Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Classmates.Com - Making Keeping In Touch Difficult and Costly

I attended my 10yr reunion this last summer. has been our contact place since we graduated and they organized the reunion (which was great). After the reunion, they sent out an e-mail list for everyone. Unfortunately, this list had many typos and mistakes rendering it pretty much useless. My e-mail was correct BUT several others I knew were not. Also, there were several people missing from the list that attended the reunion.

I've been getting e-mails that several people (more than usual) have visited my profile on Classmates recently. But Classmates doesn't tell you who's visiting unless you fork out the dough for "gold membership". So, I thought "Jessica, why don't you post your email address? That way if they want to contact you, they can."

IT'S NOT has super-special error messages for just such an occasion. In fact, they referenced their "Terms of Service" which states explicitly that it is a violation of Member Conduct. The key sentence from the Member Conduct section:

"* Don't post telephone numbers, street addresses, last names*, URLs or email addresses in Content that is publicly accessible on the Website."

This doesn't distinguish between people posting others' info without consent and someone choosing to post their own information. Which is Stupid.

There's an easy way around this restriction (at least until they catch me) BUT isn't supposed to be helping us keep in contact? Wouldn't that be easier to achieve if say, people who wanted to share their contact info could do so? Why should people pay for what's freely and legally available elsewhere? My e-mail is posted on my weblog and last.Fm account. It is not secret information nor a violation of my privacy if I choose to share it.

In addition, there is no reason for them to be charging for e-mail addresses. is an ad-rich site with pop-ups, special deals, etc. They have other sources of revenue. Like Blogger, they could provide a simple option in the profile page "share e-mail? Y/N" and still charge for access to their dating service and other more complicated features.

I greatly enjoyed meeting with old friends at the reunion and a number of us had planned to correspond on various topics. Because of Classmates poor execution of the mailing list and their ass-backwards e-mail policy, this won't happen. In a day-and-age of Social networks galore, this is ridiculous.

* slogan from the site is "real people. real names."

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