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Meet the Programmer Behind Social Fixer

timothy posted 1 year,3 days | from the social-neuterer-failed-at-the-focus-group dept.

Facebook 64

Ars Technica profiles Matt Kruse, the developer behind Social Fixer. "Social Fixer uses JavaScript to modify Facebook's interface. It gives you dozens of options for customizing how you see Facebook: you can separate updates into tabs, enable mouse-over image previews, change the layout, filter posts from your friends, give everything a theme and even hide the bits you find disagreeable. It's a huge amount of work to keep going, but although Kruse has a tiny Paypal donations button on the bottom of his website to cover his expenses, he says he hasn't made any efforts to profit from it, despite being contacted several times by people who sniffed money to be made. ... So far, he's turned them all down. 'There was one person a while ago who seemed pretty promising,' he says. His tone is gently bemused, as if not quite believing that people actually want to pay money for his work. 'I've had ten offers over the past four years from people who say they want to add advertising inside it or attach some additional software to the installer. But the way they wanted to implement it technically would have put my users at risk of them being malicious, so I couldn't do that.'" It would be nice if every piece of software and every website with ads thought the same way.

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64 comments

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What if I don't use facebook? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671717)

Facebook is shit, and I presume your product is shit.

Re:What if I don't use facebook? (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | 1 year,1 day | (#44683135)

Facebook is shit, and I presume your product is shit.

Well, it a grand effort to fix the shit that is FB's UI. And that is moving shit!

I have favorably compared what slash-dot does with contextual reply, to FB's failed effort. But slash-dot is shit too, just different shit. FB is stupid shit, ordinarily stupid people posting echo-chamber-like stuff that FB's investors love because they can snoop on its users. Shit is the main, mature market, and that is what FB is. The problems with FBs UI that Social Fixer tries to fix is that it is intended for the Big Data users of the CMS, not for the edification or communication of the users. You aren't a total luser to use FB, because you want world-wide coverage to pick up your far flung friends. You pay to promote interesting stories, there should be a more social way to do that, to get topics exposed to a larger audience, like the page, but promotion of one topic. FB does get more exposure than most blogs, but it has a really bad UI.

Slash-dot is smart-ass shit, nasty, snarcky shit, and too much of it. An even better model for slash-dot's contextual reply is to collapse all the replies under each heading and encourage users to change the subject line when the thread changes. The USENET newagroup is a good model for handling the volume and the cruff, so slash-dot gets there, but not quite.

I think that FB will be gone in a year or two, or when the investors realize that the business model doesn't return on investment. When that happens Social Fixer can branch out as one of many UIs for a distributed CMS managed by others in the cloud, with only the global list of friends maintained by a global entity. FB will only survive in any form when the CMS and UI are unbundled. Then it will be possible to encourage users to behave differently. To require a comment when a user shares, for one, to change the zone layout so the news stream goes beyond the relatively little content now taken up entirely by the side panels when that content doesn't float, so the news fills the page, eventually. With stable content the style can become customized for several alternative layouts. Since Social Fixer has to cope with a quicksand foundation, it doesn't have the freedom it needs. Wrest the UI away from FB and enact features that shape better user behavior.

SIGINT? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671723)

Is there a SIGINT option?

Re:SIGINT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44672869)

Is there a SIGINT option?

If there was, then he wouldn't have had the option of turning it down.

inevitably... (2)

rot26 (240034) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671761)

Prepare for this to quit working in 3... 2... 1...

Re:inevitably... (4, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671841)

features break every time facebook updates their interface, but they're usually fixed in short order. I've been using it for years, and it does make the experience less annoying.

Stop it already (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671779)

Enough with fucking Facebook, I'm tired of hearing about this life-sucking website. When companies put facebook.com/company instead of company.com in their TV ads, you know something is fucked up.

Chances of me visiting company.com: 0 to 100% depending on my interest in the product.
Chances of me visiting Facebook.com/company: 0% since I have zero interest in Facebook.

I wish companies would just grow some fucking balls and ditch Facebook. And I'm not suggesting moving to the next fucking fad either (MySpace, LinkedIn, etc).

