I’ve been testing out a couple of relatively new social networking sites lately — FriendFeed and brightkite. Both reminded me of a pet peeve I have about social networking sites: they all want your picture, but they don’t make it easy for you.
They want you to upload a jpg from your computer. I’m not so vain that I keep a jpg of my mug on my desktop ready for easy uploading. And I’m too lazy to go digging around for it every time I want to test out a site. A good chunk — 40% of my friends on FriendFeed — are lazy, too. As a result, they all get the same icon, decreasing the usability of the site.
Here’s a simple idea: steal my Facebook picture, or my flickr picture, or my twitter picture. (I’m in blue, for those who are wondering.) Easy enough to do. FriendFeed already synchronizes my friends list with Facebook.
Yes, I know not everyone uses twitter or flickr. But their primary audience right now is the Great Silicon Valley Echo Chamber. They do. And Facebook only has a 100 million or so users.
An alternative, which WordPress uses for commenters, is to generate a custom icon for each user. It won’t remind people what I look like, but it will help distinguish one user from another.