Design Flaw: Facebook Star Rating On Mobile

by Shadab Farooqui

I previously wrote about the design flaw in Facebook Star Ratings, which was addressed by Facebook sometime in January 2014. The same design flaw applies to mobile, which leads to erroneous/accidental submission of star ratings.


There needs to be a "Submit" or "Done" or "Review" button which explicitly confirms that the rating is being submitted. Others have complained about this issue on Facebook support forums as well: 

Greensboro Pediatric Surgery has two 1 or 3 star erroneous submissions. Since Facebook made the ratings/reviews public by default,  I was able to see the names of people who had submitted the low ratings. Surprisingly (or not), 2 of the low ratings came from family members. I reached out to them and found out that they had liked the page following the invitation received from me, but were not aware of submitting any ratings/reviews. The submissions were accidental. I wonder what the overall impact of this design flaw has been to other local businesses. 

32 Lessons Learned

by Shadab Farooqui

A list..not in order of priority:

1) Have mentors in family, friends & business circles who you can call anytime, any day

2) Nurture relationships systematically

3) It's never too late to learn, un-learn or re-learn something

4) Live in the present (Power of Now Stuff)

5) Start something, anything

6) Be the person of your word

7) Say "No" more often (choose commitments wisely)

8) Tangibly (verbal or written) acknowledge & appreciate perspectives

9) Learn to accept compliments & gifts

10) Share everything (knowledge, money, power, influence)

11) Quality trumps quantity

12) Consistency trumps frequency

13) Use "however" instead of "but" when addressing a conflicting POV

14) Deliver value in any form

15) Measure your health (#quantifiedself). How one feels about their health is directly related to mortality rates.

16) Writing is a great tool for getting clarity and help in decision making

17) Understand logic but accept that not everything is logical, world is not black and white

18) Don't try to please everyone

19) Protect your values. Values define what you stand for and sets expectations

20) Pray & show gratitude daily

21) After fulfilling your basic needs, the marginal return on money depreciates

22) It's OK to be wrong / fail often

23) There is a system for everything. Create your own systems to make things work

24) 1% better execution = 10% increase in returns

25) Be aware of your surroundings (hint: put your phone away)

26) Sharpen your axe, before you take down a tree

27) There's a formula for serendipity or good luck

28) Managing expectations is the most important variable for success

29) Control your mind and body, don't let it control you

30) Engage with someone new on any topic every day

31) Balance is about sacrifices. Iterate to achieve your perfect mix

32) Learn from others, but define your own success metrics

Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it. — Kolb

Kolb's Learning Model

Kolb's Learning Model

Personal Data: Permissions, Leaks & Protection

by Shadab Farooqui

I was in the process of installing an app that replaces my home screen on Android. Until the following (screenshot below) data access screen made me take a step back and think for a bit:


The app was requesting permission to have access to my SMS with the ability to receive, reply and delete without my permission. Out of curiosity, I tweeted them asking the reason for such access (no response yet), and then went about searching for the privacy and data policy for the app (which was kinda scary).

In another instance, this time for a web service, I was looking into a service that lets you sort out all marketing email and neatly sort it into different folders - seemed like a cool service. While signing up, I got to this page where it was requesting access to my email - DOH - should've thought about that. Spent 20 mins reading their privacy policy which reaffirmed my skepticism that granting access to my email is not worth the value given by the service. So - No Thanks, I'll scan the emails myself in exchange of keeping my email private. Another similar experience when I was hoping to sign up for a service that reminds me to connect with individuals for nurturing the relationship. 

I'm sure all these services are great, and provide a lot of value to the user, and do not have any ulterior motives with the data. Yet there are enough reasons to be skeptical and I'd like to think there are more people like me who feel the same way. Way too often, I never read through the  permissions I'm granting to the apps downloaded to my android device, or services I'm singing up with online.  I almost never read through the privacy policies and terms of use until recently. 

Think of the various data leaks there are online:

(1) All the apps on your smartphone devices with access to SMS, FB, LinkedIN, Email

(2) Any other web based 3rd party service that integrates with Facebook, LinkedIN, Gmail etc.

I know for a fact that I have signed up with a ton of apps and services, that have persistent and often unnecessary access to my private data, including but not limited to email, SMS and social.

 My thoughts in addressing the concerns raised by granting persistent personal data permissions:

(1) Every app needs to have a data policy in plain english, not hidden in the footer under privacy policy but clearly linked in the header under the title "Data & Privacy Policy"

(2) Apps need to make it easy for current and ex users to OPT OUT of data collection, use and storage.

In the future, access to personal data will be a deliberate and informed decision, making users aware of the implications of ignorance”

The service should do the following (at the least):

(1) Track the WHO has access to WHAT data and HOW it will potentially be used by scanning apps on your phone + access given by your social networks 

(2) Ability to send email to the app company requesting to delete data or OPT-OUT

(3) Keep users up to date via alerts and action items related to their data.

Similar to how ad-tech companies have opt-outs (think Evidon), there needs to be a delete-outs for apps companies and any company that integrates or pulls personal information. From a business perspective, this service is akin to a virus scanner for the consumer - while this "app scanning" service is the privacy scanner of the data sharing world. The personal data protection market is up for grabs -- I'd use, and likely pay for a service like this, would you?


To prove the point of this blog post, this just came in on TechCrunch a few hours after I published this post:

Facebook Reading Android Users’ Texts? Well, Hold On

A Techcrunch users comment:

"I haven't updated Facebook app on my Android for a long time due to ridiculous permissions they ask for:

  1. Read SMS
  2. Add or modify Calendar events.
  3. Send emails to guests without my knowledge
  4. Connect/Disconnect WIFI
  5. Draw over other apps
  6. Retrieve running apps
  7. Direct call phone numbers, read phone status and identity
  8. Modify contacts
  9. Read call log
  10. read contacts
  11. write call logs
  12. Find accounts on the device
  13. Reorder running apps
  14. Read sync settings
  15. Change network connectivity.
  16. Download files without notification
  17. Set wallpaper

Yep, all this to connect with my friends on Facebook? No thanks.