Advertise your own godamn website and stop giving more strength to Facebook.

Re:Stop it already (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671817)

Are you listening slashdot editors? No more articles on this multi-billion dollar technology corporation since this one guy isn't interested!

Re:Stop it already (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44672345)

Are you listening slashdot editors? No more articles on this multi-billion dollar technology corporation since this one guy isn't interested!

2 -guys, And I'm sure if you look hard enough you may well find others. People who know better, people who care about privacy etc etc.......

Its kinda sad that there are FB supporters on slashdot, shouldn't you know better?

Then again your prob posting from some I-thingy with round corners sitting in starbacks sniffing your own farts. you smug yuppie cunt.

captcha 'extremes'

Re:Stop it already (1)

readingaccount (2909349) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672677)

Its kinda sad that there are FB supporters on slashdot, shouldn't you know better?

Slashdot is open to all types of people, and even Slashdotters are prone to narcissism (which Facebook encourages, hence is so prevalent with).

Re:Stop it already (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672877)

Slashdot is open to all types of people, and even Slashdotters are prone to narcissism (which Facebook encourages, hence is so prevalent with).

You're thinking of Twitter. Facebook is for people enamored with their food and the ability to post pictures of it. Which Social Fixer lets you create a tab just for them.

Re:Stop it already (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672941)

Slashdot is open to all types of people, and even Slashdotters are prone to narcissism (which Facebook encourages, hence is so prevalent with).

You're thinking of Twitter. Facebook is for people enamored with their food and the ability to post pictures of it. Which Social Fixer lets you create a tab just for them.

You're thinking of Instagram, which Facebook owns. So I guess you're still right.

Re:Stop it already (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675937)

Facebook isn't really a technology company, yet. They have encountered and solved some interesting challenges around databases, data centers adn that sort of stuff, and like Amazon they may turn that into a business. But so far their business is just marketing and advertising.

Re:Stop it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44680155)

You could substitute Google for Facebook, and what you said would still hold true.

Re:Stop it already (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671821)

2 out of 3 ACs agree - Facebook is shit and we're not going to take it anymore.

Re:Stop it already (2)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672109)

When companies put facebook.com/company instead of company.com in their TV ads, you know something is fucked up.

Wait, wait, I thought it was aol.com/company. No wonder that doesn't work anymore.

Re:Stop it already (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675957)

Funny you should mention that. Someone said that if you step back and look at what FB actually is... you'll be looking at AOL 2.0

Re:Stop it already (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | 1 year,2 days | (#44679833)

Pretty much goes without saying. The surest way to build a billion-dollar empire is by emulating everything the last billion-dollar empire did except for the mistake that brought it down.

Trouble is, you eventually become the monster you fight. Ask Microsoft, for instance.

Re:Stop it already (1)

ttucker (2884057) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672255)

I wish companies would just grow some fucking balls and ditch Facebook. And I'm not suggesting moving to the next fucking fad either (MySpace, LinkedIn, etc).

MySpace was the fad before Facebook.

Re:Stop it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44672417)

Didn't you hear? Myspace is the new new thing again.

Don't forget that horizontal scrolling because fuck the haters. Horizontal needs a little loving too.

Re:Stop it already (1)

styrotech (136124) | 1 year,2 days | (#44674263)

So was LinkedIn for that matter too.

Re:Stop it already (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675965)

Like it or not, Facebook is a very popular platform and companies find that it brings in a lot of traffic... they are not going to ditch it. However I do wish they'd stop using FB as their main presence on the web, instead of linking from FB to their own site.

Re:Stop it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44673333)

that's kind of fucked, this post doesn't 'deserve' a -1, wonder if farcebook bots are at work ? ? ?

1. i agree, not farcebookin', no matter what (prob 'there' by a few pics by others, but what can you do, i'd beat them senseless, but they are obviously already there), and companies having their main presence be on there only guarantee i won't be 'liking' that company...

2. while we are bitching about the kids on the lawn, can we get *some* sort of 'universal log in' or something, so i don't have to 'register', or make an 'account', for EVERY FUCKING TWO BIT web site on the planet ? ? ?

