Why MySpace sucks, is lame: its shortcomings and possibilities

I got a comment from “Mike” on a post early last month.

Interesting post. Curious on why you say “MySpace is lame.” I read recently that MySpace is among the most-visited Web sites with over 1b visits per month…

Of course he is right. MySpace remains one of the most popular Web sites in the world. I have a MySpace profile page, too. So why do  I still contend it’s one of the lamest sites on the Internet?

I joined MySpace in September and developed a sense of how a journalist could best leverage the Web service.

But, rather than develop its uses, my time with MySpace has been a tutorial in the shortcomings and destined failure of the first significant social networking Web site on the Internet.

Design

  • Ugly-looking Pages — Many big-time bands and artists have sleekly designed pages developed by someone whose job it is to develop MySpace. The rest are ugly, cluttered and tacky.
  • Outdated OptionsThere is no shortage of emoticons, lame gif animations, and crowded texts. Simple MySpace design options are loud, careless and more reminiscent of first-time design in the 1990s than the remarkable progress common Web design has found since.
  • HTML Freedom — MySpace has managed to give everyone enough room to hang the look of their pages. There is a remarkable gap between what knowledgeable folks can design – like those who develop professional-musician pages – and the average user. Default options for those not wanting to code HTML are hampered.
  • Autoplay music — While users now have the option to require visitors to choose to start music planted on one’s MySpace profile page, this social network device may never recover from the lunacy of auto-play music. Like ESPN.com has been, MySpace is laughed at for auto-play features for years. It won’t stop.
  • Overwhelming advertising — Their is a gentle balance between content and advertising. MySpace is a wonderful example of how to break the trust of average users. They must be making money now, but the advertising excess will be one lesson in how their business model over-monetized.
  • Angelfire Reincarnate — Remember all those old Web site-hosting sites like Angelfire – you know, back in Web 0.5? MySpace can’t say it offers much more than audio hosting and the option of posting video. …Yeah, cool.

Functionality

  • Speed — MySpace is notoriously slow. These are for reasons beyond this discussion.
  • Downtime — In my anectdotal experience, I find MySpace temporarily inoperable – “Sorry, we’ve encountered an error. Please try again later” – far more than Facebook and even Twitter, though I use it far less than the other two.
  • Laughable Interface — The options for editing my profile are redundant and disorganization. There are at least 100 too many navigation options. It’s simply janky. I have made two changes to my profile since joining  half a year ago, and those were only two Youtube videos I posted. I’m done for good.
  • Privacy options — Screwy privacy options keep me from seeing some profile’s until I am their “friend,” which keeps me from trying to recall who the individual is who is requesting a connection. This is one of several seemingly senseless
  • Spam — MySpace is ridden with spam. Of its profiles, I can’t imagine one half of them aren’t porn stars. One reason I turned off all notifications and ignore my account.

Culture

  • “Who are you?” – While Facebook is often rightly saddled with this criticism, there is less unspoken restriction on MySpace to become friends with relative strangers than on Facebook. While LinkedIn has branded itself a professional networking tool online, Facebook has tried to fill the personal realm. Thus, there should be some social element of a relationship to become Facebook friends. I have found this mostly to be true in my months on Facebook. I haven’t on MySpace. There isn’t that same philosophy, so, naturally it gets weird. The professional and quasi-personal come together in a frightening way.
  • Celebrity “Friends” – Unlike Facebook, MySpace never made a designation between friendship and fandom. Facebook smartly has “Friends,” “Fans” and Group Pages. MySpace doesn’t, so most of my “friends” could be generic profiles of celebrities and music groups. This gives it a childish fantasy feel.
  • Spam — Yeah, spam is so serious it deserves a second mention. Messages from adult Web sites and people from the fringe find you in a way and with a speed not seen on any other social networking device. It’s part of having a MySpace page. A sure way to attract 15-year-old boys and assure your failure.
  • Dying Audience — What the Price is Right is for the elderly and 20-somethings, MySpace is for middle-aged folks and children: a home for disparate communities. Excuse
  • Connotation — While Facebook continues to build inroads into mainstream culture, I can’t help but think MySpace is doing the opposite. MySpace continues to seem and feel dirty, at least to me. Because of its strange audience, janky use, over-monetization and more, something or someone has to lead me back to the site and even then I give it a second-thought. While remaining communities keep it afloat, these reservations are clearly signs of the future unless MySpace does something about it.

Its Future

  • When it comes down to it, the main reason whyMySpace sucks is that there are many other sites which do the same things it does but much better. Increasingly Last.Fm is gaining the reputation as a place to find new music. Facebook is growing as a personal social network and LinkedIn professionally. There are dozens of photo sites to share your pictures and WordPress, Blogger and others are making personal sites cool and attactive again. What is MySpace’s role there?

It’s over. For those of you who point to MySpace’s popularity, please understand. It’s on the way out. It has been that way since about 2005. This past summer Facebook eclipsed MySpace in monthly worldwide unique visitors. MySpace still looms in U.S. totals, but, for the above reasons, no one sensibly argues that will last much longer – unless a major game-changer comes and comes quickly.

Source: Tech Crunch

So what will remain? MySpace is likely kept alive by music artists. Because bands can have an online home at a well-known site that will host at least five songs, some engine remains.

I don’t know if a wave of people will erase their profiles or they will remain, another step in serious online relationships. For journalists, a simple MySpace page will be another way to clog Web searches of their name and keep a broad, if passive online presence.

There is a culture of MySpace users who almost take pride in how many other online communities are dismissing the old guard.

Think of Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory – the argument that the Internet will create an endless stream of smaller, niche markets for everything from media to books and magazines to toys and more. MySpace, one might say, was the mainstream hit. Anderson might say that MySpace will surely survive, though perhaps as a smaller community of these devoted users.

Regardless, we can be sure that we have seen the height of MySpace. It is lame, my friends, and, possibilities aside, its shortcomings will sound its path toward irrelevance.

Graph from Tech Crunch.

4 thoughts on “Why MySpace sucks, is lame: its shortcomings and possibilities”

  1. Haha, “like the levitown of the internet”… Sam- not sure if your a spammer or not and I usually ignore posts that reference other URLs but I checked out http://www.putiton.com and as an artist myself found it quite refreshing. I’m working on a new E.P. right now and when it’s finished I’ll probably post it up there. Look for it!

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