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Stop changing my profile!

At one time, MySpace was the most visited social networking site in the world. Then something happened. It wasn’t the advent of Facebook, as some suggested. While Facebook offered a few unique features, it was specifically designed  as a means of staying connected with high school friends. The platform had a simple interface that included chat, a wall (with a limited number of characters per post), and web space for uploading personal pictures. MySpace had all the same features, including a few additional applications that Facebook lacked. MySpace offered karaoke, message forums (all neatly categorized), blogs and profile pages that allowed musicians and artists to feature their work. MySpace users could even visit third party web sites , allowing them to make “cool” personalized MySpace pages through the use of templates. Eventually I became an official MySpace member in 2007 and a Facebook member in 2011.  

MySpace was great because I was able to keep in touch with family in ways I had been unable to before. Family  who lived in different states and hadn’t been around in years were suddenly reaching out. I was even able to find a profile template that best reflected my sweet personality. A design that included glittery stars around the four or five tables featured on my profile. I could also become “friends” with my favorite musicians, create my own playlists using external media players that I was able to embed right on my profile. Visitors would often stop by to listen to some of the old school jams that played automatically when my page loaded. Some would even add me as a friend. Even a dorky writer like me was beginning to look cool! People would leave comments or funny pictures, and send well wishes on holidays. Then something happened.

Facebook had begun its ascent. So the geniuses behind the MySpace social networking empire changed its format. Profiles were limited to certain features, just like Facebook. Users were no longer able to use their own third party templates. Just like Facebook. External playlists were disabled and banned. Just like Facebook. A “MySpace” media player was added. After a certain amount of songs, users had to pay for music. MySpace profile pages lost their individuality. I understood the changes in a way. Spam had become an issue, external profile templates occasionally included viruses, and musicians understandably, demanded compensation for any music embedded on member pages.

But I soon had enough when minute to minute updates from other users trickled into my revamped “home” page. Myspace was beginning to look like “Yourspace” and people whose thoughts I simply didn’t care to read were suddenly there when I logged in. MySpace used to be all about me. Now I had to put up with other people and their ideas. It was looking more and more like Facebook. When Facebook became a web site, it didn’t try to be Myspace. And that’s why it succeeded.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix learned the hard way just how much members hate change. Staying ahead of the curve meant, adding features members would come back to use, as opposed to changing features members are comfortable with. Facebook, the Genghis Khan of social networking itself, will eventually succumb to change. I disabled my Facebook page for two months. When I came back, I noticed some profiles looked completely different with Facebook’s new “Timeline” layout. The changes weren’t good. I hated it. When I’m viewing a friend’s page,   photos and other features are difficult to find. The Timeline Profile design is sloppy and distracting. At this time I’m still waiting for the forced profile change, which will send me packing just like it did when MySpace changed its format. Internet giants seem to forget what attracted users in the first place.

YouTube’s most recent “profile” change was the most offensive. Users can’t even read each other’s channel comments (without considerable effort). But the big wigs don’t seem to care. There’s no feedback option. Any sense of individuality and creativity for the user is lost. Uploading a background image is useless because its concealed by the new layout.

This seems to happen with many web sites, including BlackPlanet, the precursor to Myspace, leaving consumers to flock to the newest trend. I was elated to hear that Reed Hasting changed his mind about dividing Netflix into Qwikster (a DVD service) and Netflix (an online streaming service). The change would force users to log into separate websites to use services they were previously able to access on one site. It would have caused two separate invoices, and finally separate payments. This was on the heels of a “price change”. I am a huge fan of Netflix and even I thought it was a stupid idea. Of note, my $27.99USD monthly payment for 4 DVDS at a time with unlimited streaming stayed the same. It was simply “billed” differently (under the same account). So much of the Netflix “price change” hoopla was much ado about nothing but bad press. Unnecessary change can lead to unnecessary consequences, including, the death of a very popular web site.

Meanwhile my favorite web site, which is Francis Ford Coppola’s Writing workshop American Zoetrope has kept the same exact layout for the past 10+ years. It was a social media web site before Myspace and Facebook came along and surprise, hundreds if not thousands of members with 11+ years are still active. Go figure.

2 Responses to Stop changing my profile!

  1. Lucinda McNary on March 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Facebook has changed a lot. Now all people seem to do is play games. I used to get lots of comments and postings from people on my page but now like I just said, all they seem to do is play the games. I don’t care for the games myself and I don’t have time. It was really nice to even find people from my high school years there but they don’t write a lot about themselves anymore or anything they are doing.

    • E. Hughes on March 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      It’s the commercialization of the facebook product I suppose. Often people have “friends” on their pages that they’ve never even met, which sort of changes what the site is about. I think people have also realized that they don’t need to document every moment of their lives. I post something maybe once a week.

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