Notchup - The Spam backlash and LinkedIn hypocracy

I wrote about Notch-Up just over a week ago and commented that

It has been well positioned, since there's no downside to the individual in participating. However, I'm sure the person that sent me the invite may have been motivated by a 10% finders fee on any interviews resulting from people they introduce. Moreover, I suspect this may kick off a wave of spam unless there are some inbuilt restricters in the service to avoid duplicate invites being sent.

Oh well, it seems I was spot on with the forecast. However, the real accelerator to the explosion in user numbers was when Notchup added the ability for members to send invites to their LinkedIn network as described here in BusinessWeek.

Member growth timeline
Unfortunately, some people were getting duplicate invites and when those people are bloggers, the negative backlash is inevitable. This is a tricky design problem for any site. Obviously you want to eliminate invites to existing members but if people haven't signed up how do you deal with them being invited by others.

In a real life example, Andrea may invite Jenny to an event and she declines but when her friend Cathy invites her, she agrees. When handled by an intermediary, how is it to know who Jenny is receptive to, if indeed she is receptive to anyone? Is there a right answer on how to handle this?

Separately, I find LinkedIn's decision to block NotchUp from import contacts smacks of hypocracy, no matter what their T&Cs say. As a LinkedIn user, I am regularly presented with pages of theirs inviting me to import my contacts from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL services. LinkedIn has specifically grown on the back of this harvesting facility, yet seeks to deny others the same ability.

LinkedIn point out that users have the ability to download their contacts in a csv file and then do as they will with them. So, they have no objection to the principle of those contacts being my data but wish to make my life as a user more inconvenient by forcing me to go through several steps. Had others not been more generous in allowing the direct "harvesting" of data by LinkedIn, I wouldn't have bothered importing contacts to their service.

Obviously LinkedIn isn't alone in this hypocracy - Facebook is equally bad in making it easy to import contact info but almost impossible to export. It's a shame that equal access isn't mandatory.

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posted by John Wilson @ 9:06 AM Permanent Link newsvine reddit


At 7:43 AM, Blogger Ian Hendry - WeCanDo.BIZ said...

Great to read you supporting the view that LinkedIn shows hypocrasy in banning its users from using contact importer tools to reclaim THEIR contact data from LinkedIn, while being happy that users bring over to LinkedIn their Google Mail, Outlook, MAN contacts et al.

We have recently received a "cease and desist" notice after LinkedIn spotted a contacts importer tool on our website, a social network focused on lead generation and business referrals. We've addressed their ocncerns but the tool stays -- contact data belonds to a USER and UK data protection law is quite specific in that. It would seem that using such services breaches LinkedIn's ToS, but that is between them and their users, not us.

More at

Ian Hendry


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