3. and those stupid fucking postage-stamp-sized 'contact' boxes many companies/etc so generously offer for sending them emails they will generally ignore anyway, wtf ? just give me a dog damn email eddress and i'll figure out the rest myself... whenever i see one of those idiotic forms, i figure A. they DON'T want their customers/potential customers contacting them; B. they REALLY don't want you contacting them when they put captchas there...

et tu, slushdat ?

bwa ha ha ha ha, captcha = contrary

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Re:Stop it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44675721)

When you can use capitalization, you can call Facebook anything you want child.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671791)

I don't want to meet anyone involved with facebook anything at all.

I installed this (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671793)

I just installed this recently to help the few times where I actually use that crap site to get around quicker.
I can safely say I will be throwing a little money his way soon, very good stuff.

If there were any additions, it would be a completely redesigned chat, but that is going to require quite a bit more effort to rewrite.
Preferably a chat that was entirely vertical and "menu"-tabbed (as in, an HTML dropdown menu to select other tabs if there are too many chats open, HTML to actually show who sent messages and their pictures, static dropdown won't work here)
Tabs would be pictures with a tooltip to show name to save space, you could fit like, uh... 6-8 picture tabs depending on how fancy you made it look.
That would improve the chat for those that use it considerably because now it isn't some annoying pop-over crap that you accidentally click or have hovering over.
It would all be in one nice compact side-chat, which it should have been in the first place instead of the mess it is now. (same goes for Gmail chat, as well as any website chats!)

Re:I installed this (1)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672067)

why don't you just go the "Messages" section and select your desired convos from the list on the left? You could just turn off the pop-up chat entirely. I rarely use those little pop-up boxes. I either go to the messages section, or reply on my phone.

Re:I installed this (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44672445)

It is mainly convenience because say if I am running through the faceboke feed and someone messages me, easier to just type crap to them and continue scrolling while my life crawls out my eyeballs.

I used to use messages, but if say I was having a long-term conversation, Facebook just sits there chugging away at memory like crazy on the messages page for some silly reason. It is so leaky for me.
I remember leaving it open over night by accident and waking to 1.2gig messages tab.
Lucky it is easy to terminate Chrome tabs, but that leak is coming from somewhere.
No doubt Facebook devs and their awful templater script not deleting nodes when new stuff is added. (since it seems to be related to the ad sidebar)

It would be even better if Facebook just added this, but that is a hilarious thought of them actually doing anything good or for the people that use it.
I swear they hired some UI designer with 5 blind eyes. His vision was already beyond us, now he is blind. Even Bruce Willis doesn't stand a chance.

Facebook sucks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671819)

let the modding up begin.

I have a fix (-1, Troll)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671831)

Don't effing use fbook et al.

Re:I have a fix (0)

bmo (77928) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671847)

Having fun trying to drain the ocean with that teaspoon?

--
BMO

Re:I have a fix (1)

ttucker (2884057) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672261)

Don't effing use fbook et al.

I am pretty sure nobody cares.

Five steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671839)

1. Invent thing that lots of people like
2. Turn down all offers to monetise it
3. Make sure everyone knows about step 2.
4. Wait for next biggest offer
5. Profit

Facebook Is for oAuth (2)

ioconnor (2581137) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671909)

I too despise facebook. But I have a way of making them pay. I created an account with them. My one and only account with them is only used for sites needing oAuth. I wonder how long it will be until facebook bans me for using them in such a way.

Re:Facebook Is for oAuth (4, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671969)

Doing that just legitimizes the practice of sites requiring sign-in from an external social media account. At the very least use OpenID wherever possible.

Re:Facebook Is for oAuth (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675991)

If a site requires Facebook Connect, I am out of there (and I'll let them know why). It is nice to offer it as a convenient option for people with FB accounts, as long as there are alternative ways to log in.

The kind of thing you can do when young (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44671921)

I could never do this now, even if I cared about FB. When I was younger, the fact that all my C-64 code would be gone with the wind when something better came along didn't bother met that much. As time has gone by, systems that can run decently without assembly are around, there are many excellent cross-platform libraries, and I developed a good understanding of what it takes to write cross-platform applications.

