Friday, February 6, 2009

The truth about what Spoke does and doesn't do

There's a way in which the interwebs are like a giant game of telephone (y'know the one where one person says a phrase to someone who in turn says it to someone else and this continues until the mangled phrase gets back to the originator). Facts get mangled – sometimes intentionally and sometimes not – and then they can take on a life of their own. Do a search on Spoke and you'll encounter some incorrect things about us repeated over and over.

Here are the most common ones:

  • The Spoke toolbar is a virus or spyware that members have to use

  • We suck out all the information from your Outlook contacts file

  • We don't let you change or delete the information in your profie

  • We collect and publish people's personal phone numbers and direct email addresses.

Here's the truth:

  1. Members are never required to install the Spoke Toolbar – this is a completely optional tool that members can use to automatically build their network. Many of our members find the Spoke Toolbar to be extremely valuable because it allows them to "instantly" create their network. That’s because there are ten time more contacts in your email system than in your “official” contacts database.

  2. If you agree to download and install our toolbar we will collect people's names and job titles and emails. This information is only used to validate emails addresses. Eighty percent of the emails we are collecting on a daily basis are validating existing emails we already have and 20% are new. This means that we can help you make sure you have the most up-to-date information possible. As a result, we can improve the quality of the information for you and everyone else in the Spoke community by validating where other members work through email signature files.

  3. Spoke gets information from three sources: published information about companies, public information available on the web, and information provided by our members. Spoke does not publish private information about people – only name, titles, and company affiliations along with the company's address and main phone number (not direct lines or extensions). This is less than the information on most business cards. This information is never published unless it has been validated.

  4. We want to make sure our directory is accurate and that you are comfortable with your public profile. So, we provide several options to control your information on Spoke:

Please understand that Spoke is a small company. We really want to honor your requests for suppression. If you put in a support request through our website and provide the information we need to suppress your public profile (ideally, your full name, e-mail, and the URL of the page), we promise to suppress the information quickly. But if you send e-mails, it may take us a long time to complete your request and we may not have the resources to let you know it’s been done.

If you doubt any of what is written above: DON'T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT. Go to the site and look for yourself. Claim your profile and correct the information in it or delete it. Do a search and see what information we actually provide. That's one of the things I love about being in business on the web: The truth will out. I wish these facts were as fun as the rumors, but the facts usually aren't.

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