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Facebook Apps Facing Delays and Uncertainties 82

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it-could-happen dept.
NewsCloud writes "After reading about the Facebook platform launch, I spent the next week learning the API and building my application. Facebook's platform has been pretty successful despite complaints of poor documentation, instability and outcries over its application approval process. I've been waiting two weeks for my application to be approved for their directory and had my account disabled (temporarily) after I invited a large number of colleagues. While I'm impressed with the potential of the platform, the experience has made me more concerned about the lack of transparency in privately held social networks and the risks we take as developers when we invest time in a company's platform. Facebook's home page advertises itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you." My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility."
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Facebook Apps Facing Delays and Uncertainties

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  • by joeldg (518249) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:33AM (#19540429) Homepage
    Not sure what is going on with you, but we are not having issues with our facebook app, actually one of our guys was invited to speak a facebook meetup here in the city.
    It sounds like they had concerns about your app being used as a/by a spam-harvester to abuse their network, and frankly I would be also cautious.

    • by MoxFulder (159829) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:58PM (#19541799) Homepage
      How will I be able to SuperPoke my friends? Or give them little puppy dog icon gifts? Noooooooooo!!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PCheese (810782)
      We really haven't had much trouble with our app either. We anticipated Facebook making lots of changes and built our app to respond accordingly. If something breaks, our app saves as much information about the event as possible so that we can fix it ASAP. Isn't that a pretty standard way of doing things? We keep a close eye on what happens and are able to make minor tweaks to keep the app running smoothly. We haven't seen major breakage; everything has been fixable in 20 minutes max. Our app ( http:// [facebook.com]
      • by Dan Hayes (212400)
        Heh, you're doing pretty well with that app, tons of my mates are using it :) But anyway, the Facebook developers seem a world away from the ones working for Myspace ;)
      • Well done on Graffiti :) I'm behind X Me and you lot have overtaken us and shot off over the horizon. We got most of our growth before we even made it into the directory, and it just continued using invites after that. And yes, there's plenty of support, especially in the IRC channel, which has plenty of experienced (for how long its been out) people with successful apps. Directory delays are simply because there are thousands (literally, I believe, having heard from a source) of apps waiting in the queue,
      • by 228e2 (934443)
        very well done on the graffiti. easily the best thing to hit FB in a while.
  • Not just facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yohanes (644299) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:38AM (#19540445) Homepage Journal
    You said:

    the lack of transparency in privately held social networks and the risks we take as developers when we invest time in a company's platform.
    Isn't the situation just the same if you depend to any 3rd party technology (operating systems, languages, platforms, etc) where you don't have a control?
    • by SpeedyDX (1014595)

      Isn't the situation just the same if you depend to any 3rd party technology (operating systems, languages, platforms, etc) where you don't have a control?
      Yeah, not everything has to be a democracy. In fact, even in democracies, you hardly get any transparency. So ... I honestly have no idea where the question came from. Maybe he's just idealistic.
      • by beckerist (985855) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @01:07PM (#19541873) Homepage
        ...and the simple fact his application hasn't been approved yet means there's no regulation?
      • by ftide (454731)
        Maybe when transparency is spoken of what should be accounted for here in both matters of dynamic strategy and software independence is: who, what, when, where, and why? It seems like those dabbling in facebook's api and submission process know the who's, what's there and when it's happening.

        The where and why are left to corporate choice and chance. We know from http://whois.domaintools.com/facebook.com [domaintools.com] that facebook.com is in Palo Alto, was created in March of 1997 and 38% of recent visits to it are fro

  • by agent dero (680753) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:47AM (#19540497) Homepage
    The author of the "article" doesn't seem to get "it" with regards to the platform.

    Firstly, the documentation isn't fantastic, I agree, it's a relatively straight-forward REST api, and wouldn't you know it, the community of developers has been filling in the documentation gaps [facebook.com]

    As for instability, it's been there for the most part, you have to understand that Facebook might lack of the 100% reliability you may think your own code has. Facebook developers aren't perfect, nor is it unusual for things to break when near 25 million active users a day pound on it (at the very least, tiny bugs, image caching collisions i'm looking at you, become big bugs. As a side note, that has to have been the most famous end-table on the planet before they fixed that bug).

