Unleashing Plaxo Hell

I did something this morning that falls into the category of ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ but which upon reflection (or more accurately, upon understanding reality) falls into the category of “you dumb mother-fucker”. Put another way, I unleashed Plaxo on all my contacts this morning as I calmly sipped my first cup of coffee sitting comfortably in my pajamas at my kitchen island – oblivious to the hell I was setting free. I’ve been waiting years to do this, but something always held me back. I finally broke down and decided that I really did need to clean up my contact database (I keep a lot of contacts and its helpful to know what’s up to date and what’s not). So if you are in my contacts and I have your valid e-mail address, this morning you received a cheerful note from me asking you to update your information. THIS WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. While I got some useful information back, there were some second order effects that I had not thought about. Here’s a few: 1)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> I basically just spammed my entire contact list. I wasn’t really thinking about this as spam at the time, but that’s essentially what it was 2)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> I got several hundred e-mails from Plaxo itself, clogging my inbox as people updated their information (fortunately Plaxo lists people in groups, so one notice would have 20 or 30 updates announcements in it – so I suppose it could have been even worse). 3)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> I got a bunch of e-mails from people telling me they hate Plaxo (mostly because they don’t trust it) and then giving me their contact information in e-mail form (which I had to enter manually – pretty much what I was trying to avoid). 4)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> Plaxo errantly sent some update requests to a few mailing lists that I’m on (and have permission to send to) – that was a bit embarrassing. 5)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> I reached out and touched a lot of contacts at one time, which resulted in a lot of people reaching out and touching me – I now have about 30 ‘catch-up’ lunches/coffee/meetings scheduled over the next month as a result (don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to catch up with these people – just not all at once) 6)ont-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;”> I have a long list of contacts that couldn’t be reached. While this is what I was looking for when I set out on my Plaxo mission this morning, seeing them all listed out makes me wonder exactly what I though I was planning on doing with all this information in the first place (perhaps ignorance really is bliss) What I should have done was install the program and not sent out the update request (Plaxo has a reasonably nice way to manage your contacts as e-mails come in) – this would have gotten me about 98% of what I now realize I was looking for without any of the annoyance.

To everyone I Plaxo’d today –

I’m an idiot.

I won’t do it again.

  • Chris

    Thanks for reminding me to delete my Plaxo account… No offense to anyone who uses Plaxo, but the latest barrage has prompted me to also blacklist the entire domain in my spam filter. If anyone wants to find me, it’s still eminently possible, just without Plaxo spam .

  • Hi Seth. We appreciate you giving Plaxo a try and writing about your experience. I thought it might be helpful to provide some added information on some of your points:
    2) Each time you receive an update, Plaxo generates an alert to notify you of the update figuring you would like to know what updated. This can result is a lot of alerts when someone initially joins the service, as entries are updated. As you noticed, we try to batch up alerts as much as possible, but depending on when the update occurs, they can also trickle in. You can turn off alerts through the preferences, if preferred, and I expect they will decrease in frequency within a few days of joining Plaxo.
    3) If someone responds to the Update Request you sent them, the response is actually processed back through the Plaxo service before forwarded onto you. We attempt to apply NLP to the response an insert any updated contact details back into your address book. This can actually save you the trouble of having to manually update the person’s entry. But of course, if they sent you a response out-of-band, you’ll have to manage the update manually.
    4) When a member sends an update request, we attempt to filter out known distribution lists, such as those that start with the prefix dl-. Unfortunately, there are a number of distribution lists that do not follow this convention, so it is impossible for us to determine if the email is an actual person or distribution list. If you’d like to contact me off-line, I can make sure to add these distribution lists to our filter list.
    5) Hopefully, you feel this was a good thing 🙂 as this is pretty typical of many members’ experience. Plaxo is often a way for people to reconnect and then stay connected going forward.
    6) I think this underscores the problem that Plaxo helps to solve. At one point, the details for those contacts was probably accurate and valid. But over time, people change emails, phone numbers, mailing addresses, etc… and now those entries may simply represent people you’ve lost contact with.
    Hopefully, you’ll find that Plaxo can now help you to maintain those connections by keeping information updated automatically. If people in your address book also become Plaxo members, you have the ability to connect with each other through Plaxo and stay updated automatically any time each of you update your own information.
    I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact our Customer Care department if there is anything we can do to help.
    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Privacy Officer
    privacy @t plaxo.com

  • Chris – To remove your Plaxo account, you can go to https://www.plaxo.com/delete_account or click on the delete account link from your Account Setting page.