With this guy's entire app being based on FaceBook (and he's certainly not the only one) we've gone full circle. Actually, we've gone even further back. C-64 emulators are out there, and if I had my old code I could run it. Not only can FaceBook change its site any day, 20 years from now an emulator would be pointless because the code in and of itself is pointless--it's the massive database and public participation that matters.

When you're young (or retired and still interested) you can burn cycles on stuff like this. At this point in my life, I'm just way too prone to look at the scope of the project, consider the ability to defend it, and look at the long term... maybe that's a weakness; because it's really un-motivating given the climate we're in these days. I find myself becoming more interested in literary endeavors; knowing that English has a longer shelf-life than JavaScript or even C, and will be appreciated by a lot more people.

Re:The kind of thing you can do when young (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44673133)

I find myself becoming more interested in literary endeavors; knowing that English has a longer shelf-life than JavaScript or even C, and will be appreciated by a lot more people.

Despite the shelf-life of English, very few of us could write English that would be appreciated by more people than this guys JavaScript. You are more likely to get more appreciation by writing the next Angry Birds than you are to become the next Shakespeare.

Re:The kind of thing you can do when young (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44673499)

Original AC here. You don't have to be Shakespeare. I'd be happy if I could make a decent living as a journalist, or have a small but loyal fanbase that resulted in $20k/yr royalties for the next 20 years. You're not thinking about all the authors that aren't famous, but still get read.

Yeah, I could probably finagle my way back into technology; but even if I did hit the lottery and write the next Angry Birds, nobody will be playing it 20 years from now. At least my story with a by-line covering the election of a new Sheriff in Podunkport might be interesting to some historian pouring over microfiche in the library 100 years from now, or some kid doing a report on the town's history. I'll take that over a bunch of bit-rot on somebody's phone. I'm not saying it's the only way to live; it's just the direction in which I find myself going.

F.B. Purity (3, Informative)

crow (16139) | 1 year,3 days | (#44671957)

I've been using FB Purity (http://www.fbpurity.com/) which is pretty much the same idea. My favorite feature is to hide stories that match a list of regular expressions. That's a great way to stop hearing about a particular TV show or sports league that several friends like to go on about.

Re:F.B. Purity (5, Informative)

MattKruse (3029911) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672217)

I had that feature longer before FB Purity. He may have been inspired by my implementation ;)

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

crow (16139) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672851)

Thanks! Honestly, I use FB Purity because it's the one I ran into first. It did all that I needed, so I never looked for other solutions. I'll make a point of trying yours.

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672951)

I had that feature longer before FB Purity. He may have been inspired by my implementation ;)

I went from FB Purity to FB Fixer. Good software, thanks (I'm a donor... although not a big one).

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

fbpdev (3030831) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675987)

thats actually bullshit. fb purity was released way before your product, and your product was actually inspired by my implementation and you well know it.

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

MattKruse (3029911) | 1 year,2 days | (#44676451)

Umm, no. I didn't even know you existed until long after Better Facebook was established. Social Fixer had regular expression filtering long before FB Purity did. I have never installed FB Purity, downloaded it, or looked at its code.

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

fbpdev (3030831) | 1 year,2 days | (#44676661)

once again proving you are a compulsive liar

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | 1 year,2 days | (#44677669)

Two new UIDs arguing over who was first.

I was. There were 400 thousand people before me, but still.

Now get off Slashdot (our lawn).

Settle in court if you wish. We'll bring the popcorn.

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

MattKruse (3029911) | 1 year,2 days | (#44679615)

Dude, I've been here forever. I just haven't been on Slashdot in the last few years. But I was here over 13 years ago, and I even made my personal site copy Slashdot in an attempt to be cool. Who is the newbie now? ;) http://web.archive.org/web/20000229190828/http://www.mattkruse.com/ [archive.org]

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

MattKruse (3029911) | 1 year,2 days | (#44679639)

This kind of attitude is why people don't take you seriously, and why Facebook bans you. *shrug*

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

fbpdev (3030831) | 1 year,2 days | (#44680447)

yeah sure, people dont take me seriously, thats why my extension is used by over 100,000 people, and is one of the top rated extensions for firefox, chrome and opera. hmmm, `your lies and bullshit are why I dont take you seriously.

