Dec 17 2007

Dislikeing Spock Even More

Published by at 10:33 am under Uncategorized

Today I sent feedback to Spock.com to advise them that I did not want any more of their spam and I did NOT want to have to register to opt out of the spam. I have begun forwarding the “trusted connection requests” from my friends and colleagues back to my colleagues asking if they really did want to send all this spam to me (having made this mistake in October with Shelfari, heavens help me.) So far, two of them said they were simply experimenting with the system, having received so many invitations themselves. One felt compelled to join to correct erroneous information on the system. Now THERE is an interesting marketing ploy. You have to join or we will make you look bad! The other responses have been that they joined because someone they trusted invited them. The question is, did the trusted person really know what was going to happen with the system?

I have created a rule in my email box to send anything from Spock to the spam file, but something in the Spock emails seems to evade the filter (I haven’t figured that out yet.)

Now I have started getting Spock alerts. Here is an example:

From: Spock Team <donotreply@spock.com>
To: XXXX
Subject: Spock Alerts

Below is a list of updates to your Spock search result.

Go to your contributions page to see these updates.

Jim Benson added 1 tag to you.

Jack Vinson added 4 tags to you.

Want to change the types of emails you receive from Spock? Click here to change your settings: http://www.spock.com/do/settings/email

If you go to the contributions page, guess what you get? A sign in. Yet another way to try and get you to join. So now not only do I get the awful “trusted associates” bacn, now I’m getting alerts.

I am sending mail to my host today submitting a complaint for spam. Spock, did you know you may be violating Washington State spam laws? The way you manipulate your users into sending email to their trusted contacts may not violate the law, but I believe the update email does. I am making the assumption that there is a commercial model behind your service, thus making it a commercial transaction.

More importantly, you are violating our good will and trust. That will sink you.

Bottom line: Spock is using similar tactics Shelfari used and which the blogosphere condemmed. Shelfari adjusted their process. Will Spock? Spock tries to convince registrants to allow Spock to send email on their behalf by making the impression that other people, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE IN SPOCK’S database scraped from other sites on the web, have opted in to the service and thus should be logical connections on the service. Then it starts spamming. I should not have to opt out of Spock’s system. I should not be subjected to their bacn. Spock, don’t opt me in. Offer me the opportunity but assume until I say yes that I don’t want your bacn. Put an opt out form on your site ASAP.

Update Monday Afternoon:

A few more things come to light about Spock.

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/startups/news/2007/08/spock_reputation

http://stupidspam.blogspot.com/2007/12/spockcom-another-creepy-social-network.html

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/law-legal/criminal-law/LAW_CLW/137733-8687328

This is not a new problem… http://www.joeszilagyi.com/2007/09/19/spockcom-spam/

http://www.5thwind.com/?p=70

And one with a great visual http://www.itgumbo.com/mumbogumbo/2007/08/spock_shocks_but_fails_to_rock.php

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Dislikeing Spock Even More”

  1. Patrickon 16 Jan 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Hi- I figured you may want an explanation for issues you’ve been experiencing with Spock.

    1) Please note that what you were receiving was a user controlled invitation to join Spock. What this means is that a Spock user used our Address Book Import option. This allows a user to view which of their friends are on Spock, as well as view a list of contacts that are not on Spock. From there the user must pick and choose whichever contacts he or she would like to invite to Spock. Given that a user must select your contact, I fail to see how this is any different from a LinkedIn invitation, evite, or e-mail, and how this would classify as Spam.

    2) Our unsubscribe button was implemented so that people could easily eliminate themselves from future invitations to Spock. Because our invitations are based on contacts that have your e-mail, this is an option that I would think you would prefer to have.

    3) Updates are created so that you know when anything is added to your search result. This ensures that a person can correct any erroneous information the minute it happens. Please note that you have the option to not receive e-mails by altering your e-mail settings.

    Feel free to contact me at patrick@corp.spock.com if you have any further questions.

  2. Nancy Whiteon 17 Jan 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Patrick

    Thanks for your update. I think my current post of January 15th is probably more relevant than this one at the moment. (http://www.fullcirc.com/wp/2008/01/16/spock-deletes-me-finally/)

    I’d like to respond to your three points, simply from a “users” perspective (if someone who does not want to use a service can be called a user)

    1. If you have read the various critiques of Spock around the time of this post, the things that made many of us dislike it were subtle. Yes, you give people the chance to view “which of their friends are on Spock,” but what was not clear at the time (I have not gone back to see if there were changes) what “on Spock” meant. A person could have been listed on Spock because your scraped their data. Not because they joined Spock. So you see this list of names. If you equate it with FaceBook, if it says someone is already on Facebook it is because they registered and joined. Not because their name was input by a machine or the owners of Facebook. That is a significant difference. So my perception as a user, and as a person who got tons of Spock trusted connection email it was NOT like a LinkedIn invitation. Further more, many of the people who sent invites I did not know. How could they be trusted? By whom? (See Jim Benson’s analysis of Spock)

    2. It is good to know about the unsub button. I’m sure many people will appreciate it. If you read my latest post on Spock you will see I don’t have to worry because apparently I was deleted from Spock for violating your terms of use. Which is very interesting since I have not been on the site since mid December and have not “used” the site except to find a way to get out of it. I wondered how I can violate with no action. I requested that my account be deleted in December and never heard back. Funny, eh?

    3. Finally, updates. Why should I have to register to opt out of your service? That IS spam. Opt in would be a better solution than having to go and opt out. Just good practice from my perspective.

    I appreciate that you are trying to do something that you feel the market wants. I think we all are seeking ways to understand our online identities. But it will be fraught with problems. I guess I’d just say, if someone wants out, it should be easier.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    Nancy

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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