PLAXO -- I use Plaxo to manage the 3000 contact details in my main address book but not with the direct mail account in my Nokia 9500--that account gets mail pushed to it and has to live inside a GPRS data bandwidth budget of €45 a month. I heard about "Plaxo=evil" a year ago when Joi Ito opted out of its service. When the shitstorm was swirling, I started toying with Plaxo. By the late summer of 2004, I released more details to the main Plaxo server--details requested by Plaxo users that I knew electronically. Today, I sync address books from Yahoo, my Clie and Plaxo. I do not sync to a desktop computer's address book because I don't want the local system overhead. I want upstream backups that refresh themselves dynamically. I trust the Plaxo process--and haven't been paid to say that. I know there are probably some European data protection issues with my approach to this kind of connectivity but these are early days and I can wipe people by country because of the compartments in my address book. I don't send mass requests to people in my address book and I have requested Plaxo connectivity with fewer than 10 people. Plaxo gives me dynamic backups that I trust won't become spam fodder on my watch. After carefully reading derogatory comments about Plaxo service, I knew that I was potentially walking into a bog of problems. Six months into the game, I can point to reasons why I trust Plaxo.
The singlemost important item related to Plaxo that deserves mentioning is that I have not been spammed by the service or abused through the service. The second important point worth mentioning is that Plaxo has a Privacy Officer, Stacy Martin, who follows a transparent policy about e-mail abuse. I like the policy because it sounds like a page out of my book. Their Abuse Department monitors and investigates the Plaxo activity of accounts that show characteristics of potential abuse, including aspects such as:
- exceptionally large number of contacts being managed
- excessive number of Update Requests messages being sent
- significant number of abuse reports and/or opt-out responses being received.
I called their support staff and they answered my questions without requiring me to upgrade to a VIP account ($19.95 annually).
I'm sure using Plaxo comes with headaches. I cannot get any HP employees to connect through Plaxo because the service is banned by IT support there. I imagine people who try to use Plaxo as their center of the universe will discover it does not work as a perfect address book conduit. What does?
From Wendy Grossman:
The basic idea behind it is actually a good one that meets a real need, just like the phone book is a good idea. Everyone is having to keep track of more and more – and more and more mobile – people. Everyone you know has four phone numbers, and half of them move every couple of years. Automating keeping track of these changes is the kind of thing the Net is good for. I just wish they hadn’t done it in this stupid way.
Unlike others, I don't accept every bleeding request for a social network link. Actually, I don't have to worry about that little hassle because my Yahoo Mail filters kill most of the requests for connections. If you're not in my address book and you happen to construct a subject heading that sounds like a Tupperware Party, go get a life outside of my social network. I haven't had that problem with Plaxonites and that's just another reason to say "okay then" to the service. Your mileage may vary.
Joi Ito -- "Opting out of Plaxo" with 30 reasonable comments.
ZD Net discussion on getting spammed by address books. Short take: some people don't control their desktops.
Wendy Grossman -- "Get thee behind me, Plaxo"
Go Plaxo yourself. You can sync to my records by connecting through email@example.com if you like. It's a good watering hole for Irishblogs.