UPDATE: Turns out Slideshare was playing an April Fool’s Joke on its users. Not only did they send these notes out, they also added two extra zeros to the end of your view counts.
The Slideshare team posted an blog post (failing to understand the concern), but they failed to send another email (you know, the channel they originally used) to clarify the issue that way. When you say you want to be a professional network for professional people sharing professional content, screwing with things that should be off-limits just makes you appear to be a group of immature nerds hacking away in their basement. Imagine a teacher saying, “You got an A on the test! April Fool’s! You actually made a D”. What’s funny about that? Do you really expect me to invest time and professional content in a site run by Beavis and Butthead?
I’m all for a good April Fool’s joke, and encourage businesses to have a bit of fun every day, not just 1 April. But the Golden Rule of sites that depend on user generated content submissions is simple: Don’t mess with my profile data. Don’t jack with my stats, don’t change my username, don’t change my relationship status from married to single. That’s me you’re messing with, not just a bunch of information. It’s how I present myself online. It’s the stand-in for my physical self when all you can see is my activity.
And by the way, had this not been a joke, this would have been a very cool thing to do and the comments I shared below are still relevant to those companies not wanting to pull a dick move on their users.
UPDATE 2: Slideshare posts a “lessons learned” blog post. Clearly they’ve seen the light, and kudos to them for the openness and honesty.
I just noticed this message in my inbox today:
We’ve noticed that your slideshow on SlideShare has been getting a LOT of views in the last 24 hours. Great job … you must be doing something right.
Why don’t you tweet or blog this? Use the hashtag #bestofslideshare so we can track the conversation.
You think I headed back to the site to check out what was going on? You think my ego was stroked enough to be reminded to post more items to SlideShare.net in the future? I absolutely did.
The only thing that could have made this outreach any better would have been their community manager (assuming they have one) reach out personally. What a great way to connect to real people, to make the company even more human.
But either way, this is a great concept that can be easily automated and provide huge returns on the efforts to increase repeat visits and usage.
Oh, and by the way, the presentation driving the traffic was my presentation “How LEGO caught the Cluetrain“.