I logged on to my facebook account a couple of weeks ago to see a new chat sidebar. I think it sucks. I could probably think of more reasons why it sucks, but here are 5 reasons:
1 It is Antisocial!
The chat bar automatically selects people for me that I can easily chat with. It does this selection based on people I recently chatted with. That maybe ok if you have 20 people as “friends”. But if you have hundreds of friends, you can easily lose contact with people. Because they wont show up on your chat bar if they are online and facebook may also not serve their updates by default on your wall if you have not interacted with them for a while. One of the usefulness of facebook in my opinion is that it helps you to connect with “long lost” friends. This chat bar impedes that. So it is antisocial!
2. Implementation was not phased
Facebook just dumped it on everyone. I guess if they had phased it, they could have gauged acceptance and usability.
3.You can’t undo it!
There is no option to go back to the previous chat menu that allows you to see when your all friends are online and not one randomly generated list
4. You cannot edit the list of friends that shows on the chat bar.
You are stuck with a “dynamically generated list” that you can’change
5. You have to “search” for a friend before you can chat with him.
I think this is counter-intuitive. All chat agents i know show you by default anyone you are connected to that is available for chat. I shouldn’t have to search for a friend before I chat with him.
UPDATE(11th of August, 2011): The the chat sidebar has now been modified to now show all online friends under a “More Friends Online” heading.