I regularly get emails via Plaxo telling me that people I know and sometimes people I don’t are updating their address book and encouraging me to update my information via Plaxo. It’s an example of an idea that sounds good in theory (let’s enable users to easily obtain current contact information and add it to their Outlook contacts list) that goes horribly wrong when put into action.
It goes wrong simply because the updating process is based on unsolicited emails to contacts asking them to update their information via Plaxo. I think it’s great if someone wants to add my information to their address book, but not if I have to get emails I don’t want and/or sign up or give information to some service.
After apparently waiting to enact any changes until enough people signed up for their service, Plaxo has indicated that it will throttle back the emails. Here’s a quote from one of Plaxo’s founders that tells you a lot about Plaxo’s commitment to being a good net citizen:
[W]e’ve always known that the update requests were a means to an end — our goal has always been to get as many members as possible so that these e-mails were unnecessary. And it looks like we’re finally getting to that end.
Anyone who takes even a second to think about that statement will realize that it’s like a litterbug who just dumped all his trash on the side of the road saying that littering is bad. Or the guy who just made a ton of money selling email addresses deciding to become an anti-spam advocate.
It’s easy to diet when you’re full and it’s easy to act right after you’ve gotten the spoils of acting wrong.
According to some of the Comments to the Techdirt post, Plaxo is now bundled with AOL Instant Messenger. There’s nothing that will get a program deleted from my computer any faster than trying to stuff a bunch of unwanted programs onto my hard drive.
I find product bundling to be just as distasteful as spam. That’s just my opinion and perhaps others disagree.
But while less Plaxo email is a welcome thing, let’s not start handing out citizenship awards to Plaxo just yet.