Monday, January 2, 2012

Taking Back Your Stream

First published on MySpace blog - 27/07/11
In which our hero takes a step back from all that STYLISHING for a week, and informs the waiting world of other ways in which they can beat MySpace at their own little mindgames.

I was prompted to post this little tutorial after a friend made it clear to me that not everyone knows how to do this... which surprised me, until I remembered that there ARE no MySpace tutorials for this kind of stuff - we're expected to work it out for ourselves! In the true spirit of COMMUNITY SHARING, I present Uncle Minty's Guide to MAKING THE STREAM ON YOUR HOMEPAGE WORK FOR YOU! (Catchy title, eh?).

If you find your STREAM is now full of stuff from people you only vaguely recognise and you find it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff... then the trick is to HONE IT DOWN by creating customised FRIEND CATEGORY LISTS.

1. At the top of your page, on the big black menu bar, is a button marked "FRIENDS". This, it should go without saying, takes you to the FRIENDS page. (NB: for the purpose of this exercise, I turned off all my Stylish customising so that you can see the pages in these screen shots as they really are normally!)

2. On the left hand side of the FRIENDS page there is a column containing various links and options. There is an entry box about halfway down (containing the words "Create new friends list" in grey italics) for - uh huh - creating a new friends list. Type a name for your new category list in this box and then click on the black + button. The name of your new list will be added to the list below.

3. Now here comes the tedious bit! To add friends to your new list, you have to systematically select and add them as follows. Hover your pointer over their avatar. A grey menu bar will appear on the top. The little arrow icon indicates a dropdown menu.

4. This dropdown menu (useful, eh!?!) contains the following items - "Add Comment", "Send Message", "Block User", "Remove From Friends" and "Add to list". Click on "ADD TO LIST".

5. A new dialogue box will appear in your face and the rest of your page will turn a depressing shade of grey as a result. There is yet another of those dropdown selectors (where it says "Lists") in the middle of this.

6. Select the list of your choice from this um... list and then click on the blue "ADD" button. Repeat this process for all the friends you want to add to your list. You can also 'batch' select friends by ticking their box and then clicking an "Add To List" button at the top of the page. But my advice would be to keep each category list fairly small, so that they are easy to keep track of. It's better to have lots of little lists than to have one big list full of lots of friends - otherwise you end up back where you started - a confusing streamful!

7. When you've done all that a few times, you can go back to your homepage. At the top of the stream container is a button (with yet another of those 'dropdown' indicating arrows) that ordinarily will say "Just me" or "All friends" or "Top friends". Now when you hover over it, you will see that your new friend category has been added to the dropdown. Hooray!

8. Click on your new friends list item. The stream will now ONLY display postings from the friends on THAT list (oh, but yeah but... another one of those MySpace quirks is that if you refresh the page it will default back to the "Just me" or "Top friends" list, depending on your settings. You have to click on your list again from the menu to go back to the stream of your choice. D'oh!).

I trust you will find this enlightening. I'm sure some will say that I'm 'preaching to the [same select] choir' or at least STATING THE BLEEDING OBVIOUS, but there will be someone out there in MySpaceLand for whom this is exciting new stuff. I'm only glad to share it with you.


Update 17th Sept 2011 - Currently the 'ADD TO LIST' feature is broken - the 'List' dropdown in the middle of the "Add To List" lightbox does absolutely NOTHING at all (except make the screen jump down a few pixels!)

Update 16th July 2012 - One year on, the subject of how to 'control' your stream postings has come up again. I just created a 'test' category list to see if this still works, so that I may 'recommend' this option to chums without making myself look a twit. Short answer, yes! it does. The "Add To List" lightbox still does strange things (greys out the background and makes the screen jump down, as per the 17/09/11 update above). But if you scroll down the screen, the box is still there and it does what it is supposed to. Funnily enough, it didn't do this 'jumping down' thing when I added 'top friends' to my imaginary list, only ones from deep in the bowels of the "all friends" screens. Wot larks, eh?

BUG! There appears to be only room for a certain number of categories on the dropdown list on the "Add To List" lightbox. If you create a NEW list, as I did for the purposes of this test, it appears at the top of the dropdown. Fine and dandy. However, this might mean that an older category name will disappear off the bottom of the dropdown, so you will no longer be able to add 'friends' to THAT list - it's not there as an option anymore! D'oh! In order to add someone to my pre-existing "Collaborators" category, I had to recreate that list (deleting the original) and then save it under a new name "Collaborants" so that it appeared at the TOP of the dropdown again.

(Re: "BUG REPORT" - I've now noticed that this is not always the case. It's another of those MSquirks that seem to come and go in an irrational manner! Whilst continuing with my test, I created several empty categories and they now all appear on the dropdown list without pushing any of the old ones off the bottom! So ignore everything I just said - unless it happens to you, of course!)

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