March 20, 2006

A little less in your inbox

If you’re not a Plaxo member, chances are you have gotten an e-mail that went something like this: “Hi, I’m updating my address book. Please take a moment to update your latest contact information…” For three years now, this has been a key part of the Plaxo service as millions of people have used our update tool to quickly and easily regain control of their address books. But as of a a few weeks ago, you should start seeing fewer and fewer of these e-mails, as we’ve shifted our product functionality away from address book update.
When we started Plaxo, we had a vision to create a self-updating address book. The idea seems pretty simple: I maintain my own contact information, and when I change it, it automatically updates in my friends’ address books. Similarly, when my friends update their information, it changes in my address book. If everyone uses Plaxo, then like magic, everyone stays up-to-date and never has to worry about this problem again. Better yet, Plaxo would plug in to Outlook and other popular address books, for maximum convenience.
The big ‘if’ in all of this was of course convincing everyone in the world to use Plaxo — and contact management is not always the sexiest of problems. Until large numbers of people started using Plaxo, automatic updating wouldn’t provide much value.
We therefore came up with a model where people could still find value in using our service without there being a large network. I could download Plaxo and in a few steps e-mail contacts asking them for their up-to-date information. Then, usually within a few days (usually more like a few hours) my contacts would respond and my address would be updated. Some of my contacts would see this as a valuable service, and also start using Plaxo. In doing so, they would introduce Plaxo to more of their friends, but the real magic happened when they became members — because from that point forward they would no longer send out Plaxo update requests — everything would just happen automatically.
Obviously, a lot of people loved this feature, but some people did not. Journalists, A-list bloggers, and anyone else who is known by more people than they know were inundated with requests. We quickly responded by adding opt-out and throttling features, but we’ve always known that the update requests were a means to an end — our goal has always been to get as many members as possible so that these e-mails were unnecessary. And it looks like we’re finally getting to that end.
As of last week, we’ve past 10 million members. We are now growing at over 50,000 users a day. Due to this great growth, the depth of our network, plus our heartfelt desire to be good net citizens, we have started phasing out update requests.
This feature will probably always exist in some form, but we are no longer aggressively pushing new users to send out e-mails and are adding restrictions to prevent existing users from sending out large batches. Within the next six months (allowing for releases and upgrades to our base), you should see these messages drop to a trickle. In specific, here’s our plan:
* The new Plaxo plug-in for Mac does not include this feature
* The Plaxo plug-in for Thunderbird does not include this feature
* The Plaxo AIM Triton integration does not include this feature
* New versions of the Outlook plug-in limits e-mail batch sizes for all users
And coming soon:
* The new user flow for Outlook will not direct users to send out update requests.
These changes in specific affect non-Plaxo members, but we’ve also got a number of related changes to trim down our member-member communication. More details to come.

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Redgee Capili

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  • Someone

    Yay. No more spam. Now, if you could just solve that pesky privacy issue.

  • Graham

    >>our heartfelt desire to be good net citizens
    No, your heartfelt desire to act like good net citizens once you got what you wanted.
    Jerky, rude behavior.

  • whatever

    Do you realize what you’re saying when you write : “we are no longer aggressively pushing new users to send out e-mails”?
    That’s incredible and so pitiful !

  • http:// Mark Jen’s Linkblog

    A little less in your inbox (via Plaxo’s Personal Card)

    A Little Less in your Inbox
    We're phasing out mass update requests

  • JiggaDigga

    Great reading, keep up the great posts.
    Peace, JiggaDigga

  • brian

    Plaxo: We’ll Spam You Less!

    Plaxo didn’t get it in 2004 and its recent announcement that it will scale back its spamming reveals it still doesn’t get it in 2006. Plaxo earned a light of well-deserved scorn for the way it helped its users keep their contact information updated. Es…

  • Roland Glicks

    I’m really inpressed by your website and it’s content. Don’t hesitate to contact me by ICQ: 713806152

  • andy

    I’ve read the reply comments on here
    Clearly your recent spam to me in early November this year shows a degree of contempt in the company for improving your approach