The Problem with Facebook Notifications

Notifications in general are just about the most important problem in consumer software right now, at least for me. How frequently I'm interrupted by my phone (or even how often I click the damn red badge at the top of the Facebook page) has a direct effect on my quality of life.

One important problem with notifications is priority, and this is particularly acute with Facebook since I am more excited about someone posting on my wall than I am about comment 100 on a long thread where I posted comment 17. But it's not just comments vs. wall posts - I do really care about a comment immediately after mine that responds to me!

The main culprit of annoying Facebook notifications is comments. There is no way to distinguish between a discussion, where follow up comments are relevant, or a series of unrelated comments. Here are 3 potential solutions, in order of my preference.

  1. Have threaded conversations, even just 2 levels deep for simplicity. If you're replying to my comment, I get a notification. If you're adding an unrelated comment, I don't need to see it.
  2. Facebook should make it easy to "unsubscribe" from a conversation so I stop seeing notifications just for that conversation
  3. Conversation notifications are opt-in - in addition to commenting, I have to subscribe to receive further notifications.

Update (1/11/2012): Looks like Facebook implemented #2 ("Unfollow Post" below). Very nice - can't wait for this to make it to mobile.

"Unfollow Post" link on Facebook

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