During my high school years, there were only two websites (besides Google and Yahoo!): Neopets and Friendster. And oh yeah, the occasional OptiChat.
Neopets was famous for its games, Friendster for “befriending people” (which we now know as social networking). And OptiChat, well, for online chatting.
What is Friendster, or more accurately, what was Friendster?
According to Wikipedia,
Friendster was a social networking website
Take note of the verb: was.
Now, what happened?
According to documents (using Wikipedia as a starting place), Friendster is a casualty of Facebook. As said by Nikolai Galicia, “You can’t compete with Facebook. They did a good job. It’s a Facebook world.” Acquired by MOL Asia, they are now focusing on being a social gaming site.
Being the, and my, first social networking site (though the term was nonexistent during that time), my account held many memories, from custom CSS code to blog posts, page updates, and testimonials. However, the main attraction is by being what it represents. Friendster is dubbed as the “granddaddy of social networks,” and did well to maintain that status during its prime. Back then, the largest user base was located in the Philippines, where majority of Internet users have their own personalized accounts, much like when Facebook also took off in the said country.
… which happens to be my home country.
I too have experienced the “Friendster fever”, which coincided with my high school days. Back then, I used to spend money just in order to login and cyberloaf, maybe edit my page appearance and layout using an online CSS editor, or just visiting my friends’ pages to post random testimonials about them.
Another pastime back then was what we call “paramihan ng friends” (friending spree). Basically, you just befriend people whether you know them or not, then boast the current tally to other people. The rationale is: the more friends you have, the more popular you are. Do they know them personally? That’s another question.
Another fun tool I have used was the “Bulletin Board”. I remember posting three to five articles in there, one about three boys trapped inside our school’s CR.
During the time I used it, the site remained more or less consistent: in appearance and goal. The only changes I can remember before their “complete rewrite” on December 10, 2009 is when they ditched the comments box and merged it with the testimonials section (since oftentimes people interchanged the two), and when they allowed YouTube video embedding.
Back then, the social networking landscape was fun: status updates didn’t nag you, your page was more or less easy to maintain, and there are only three “types” of entertainment available: editing your page’s layout and content, posting random testimonials about random people, and making random friends. In comparison, we now have nagging status updates not only from friends but mostly from web apps, restricted to nonexistent page content editing, and more nagware in the form of applications (yes, I’m looking at you, Facebook.)
By the way, there was also a parody site named fiendster.com. The domain name still exists, but is now owned by a survey site.
Zipping forward in time, but not so much, we now see Friendster trying to compete with Facebook, with the former redesigning their logo (from a simple smiley face with their name beside it to a green cloud with their name in cursive form, ending with the eternal smiley), adopting Facebook’s status update style, and adding a lot of extraneous (at least for me) functionality, such as Flash games and horoscope notifications. Hell, you can now even send money via Friendster!
And their latest addition to the ever-growing list of services they provide: the Friendster Exporter.
When I first used Friendster, it was my main social network. When Facebook was introduced, I first resisted because I don’t want to become “one with the masses”, but later on started using it due to peer pressure. But then, I still maintained Friendster as a repository for my old blog posts at Multiply. But today, I am killing my Friendster account.
Because of Friendster Exporter.
On May 2011, Friendster announced the availability of the Friendster Exporter tool, coupled with the following announcement:
… all the photos, messages, comments, testimonials, shoutouts, blogs, forums and groups that you may have now will no longer be part of your account by May 31, 2011.
Since the announcement, the tool’s availability has been extended to June 27, 2011. As a side note, the tool is available under the Games category.
I think that explains part of my decision to kill my account. Another is the fact that they are now a social gaming site. Well, sorry, but I am currently not interested. Another somewhat shallow reason is that I do not want leaving “dangling accounts” in the web.
My profile says that I have been a Friendster member since July 2004. Well, today is June 20, 2011, 5 years and 11 months since then. It had been a very fun time during those years. Now for the parting words:
Goodbye, Friendster. I wish you good luck on your current and future endeavors.
Don’t be depressed, by the way. Who knows, maybe I’ll come back to you in the future, just what I (temporary) did to Yahoo! Mail.
P.S.: I have cancelled my Friendster account just before submitting this blog entry.
P.S.: This is also my first WordPress post; others came from either Friendster or Multiply.