  • Apology accepted

  • Oh how I hate you Plaxo People! Everytime I receive a request from a Plaxo user to update my contact info I comply by filling in completely bogus information. I learned the hard way that that is the only way to kill the goddamn thing.

  • Another site on my shitlist is Linkedin. I actually signed up for that one about 4 years ago after a steady barrage of invitations to do so from associates. All I have ever gotten through it is spam from some crazy Frenchman who has found an exploit which allows him to regularly spam bomb the entire membership. I have asked him about half a dozen times to remove my address from his spam list. His response is: If you don’t like it unsubscribe from Linkedin. Hey, you cheese eating surrender-monkey, I would if I could recall my pw!

  • Tim

    Seth: Dropped by your blog on a whim after being Plaxoed by you. I laughed my arse off from your self-effacing entry. I’ve certainly done the ready-fire-aim cha cha before. I have to admit; when I received your Plaxo, I felt ashamed of being a Plaxo-biggot. I thought about seeking a 12 step meeting for my PTSD (Privacy-Transgression-Stress-Disorder).
    I too have some contact record house-keeping to do. And I was a Plaxo hold-out. On installing Plaxo yesterday it was revealling to see the email frequency indicator. And I was also reminded of people that I had not posted to in some time….while hazards exist- certainly a free tool of value. Knowing of your and other experiences, I don’t regret at all my decision to manage my contact records outside of Outlook. Stay in touch…..

  • Spencer Rascoff

    Hi Seth – good to hear from you. But I share your Plaxo pain / shame. I did the same thing about a year ago and had the same exact experience. It’s a neat service, but my big problem is the huge number of contacts that it makes me touch. My damn outlook is littered with random people’s birthdays — people who I don’t even know, but who must have given me a business card years ago somewhere so they’re in my outlook. I do like that it keeps info updated for me though. Anyway, live and learn. Be well,
    – Spence

  • I’ve never seen a company so right in its idea and so horrible in its implementation.

  • Seth:
    if you download the LinkedIn toolbar you’ll find that it has a great little feature called “grab,” which lets create vcards simply by highlighting the contact info (usually in the signature) and then hitting the grab button. It will reduce your vcard creation time down from 1-2 minutes to 1-2 seconds. Its fantastic. Here is the link:
    I hope this is helpful to you.

  • dody

    guys, I need to join to the Professional association of the province where I live. That professional association does not recognize my original academic documents and asks me to send their blank with their address and instructions to my university so that my university will send them my academic data of 30 years
    ago…for this reason I had to contact with a real valuable person, the professor I ve at my university(after so many years). I have received response from the direction of the professor(“from the direction” because it was kind of response but likely not from himself but probably automatically generated: -no word(s) from himself but full of plaxo and all about my and his info address/contacts/ph## etc.) First thing I have to do is I need to join to some Plaxo, as minimum in respect to the very valuable for me person. What next??

  • First of all, I must give some credit to Plaxo for listening to the blogosphere and engaging a customer with a complaint in broad daylight.
    In an earlier comment, Dorian states:
    “I’ve never seen a company so right in its idea and so horrible in its implementation.”
    I think that we all agree that Plaxo is a great idea. So how do you fix the implementation?

  • MD

    I found a $49.00 charge on my credit card bill this morning from Plaxo in Mountainville, CA.
    I had no idea what it was from. I didn’t remember ever hearing of Plaxo.
    Then I happened upon an email address in my address book that was from plaxo several months ago. A business correspondant’s updated address.
    So I did a little web search.
    Here I am wondering how many others are having this problem?

  • LinkedIn Pulling a Plaxo?

    From my junk email folder this morning: