I do a lot of Facebook events. Every other week I send invitations to a list nearing 800 people. It’s an opt-in list. All are members of an organization and Facebook is where we communicate with each other. Of those 800, between 150 and 300 typically attend. That means 500-650 do not. When someone attends they usually select Yes or Maybe. But, when they cannot attend they often add a note to their RSVP telling me why. Here is where it gets interesting. Facebook posts these notes to the event wall. The result is an event wall filled with posts like, “Not coming,” “Going to the Covenant show,” “Got roller derby that night” and so on. To anyone looking at the event wall it looks like the most homely unpopular thing going on that day.
Usually the people who write these notes do not know their words are being posted to the event wall. I often delete these posts off of the wall and that is the end of it. On occasion though, someone else, who is also unfamiliar with the finer workings of Facebook, will accuse me of censoring or deleting a post because it was unfavorable. This leads to an uncomfortable situation where I must explain the circumstances and win back people’s trust.
Culture dictates that most notes will be negative responses. That will not change. Therefore, Facebook should not automatically post RSVP notes to event walls. Give the event organizer the option to select Facebook’s behavior — yes, post to the wall or no, do not post. Give invitees the choice whether or not their note should appear on the Facebook event wall when they submit their RSVP.
Until Facebook makes this change a lot of events will continue to look like less popular than they really are.