Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Facebook Friend Requests - What to do when you don't know the Who, and get no Info to Say Nuffin to You

Hello B2D readers. To those of you kind folk who subscribe to b2d, please forgive this wee intrusion on your reader/rss collector/browsing for a slight off topic. IT's about facebook. And if you don't use facebook, please by all means, skip this post. For those who do, i have a question for which i seek your help to unravel: what do you do with friend requests that come without messages to introduce the person? I'm at a loss.

Personally, i'm still trying to figure out the role of facebook in my life - and what the quality "friend" means. It seems more to be acquaintances than friends, per se. But that aside, i find myself surprised to get a number of these "friend" requests from people i've never met, don't know, and who provide no context - no little message to say "Hi, you don't know me, but the reason i'd like to be friends with you is BLAH" We may have some other "friends" in common, but forgive me, so what?

And so this is my conundrum. Perhaps i'm misunderstanding facebook entirely, and one shouldn't care who asks to be one's friends; just hit accept. After all, these connections aren't really about friends; they're just something - oh, i don't know what.

It seems i'm not entirely alone. In a post called Both Sides of the Table by Mark Suster (whom it seems gets a ton of facebook requests. He writes:
Facebook. I know some people link to anybody and everybody on Facebook – I do not. Facebook is a reciprocal (or symmetrical) network and therefore if you want to follow me by default I follow you back. The problem I have with this is two-fold. First, I send lots of private stuff on Facebook because that’s where I connect to my parents, my siblings, my classmates and my wife. Second, I don’t want to clutter up the stream of information that I have in my Facebook newsfeed with information on people with whom I don’t have a relationship.
At least Mark has figured out a particular use for Facebook, and so has clear guidance on how he accepts friends. This groundwork is by way of background to the cool basics of exchange Suster suggests:

If you’re asking to “connect” with people you don’t know (or don’t know well), how should you go about it? Send people a personalized comment on the intro saying who you are and why you’d like to connect. I do this even for people who I know very well. Put in any info about people we know in common, places we may have met or some other relevant fact. Even if we don’t know each other – finding a common bridge increases your probability of getting accepted.

If you connect to me on Facebook and simply have an invite with no explanation and if I can’t figure out how I know you I’ll just hit ignore. On Facebook there isn’t even a standard “join my network” introduction. Sending a blank invite is the equivalent of sending your resume to a company with no cover letter. People do it, but it’s not professional.

The more Personal. I like this; it's simple. Send a note with your request. I think beyond being informative it's just nice, isn't it? Polite? I like the comparison to sending a CV to a company without a cover letter. But even more casually, how often to complete strangers just step up to you in the middle of a conversation and start talking - with no introduction?

I'd add to the above that some folks may seem to think that if i see whom we may have as friends in common, then no further data is required - or maybe they don't - i'm guessing, cuz i don't know. They don't say. But for me, that friends in common thing offers nothing useful. Many people ride motorcycles, for instance, is that single data point sufficient to want to expose one's communication to others, or invite others to comment on any topic you initiate?

Again, perhaps i'm just missing something obvious about Facebook.

S.O.S. SO i reach out to b2d readers. What do you do when you get a request from someone whom you do not know, and have no note about the request?

With many thanks,



Chris said...

I tend to ignore them

Peter said...

Ja. Ich auch.

Paul Britt said...

I ignore them for the most part.

mc said...

oh dear. you mean i've been taking this to heart far too much?

Thanks for the feedback gentlemen.

i suppose i'm also thinking people actually care about my response. But perhaps if they don't bother to send a note it's actually indicative of whether they really care less about this decision than i do?

thanks again,

~ L ~ said...

I think ultimately it depends on what you decide to use facebook for. some people are obviously just using it as a way to 'prove' they are popular, "I have so many 'friends'". Some people enjoy having a multi-fascited time waster.
I only use it to connect with people I've met and enjoy talking to in person. I use it because I've moved around a lot, because of photo, video, event sharing, because it's just as easy as email and IMs, and in a way better because most of my friends are on FB and get my messages and chats faster than they did before FB.
Although I have friends who still refuse to use it, they are phone people through and through. I keep telling them, don't ask for hard copies of my photos then :)

mc said...

good point about getting clear on use.

sounds like you've developed a functional network from yours. way to go.

thanks for stopping by

J said...

If one has a blog an people know your name, strangers may find you on Facebook and want to be friends because they're fans. One option is to offer a Fan page.

As someone who wouldn't be found on Facebook by blog readers, I ignore friend requests from people I don't know, accept them from family, even the ones I haven't heard from in 30 years, and don't respond one way or another to friend requests from people about whom I am ambivalent. Sometimes, in a generous mood, I "friend" them later. That said, I'm one who uses Facebook to connect with people through email rather than "wall" updates. I don't use Facebook in lieu of 1:1 contact, which seems to be unusual based on what I see on Facebook.

Richard 'Chiggers' Chignell said...

Over thinking it i think MC. Use the ignore button!

I also benefited from a culling process. I deleted off any people that i didn't really want to be involved with or whom had not been in contact with me for a fair amount of time. A number contacted me to ask why. I explained my reasoning and re-friended them again as this indicated that they were at a minimum aware enough to realise. As a result i now only have people who i care to know about my life or whose lives i care about. In my opinion it's all about deciding its use for you and then setting some rules to apply.

If it's to be used for business that changes things up. In which case there is the option of business pages on facebook. I know i get bombarded enough by marketing that i am only friends with people. Keeps my life slightly simpler.

mc said...

thanks all
much obliged
i feel a pruning coming on as i get clear on what's going on with fb world.


José Coelho said...

I tend to ignore friend requests that have no information about them or no friends in common with me. I use Facebook to connect to my real friends, colleagues and acquaintances but also my blog readers. I have a blog fanpage. I also send friend requests to people that seem to have the same interests that I have, like blogging. When I send them a friend request I mention in a private message why I'm interested in their "friendship".I skip out all the private stuff, like private pictures, private information. If I want to share the real personal stuff from my life to my friends and family I do it in person, and not online. And especially personal comments about my work employers. No sir, do not comment on that on facebook. Some air pilots were obliged to attend an ethics course back here in Portugal because they discussed their air company matters on Facebook. That's what happens when you don't know what you should or shouldn't post online. Thanx.

mc said...

thanks for dropping by.
a blog fan page? what's the role of that, if you don't mind sharing a bit more?

also, really keen to get: suppose you have X no. of "friends" in common.

what makes that sufficient for you to accept a friend request? what's your mental equation on that one?


Cristobal said...

Well, I won't friend you then!

Enjoy your articles and find that they support what my gut's been saying, but sound more intelligent and well researched than my gut.

But the kicker has been seeing that there's another CS PhD kettlebell fan out there...


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