A new social networking villain -- NotchUp

A couple of weeks ago many wrote about the mistakes of spock which made us call them the “evil spock” for the way they had you mass mail your friends by fooling you into thinking they were already users of Spock.

The newest company to make a similar mistake is called NotchUp. I am loathe to discuss their business, because this means they get publicity for being bad actors, but it involves companies paying candidates for the chance to interview them rather than just giving all the fees to the headhunters. (Something that could only work in a boom market, I expect.) But in this case, some of the fees go to the headhunters, of course, and in a particularly nasty turn, 10% of them go to the “friend” who “invited” you to sign up.

When I get a bunch of invites for something brand new in a short period, it’s either something really hot, or something fishy. In this case it’s the latter. And one person suggests they didn’t authorize NotchUp to email their entire linked-in contact list so there may be something really fishy.

Here are some of the mistakes:

  • The offering of affiliate fees to spam your friends, effectively an Amway style marketing system, has been pernicious for some time. While this should be strongly discouraged, I am not calling for its total prohibition, but it should never be secret. Every such message should contain a note explaining the financial incentive.
  • The ad comes with your friend’s name on it, but the reply address is a dummy “invite@notchup” which I presume doesn’t work. Any site that does this sort of mailing should put in the friend’s real e-mail, so I can complain to them.
  • The ad comes as a combined HTML and plain text message. Which would be good except the plain text part is just “Go read the HTML part.” Seriously. Boy is that evil.
  • The site contains no “contact us” information for users who have issues. Their FAQ is all about signing up.
  • The site has no “opt out” to stop my friends from doing these mass mailings to me. These are not particularly useful, because I have many email addresses and in fact whole domains that come to me, but they are better than nothing.
  • It may have some of these things if I sign up. Of course as somebody who wants to opt-out, I hardly want to create an account just to do that. A few other sites have had this flaw. (I have no idea if you can opt out by signing up, I presume it does give you the ability to at least not get mailings because you have already been fished by your friend.)

Whether their headhunting model sounds interesting or not, the company’s practices seem slimy enough that I would wait for a nicer competitor to come along if you want to get headhunted this way.

I've been doing more and

I've been doing more and more sniffing around through all of the articles that people are publishing and I'm sort of shocked at how quickly people are chasing the money, and not considering the downstream consequences.

Sure, it may just be more Viagra mail--hey, who couldn't use a cheap supplier, right?

But what if it's more than that?

What also ticks me off a bit is that if LinkedIn did this--modified their terms as such, there would be an outcry akin to that of the Facebook Beacon debacle.

However, the instant you slurp your LinkedIn profile, you're potentially letting NotchUp slurp up the privacy and respect LinkedIn gave you.

Seems a little unfair; I'd much rather let LinkedIn make a dime off of me just for being what they are.

Of course, the good thing from this could be that people pick up on the TOS/Privacy issue (which is NOT the same as SECURITY) and people start to become more self-aware with every Viagra mail they receive.

I wrote a bit more at: http://www.userglue.com/blog/2008/01/27/notchup-privacy-down/

I really Just wanted to say

I really Just wanted to say that I liked your blog & Thanks for keeping it on point!

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