James (flashfire) wrote in lj_biz,

Related to the community invite issue

I know, I know - another one? But, I'd like to think this raises some topics worthy of further discussion.

I don't mind community invites via e-mail as long as they're actually related to something I'm interested in. If I list "cheesesteaks" as an interest (which I do) and someone creates a community designed to talk about the best places in the country to get a cheesesteak, I might not be aware of that. I might not even think to look for that. But, if I get an invitation sent to people who list "cheesesteaks" as an interest - hey, I might join. At the least, I'd check it out.

It doesn't look like that's going to be an option any more, based on what I'm seeing. It appears community invitation e-mails are on the outs because of people abusing the system, sending random invites to people that have nothing to do with what they're interested in. That constitutes spam, and while technically any e-mail you receive that you don't ask for can fall under that designation, there is a difference.

I think this all comes down to the tendency of people to whine, complain, bitch, and moan. As a result, it often hurts the people who really aren't doing anything wrong, using the system the way it was designed to be used. If someone goes through my userinfo and finds that I like South Park only to instead direct me to an anti-South Park community, that's abusing the system. However, inviting me to a pro-South Park community is different.

Random invitations and invitations that clearly have nothing to do with my interests is the problem here, and while many people are already sick and tired of any piece of bulk, unsolicited e-mail that passes through their inbox, especially if it appears that LiveJournal endorses it, I thought part of what makes LiveJournal special is that sense of community, places where people of similar interests can go to discuss those interests. Taking away the ability to invite those people doesn't help promote the community aspect of LiveJournal. While people still have the ability to search for communities or follow a place like community_promo, not everyone is technically savvy enough to figure out how to do it, nor will everyone even think to look for what may be a more obscure community.

While dealing with the abuse of the system is the right thing to do, cutting it off entirely isn't the solution. At the least, LiveJournal should give its users the ability to opt-out of community invite e-mails. It's been done before with a variety of options - just look at the number of things you can choose when you edit your userinfo. That would be an instant fix for one group of people - the people who are most adamant about their hatred of all things spammy. At the same time, steps should be taken to deal with people who intentionally abuse the system, but why restrict it from the people who don't? That doesn't make sense to me.

Added: After I submitted this for posting, the idea of making the option an opt-in rather than an opt-out was raised elsewhere. That could be just as good a solution. But, on top of the system being misused to send out random invites and invites that have nothing to do with a person's interests, it was also being abused by sending out multiple invites. Conversely, moderators of communities may also have to deal with multiple requests to join if the community is set up as a closed membership. Thus, spamming would still be a problem.
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