This morning I found an email from Dennis Howlett whom I finally got to meet at Les Blogs 2.0 last month, recommending something called goowy as a new email client. The invitation was to set up an account and then let him know what I think. I like Dennis and know he gets involved in interesting ventures, and the way the invite was worded I thought he was somehow involved in this project. Also, as it was an early morning email-check (having gone to be at 3am the night before), I wasn’t thinking about matters too much and proceeded with setting up the email to test it.
First of all, it’s built in Flash, which is pretty but a bit of an overkill to say the least. But perhaps mainstream users like a graphically designed interface, so be it. Not everybody has to be a fan of gmail style simplicity. I moved on.
Secondly, when you sign up, you get to import all your contacts from your main email client. I use gmail and the import was smooth and effortless. Too effortless in fact, as I was clicking through the steps, there was a line at the bottom of the (visible) screen with a box checked, which only flashed before my eyes, as I was clicking ‘continue’. It said ’send invitation to goowy to your contacts’ or words to that effect. With horror I watched as responses (mostly out of office replies) started piling in into my new shiny inbox. You may say that I should have been more careful about proceeding to the next stage in the set up but you’d be wrong. I was setting up a simple email client, which is something I do all the time, when testing various new applications coming out of the blogosphere.
This is the real killer and the message is – You. Do. NOT. Check. Anything. Intrusive. By. Default. For. The. User!!! I am now incredibly pissed off at goowy for effectively spamming all my contacts. I did send an unhappy email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I know I’ll be watching the fallout from this with growing unease. David appeared on my IM asking about goowy already as he received invitations from two of his contacts. He commiserated while I was fuming, offering the opinion that they don’t deserve to stay in business… And in true blogosphere fashion, he already blogged about it. I second that and may you burn in spam hell, goowy.
And now, what do I do? Send a link to this post to all my contacts? Groan.
Update: Dennis has a warning of his own.
And Ben sums it up in biz terms for them:
Sure, this clever stunt may have (artificially) boosted your sign-ups, I’m sure the VC’s will love that. But it’s created a lot of immediate bad vibe about your product, and that’s before you realise the main service is just a crappy flash app. Considering the way you have gone about all this, what percentage of these signup do you think will ever come back? Very few I would suggest.
Thanks Goowy for showing the world how not to launch a website!