You can now find me on MySpace. And I must confess I feel a bit sick about it – embarrassed even – but I’ve been told over and over that it’s great for networking … so I shall do my best to resist the very strong urge I’ve got to delete my account, thereby committing myspaceide.
Gosh, I really do want to though … But instead for now I’m going to rant about it in a mildly geeky way, I’m afraid (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
Firstly, this is one of the least user-friendly sites that I’ve encountered since, oh, around about 1998. It’s utterly appalling to interact with. The simplest things take so many steps, the information is both dense and almost entirely unhelpful, it’s impossible to find your way around without really stopping and thinking about it and even after setting up a page I don’t really understand how it works or what it’s for.
And I’m not some technologically challenged newbie – I’m someone who spends a really considerable amount of time using the web and net more generally – and who also designs and maintains websites for a living. I’m truly stunned that MySpace could be as popular as it is given how non-intuitive it is to use.
Secondly, MySpace are completely obsessed with telling you all about how important your privacy is to them. Yet even if you go there entirely to network, you have absolutely no option but to give a date of birth and set a relationship status. Appallingly, this information (your age in years, star sign and relationship status) is on your profile for all the world to see – and as far as I can see there is nothing you can do about it if you want to maintain a public profile.
On what planet are these not private and potentially sensitive pieces of information!? Why on earth would people I want to network with in a business sense have any legitimate need to know whether or not I’m single, how old I am and what my star sign is? I don’t even believe in star signs and now I’m going to have people all over the world making judgements about my personality based on what I consider to be a piece of random non-information!
I’ve now written to them asking why there is no option to keep this information private – so far there’s not even been an acknowledgement of me lodging a query and my confidence about getting a response is rather low. I’ve also now just randomly selected my ‘private’ information rather than putting in anything accurate – and I’ve put a note to that effect in the ‘about me’ section.
Then there are the layout and technical issues. So many pages won’t load or lay out properly in my browser (Safari for Mac OS X). There’s no point in telling them this because you can just tell the whole site has been built by a bunch of PC-only users who probably tested in a few versions of IE for PC and thought their work was done. Or maybe the real issue is that they allow all of their users to contribute their own HTML and CSS, which of course is going to be dodgy more often than not.
My psychic abilities (or is it my stars?) tell me that if I raise any such issues – even about MySpace’s own ads not working – they’ll be very likely to tell me that it’s because I’m an unfortunate Mac user and Macs are an alien species that they don’t support and why don’t I try using IE5 for Mac instead?
IE5 for Mac is dead!
Now, to go off on a tangent, this is a suggestion I often get (and dodgy web designers / support desk people of the world, please take note) which just indicates how utterly ignorant that person or organisation is and illustrates that they are clearly in the wrong business.
Just because you’ve tested your site in various versions of IE on PC does *not* mean it will work in IE5 for Mac – it is *not* the same browser even a teensy weensy bit just because the name and logo are the same! On top of that, Microsoft hasn’t supported IE5 for Mac for over three years now – and very few sites work perfectly with it. It’s dead and buried and best forgotten.
Anyway, there’s my rant. I’ll probably be banned from MySpace at some point for daring to make the outrageous suggestion that it pretty much entirely sucks, but so be it. My hope is that it will soon die a painful death and replaced by something elegantly easy to use which has perhaps been made by the lovely people who built Flickr.