    Finally, I've seen the "outcries over its application approval process" and those are silly as well. A very tiny percent of users actually install the application from the directory. My applications have blown up because of making use of the viral tools provided by the platform, invites, news feed postings, etc. Applications like X-Me exploded to well over 100k users before it was even listed (congrats chips), the same went for Graffiti

    No system, especially a third-party system you rely on as a developer is ever perfect, but it's barely been a month since the Facebook Platform, so crying foul is extremely premature. If your only concern is that there's no one regulating the utility, then you should go ask some of those Windows developers how much fun the Longhorn-Vista moving target of a platform has been. It's their API, their platform, their social network, they get to choose what goes on with their "utility."

    I'm sure i'll be marked as a troll, but this just reads like the same gripes at the bottom of the barrel in the FB Developers discussion board for some time now.
    Disclaimer: I was one of the F8 attendees, and have been developing for the platform for almost 2 months now
    • by GreenHead (882493) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:28AM (#19540737)
      Has anybody actually taken a look at what these applications are doing to facebook in general? The nice thing about facebook, everybody had a simple looking page that was consistently the same. Since the applications have been coming out, everybody pages started looking like utter crap. Gone is the static page that was easy to read, and simple to load. With the ability to add all the apps, facebook is turning into myspace. We all know how giving the ability to do whatever to their space makes the server go nuts, pages are a pain in the ass to look at, not to mention what does to the server. facebook used to be nice. now it's starting to become more like myspace, which makes me cry.
      • Facebook caches everything that goes into the profile and it's just as "static" as it was before

        The "myspace" factor depends on your friends' taste I think ;)
        • by Stevecrox (962208)
          Applications have ruined it, I used Facebook because it was simple and clean. The UI has been altered into some horrible javascript thing and my simple wall and profile have been replaced with slideshows, paid for sent images and a bunch of other rubbish.

          Facebook is turning into Myspace, anyone know of online social networking thing thats like the facebook of two years ago?
      • by ASBands (1087159)

        I logged on, had 30 invites to Top Friends, 20 to Bestest Friends, 10 to Horoscope, 20 to graffiti and all this other crap that used to not be a part of Facebook. Instead of dealing with all that garbage, I quit Facebook. It used to be a nice networking application that served no real purpose. Now, Facebook seems to think it has a point.

        I don't have a Facebook or a cell phone. I just hang around all the people I know all the time - if they want to talk to me, they just say "Travis." I say

      • I agree entirely with this statement. The whole appeal of Facebook was that it was simple, without 'bells and whistles' to annoy you or distract you. Thank Zeus we can still hide most of the things--even though it's enormously inconvenient to go through and do it.
      • by Aeiri (713218)
        So now there is a sense of social superiority by not using Facebook now, too? I don't get it. Facebook is like MySpace just because of the social networking aspect, not because of the stupid CSS/Javascript stuff. The entire concept eludes me. What is the point of it, seriously? It's an over-hyped rehash of the concept of a forum.
      • by OverlordQ (264228)
        Has anybody actually taken a look at what these applications are doing to facebook in general? The nice thing about facebook, everybody had a simple looking page that was consistently the same. Since the applications have been coming out, everybody pages started looking like utter crap. Gone is the static page that was easy to read, and simple to load. With the ability to add all the apps, facebook is turning into myspace.

        BZZZT! WRONG. Try clicking that little arrow looking thing . . OH WOW, it minimizes t
      • by dsyens (1116921)
        I agree so whole-heartedly. I ran away from using MySpace to network with friends who were far-and-away and found Facebook to be a wonderful alternative -- and now everywhere I go people are "zomg super poking" each other with X-Me or other such nonsense.
      • This is what I wrote on my own FaceBook page when these apps started appearing:

        The main reason FaceBook is better than MySpace is that it doesn't let you do a whole lot of things. It doesn't let you change your background to an an animated, pink and green GIF, it doesn't let you add the Hamster Dance as background music, it doesn't let you break the layout... basically, they saw everything that makes MySpace suck like an overpowered Hoover and just said "no."

        I'm excited to see that Applications are going to
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cyphgenic (455493) *
        I've seen what these applications have been doing. They add a little more joy to the users that use them. That's not a bad thing.

