A few days ago Neil reported on an article that I had written about how a few users were abusing Netscape.com’s site-mail feature to get their content promoted to the home page. While the feature on its own is a great idea, the abuse made it almost unbearable to use. Netscape has announced what appears to be a first step towards combating this problem.
Before I detail their first steps, have a look at the following example. I received a message from Netscape user nativestorm:
By the time I clicked the link, the story was already on the home page.
Now you may argue that the story deserves to be on the home page and that perhaps the mass-site-mail-spamming had nothing to do with it.
There was another message I received from the same user.
When I clicked on the link, it was also on the home page.
Animal penile amputation naturally on the home page of Netscape? I don’t think so. In response to this increased abuse, Netscape has announced that they are curtailing a small feature that made it incredibly easy to spam 100s of users on the site.
At the moment we’re reevaluating some of the site mail features. While that’s going on, we’ve decided to disable one feature in particular: the “All Mutual Friends” box in the Send a Message interface.
This seems like the most appropriate first step. Now if you want to spam every user on your friends list, you will have to do it 5 by 5, for all 500 of them. This feature is not permanently gone though. It will be disabled for a two week evaluation period after which the team at Netscape will decide whether or not to bring it back. The team has also added a ‘Share This’ feature to the site.
But even with the feature gone, there is always that other way to get on Netscape’s or in fact any socially driven or bookmarked site’s home page. Build something great and people will come. People are looking for something that is relevant (and targeted) to them, something that will add value to their lives, and something that will actually useful. Oftentimes people don’t even know what the need, and you may just be the one to tell them. Build a useful product/service/content and take advantage of social media. Social media is on your side; just don’t abuse it.