Depending on which social networks you’re already on, you might have seen this email a few times over the weekend: “So-and-so has invited you as a friend on Quechup… the social networking platform sweeping the globe.” I got half a dozen of them, and I’m not […]

Depending on which social networks you’re already on, you might have seen this email a few times over the weekend: “So-and-so has invited you as a friend on Quechup… the social networking platform sweeping the globe.” I got half a dozen of them, and I’m not all that well linked in. As people quickly discovered, Quechup was sweeping the globe because of its behavior of sending invitations to your entire address book when you run through the sign-up process. Many folks found this behavior rude or worse; a Google search on Quechup returns pages of people complaining.

But the story is a bit more complex than that. If you actually run through the Quechup sign-up yourself (not that I can recommend that to anyone) and read the fine print in step 2, you’ll see “Congratulations! Welcome to Quechup. Find out which of your friends are already members. Choose the address book with the most contacts and we’ll search for matches so you can add them to your friends network and invite non Quechup members to join you. By inviting contacts you confirm you have consent from them to send an invitation.” The lack of commas makes the parsing a bit ambiguous, but Quechup really is telling people you they’re about to do: send mail on your behalf to your entire address book.

There are some lessons to be learned here about the design of social networks and our interactions with them:

Mess with expectations at your peril. People clearly feel that they own their own address book data. One reason Quechup is getting a bad reputation is that they are violating this expectation by using address book data without explicit permission for each address they send an e-mail to.

People don’t read. They especially don’t read fine print, and they especially don’t read on the web. I expect that most people who ended up spamming their friends with Quechup invites didn’t bother to try to figure out the meaning of that paragraph of text. Of course, the Quechup designers went out of their way to be misleading by putting a big headline at the top reading “Who do you know on Quechup?”

Cheating on virality doesn’t pay. It seems likely that someone at Quechup was focused on the problem of “how do we build up a buzz quickly?” They got a buzz, certainly: lots of blog entries and an increasing number of mailing list posts saying, basically, “under no circumstances should you sign up to Quechup.” So this little bit of cleverness ended up being a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

You can lose your reputation more than once. I used to think that it was important to be very careful about your online reputation, because it’s something that you can only lose once. Quechup is making me re-evaluate this. Looking at reports online, although there was a lot of fuss over the Labor Day weekend, they’ve apparently been indulging in this behavior for several months now. To my mind, this is the most troubling thing about the whole Quechup mess. It means that either a cost-benefit analysis tells them that the increased signup rate is worth the negative publicity, or else they’re so completely clueless that they don’t even know what people are saying about them. Either way, they’re not a site that I would care to do business with. In general, if you are running a site that makes a mistake and causes your potential users to rise up in disgust, I’d urge you to admit the mistake and fix it – even though that is clearly not the Quechup way.

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  1. Karen (Pediascribe) Thursday, September 6, 2007

    I was caught by the whole Quechup thing this weekend. Thinking “how could I be so stupid and get caught by this,” I created a dummy yahoo email address and went through the sign up again to figure out what I missed.

    Here’s a key line that was in the disclaimer (I copied it for future reference) :

    Complete your
    account details below & we’ll check your contacts for
    matches on Quechup so you can choose who to invite to
    your Friends Network and invite non Quechup members to
    join you.

    Do you see that part there……”SO YOU CAN CHOOSE WHO TO INVITE…..”

    I had no choice. They invited everyone!
    It’s dirty and underhanded what they did this weekend. The lesson I learned was before I join anything I should Google Blog Search it.

  2. Ummm, am I the only one who thinks that Quechup is just one big scheme to harvest email addresses for the purposes of spamming the world?

  3. I think Quechup is directed to idiots. Anyone also received mails from other members? I did, but I”m 100% sure that they’re fake.

  4. Labnotes » Rounded Corners – 142 (If you can’t beat them …) Thursday, September 6, 2007

    [...] the senders: Don’t sweat it. Not your fault Quechup decided to misappropriate your address [...]

  5. All your points are well made but when a respected blogger sends out an invite its hard not to sign up, especially if one has spent a very long day working virtually non-stop. I assumed he had done his homework. In any case here’s my somewhat long note via the Quechup mail system ( I apologize in advance to the other readers of this site for boring them). Also I just found a couple of direct emails of the president and a VP from the Mashable site and I plan to spam them”


    I was invited by a blogging acquaintance to join your site.

    Sadly I did without doing proper due diligence and the iDate owners, marketing geniuses and your software designers, a bunch of bottom feeders-let me be polite and not express my feelings, have serious screwed me over either intentionally or inadvertently. First of all I assumed it was some sort of a social networking site and Quechup turned out to be another spam engine. The fact that I was asked a bunch of personal details should have set off alarm bells but having worked non-stop for 18+ hours I signed on.

    I signed up as a heterosexual and most heteros typically would like to meet a WOMAN, unless you play for both teams, which I don’t. So why the heck would you all send it to my entire freaking gmail email list where I have all my professional/business colleagues. And you did not seek my permission either.

    This is absolutely unacceptable and if you do not remove my name from your membership rolls and DELETE ALL MY contacts I will inform (whether or not they pay any attention to my email) all the major web 2.0 software review sites including Techcrunch, Gigaom and other even more nastier review sites – its your call. I will do this by Friday Sept 7th unless you do as I ask and send me mail to confirm that you have deleted my name and my gmail contacts from your database.

    Gary Valan”

    PS: In case if more of you want to spam these idiots: According to their website, http://www.idatecorp.com, their CEO is Mark Finch and can be contacted at mark@idatecorp.com. Glen Finch is the Vice President and can be contacted at glen@idatecorp.com. I’ll add some joy to their lives in a couple of minutes…

  6. Matthew Cornell Saturday, September 8, 2007

    I’ve had a handful of these, but I did something that turned out to be smart. When the first one came, I emailed the person who supposedly sent it and asked what the site was, what it’s good for, and how it relates to competing ones (e.g., LinkedIn). He wrote back right away – “Don’t do it! It’s insidious SPAM and caught me.”

    In addition, from a networking perspective, it was a great excuse to maintain a little human contact. So two plusses!

  7. Shelli’s Sentiments Sunday, September 9, 2007

    [...] Quechup With A Side of Spam DC Metro Moms Blog [...]

  8. I had a bunch of invite e-mails this autumn from people whom I could never suspect to invite me to such network.
    So, now the mystery is solved.
    I wonder did they thought about consequences and community reaction to this dirty trick?

  9. Did a google search and found so many bad comments about this site. I also joined but didn’t let them check my address book but what I see is I they wont even let a standard member reply to a premium member so what are the premium members paying for? I also got a lot of emails from the same person and when I tried to read my emails I got this Automated reply:

    ” Free membership entitles you to read unlimited ‘quick messages’ and 1 normal message a day (GMT time). To read and send unlimited messages please upgrade to premium membership.”

    I mean, c’on, 1 message per day!!

    People who pay for membership can only talk with other members even though you have paid for the service. Now you know why the “non premium” members you write to cannot answer or reply. Premium members should be able to contact anyone on the site regardless of membership level.

    I am canceling my membership, I hate sites that try to bring the community together when they only looking for a quick buck!

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