        Also, if you want static facebook pages, you are welcome to create those pages using their API: http://developers.facebook.com/documentation.php [facebook.com]

        Their API allows you to re-create in total the facebook of 3 months ago. :-D

        Now, what these applications have been doing, the sheer number of them, is degrading facebook's performance. But that's true of a lot of sites that growing exponen
      • by ZOMFF (1011277) *
        Give me, the viewer of another profile, the ability to disable apps while viewing another's profile and the problem is solved.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      One can hardly brag about X Me as an example of an application successfully using the platform. X Me's method is nothing short of spam. Every time you do anything with X Me, it prompts you to invite every single friend it can fit on a page and does not offer a "no" or "cancel" button. The only way to not invite friends is to click on menu navigation, which, even for me, wasn't very intuitive - it very much seems like you "have to" click on the invite button. And HEY! All of your friends are conveniently alr
    • The Parent hit it right on the head.

      I'd also like to add the fact that a lot of these facebook apps and people complaining about the platform and documentation need to ask themselves 3 questions.

      1. Does your app provide a meaningful way to supplement a user's experience without unnecessary clutter, or spammy behavior?

      2. Does said app provide a means to interact with the Facebook community and user's in a unique way that enhances certain facebook functionalities, or brings all new functions that weren't

      • by Dan Hayes (212400)
        Heh, I've noticed a few small changes to the Myspace UI over the last couple of months that should've been there to begin with, but weren't until recently. I suspect Facebook is the main reason, it's just so much nicer to use and is serious competition.
  • "My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility."" Regulating what? The handing out of api docs? The creation of the programs? I've seen a couple of the programs and i can't see any that cross any lines, and i think the API was specifically designed for that. I can't comment on the handing out and documenting of the API, but perhaps the writer should talk to some of the other programmers.
  • I'm stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:53AM (#19540539) Homepage
    I really am. It took me a lot of kicks in the head to realize what I was doing was stupid.

    In term of failed platforms, I think I have a long list. I invested time in:

    mIRC script
    NWN1 scripting engine
    Win 95 era Visual Basic
    Access 97 era VBA

    Notice anything in common about these platforms?

    The final kick was Labview. It was a fun language and, as a student, I didn't have to pay for it. Now of course I'm not a student so to update and reuse some nifty things I wrote as a student I would need to pay hundreds for a run time. Not smart.

    Of course it's not useless. A lot of the things I learned have helped when programming in proper languages (C/perl/java/occam etc), and leaning for learning's sake is never a waste. But all of the things I wrote are now useless because someone else owns the platform they run on and I can't get or afford the environment.

    Older and smarter I would have to be getting a healthy wage to write anything in a closed tool. I might be interested in learning DirectX 10 to steal the best ideas, but if I decide I want to do some 3D visualisation I'll do it on openGL thank you. I will also write my tools in the UNIX style, with exposed APIs and designed in the most modular fashion possible, since it makes them far more valuable in the long run.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by zeroduck (691015)
      LabVIEW is a fun language--I'm a Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer working for a National Instruments Select Integrator. A lot of people in the LabVIEW community make the mistake of categorizing it as a general purpose language--which it is not.

      LabVIEW is great for what its for: making systems for test and measurement. One of the systems I've recently worked on is a vision system which scans parts before going into other test systems (to maintain traceability). It uses a Cognex camera, Parker motion
  • by Cheezlbub (39707) * on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:01AM (#19540569)
    before all the craplets that people push on unsuspecting facebookers, I really enjoyed the site. It was an excellent work alternative(tm) Now, however, it's just becoming a more cluttered myspace. I'm expecting the facebook people to next open up the possibility to 'personalize' their profile with gaudy poorly written code that crashes web browsers (or maybe just safari, which - to be honest - isn't the most stable inmate in the asylum). So much for being elegant, simple, and unique.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Contrary to my space junk, facebook applications do not load automatically. It's always necessary to have an action from the user.

      It's nothing like my space, that when you visit a profile you automatically start seeing an annoying slideshow or things like that.

      In facebook you've gotta click something, always.
      And about the colours, layout, etc, Facebook has done a nice work on keeping concistency, and developpers are following this lead.
      The most you gonna get automatically with facebook's apps is some new im
    • Mod parent up. Facebook, in opening up and allowing these applications, has sacrificed much of the KISS mentality that so endeared it to its early adopter rabid userbase. While the site/service has enjoyed fantastic traffic and use, it is clear that its userbase is changing.

      Whereas college students used to log into the site up to twelve times a day, that is no longer the case. Many college students that I know speak of being "tired" of Facebook. They only use it because there is nothing else with Facebook's
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:08AM (#19540641) Homepage

    My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility.

