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Boycott Linked In and Plaxo — a rant

This rant is not particularly related to China, except that your correspondent's inbox is alway overflowing because of email related to Danwei, and because my anger is directed towards two online services that are popular amongst China's resident foreigners.

I speak of two of the most annoying online services ever created: Linked In and Plaxo.

Linked In is a social networking website that is supposed to be used to build business contacts. The theory is that if I am looking for someone to to do business with, I can go to my own Linked In account, click on the names of my contacts, and find useful people by looking at their contacts.

This morning Linked In jumped the shark for me: I was invited to become a contact of some real estate agent whom I had the misfortune to meet at a cocktail party a few months ago. The guy obviously wants to mine my contact list for leads.

This is the problem with Linked In: as it gets more popular, it becomes less and less useful. When I have to take the time to check out a person who invited me to join their Linked In network and find that the person is just a dodgy real estate agent, Linked In has wasted my time. Which would be OK if I had ever got anything useful out of the service, but Linked In cannot make a good guanxi for me automatically: building networks is something that takes time and energy, and my Linked In contact's contact is no closer to me than if I just call up my contact and ask for his help.

Plaxo is even worse. It's an online address book with a charming little feature: the site send out emails to your contact list, asking them to update their contact info themselves. It's a way of outsourcing your personal administration work to other people, a concept which — to me — is just plain rude.

This rant is a call to boycott Plaxo and Linked In. Your correspondent has set his email software to automatically reject email from both services as spam.

There are currently 14 Comments for Boycott Linked In and Plaxo — a rant.

Comments on Boycott Linked In and Plaxo — a rant

Yeah, I hate them too. Boycott!

The Plaxo thing I'm with you on, but the Linked In one just sounds childish, to be honest. Oh no, one person on Linked In is a dick! Boycott it!

Both Plaxo and LinkedIn are Sequoia investments (Mike Moritz).

Plaxo's way of sending emails to all your contacts is annoying, but as far as I know, that feature is not used anymore.

As for LinkedIn, I enjoy using it and managed to create a few useful connections. Of course, I could have called my mates and ask them if they know someone that does this or that, but it is much easier ( and causes less nuisance to my friends ) when I can see if they know anyone relevant and just ask them to make a standard digital introduction without wasting anyone's time.

Naturally, the system can be exploited by data miners, but the simple solution is not to give your contact details to annoying real estate agent to begin with. In any case, I would rather have an annoying person request to join my network on LinkedIn ( and be denied ), than have him call my mobile phone or visit my office (as has happened a few times).

Thanks for the heads up on linked-in. I'll be sure not to use it! :)

I use plaxo and choose not to send update emails to my contacts. I figure that they will update their information when that want to. Then when my computer syncs with plaxo, I get their new info. That's nice.

Also, plaxo tells me when one of my contacts switches a job or gets a promotion. If I haven't been on touch in a while, I can send them a quick email to congratulate them.

I have never received an email from one of my contacts asking me to update my contact info. At least, not that I can remember.

you've set your email client to ignore linked in emails as spam? boo hoo hoo!

how about this? DELETE YOUR LINKED IN ACCOUNT! you can do it here:

http://www.linkedin.com/feedback?displayContactCustomerServiceFeedback=

if you don't want to receive contact requests from people you don't know, you can set that here:

https://www.linkedin.com/secure/settings?inv=&goback=%2Eaas

finally, you can tell linked in not to send you emails. that's here:

https://www.linkedin.com/secure/settings?req=&goback=%2Eaas

in short, stop complaining. you have all kinds of options to make it work the way you want it to (including leaving the community) but instead you choose to complain about nothing.

I agree with you. I never understood why anybody likes Plaxo. I tried Linked In for a while to keep in contact with old coworkers, but never found a use for that network. I got a few job offers even though I indicated that I'm not interested. Save yourself the trouble and avoid both of these sites.

Serious question: Is it rude to ask people to update their contact info? My outlook contact list is so out of control it isn't even funny. What can I do to bring it under control that isn't rude?

Hey Jeremy, I just stumbled upon LinkedIn last week, and so have no real solid opinion on it one way or the other.

I can see your point about it becoming less useful as the network grows and becomes diluted and full of people just looking to mine it for leads.

However, I do tend to agree with Dror Poleg, in that it's like most tools; completely dependent on how you use it.

Jeremy said: "It's an online address book with a charming little feature: the site send out emails to your contact list, asking them to update their contact info themselves. It's a way of outsourcing your personal administration work to other people, a concept which — to me — is just plain rude."

This is not true. Both Plaxo and LinkedIn enable their users to send emails that request contact info. These messages ARE NOT SENT BY THE SYSTEM. Rather, they are sent by users.

You should direct your anger at the bad manners of people, rather than software services that are actually quite useful when properly with proper etiquette.

Guns don't kill people,
spammers do!

... um, er...or something like that...

China Law Blog: "Is it rude to ask people to update their contact info?"

Yes, I think it is.

"My outlook contact list is so out of control it isn't even funny. What can I do to bring it under control that isn't rude?"

Delete everyone that you do not want or need to stay in touch with, spend four hours manually updating the info of people that you do want to stay in touch with.

While Plaxo was bad in the past in the way that its system encouraged users to send updates, it stopped doing this over a year ago, and even apologised its past actions:

http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/27/plaxoapologizes/

I personally have used them for over three years and when used responsibly there is never any reason to annoy anyone. There soon-to-be-released Plaxo 3.0 adds calendar and address book syncing for Hotmail, Google & Yahoo which is great for those of us who use Gmail at home and Outllok at work. A preview here:

http://preview.plaxo.com/po3/

I personally find their service indispensable, but as for LinkedIn, I signed up years ago but never use it. Just to insense you further, take a look at this:

http://blog.plaxo.com/archives/2007/04/get_your_plaxo.html

and this....

http://blog.plaxo.com/archives/2007/04/early_response_1.html

This post by a former Plaxo employee explains their Privacy Policy very nicely. Well worth the read:

link

Staff at the library suggested LinkedIn. I keep getting the we're off line now, and keeps getting extended. No I don't accept their apologies and what I read from you sounds like reality. Networking is cultivation.

Ha ha. I love rants. Too bad they solve little to nothing, though. ;)

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