Pet Peeve: “Forcing” Invites When Joining a Social Network


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I just joined Shelfarian interactive social media site for book lovers. Using Shelfari, you can create a personal shelf of your books, see what your friends are reading, get and give recommendations for what to read next, create book lists, and even share your opinion on a book with friends or the growing Shelfari community.” And I am super super excited about it being an avid reader and always looking to find new books to read and finding new books through the recommendations of others.

I worked at a library for nearly 3/4 years and consistently stole their Publisher’s Weekly and Book Review Digest to find the newest and most interesting books, so finding an online network where I can read the reviews of others and post my own is exciting.

Except for one thing.

Social networks grow by the recommendation of current members to their friends, family and colleagues. The trend that seems to be happening on many of the current networking sites is to force users to invite their friends via sending a mass email to the user’s email contacts on signup.

It’s annoying is when these sites automatically assume that you want to invite a gaggle of “friends” at that very moment and forcefully request you to plug in your email address and password so they can send out the mass invitation email to your contacts, regardless if you want everyone in your address book to join or not. But, what even more annoying is when a website doesn’t even give you the option to skip over this “step”. I’m a little aggravated at Shelfari right now for this exact reason.

As soon as I clicked the “signup” link I was asked to create a username, password and enter my email address. After submitting that information you are redirected to a page where you are told to select your email provider, or at the bottom a login screen to put in your email address and password. No where is there an option to skip that “step” or to continue on without inviting anymore.

Irritated (I like to try a service before recommending it to anyone!), I clicked the Shelfari logo to go back to the main site, where I found I was logged in, and ready to customize my profile, sans having to invite anyone. I’ve no comment yet on the actual Shelfari service – aside from the fact that even though it irked me it still looks insanely cool- except to beg developers of these types of sites not to force users to auto-invite people from their address books or at the VERY VERY least, include a way to skip that part of the signup.

Edit: I realize now that if I had chosen an email provider on the first invite screen, I would be directed to a new page that would allow me to opt out of sending the invites as seen in the example below:

First Invite Screen (no opt out):
Shelfari Invite First Page

Second Invite Screen (opt out highlighted):
Shelfari Invite Second Page

Regardless, I think Shelfari is one of the coolest niche social networking sites around at the moment. Have a look at my Shelfari profile.

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3 Responses to Pet Peeve: “Forcing” Invites When Joining a Social Network

  1. Danny says:

    I love Shelfari! Partly because i work there, but also because of my love for books. Checkout my Shelfari id: schaufferwaffer.

    While we encourage members to invite all of their friends, it is never forced. That is not what Shelfari is about. We want to expand the book loving community, but only to people who want to join.

    Happy Reading!

  2. Lindsey says:

    Hey Danny,

    I do now see the option for skipping the invite, but to do that you have to go through the first invite page, where you have to select your email provider. I didn’t originally go through all the steps because I didn’t want to send any invites at the moment and didn’t realize that I would have the option to decline on the next page.

    That said, I love Shelfari as well, and am excited to add it to my daily visits of online communities! I definitely would and will recommend it to any book lover.

    Thanks for stopping by and clarifying that.

  3. Lord Matt says:

    It sounds like what we need are some admittedly dead addresses and providers to null submit such forms (in otherwords fakes that do nothing).

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