experience now.
4. They didn’t give us any filtering capabilities. FriendFeed got very close to having good filtering with its real time search engine that let you do things like “show me all items with the word ‘Obama’ but only show me items that have four likes or more.” That was very powerful, Google hasn’t even tried yet to do real time search or filtering like this.
5. Adding friends is frustrating, especially for someone who is getting added by hundreds of people a day. Google could really have innovated here, but they didn’t add anything Twitter or FriendFeed doesn’t have.
6. On Google Buzz, as with FriendFeed, A-list users get too much engagement and attention and that keeps putting their posts at the top of the feed. Google copied FriendFeed’s worst feature, that where items that get engagement keep popping to the top. I desperately want a strict reverse-chronological feed so I can just see items once, and not 300 times as they get engaged with.
7. They copied FriendFeed’s like feature, but didn’t do the most important thing: let me see all the likes by a single person. Over on FriendFeed I can see what Mike Arrington has liked, or commented on. I can’t do that in Google Buzz.
8. I turned off bringing Tweets and FriendFeed items into Google Buzz. Why? Because unlike on FriendFeed my readers can’t turn off just my Tweets. That makes Google Buzz very noisy.
9. They copied FriendFeed’s second worst feature: that comments bring people into my view that I don’t know, don’t care about, and Google Buzz gave me even fewer ways to control or moderate that. I wish there were a way to hide all comments until I want to see comments, for instance.
10. They also copied FriendFeed’s lack of curation features. For instance, Google Buzz has no way to bundle their items together into a single URL.
11. They copied the worst part of FriendFeed’s UI: the boring look but didn’t copy FriendFeed’s best part of the UI, the clean and simple feed. I keep getting boxes and other crap in my feed which reduces the number of items on my screen.
12. They copied the photo feature from FriendFeed, but, like FriendFeed, didn’t give me any control over size of images or anything else, either.
As I type this I’m at 37,000 feet and watching CNN. On CNN they showed off that Google Buzz is hard to use. Well, duh. They copied FriendFeed’s worst features and didn’t innovate.
And I won’t even get into all the privacy issues others had with earlier versions of Google Buzz.
So, Google, why did you copy FriendFeed’s worst features? Is there any way we can work together to find a better system? I really find Twitter and Facebook lacking too, and keep hoping someone brings out a dramatically better system but haven’t seen it yet.
The world needs a curation system, for instance. But until you stop copying other systems’ worst features I don’t feel you’ll even understand what users want.