Sadly, after Android removed AppOps, I can no longer control permissions, and hence I am not updating any apps that asks for ridiculous permissions till the guys at Google bring back AppOps, and if they don't I am switching to CyanogenMod or start using my iPhone only.


Designed To Fail: Facebook Star Ratings on Pages

by Shadab Farooqui

As a part of our service at CrystalMD we design and implement Facebook pages for medical practices, and integrate the management of the page in our platform.

Once we create the Facebook page, we make physicians or their practice managers the administrators of the page so that they can invite their friends and family to build the "seed pool" of likes. Over the course of the last year, we noticed a trend:

Several doctors were getting 1-star or 2-star ratings from their friends and family who were invited to like the page.

How strange is that? Why would any of your friends and family rate your practice as 1-star or 2-star? Several doctors called got alarmed and called us to find out what was going on. After doing some poking and usability testing among friends, we reached the conclusion that the star rating system on Facebook pages is prone to erroneous submissions .

The way you currently give ratings on a Facebook Business Page is by simply hovering over the star and clicking on it. The flow is inherently flawed. Clicking the star submits the rating is not made apparent to the user.

When you write a review, there is a "Review" button you have to hit in order to submit the review, but that is not made available to submit the star rating. This is likely by design, to encourage people to submit ratings. However, our belief is that this is flawed and designed to fail. People click on the star rating not knowing that the rating will be submitted, as by habit, we seek the submit / review button in order to complete that transaction.

I'm sure this impacts a lot of businesses on a daily basis and Facebook should immediately look into it.


Update as of January 17, 2014: I see that flow to submit star rating is fixed. Users now have to hit the "Review" button to submit the (anonymous) star rating. Thanks for listening & the quick fix Facebook!

Branding For Doctors

by Shadab Farooqui

The way I see it now, this category does not exist.

Only a small number of doctors think of using their names to represent their brand.

A doctor is a service, represented by his/her name. 

For e.g., Dr. Shuaib Farooqui M.D. - represents his profession, his values, his accomplishments, and a lot more. Yet, when we look up a doctor online, this is what we find:

1) Vitals, HealthGrades, ZocDoc, + 100 other such 3rd party sites

2) The doctor's practice site, if it exists

3) Google Places listing

This content indirectly paints the doctor's image. The first page of any search engine is the most valuable asset of a business; specifically, a reputation- and referral-driven business like that of a Doctor's.

Highest clicked search results are the mostly the top four. Yet, over 75% of doctors have search listings that are not in their control. The search results are hijacked by 3rd party sites that aggregate and collect information from patients and other sources, to represent the doctor's name or brand online.  

Search for a doctor is the first doctor-patient interaction. Online doctor searches are increasingly being performed from smartphones/mobile devices. Most definitely, doctors need to take charge of this first interaction by taking ownership of their name and brand, and thus, exert control on patient interactions. At CrystalMD, the Mobile Doctor Portal helps doctors address exactly this pain-point, in a low effort, manageable way.


Mobile & is the future of the Doctors’ brand and digital presence - how does yours rank?

Smartphone User Experience Is Fundamentally Flawed

by Shadab Farooqui

Over 95% of apps don't get used, or are abandoned after a few tries. Behavioral reasons aside, I wanted to zoom-in on one aspect of this outcome - the UX. The current smartphone UX does not provide the solution to be able to think and find the app for our needs.

The process of thought -> action -> app -> gratification is inefficient. 

The home screen of smartphones are dumb are do not utilize available data to add context to the screen/apps. Utilizing contextual data will push the boundaries of smartphone app efficiency and usage. 

I can draw some parallels to the healthcare industry. Caring for health is ongoing. Good health or bad health is happening as I type this. The missing piece in health care delivery right now is context - right place, right time, right channels for delivery of care. At present, the only channels available to individuals are 1)content search & the 2) visit to the doctor 3) Ask family and friends- all of which requires effort. But if I had an immediate question - for example - if a medication could have negative reaction with coffee, I'd like that information coming straight from my doctor, instead of a Google search. The next generation of healthcare apps/services will win if they are able to make health care intelligent using a mix of self tracking data and instant accessibility to a doctor or nurse. 


Healthcare Content & Tynt Copy-Paste

by Shadab Farooqui

I like Tynt for its utility as a content publisher (in the process of activating it on my blog). For those of you not familiar with this utility, it helps publishers add an attribution link to content when someone shares it via. copy-paste. The top benefits are - more linkbacks, traffic, PVs and analytics around the content.

With comScore pointing out in their study - Healthcare is the fastest growing content category on the web, Tynt could play a very important role to give credit where it's due to content producers. Tynt also released a study which indicates copy-paste accounts for 82% of the sharing on the web.

While typing this, I came across this post "Imitation is the Greatest form of Flattery, or is it?"  by Dr. Howard Luks who sheds light on an interesting incident that happened to a surgeon who copy-pasted another surgeon's Twitter profile, word-to-word. The surgeon, who blundered, eventually took the profile and related blog post down. However, this leaves us thinking about the bigger issues related to healthcare content and attribution.

// Disclaimer: Tynt is owned and operated by my former employer, an advertising company 33Across. Please use at your own risk, and verify HIPAA compliance prior to use//

Photo credits to TechCrunch article about Tynt. T'was too cute to not "Copy and Paste" :-)

Photo credits to TechCrunch article about Tynt. T'was too cute to not "Copy and Paste" :-)