    In a free market, the customer regulates. In fact, by raising your concerns, you are doing it right now.
    • In fact, the lack of such seems to be shooting facebook in the foot. Why doesn't facebook have a peer-approved petitioning process to allow people to join facebook networks?

      I can count several different associates with dormant facebook accounts whom, if given the chance to be "rallied into" a particular facebook network by other facebook users, would gladly use the website (and benefit from the private, social network).
    • I'm more concerned about why it's not regulated. Check out this little tidbit of information about facebook. http://www.albumoftheday.com/facebook/ [albumoftheday.com]

      Scared me away from it.
      • That will be why there is a box on the "Add Application" screen saying

        [_] Know who I am and access my information

        which if you uncheck gives you the message

        Granting access to information is required to add applications. If you are not willing to grant access to your information, do not add this application.

        It all goes back to the simple addage, if you don't want your information available, don't put it online!

        As far as I know (and I'd check if I was worried about it) applications only have access to your li

  • My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility.

    But REGULATION is BAD and the FREE MARKET will SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS!
  • by yebb (142883) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:19AM (#19540687)
    To avoid situations like this, I wonder if anyone would be interested in proposing an RFC for a public, distributed social networking system. Much like IRC, that could be made redundant with multiple geographically diverse servers and more importantly couldn't be controlled by any one corporate entity.

    Advertising revenue could be made by the "application" writers themselves, and the framework (something like Facebook) would become a commodity just like IRC became.

    Facebook-like social networking without the corporate oversight could be a little more chaotic, but no more chaotic than every other distributed system on the Internet.
    • Drop me an email (or /. message), I'd be interested in collaborating on this. I've recently been working on integrating micro-blogging with IM, and I'd like to see some open standards for this kind of thing. The Internet is about distributed systems, not relying on a single corporation to control all of the content and infrastructure.
      • by dominion (3153)

        I've already been working on this, and it's nearing completion. Appleseed [sourceforge.net] is the name of the project, and I'm using a custom protocol, but I'd be interested in talking with people who have experience with forming proper RFC's.
    • by dominion (3153) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:34AM (#19541235) Homepage

      My project, Appleseed [sourceforge.net], does just that. All the distributed functionality is in place, and it's at the point of rounding out the functionality, optimization, and then bug testing and cleanup.

      It's open source, and uses a custom protocol, which is also open, although I would be open to modifying up the protocol at this point to make it easier for other applications to use
      • by khanyisa (595216)
        Appleseed looks really interesting. I'm concerned about how to convince others [translate.org.za] of the importance of not being locked in to closed networks. MugShot [mugshot.org] is also pretty interesting - not distributed, but free software, and can link stuff from facebook, myspace etc into your mugshot page...
    • by nevali (942731)
      Plug FOAF, Atom and OpenID together on a blogging platform, and a public distributed social networking system is precisely what you have.

      People use Facebook, MySpace, et al, because they require zero technical knowledge to use: the unfortunate downside is that people who do have technical smarts and still want to participate can't use open standards and their own hosting/platforms to do so.

    • Nice idea, but I doubt it would be adopted or practical to implement on a wide scale. One of Facebook's killer features is lightning response combined with a consistent interface anyone can understand. Both these things are less likely to occur outside of a monolithic entity, ala Google.
      • by psyced (1116901)
        Just use an event-oriented real-time messaging protocol in the backend rather than going for polling RSS or Atom feeds. I have faster response on things I post in my chat window than I have on facebook - that's because facebook tells me things by e-mail (delay factor) and because I'm not in the same continent as the facebook servers (topology factor).

        In a decentralized system I get notifications in real-time on my screen, and if the person writing me is in the same city as I, then notification doesn't have
    • by DerCed (155038)
      There are ideas around.. Check:
      http://www.foaf-project.org/ [foaf-project.org]
      http://openid.net/ [openid.net]
    • Count me in on this one.

      We have a decentralized trust metric system built into http://about.psyc.eu/ [about.psyc.eu]
      which so far we use for surfing profiles along the social network - but we
      are actually a messaging protocol and looking into using trust metrics for
      multicast routing (not IP Multicast, more like IRC).

