AOL To Integrate Plaxo -- Get Ready For Plaxo Spam Influx

from the oh-great dept

Uh oh. For those who remember, the September that never ended was when AOL users were suddenly let loose on Usenet, and what was once useful, was filled with a ton of somewhat clueless posters who made it difficult to filter through the muck. Today, AOL announced plans to integrate Plaxo's tools into AIM. Considering the amount of Plaxo spam that already is out there, do we really need to make it even easier to bug people every few months about their contact info? Almost all of the Plaxo spam I receive is from people I do not know. I don't know why I'm in their address book -- and I don't know why they've told Plaxo they know me. So, do we really need millions of AOL users who don't quite realize that they're about to spam everyone they ever spoke to, and handing them a tool to do so? Update: A Plaxo representative has given an in-depth rebuttal in the comments that's worth reading. I still find the claim that you only get spammed if you're a "non-Plaxo member" to be a bit disingenuous. It's telling me if I only signed up, I'd avoid these messages. However, the other points made are certainly valid, and clearly Plaxo is making a big effort to deal with some of the early complaints about the service. The note also points out that (thankfully!) part of the AOL agreement is that the initial process of spamming everyone you know has been removed from the startup wizard -- so hopefully the results won't be quite so annoying for those of us who prefer not to use their service.

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  1. identicon
    Stacy Martin, 7 Jul 2005 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Getting the facts correct about Plaxo and AOL

    Hi Mike - I hear what you saying and the frustration is understandable. We are working to better educate members about proper Plaxo etiquette which includes personalizing Plaxo messages and giving greater thought to whom they are sending an update request to.

    We also continue to make tweaks to the product in order to improve the experience for all but any suggestions are welcomed. For example, currently one of the first operations Plaxo members run is our Update Contact Wizard (UCW), which allows them to select people in their address book to send an update request to. This operation is prominent because one of the first things most people want to do in joining Plaxo is update their address book. The initial use of the UCW by Plaxo members is responsible for most mail sent through Plaxo.

    But as I mentioned, this operation becomes much less necessary when the new software becomes available since much of a person's address book will be able to be automatically updated through the Plaxo network. So we will be removing the UCW from the initial Plaxo/AOL member experience.

    We are also working to implement other controls that may limit the number of update request messages a person can send through Plaxo as well as the number of entries that a Plaxo member may maintain. We already filter out known distribution lists and generic email boxes, but you may contact me directly if would like me to add any other distribution lists to our filter list (privacy @t plaxo.com). It's also true that most people choose to use the default text, possibly because they can't think of anything better to say or we simply need to do a better job at educating users, so we are looking to improve in this area as well.

    Bottom line is, we don't want to see people sending out messages to people they don't know. It hurts them, it hurts us, and it bothers the recipient. Fortunately, the large percentage of members use Plaxo in a responsible way. They send update requests to people they know and their address books are automatically updated. We'd love to get to the point where email is no longer necessary, and the network is used to automatically keep people in touch. We certainly feel the Plaxo/AOL integration is a big step in the right direction.

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