By Deane Barker on October 27, 2007
Shelfari is a social networking app built around books. You connect to other people based on the books you’re both reading. It’s been pretty cool…until tonight.
Here is my email to their “Feedback” address.
I let you into my Gmail address book to find people I know that might also be using Shelfari.
I got presented with two lists: friends already on Shelfari (six people), and friends not on Shelfari (about 900 people) [note: this is everyone I’ve sent an email to over the last 18 months or so].
Right under the list of “Friends already on Shelfari” was a button that said “Send Invite.” Being a user of LinkedIn, I figured I needed to be “connected” to these people via Shelfari, so I thought I should click it.
Briefly I thought, “But will these send an email to the other 900 people?” So I scrolled down under the list of 900+ people not on Shelfari and saw another “Send Invite” button. So, I reasoned, that was the button for the people not on Shelfari — I really don’t want to press that one…
Well, it turns out that the top button still sent an email to 900-some-odd people, many of which I barely know. I didn’t realize this had happened until I suddenly got 100+ undeliverables back about 30 seconds after pressing the button.
This sucks. It’s somewhat humiliating. Some of these people are clients. Some of them are prospects for my business (that’ll look great…) A lot of them where ticket management systems — I have now apparently opened a dozen different tickets with various vendors.
The usability of this sucks. Fix it. Have you ever heard of a confirmation screen? You know, a screen that maybe says, “I’m just about to send 900 friggin’ emails to a bunch of people you might not know too well. Do you really want to do this?”
Now, please excuse me while I go manage the undeliverables, out-of-office replies, and general “what the hell did you send me” emails from close to a thousand people.
Even if I misunderstood the concept of an “invite” on Shelfari, I maintain that they made three usability mistakes here:
They pre-checked every single box of the addresses they got from my address book. No similar system I’ve used has done that. They’re usually all unchecked, and left for me to pro-actively check.
Think about it: how often is someone going to want to shotgun an email to every address in their address book? Especially a social networking invite.
- The positioning of the buttons was confusing. In retrospect, the button I pressed was supposed to prevent me from having to scroll down to under the list to press the other button there. But from where it was positioned, it looked like it was referring to the “Friends Already on Shelfari” list above it.
- There was no confirmation screen. If you’re going to send an email (or 900) under my name, at least ask me if that’s what I really want you to do.
I’m sitting here right now, fuming. Every 10 seconds or so, I think, “Oh crap, he/she/they got one of those emails as well…”
Never before have I prayed for spam filters to intercept my email. Please, SpamAssassin, do your job well tonight.
If you got one, I’m sorry. I’m really not stupid. I swear.