I came across a very interesting discussion via a post and link on Mathew Ingram’s blog about Plaxo, the ubiquitous sender of emails offering you the chance to update your contact information. These are usually sent by someone I barely know, if I know them at all.
It all started (as best I can tell) when Charles O’Donnell, who works with Fred Wilson (a smart guy I like a lot) at Union Square Ventures, sent out one of those Plaxo emails and then blogged about it. Charles’ point was that he gets people to respond to his Plaxo update requests by adding humor to the request. Although I will probably never respond to another Plaxo update request (I confess to having done so a few times in the past), a funny request would raise the chance of a response from say 0% to maybe 0.2%. So my take is that I’m not going to reply, but it doesn’t twist me off to get a request from someone who I know or who knows me.
First of all, even though I am no Plaxo fan, I think Mike was a little too hard on Charles. But a spirited debate is always interesting and sometime informative and a spirited debate ensued in the comments to Mike’s post.
Charles’ day went from bad to worse when Stacy Martin, Plaxo Privacy Officer (Plaxo Privacy Officer should go into the job name hall of fame on the first ballot), joined the discussion. First she and Mike engaged in a little semi-constructive banter, then she turned on Charles and said that he violated Plaxo’s terms of service. Somehow, I have a hard time buying that it’s up to Charles to make sure Plaxo doesn’t allow Charles to spam Mike. Even if Charles were a spammer instead of a (probably former now) Plaxo user, Plaxo should never let the foxes guard the hen house.
Steve McFarland, as quoted in Mathew’s post, summed it all up thusly:
Plaxo, is like that senior citizen in the middle lane of the highway going 40 or the teenager that waltzes right past you to the front of the line at the coffee shop – they’ll never understand what it is they’re doing that’s so damn annoying because they. just. can’t.
Mathew points to another spirited debate involving Mike, Stacy and others, about Plaxo in the comments to a post Scoble made months ago about getting a tour of the Plaxo facilities. As an aside, Scoble says most of the Plaxo team shares a single room, but he did not say whether they call it the boiler room or not.
These are not the only examples of Plaxo frustration. Many others have posted rants about Plaxo.