I have seen this Facebook movie before

About open source. Do your members want it? Will it benefit them? That's the only way for Facebook to approach that question. The same way you do every other one. Because you don't count. They do.

Mark Zuckerberg at D6 show, May 2008
What's the deal with Facebook?

It seems they can't decide what to do about the Google, or open source generally. Their top executives are spending more time on stage than the Rolling Stones.

Which is the problem. What's clear in any Marc Zuckerberg interview is that he's worried about the press, about the competition, about building a functioning business model. Everything but what he's supposed to worry about.

The customers. The members. (Don't use the word users.) The people who made him and who can break him. (Remember Marc Andreessen? Or when Yahoo was cool?)

There's a reason for this. Facebook is short on cash. Caught between the investor demands of Microsoft and the technology demands of Google, the site needs either a strategy or an end game.

Instead it's selling sizzle. Do that too long and you become the corporate version of Lindsay Lohan.

Facebook is young, attractive, and (in image) cutting edge. But the new COO, Google-ex Sheryl Sandberg, is using a very bad word, as Dan Farber reported today.

Advertisers.

Members don't like advertisers. They like experiences, they like buying things, they like enjoying what they buy. Advertisers smell funny and smile too hard.

Sandberg is focused on advertisers because they pay the bills. Zuckerberg thinks his is a technology company, Sandberg a media company.

They're both wrong. Facebook is a community, one now the size of a major city. The right question to ask is what you're doing to attract more people, and to thrill those who have joined, to earn more of their face time?

Technology, open source or proprietary, is an input. Advertising can be an output. The key is building community, and giving every member the feeling they're part of something special.

Can it be done with the resources at hand? How much of yourself must you sell to gain those resources? The answers to those questions will inform your decisions, which need to come soon, before the klieg lights move on to someone younger and cuter, a corporate Miley Cyrus. (Remember MySpace? Kim Polese?)

Oh, and about open source. Do your members want it? Will it benefit them? That's the only way for Facebook to approach that question. The same way you do every other one. Because you don't count. They do.