Friday, February 27, 2009

Google Friend Connect for Blogger

Somehow Blogger "connecting itself" with Google Friend Connect is big news (Wired, Washington Post and WebProNews are all reporting it)

But have you noticed this ?

[...I lost followers! I'm particularly sensitive to this concern - having run the publisher team at FeedBurner for years, I learned that publishers really care about their subscriber numbers, and any time a user's RSS subscriber number dropped without explanation it was cause for alarm. Numbers matter - a lot. For many, an important goal of their blog is to build a community around their content, and the number (of subscribers, followers, visitors, whatever) signifies for the publisher the scope of that community. Whether the number is 10 or 5,000, it's a number that becomes an easily digestible benchmark by which the success or failure of the blog is judged.

So when a number drops from 15 to 10 (or 100 to 80, or 2500 to 2400), that's bad, right? Not really, no. Those followers are all still there - but a few of them are now following privately. Here's why:

Let's say Bill has a Blogger blog about his struggles with depression, and has "followed" three blogs covering the same topic. Bill's persona on Blogger is "public" insofar as it's discoverable and visible from those sites. But Bill isn't using his name - his profile simply identifies him as "DepressedInChicago". Separately, Bill has a Google account, through which he's joined his school alumni blog, a sports blog, and a tech networking site in Chicago. His Google account is his Gmail address, and he's well known within the tech and alumni circles in Chicago.

By upgrading Blogger Following to leverage Friend Connect's community features, we had to make a choice: do we show off which sites Bill has joined (through Follow or Friend Connect)? If so, Bill's identity becomes obvious to the members of the depression blogs. And his struggles with depression become clear to his professional and personal colleagues.

There are any number of examples where this blending of previously anonymous or pseudonymous activities through one persona with the more public activities of another persona could cause individuals great harm. Though the whole goal with Friend Connect is to make sites more social, we felt strongly that we could not risk any situation in which an individual's privacy was jeopardized.

As a result, for those users who both followed a site with Blogger Following and joined a site with Friend Connect, we've defaulted those individuals to be privately following the sites they care about. Every one of these users is getting an e-mail from us explaining the situation, and will see an alert in their Blogger dashboard linking to the FAQ so that they can decide which (if any) sites they wish to follow publicly and which they wish to follow privately.

While we recognize that this affects blogger owners (who saw their community's follower count drop), but hope that the reasoning behind the decision - not to mention the privacy concerns of the affected users - justified the path we chose.


Now how to solve this ?

How do I publicly follow the blogs I'm anonymously following?

To publicly follow the blogs, click the blue "Manage" button in your Blogger Reading List.

You will then see a list of all the blogs that you're following. You will then need to click the "Settings" link next to each blog. Under the Settings section, you will see the message:


Click the "anonymously" link. Finally, select to "Follow publicly" ...

and save your settings.

How do I show my followed sites on my profile?

First, go to your dashboard and click the "Edit Profile" link. Then, check the box next to "Show sites I follow":

Lastly, save your profile settings.

If I publicly join a Google Friend Connect site, will the site be listed on my Blogger profile?

Yes, ANY site that you join publicly with Friend Connect will be listed in your Blogger profile, under "Blogs I Follow".

Also have a look at the main website of Google Friend Connect

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