[conspire] Creepy Web 2.0-service sales come-on

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Jan 18 13:51:12 PST 2006

Quoting Don Marti (dmarti at zgp.org):

> It's not as creepy as it looks, because the user does
> have just as much control over the sent message as he
> or she would in a normal mail client....

Earlier reports claimed that LinkedIn subscribers aren't given an option to
write or customise the invitation text (though they were apparently
mistaken).  I do notice that the several I've received have all used the
standard text.

I certainly don't want to make too much of this; it's just that I'm not
used to receiving personalised sales blandishments purporting to be
written by my friends, using their first names and mine, with 
misleading From: headers (except, of course, from Outlook SMTP worms).

> There are some contact management services whose mail I ignore, such
> as the really annoying one that sends me "Hi, I'm updating my
> addressbook and I'm using this service to make you do the work for me"
> mail.

Yes, I got one of those the other day, too, but didn't take note of
which "social networking service" it was from.  Plaxo, I think -- though 
now they have competitors named Ringo and Bebo that send out the same
sort of botmail.

Plaxo's botmail looks like:

  "I'm updating my address book. Please take a moment to update your
  latest contact information. Your information is stored in my personal
  address book and will not be shared with anyone else. Plaxo is free,
  if you'd like to give it a try.
  Click the following link to correct or confirm your information:


   "I am updating my address book and it would be very helpful if you
   could click on the link below and enter your contact details for me:
   I am using a service that keeps contact details current, just
   update your own contact details and then the changes appear in
   selected friends' address books. When I update my contact details you
   will see them in your address book."


   "I'm updating my address book. Please click on the link below and
   enter your contact info for me:
   I'm using a new, free service where I put in my contact info for you,
   you put in your contact info for me, and everyone stays up to date
   automatically. It's surprisingly easy and useful.
   Thanks for your help."

I complied (or rather, started to comply) once, a few years ago, in
response to a Plaxo botmail, before I'd really heard of any such
services.  It happened to have been from someone in the UK whom I know
only very distantly, who posts to the same Usenet newsgroup, but I
good-naturedly followed the provided Plaxo link and started entering my
contact information.  

At that point, I _think_ I suddenly noticed that I was being prompted to
enter a contractual relationship with some company I'd never heard of
(Plaxo, Inc.), and decided I wasn't interested.

Which brings me back to what's creepy:  The common trait between the 
incidents is firms' leveraging my personal relationships with others to 
hustle its way into my personal affairs.  Several years ago, I got tired
of that in real life, e.g., suddenly finding my Sears credit card being 
outsourced to Citibank, finding my AirTouch pager account owned by
Verizon (which was brand-new at the time), and in general finding myself
having business relationships with firms I've never heard of for
ill-explained reasons.

Screw that.  These days, I deal only with firms _I've_ sought out,
following my agenda, not theirs.  When some third party in which I have
no interest asks me to sign (or implicitly agree to) a contract, the
answer is "no".

Aside:  Even Mac OS X users are starting to realise that they're being
taken for a ride by firms they've never heard of, and are starting to
wonder who "Omniture" is:


I've known who/what Omniture is for quite a while, which is why its
DNS domains (including 2o7.net) are among those my nameserver dev-nulls
by resolving them locally.  Prototype BIND9 files here:

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, briefed, debriefed, or numbered!!
My life is my own."  ;->

Rick Moen                      "vi is my shepherd; I shall not font."
rick at linuxmafia.com                               -- Psalm 0.1 beta

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