      I can see we have an overlap with appleseed in the requirements for the
      distributed trust model but we are heading different direction in their
      application which means appleseed on top of our protocol could be a ma
  • Developers.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by what2123 (1116571) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:23AM (#19540713)
    It's because of developers like this that are making Facebook junk. It was one of the best networking applications on the net, now your getting all these frills that are really making it lame.
    • I agree. Facebook is getting MySpaced.
    • The solution is simple in my mind, for both facebook and myspace. They should allow logged viewers to disable various "features" on user pages. For example, I could go without the "Ask a question" or "Emote" applets on facebook, which post notices to everyone in your friends list. In myspace, I could deal without the non-default backgrounds and background music. To make this feature really useful, there should be an option to automatically disable any new application and to specify which ones are allowed ma
      • by OverlordQ (264228)
        They should allow logged viewers to disable various "features" on user pages

        You can . . . try clicking that little arrow in the sections you dont wanna see.

        Amazing isn't it.
        • by Dan Hayes (212400)
          Yup. Facebook's UI is absolutely lovely, smooth and almost everything you can do is nice and intuitive.
    • by rhizome (115711)
      It was one of the best networking applications on the net, now your getting all these frills that are really making it lame.

      3. Profit!
  • I'm ... more concerned about the lack of transparency in privately held social networks and the risks we take as developers when we invest time in a company's platform. ... My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility."

    Answered your own question didn't you? If you don't like the way that they run their company, then don't deal with them.

    Who exactly do you think should "regulate" them? How?
  • Right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:02PM (#19541401) Homepage
    > My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility.

    Because we certainly don't want people going around doing things without permission, do we? An unregulated activity? How shocking!

    Listen. It's a private company operating in an open market. If you don't like their rules take your business elsewhere. Want more "transparency"? Start your own "transparent" network.
    • Start my own? But then I'd have to develop a business plan, work to get venture capital, and work 15 hours a day to get it off the ground! Can't someone else just come in and tell someone else that already did that what they're allowed to do with their business?
  • To be honest, although going off at a tangent (or completely OT if you want to see it that way), I am MUCH more concerned (with apps in general on Facebook) with this little gem:

    II. Consent Regarding Use of Facebook Site Information

    (a) Information That May Be Provided to Developers. In order to allow you to use and participate in Platform Applications created by Developers ("Developer Applications"), Facebook may from time to time provide Developers access to the following information (collectively, the "Facebook Site Information"):

    (i) any information provided by you and visible to you on the Facebook Site, excluding any of your Contact Information, and

    (ii) the user ID associated with your Facebook Site profile.

    (b) Examples of Facebook Site Information. The Facebook Site Information may include, without limitation, the following information, to the extent visible on the Facebook Site: your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your "About Me" section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of "pokes" you have sent and/or received, the total number of wall posts on your Wall, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.

    When one tries to add any application to their profile, it says, from which the above was quoted (emphasis mine):

    Brief blurb. By clicking 'add', you agree to the Platform Application Terms of Use [facebook.com].

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:42PM (#19541685) Homepage

    From the article: I saw a real opportunity for my site to reach a large new audience without a big marketing expense.

    In other words, this guy had figured out a way to spam via Facebook. And he's complaining that they didn't process his application for a developer ID fast enough.

  • My concern with Facebook is that there's no one regulating the utility.
    STFU Hugo Chavez. Hey, how about we nationalize "NewsCloud", whatever that is? How 'bout we "regulate" that utility? How would you like that?
  • The problem with social networking sites and many others is that they have the power to restrict access to your personal networks. If you make friends through facebook, or use the site to stay in touch, that relationship is owned by facebook. They have a leverage against you. If they decide to put interstitial ads or some other annoying thing on their site, you cant just migrate your friend network to myspace.

    Mostly you can expect this not to happen, and if it does there is always the phone and e-mail
  • It amazes me that, in this day and age, there are still concerns like this around social networks. If you want community involvement in your platform - involve the community in its design! OSS and Wikipedia have proven that it is a workable model. That's why I've recently moved my blog+myspace profile over to a wiki-based social network: http://meopedia.com/en/User:Eric_Redmond [meopedia.com]
  • I have been using Facebeeok for a few months.. I have to say I like Facebook SO much better than cluttered and mostly unreadable other social networking sites (MySpace and Yahoo 360)... I just hope that facebook doesn't go out to become another MySpace. The fact that it is so much more stripped down (and actually readable) is the reason I prefer it over MySpace or Yahoo 360.. In my opinion it isnt the 3rd part apps that are the problem.. it is the
  • Not sure if it had anything to do with the Slashdot post - but the NewsCloud application [facebook.com] is now approved and listed in the Facebook Directory.

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