I know you only have a Facebook account for event invitations, and I receive it. This week, in Why You're That Button, Kaitlyn and I explored the ignored Facebook events. More specifically, we talk about the check mark and "seen" that Facebook puts under the name of any guest who has opened an invitation but has not responded. Why do people hate RSVP? Why do we hurt ourselves when they ignore us? Why are we all so rude? What can Facebook do to solve this problem?
We have answers I spoke with a woman named Carrie who tells us about an occasion when she tried to organize a bachelorette party, only to have her guests ignore her invitation completely. Then Kaitlyn talks to one of my high school friends, Jon, about his notorious reputation for ignoring events. Finally, we spoke with Aditya Koolwal, a senior product manager on Facebook, who explains why "seen" exists. Apparently it's not just to punish us.
As usual, you can find us anywhere you can find podcasts, including Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music and our RSS feed. Get up to date on the first season, too, if you missed the first time.
Listen to the full audio of the episode and read the transcript of the Aditya interview below.
Ashley: How often does the language of Facebook events change? I feel that when I was in college many years ago it was "going or not going". Now it's like "interested, going" and then, "I'm not sure" or something like that. So, how often are you changing that language?
Aditya Koolwal: Yes, the language itself does not change very often. But we make changes periodically. Like when they made the Like button turn into those reactions. And that's usually motivated by a gap, I suppose, in how the product is working for the way people want to use it. Probably the most noticeable change for you with Facebook events would have been … I mean three years ago. In a way, we divide the public event product of the private event product.
And for Facebook events, if you go back even further, if you go back in the mid-2000s, the product was created for private events. It was built for private parties, things you would have used an e-vite for, right? And so I had the traditional invitation, guest list, RSVP, going, maybe, not going. It had all those formalisms that you would expect from an invitation to a private online event. And what we saw was that that really was not working very well for public events. And we observed this in terms of how people used the product for public events and also just interviewing many people who organized public events and told them about the problems they were seeing. And then talk to people who liked to go to public events, but I did not feel that Facebook was a great place to learn about those things.
And in that process, we made some design changes or some kind of decisions, I suppose, on how to better attend public and private events.
Kaitlyn: So, to be more specific, the language you're talking about would be in a private event, the options are "go, maybe, and you can not go". True? Where "you can not go" has this expression of repentance or whatever. How, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry I can not go." I do not like it, "I will not go".
The language is quite complex. There are different states in which people can be when it comes to listening or learning about events. It is a private event, you can not see that private event or know about that private event unless someone invited you to it. Because otherwise, it would be annoying for the person who uses it for anyone to see it, so the only way you can hear it is through an invitation. And in that invitation process you are given a kind of standard set of RSVP options. I think one of you alluded to the fact that it's not like "go, maybe, do not go". And, on the other hand, it is "you can not go". That's probably because people do not want to say they do not go. It feels rude.
And this has been corroborated by a lot of research we have done. Surveys, research in person. People simply feel that it is an affront to say that it does not go. As if to say, "Come to my house this weekend, I'm doing a barbecue or I'm going to have a drink of people." And then you answer over the phone that you will not go. That really would not work, and then that language is important there. What you would say is "Hey, I'm sorry, I can not go". Even if you do not have interest, right? Maybe it's not that you can not go. Maybe you can go, but you just do not have interest in going. You still will not say you're not going. You are going to say something like: "I can not go". And that was simply what best reflected the way people wanted to use the product. Use a language they use when communicating with their friends.
And the positive side of doing that is that the people who organize these private events will receive more casualties, which is great because they do not want to be like, "Wait, are you coming? Are not you coming?" They just want to know. It is better for them to know that they will not be able to do it than to have no clue. That was useful both for the organizer of private events and for the responder who really did not want to be so literal.
Kaitlyn: But there is also a third type of event. What is the public event with a personal participation?
Ashley: Yes, like my friend owns a bar and he will invite me to events. And I'll be like I know you're doing this as a bar owner.
Ashley: But I feel it's a personal invitation too.
Kaitlyn: I mean, I'm talking about if you have a friend who is in a play, in a band or something. I was invited to this Baby & # 39; s All Right event, which is a public event. No one at Baby & All's Right knows me, but my friend who is in a band invited me. And I will really look to see if I answered.
It is not as if all events were strictly private or strictly public. Nor is it as granular as what happens in the real world where there are a lot of private, quasi-public things. It's a big party, someone rented a bar, anyone can show up, but not like anyone. Alone, you know, anyone who knows someone I know.
Then, sometimes, for public events, the organizer, let's say he is a band or place owner. There are some specific people who really want them to come. In that case, this invitation mechanism with the option to ignore may not work as well for them. But that's not so common, to be completely honest. That is weirder than people often do. And probably if they really wanted you to come, chances are that they'll probably just send you a message directly. And that's what we hear from the people who organize concerts. The concerts are a great use case for events on Facebook. Between the standard bands and then, now more and more over time, DJ sets. We talk to many of these people and they say that if they really want someone specific to come, they will simply share it with them in a thread of messages. So, we believe that this address will probably best serve that specific use case. But yes, you can not get 100 percent, I think.
