What the hell is wrong with some of these internet services??? Are they on a suicide mission to kill their market position? Now that they build up a formidable presence or get bought up by a big corporation they seem to dedicate all their energy to screw up the great things they have.
Okay, your service is stable, the code base is mature, and maybe growth isn’t what it was. However, you still have the undisputed lead. You still have a great community! So what do you do? Screw your users over for kicks of course. I mean, really guys, it takes a lot of effort to destroy the loyalty you built up but you’re certainly doing a good job. Bastards.
Two notable examples stand out in recent times: Flickr’s “integration” with Yahoo! and Digg’s suicidal policy against top contributors. At least Flickr’s got a multi-million dollar acquisition (I’m assuming). Still, either way it’s a waste. You want to kill enthusiasm in the product that was the darling of A-list bloggers only days ago? Here are some things for you to do.
Force Users to Do Something they Don’t Want to Do
The best example of this is Flickr’s recent move to force all customers (from Flickr’s startup days as well) to integrate their accounts with Yahoo! accounts. WTF? There are so many reasons I don’t like Yahoo IDs starting with the fact that it’s a total piece of crap. They suck on so many levels it’s ridiculous. First, all the decent IDs are taken to the point that any Yahoo! ID I choose looks more like a freakin’ secure password than anything remotely resembling a proper identity. Yeah! Sign me up as b4r0nVC9923874ftw@yahoo.com or better yet firstname.lastname@example.org you pricks. If those aren’t taken already!!! I’m sure they are. Why not just assign me a random identity?
Not only that, in their supreme concern to protect me from evil phishers taking over my crap account they log me out every 5 minutes or make me re-enter my password. Maybe there wouldn’t be so many phishers and scammers if you didn’t give them their crap accounts to start with? Integration makes a lot of sense I’m sure. It’s like finding out your super hot girlfriend comes from a family of homeless drug addicts and you’re expected to fit in and live with them. Right.
Distrust Your Most Loyal Customers
Shoot first and ask questions later. Assume all users are a spammer or scammer unless they provide a valid credit card, home address, daytime phone number, and verified photograph taken in the last 6 months. Especially the ones who’ve been around longer, they’re the most suspicious. At least that’s Digg’s policy. What the hell do they need from me to know that I’m not trying to ruin their service? Fingerprints and a sworn oath of allegiance? Maybe they should outsource their customer service to the Department of Homeland Security’s anti-terrorism department.
Is it any wonder their stories are crap lately? A hefty portion of front page stories are now submitted by virtually anonymous crap accounts.
I don’t know how they pulled a Britney Spears but they did. Just a couple months ago they were the hottest blonde on the block and now you have a bald, fat drug addict with a growing assortment of tattoos, a divorce, and kids burning through whatever money she had. At least Britney’s in rehab. She knows she has a problem. I wish I could say the same for Digg. Can you say train wreck 2.0? Who the hell is going to buy you now? By the time you come to senses even K-Fed will be able to afford you.
Oh well, you’re only as hot as your closest competitor allows you to be or another hot service comes on the radar. Every web company’s time is limited. Think twice before you start alienating customers. If you can’t improve something the best policy is to leave it alone. Don’t break something that isn’t broken. If you have the dying urge to do something build another freakin’ site or go buy another hot startup but please, just please, let the people who support you support you. That’s all I ask.