Myspace Sucks..

Posted: May 30, 2006 in Opinions and Rants

MySpace Sucks

Without mentioning the maturity of the users or the continuing controversy, here are a few reasons why MySpace sucks.

MySpace lacks structure.

Because MySpace allows users to customize the appearance of their page, the result is a clusterfu… oops, I meant a browsing nightmare. For example, take something as simple as a profile photographs. There doesn’t appear to be any limitations on dimensions. Some people’s photos are mere head shots; others are full body shoots that you need to scroll to see all of. As a result, some profile pages (and especially those with few than a handful of comments) don’t flow too well. This is just one example of how quasi-free-form profiles can be a bad influence on page structure.

The brain needs structure. When we visit a structured site we expect structured content; when information isn’t where it is expected to be, frustration sets in. You would think that the comments on one profile would bear a resemblance to comments on another profile. When this isn’t the case, it distracts from the overall experience in a negative way.

MySpace is gaudy.

I am not a designer. I know this. I don’t attempt to make up for this shortcoming by plastering animated imagery on my page. Nor do I embed loud and poorly sampled audio clips which blindside potential visitors. It is a shame that others — specifically at least half (if not more) of all MySpace users — find this sort of thing necessary.

It reminds me of Geocities, circa 1998. Or was it Tripod with its 9MB quota, circa 1999? Or was it Angelfire in 1997? Either way, it was quite the debacle. Hundreds of thousands of people who just discovered how to use HTML, coming together in order to create the most hideously colored and flashing web pages in the not-so-quickly maturing online world. Had none of the above-mentioned companies offered free (with advertising) web pages, none of this crap would have ever happened. It took years of insults and coordinated jeering to get rid of them. The guilty parties growing up probably helped too. Just as we thought that all the gaudy personal web pages were fading away, MySpace re-introduces them… then gains an obscene amount of popularity just to spite history.

MySpace uses distracting advertising.

Naturally you’ve got someone else’s advertising slapped up on your page, banner-ad style. In the case of Geocities, it was the annoying three-clicks-to-get-rid-of-it sidebar. For some Tripod accounts, it was a pop-up ad. MySpace uses the flashing, animated, and otherwise obnoxious banner ads to detract from the user’s profile.

I don’t have a problem with advertising, so long as it doesn’t detract from the experience; my choice is Google’s AdSense program. Not that you could run AdSense on a MySpace profile anyways. I’ve yet to read any MySpace profile that could yield intelligible text for Google to parse. I don’t even know what sort of ads could be contextually relevant to the gibberish that today’s teenagers type.

MySpace reserves the right to your content.

I know that no one reads the terms of use or privacy policy, but they are important documents if you contribute anything to site that you don’t own. The following is an excerpt — emphasis mine — of the Terms of Use and Agreement, as of March 17, 2006. This excerpt is from the section entitled “Proprietary Rights in Content on”

“By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) on or through the Services, you hereby grant to, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services.”

There are a lot of bands on MySpace that post music files to play/share. It shocks me that any band’s agent would allow their clients to go anywhere near MySpace, considering the emphasized portion above. They could use a band’s music in TV ads without attribution or compensation, or further sublicense said content to another organization for the same purpose. A band would have no legal recourse for receiving royalties or other fees for their part.

Should MySpace ever be purchased by a major label or perhaps a large conglomerate with a label other its wing (Time-Warner, anyone?), the license would probably be transferred to the new owner. That could make getting a contract with another label problematic.

That used to be the end of it, but then the following was added:

“This license will terminate at the time you remove such Content from the Services. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a back-up or residual copy of the Content posted by you may remain on the servers after you have removed the Content from the Services, and retains the rights to those copies.”

At first that sounds fine… except that they retain the rights to their “archival” copies. There’s no telling how long their backups are kept until they are disposed of permanently, if ever.

MySpace friends are cheap.

MySpace “friends” are a dime a dozen, cheap to add, maintain, or ignore. At some point, the word friend became a verb. People “friend” others that they don’t even know. People “friend” others solely to increase their friend count. Some actually friend people that they do know and have met in person.

Some people actually have used the service to keep up with old friends, continue to keep in touch, and meet up outside of the MySpace arena. Of the people I talk to, this isn’t too common. There’s usually a reason that people part ways in the beginning; most of the time the original reason isn’t circumvented by a trendy web site.

Of the friended people whom a user knew in the past, most will never make an attempt to catch up offline. The majority will be content to leave brief messages on each other’s profiles, as opposed to email which requires a bit more interaction and care. I think that the leave-a-quick-one messaging culture has caused quality conversations to decay, affecting the way we relate to others.


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