Bear with me here, there's a fairly long prologue...
So, here's the thing:
In one of my alter egos, I'm a Talent Buyer at a music venue.
Now, you may not know much about the internal workings of music venues, but, basically, a music venue has about 1000 bands pounding on the doors wanting to play for every available position.
There's nothing we'd love more than for there to be way more fans out there, mind you, so we could actually accommodate about 100 of those artists, instead of just he 1.
Do note that I said 100 of the 1000, not all of them...
90% of everything is still crap.
Anyway, at the email address we've set up specifically for artists to submit a demo, we tend to get a whole lot of friend-link requests to basically all the big social networking sites.
Now, this is going to sound petty, but it's getting pretty dang annoying.
Most of these friend link requests are coming from artists we don't work with.
Many of them are coming from artists we simply can't work with, as they're not the 1 in a thousand.
I daresay a lot of them are coming from the 900 we wouldn't want to work with, even if the the supply/demand went the other way, with way more fans than artists...
Our website pretty clearly asks bands not to add us to their promotional mailing lists. Do we really need to spell it out "and don't send us be-my-friend emails either"?
Anyway, I'm thinking that all these social networking sites should just stop sending out emails on behalf of their users to non-users to invite them to join.
If I want to join your social-networking site, and buy into the whole thing, then fine, I've agreed to get your emails.
But I haven't!
So, really, all these social-networking sites are just thinly-disguised spammers, when you get down to it.
Or maybe there should be some kind of industry-standard minimum proof that the recipient might actually want these dang things, or that the sender actually has an existing relationship.
Knowing an email address is not an existing relationship!
Because it's gotten to the point where a new entrant in the social networking market, to me, just means yet another flurry of invites that I don't really want.
Then I have to spend 20 minutes digging through their site for a place to contact them to say not only to ban that one user from sending me emails, but to ban ALL the users from ever sending me emails.
I don't even want the dang things at my personal address anymore, really, from friends I actually know. It's gotten that bad.
I definitely don't want them from strangers to an email address that was set up for a very specific business purpose.
Am I being too petty?
I don't think so.
We came up with guidelines for the robots, and that seems to have (mostly) worked out.
Can't we come up with guidelines for these social networking / stay in touch sites?
Here are some suggested starting points for guidelines:
If I'm not a member of your site, don't email me more than one invite ever, period.
If I didn't want to join when Lee invited me, I still don't want to join when Fran invites me, okay?
The invite email should provide links including:
ban this user from ever emailing me again
ban all users from ever emailing me
decline invitation, but join site
Perhaps there should also be a "do not social-network-invite" shared database maintained by the larger existing social networking sites, which other social networking sites could pay a reasonable fee on a per email basis to check against, and a person could register with that one place to not get any invites from any social networking site.
Note that the fee should be large enough to make it prohibitive for spammers to just pay up to garner emails, that it should not actually hand out email addresses but return a YES/NO for a submitted address from the social networking site, but be cheap enough that any serious new social networking site would buy in as a matter of course. Maybe there is no such price-point, but at least give it some thought.
I sure don't want to keep contacting every johnny-come-lately social networking site to ask them to put a ban on their users sending me invites. There are too many of them springing up like weeds.