Re:F.B. Purity (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675499)

I stopped using FB Purity when the developer announced that they would be ceasing development because of something that Facebook did. I guess they didn't stop, but now I'm using Social Fixer and I'm not going back.

Re:F.B. Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44782147)

Social Fixer (formerly called Better Facebook) has had regex filtering for quite a long time. At least over a year.

mod uP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44672123)

Whether to repeat the mund4ne chores sDhare. *BSD is

Something like this for Youtube? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#44672285)

Something like this for Youtube?
I really wish to filter things like:
"Youtube recommends some crap"
" comment on"
" liked n videos"
" added n videos to crap-orites"
I don't want to know about things that some loser likes on YT.
(and indeed this is a real question, Thanks)

Rare Find (3)

Neuronwelder (990842) | 1 year,3 days | (#44672337)

I find his character admirable. He is person who can't be simply bought off or influenced. He is the rare find that cannot be bought off with greed. Good for him!

Re:Rare Find (1)

gsslay (807818) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675003)

It seems an easy decision, to be fair.

He's developed an interface that removes annoying Facebook shit. A third-party wants to buy it and put their annoying shit in instead. Kind of defeats the purpose. Who is going to use it if all it's giving you more of the same, just a different company?

Disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44672659)

This guy could be working on something creative with a Raspberry Pi or Arduino, or something as simple as contributing to an important open-source project. But no, he spends his nights working on a way to improve the interface of the world's largest and most effective surveillance and data-mining repository in history, known for their contempt for privacy, and does so without hesitation. Even when he did a better job than their in-house developers and was acknowledged as such, they didn't give a him a job which shows they don't really care much about his work, yet he still does it despite the fact Facebook's changes keep breaking his hacks.

All that brain power and effort going to waste on a fucking disgusting evil mega-corp. It's sick that he's happy about it.

Re:Disappointing (5, Interesting)

MattKruse (3029911) | 1 year,2 days | (#44672875)

I don't do it to benefit them, I do it to benefit the people who use the site. Although they certainly don't do many things right, I don't share your view of their evilness. Oh, and I also create other things. This just happens to be fun and challenging. I'm not trying to change the world.

Re:Disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44673037)

Woah, you replied. I'm genuinely impressed. :)

I never said you had to change the world. I'm just saying that the less Facebook in the world, the better. It's narcissism and egotism encapsulated into one site, something not to be encouraged given our celebrity-obsessed society. If your skills are that good, they seem wasted on a site that's going to be a moving-target in terms of keeping up with it anyway.

We have some of the great and talented programmers working on marketing, advertising and data-mining. We need less of that shit in the world as it is, and more towards solving real, worthwhile problems.

Re:Disappointing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,2 days | (#44675505)

It's narcissism and egotism encapsulated into one site,

What is, Slashdot? Oh, you were talking about Facebook.

We have some of the great and talented programmers working on marketing, advertising and data-mining. We need less of that shit in the world as it is, and more towards solving real, worthwhile problems.

Let peace begin with you. Stop whining about facebook, and go solve some real, worthwhile problems.

Re:Disappointing (2)

sydneyfong (410107) | 1 year,2 days | (#44673475)

All *your* wonderful brain power and effort going to a rant on slashdot about a guy and his personal project.

Meet the Programmer Behind Social Fixer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44672817)

Hey, nice to meet you. Oh, you write JavaScript code to fix a social networking site's interface? That's cool, that's cool... ...Bye now.

If only this worked on the iOS app (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | 1 year,2 days | (#44673311)

I generally have less of a beef with the web version of FB than I do with the iOS app which is a colossal piece of crap. Give me something that lets me turn off all the damn ads.

The guy is good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44677279)

butt Fuck Facebook.

'butt"

Hehe

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