Ashley: Going back to when you were talking about private events. You mentioned that these event creators want an answer, right? That's why you invented the language "I can not go". It's a little better, they get the answer. Everybody is happy.
Ashley: But the events team has left behind this middle gray zone. You can see the invitation and the creator of the event will see that you have seen the invitation, but you do not have to answer yet.
Ashley: And I wonder why this "seen" exists? It has been the source of a drama.
Oh, I see, interesting. I'm curious to hear about the drama. So yes, the state seen in the invitation. It is only available for private events, as I think you know. It is not for public events. And the reason for the state seen is specifically because the people who organize private events are somewhat stressed. I do not know if you organized private meetings, but it's stressful. As if you were staying, right? You have many people that you expect to come from, and you are not sure if they will come or not. And people can be pretty lazy when it comes to responding. And what we discovered over time is that people who are organizing private events on Facebook felt that Facebook did not send their invitations. When I started working at events a long time ago, that was one of the most common answers I heard. Both external and within the company. People say: "I tried to organize my private event on Facebook and nobody receives my invitations, and then you must have an error".
And then we spend a lot of time implementing all kinds of steps from when the person chooses the person you want to invite is sent from your phone to our Facebook servers to any process that needs to happen. Back to push technology, send the notification technology to the other person's phone. All that from beginning to end, and we do not stop inviting. They were happening. People did not respond I think a lot of that has to do with what could be a new way of how people handle invitations to things. But if people do not feel any specific urgency to respond, they simply will not respond. And many people increasingly make more decisions about what they literally want to do on the day of, or the afternoon of, or the afternoon of. You are seeing this as a sea of options. And for the organizers of private events, that is really difficult. It makes them feel that the fidelity of the system is really poor. And whatever else they can use gives them a status seen to at least know that the thing was delivered.
Ashley: It's fine. Then you said you wanted to know about the drama …
Ashley: We interviewed a woman named Carrie that we found on the internet, and she was organizing a bachelorette party, I think so. It was for her best friend, but the best friend had a lot of other friends. Then he created this really intimate Facebook event. And a group of the women that she invited left him seen. And this was extremely frustrating for her, because she was like, I need to ask. I do not know bags of goodies, and I need to order food, and I need …
Kaitlyn: pajama shorts.
Ashley: Yes. I need you to tag everything for this party, and I have no idea who will come. Then he tried to send them Facebook messages. And she thinks you should, if someone leaves the event in sight, the event should automatically invite them after a certain amount of time. As if they had lost their chance.
Kaitlyn: Yes, you can set a countdown. You have 48 hours to respond or you are out of here.
Ashley: Yes. Exactly.
I'm sure there will always be cases where it did not work the way people expected. But there, at least of our kind of follow-up with people, what people usually do in this situation is that they see that someone has seen it. And then they simply send them directly and say "can you tell me?" Because I need to buy pajama shorts, and I need to know if I need to get five, six or seven. And that generally works for most people. Only a direct follow-up Unless, of course, they are inviting people who really, really feel like "I do not even know why they invited me." Maybe those people would not respond to direct contact. But, yes, I think there will always be cases where someone does not really know how to follow up on that information. Or use it to achieve your goals. But I hope your bachelorette party works at least.
Ashley: Do you know the pain that comes with the invitation to which it is not answered? It reminds me a lot to read the pain of receipt. Because the reading receipt shows that the technology worked. You know in fact that they got it and they also read it, so it's done.
Kaitlyn: I was thinking that when I was talking about follow-up messages. Because then it's as if you also receive a receipt for reading your follow-up message. And it's like …
Ashley: You just need to make fewer scaly friends, I guess.
I think with the reading receipts is the same. With all these messaging services and with reading receipts. It's literally like if you had option A, which is the sender who does not think the message was sent. Or option B, the sender is forced to face the fact that the person to whom he sent the message does not want to respond. Which one do you choose? And I think that, in general, most people are contacting people who are likely to be followed up if they do not respond immediately. Then, most of these products over time have opted for option A, which at least allows the sender to know that their technology is working and is not being discarded. Because if they do not believe that, then they will stop using that technology. Imagine if you know you can think of a dozen examples where it happens, perform an action and then simply go out and have literally no idea of what happened. You'll probably just stop using that thing.
Ashley: Yes. I just considered not opening events. Because I do not want them to know that I saw it.
Yes, and I think that's probably appropriate if you do not want to go. If you are invited to things that you really do not want to go. So that seems fine, right?
Ashley: Yes. While we have you on the phone, I'm curious to resolve a debate here. On Facebook, are receipts or reading receipts read?
I do not know.
I do not know if anyone talks about it ever.
I think we just call it "seen state".
Ashley: Well, you've read the messenger receipts, right?
Yes, but I think they also call that state seen. Yes.
Ashley: Well, the debate will be alive. Ashley and I will strongly disagree about this.
Well, I would vote for. I do not know who I'm going to vote for along with here. But I think they would be reading receipts.
Kaitlyn: Ha. Interesting. Twist of the plot.
Ashley: It's in the past.
Kaitlyn: Because you said read receipts a couple of minutes ago.
Did I really do it? Good.
Kaitlyn: Yes, you did.
The language is flexible, I suppose.