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 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Getting the facts correct about Plaxo and AOL

    AC -
    "-- people don't take lightly to your messages because they act JUST LIKE SPAM: they come in, uninvited and unannounced, and don't stop until the recipient takes some action to make them stop."

    I don't dispute that you feel the messages are spam. But simply because they come in uninvited and unannounced, does not make them spam. After all, aren't all email messages uninvited and unannounced in some respect?

    What's important is that the message be personalized and come from someone you recognize. The purpose of the Update Request is to update you and have you optionally update the requesting Plaxo member. Obviously, you are more likely to accept a message from someone you know, and a personalized message helps you to know the person actually took the time to write the message.

    I'd imagine that if your close friend, the Cowardly Lion sent you a personal message telling you he's now the King of Emerald City and to let him know if anything changed with you, you would not feel the message is spam. Yet this message could have easily been sent through Plaxo. We need to do a better job at getting users to only communicate with contacts they know and are likely to recognize them as a known contact, as well as personalize their messages where possible.

    "so ISPs that allow users to send out spam can hold their hands up as blameless? I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that."

    No, ISPs are not blameless, nor do I believe I was advocating that the ISPs are blameless. I was simply clarifying that we are not the senders of the messages. Certainly, if Plaxo were the sender of the message, then an opt-in is proper and required. But this is not the case.

    But though ISPs are not the senders of the messages, we still have a responsibility to all Internet users to ensure our services are used responsibily. We monitor for abuse and have very strict guidelines by which we expect members to abide by. All reports of abuse are followed up on and corrective action taken. We continue to educate users on proper usage.

    But I would like to explore your opt-in suggestion. How would imagine that recipients be allowed to opt-in to receive an Update Request message from a Plaxo member. There appears to be a chicken/egg problem here.

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