The Weird Facebook Sidebar

Quick Thought

As of July 7, 2011, Facebook changed their chat popup to include a seemingly random group of friends rather than friends who are available to chat with in real time. This seems illogical. I used the Facebook Chat popup because it was extremely useful. One of the first things I would do when opening up Facebook would be to see who is online that I might want to chat with. A green dot means that they are currently online and a moon meant that they were idle. This worked out perfectly because it was akin to someone hanging out at a social space that may or may not want to engage in a conversation if prompted.

Now we are left with a random list of friends with some showing availability and most not at all. And this ‘sidebar is atrocious. First it appears exactly like the original chat popup.

facebook-sidebar1
It looks the same

And now it is just some amorphous field hogging up space of random friend.

facebook-sidebar2
Blurred to protect the innocent

And I can’t easily hide this sidebar. It takes two clicks to get rid of it.

facebook-sidebar3
It's now two clicks for the price of one

Why would I want to see a list of random friends? If I wanted to see who I was friends list then I would click “Friends” on my profile. This seems like absolute nonsense to me. But then it hit me; could this be Facebook’s way of trying to get it’s users to contact friends that they haven’t conversed with in a long time? Is Facebook trying to increase the connectedness between users who may not have connected via chat otherwise? Is this a strange counter move against Google+?

I have the feeling that this is a Facebook fail.

Update 7/11/2011

I found it funny that so many people were visiting this post through some search keywords that would suggest they weren’t happy with the Facebook sidebar and that they wanted to turn it off. Here’s a list of the top 15 keywords of the day. In all, I found 14 visitors through Google search out of 48 came to this post using keywords that denoted negativity toward the sidebar, hiding it, or getting the old chat popup back. This is from a single day of visits.

facebook-sidebar-keywords
Negative search keywords for the Facebook sidebar

Update 7/11/2011

It looks like there’s an extension for Chrome users to disable the Facebook Chat Sidebar. And it’s called the FB Chat Sidebar Disabler! Write back if you tried this out. I’m a Chrome purist, not a single Extension. Sorry…

33 comments

  1. DuckFist

    I dislike the new chat side bar. Mainly due to the list populating those who are unavailable to chat. Unless I’m missing the point, that aspect seems completely pointless. It feels as if they are just throwing crap my way rather than an efficient and useful product.
    I too dislike how one has to hide the chat bar. I would find it a little more acceptable if it was one click in and one click out, but to close it you have to pull up a menu to find the option. Then when you access the chat again, the whole damn window pops up and you’re back at square one.
    They should at least offer the option in settings to use the old chat popup or the new chat side bar, and leave it to the preference of the user.

  2. Donald Sinatra

    Right, it seems so bizarre. I doubt Facebook would do something for no reason whatsoever. I thought at first that Facebook did this as a lashing back at Google+’s Hangout. But it doesn’t make sense to propagate a bunch of users who aren’t even online. That’s why it must be Facebook trying to create more interaction between users who are on AND offline. Notice how Facebook integrated their email program with chat? So if you message someone offline it automatically goes into their email. Perhaps this is just trying to get people to simply message each other more?
    Honestly, it’s all very messy. I like to know who’s online so I can chit chat with them when they are available, not when they aren’t.

  3. Erica

    Not a fan…it’s huge! Why would I want to see a list of people who are offline? Maybe there is something coming?

  4. Donald Sinatra

    Sorry federico. It appears that there is no way to revert back to the old chat. Facebook likes each of its users to have the same exact experience with the site.

  5. Hunter

    Solution: All you can do is to use link: http://www.facebook.com/presence/popout.php and give them into your bookmark, especially good solution is Opera sidebar. It looks and it working like old chat, but you will have it next to page that you actually use. It is the best and the one and only solution. This new chat is a big FAIL – it is my opinion!

  6. Steven

    And this is why I’m glad I started using Digsby for all my instant messaging needs. All my friends still show up available to chat along side my AIM, MSN and gchat friends.

  7. Donald Sinatra

    Steven. I’m using Adium on my macs and it works great. However, Facebook keeps changing their API which is squeezing out any usage of Adium with Facebook. It’s a big bummer because I really like Adium a lot, but I can’t have two-way conversations with it in Facebook anymore.

  8. Donald Sinatra

    That does seem to be a good solution Hunter. Except that we know not everyone will use that workaround. Facebook just ruined something that worked well.

  9. Fuck Facebook

    I don’t even know whether I like the chat sidebar or not because it DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. It doesn’t pop up at all, just stays down in the corner so I can’t even get at the “hide sidebar” option. Thank you, people on this page, for showing me the popout URL so I can USE CHAT AT ALL NOW THAT FACEBOOK HAS BROKEN IT.

    Fuck Facebook. Seriously, FUCK FACEBOOK. I have fucking HAD IT with this bullshit. STOP BREAKING THINGS, FACEBOOK. LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES SO WE CAN USE YOUR FUCKING SITE TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH OUR FRIENDS.

    God, I hope I can persuade all my friends to switch to Google+ soon.

  10. Donald Sinatra

    Yeah, I on Google+ myself FF. I have to say that I am enjoying the layout a lot more than Facebook. It’s all about adoption though. I hope a lot more of my folks will be on there soon.

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