May 13, 2005

Website interface facilitates campus social life for some

The new "My Parties" feature on The Facebook website not only enhances students' ability to procrastinate, but also adds to their social schedules.

The "My Parties" option, added to the website during the first week in April, allows users to send out party invitations to other Facebook users and enables students to browse a list of all upcoming parties at their school that have been posted on the website.

"The original idea came from our users," said Chris Hughes, a third-year at Harvard and spokesperson for The Facebook. "We thought it sounded like a good idea, useful to our users and a reasonable addition to the site. So we added it." He also commented that quite a few party hosts at the 736 colleges connected to The Facebook have used "My Parties" to organize their events.

Students at the University of Chicago have taken advantage of this new feature, from those hosting small gatherings of friends to significantly larger fraternity parties. Pat Rich, a first-year in the College, used "My Parties" to organize a small cocktail party of about 30 guests in his Shoreland suite recently. "I figured I would try out The Facebook feature because it automatically keeps track of who can, can't, or may come," Rich said. "Had I called or e-mailed all of the people I wished to invite, I would have had to recompile the list The Facebook makes anyway. Also, The Facebook party feature sends out e-mails for you that link to the party site, which can have a picture, visible guest list, etc."

Rich said the "My Parties" feature worked for his purposes. "My roommate and I want to throw another party for both of our birthdays sometime soon, and we plan to use ‘My Parties' again," he said.

Other students who have utilized the new feature were not as pleased. Elliott Goodman, second-year in the College and social chair of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), used "My Parties" to advertise for his fraternity's party last Saturday. Instead of using their traditional advertising methods of mass e-mails and flyers, AEPi members decided to give the new option a try. "The ‘My Parties' feature was fairly easy to use, but it did not get the word out any more than the regular e-mail or passing out flyers," Goodman commented. "We probably won't use it again, since it is no easier or more effective than our traditional methods."

Goodman feels that a more effective use of The Facebook's advertising resources would be to purchase a Facebook Announcement, which appears on the left side of the screen each time a user logs on to the website. "More people will see a Facebook Announcement than a party invitation, but whether it is worth the cost is the issue," he said. "A flyer in Cobb may be even better; there are more people in Cobb daily than the number of people who check The Facebook."

While opinions vary on the effectiveness of the "My Parties" feature, Hughes sees it as the ultimate organizational tool: "It's easier for the people who have been invited to organize their oh-so-busy collegiate social schedules."