Ok, so after reading the thoughtful response from Spock’s Maia, I thought I must be crazy. I know that it didn’t say anything about sending a mail to all those people when I clicked “Request Trust”, but she says it would say that and posted a screen shot to prove it. Was I a dope?
First, let’s get one general item out of the way. Social networks typically classify people (user objects?) into two types:
- Users that have already registered on the site
- Potential new users that we can try to recruit
Generally, when you’re using a social network site, if you request a connection with type number 1, it puts a little “poke” message in their account page or virtual (non-email) inbox on the site. I usually consider these users fair game for mass requests – they already use the service, so yeah, let’s go ahead and ask them to link up.
Type 2 users are where the spam comes in. They are not in the site already, so the service will “helpfully” send them an email in your name which requests their participation. This is obnoxious, and while it’s technically “ham” not “spam”, it is still something I refuse to do.
Now take a look at this screen grab from Spock’s Gmail address book importer:
You tell me. Does this look like user category 1 or 2? Will it send them email? I decided it wouldn’t and selected “Add to Trust Network”. After all, they must already use the site, right? Then it sent out over 100 email messages to people who have never heard of the site. How do I know? I’ve gotten more than a dozen questions out of the blue from people who I know but haven’t talked to in a while. Their message is simple: “What’s Spock?”
For what it’s worth, here’s Spock’s “phase 2” page requesting to email people. This is what Maia posted, and what the site puts up for some other random set of less-defined people. I clicked “Skip” here for good reason…
So enough with the complaints. I’m ticked off, that’s true, because lots of my contacts are thinking of me as “the guy who just signed me up for some social networking site” rather than “my esteemed business associate” (or whatever else they thought of me). Some of those contacts are high-ranking business folks who get enough unwanted email already. Some were potential partners or customers.
The difference between MySpace and LinkedIn is maturity. MySpace is a playground to impress your friends. LinkedIn is a rolodex to keep connected with colleagues. Where does Spock fit in? (sorry for the campy title…)
On the other hand, I do have to give Maia and Spock some credit for a thoughtful and professional response.