The archive contains older posts which may no longer reflect my current views.

Conversation ownership and the FriendFeed backlash.

OwnershipThe argument over conversation ownership and fragmentation has taken another twist.

Rob La Gesse became unhappy that the conversation around his posts was happening on FriendFeed and so he removed his account from the aggregator. The only problem is that removing all these parent items also removes all of the comments associated with them - Scoble wasn't happy and called Rob out on it.

Rob maintains that FriendFeed gave no warning that this would happen but others ask what did he expect? This raises a dilemma over the actual ownership of comments on FriendFeed and blogs and has also raised the question of whether we seek a conversation or an audience (a post for a different day perhaps).


Compare the situation to what happens on disqus: you do not need to be registered to use the disqus system but there is a fundamental difference in the way your comment is handled if you're not. Posting a comment as a logged in user leaves the ownership of that comment with them you so that even if the blog (conversation) owner removes it from their discussion you still have access to it on your own list at disqus. Make a comment as an unregistered user and the ownership transfers to the conversation owner and it will be removed permanently should they delete it from the discussion - fair enough.

FriendFeed is different as all posts are made by logged in, registered users - do they own their comments? Does the person who started the discussion? Does FriendFeed?

It is generally argued that the person who posts the comment has ownership but this introduces a conflict when control of the entire conversation is passed to the person who started it.

Need to address

This is obviously something that FriendFeed will need to address and maybe haven't really considered up to this point. The FriendFeed business model is all about getting data in to the service - perhaps that focus has meant that little emphasis has been placed on managing deletions.

Yes, we should all be able to remove our content if we no longer want it appearing within the service for whatever reason but that's the point: ourcontent. We should not have control over the content of others so it would seem that we have an issue with content management within FriendFeed.

The best solution - as has already been suggested within the discussion about this issue - would be for FriendFeed to replace top level items that have comments with a placeholder indicating that the item has been removed. The resultant conversation can often stand on its own so, with the issue of ownership hanging over it, should be left intact.

What do you think?

How should FriendFeed handle deletions? Who owns what? Or, is it just a lot of fuss about nothing?

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Image by Seattle Municipal Archives.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog