Please don't Plaxo me
October 3 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Please don't Plaxo me | Friday, Oct. 3, 2003

Friday, Oct. 3, 2003

Please don't Plaxo me

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Lately I've been getting e-mail requests from friends, business associates and people I don't even know, asking me to stop what I'm doing and fill in a dozen or so fields of information for their computerized database of contacts.

None of the requests came from them personally, but through a Web site called "Plaxo." Plaxo, from one of the same people who bedeviled the music industry with the file-sharing program Napster, offers itself as a free (for now) service. Users who think it would be a good idea to have other people fill in their address books for them can sign up for the service by turning over their e-mail address books to Plaxo.

Plaxo then sends a message to each address on the list. It pretends to be a personal message from the person who signed up, wanting to know if the information in his or her address book is correct.

Almost inevitably, the only information they have is the e-mail address, so to respond positively to the request, one is left with the time-consuming task of filling out business and home addresses, phone numbers and birthdays. That information goes back to Plaxo, which then fills in the blanks in the original user's address book - and maintains it in its own database.

I'm certain that the requested information is more than most people I correspond with want to know. My address and phone number for both home and business are readily available in the phone book. I get plenty of mail as it is, though very little in the form of birthday cards.

But, a combined list containing thousands of names, addresses and birthdays provides a gold mine of demographic information that marketing companies would love to have, and I frankly don't trust Plaxo to keep it in house.

So, if it's not aggravating enough that friends, family and business associates want me to maintain their address books for them, I'm also being asked to feed my contact information into a potential marketing machine.

So, though it's hard for me to say "no," I just don't do it. I respond with an offer to send a personal e-mail with whatever information a friend might need, but I don't want to send it through Plaxo. The list of active e-mail addresses alone is quite valuable, and they already have that.

I can't prove the connection, but the Spam in my inbox seems to have tripled since I started getting Plaxo requests: on a recent day, my personal account had 156 messages in it, and 154 of them were junk.

So, whether friend or foe, feel free to send me a personal request for whatever contact information you really need.

Just please don't Plaxo me, and I promise I won't Plaxo you.

10/3/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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