The Road to “Dublin”: Following it to the end

During the next two weeks we will start releasing “Dublin.” Unlike “Cork”, “Belfast” and “Athenry”, this release will not be done in one go. Instead, major features and changes will find their way onto the site as they are ready to go, culminating in us throwing open the flood gates so that anyone can join Empire Avenue without an invite! As with “Cork,” we want you to know upcoming changes *before* we release them. Ideally a few days before so you can prepare! So in that spirit, let’s talk about “Followers” and “Following.”

When we put “Followers” and “Following” into the site we had a specific objective in mind. However, as time went on, we realized that how you (our beta testers) used this feature and what we had intended were almost completely miles apart. We realized that there must be a way on Empire Avenue for you to evaluate potential buys and so we instituted “Following”. Here are the myriad of ways in which people have used this feature:

1. Evaluation: To evaluate potential buys/sells
2. Content Discovery: To view their content in feeds under the “Network” setting
3. Promotion: To say “Hi I’m here look at me 🙂 ”
4. Audience: Build a large audience number so your content gets through to people
5. Permissioning: Follow people so they can post on your profile/send you messages
6. Unknown: “I follow because I can”
7. Confused: “I follow because Twitter has taught me to follow!”

Lists

As of next week when we start rolling out Dublin, you will no longer be able to “Follow” people. Instead, you will be able to add people to “Lists” with one click. We wanted to let you do all of the above, but make it very clear and much easier and allow the site to scale to millions of users around the world!

We have created specific lists to which you can add Influencers. You can filter your content by these lists and so on. In the future we may allow you to customize what lists you have, but for now, for this release, the lists are set to the following “Friends and Family,” “My Watch List,” “Recommended Buys,” “Recommended Sells,” “Favourite Content” and “Private.” The last list is only visible to you. So how do we address all the above uses with lists?

1. Permissions and Privacy

With Dublin, we will be giving explicit control over who can contact them by posts and private messages. You will be able to choose who can contact you – those in your Portfolio, the Facebook Friends or Twitter Friends on the site or one of the specific lists on which we allow you to control permissions (“Friends and Family”, “My Watch List”, and “Private”). Or you can choose to turn them all off (not the best option to increase Influence!). To duplicate the current settings on the site we will turn the setting to “On” by default.

2. Content Discovery and Evaluation

Trying to read and understand the content of hundreds of members through following simply ends up in a nightmare. With these lists, we want to address those who follow some people for reading content, some people for buying and some people for watching. In addition, “Recommended Buys” and “Sells” are special lists. By placing someone into one of these lists you are encouraging people to do an action. Getting recommended by someone will be a big thing and you will only be able to put 100 Influencers into these lists. Choose wisely!

3. Promotion and Audience

We want to cut down on the excessive amounts of email that the system generates. The “Following” notifications that were sent by the site added to the problem, however, we realize the importance of the promotion aspect of adding people to a list. The “Following” e-mail will change such that it is sent once an hour and will include all the people who have added you to a list (except Private lists). In this way, you won’t get a notification if someone adds you to a list and then removes you from it quickly. Of course, as with all notification, you can also manage these notifications if you don’t want to receive them or want to get them less frequently.

In the case of audience, by allowing content filtering by list, we immediately create the ability to keep on top of the great content that people are generating!

4. Unknown and Confused

To prevent confusion with Twitter, Facebook, etc. and every other site that uses either the term “Friend” or “Follower,” we have removed it completely. If we say Follow now, we mean Follow on Twitter or a similar service. If we say Friend, we mean “Friend” on Facebook or a similar service. By being explicit in what can be done, we hope to cut down on the confusion. And you can still add to lists because you can!

Conversion

We will convert those you currently Follow into members of your new Watch List and you can re-distribute as you see fit!

More on “Dublin” to come soon.

14 Comments

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  5. This is great news and i think that “Following” someone will finally have a purpose (Other than unlocking an achievement).

    I’m still wondering how the Dublin release will address many of the issues related to communities as these are critical to the overall experience and purpose behind EA itself.

  6. I am against the idea of removing “following” from EmpireAvenue. But, however, you’ve done it.

    Clicking “List: Add/Remove” and then clicking “Add to List” costs me two clicks. If you want to give users again the comfort of “One click – One follow”, Add an option called “Add to My Watch List”. If I wanted to add em to some other list, I’ll click “List: Add/Remove” and choose the proper list.

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