Anthropomorphic Personifications

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Names database

So this NamesDatabase thing (at wouldn't'cha know) seems a bit flakey at best.

Marv (whose blog post I linked in the title) went over a number of their shady practices for signing on new users back in Aug 04. Basically they force you to give them 5 other peoples (unique) email adresses before you can sign up yourself, which is just no good. I don't like "recommending" a site to friends (or anyone else for that matter) if I've never seen the site myself.

There are a few other blog/forum posts around complaining about the dodgy practices of this namesdatabase outfit as well. I'm sure there are others too.

My personal experience seems to follow the norm, get evite , try to sign on, use duplicate emails for friends, fail, because they're "to similar" to my email or my name or another previously entered email, or the person was already registered or whatever... blah. The once I got in it was just a phonebook basically. nothing of much value really at least as far as I was concerned.

Then today I was trying to log back in so I could remember who I'd been forced to send invites to so I could warn them off following in my footsteps, but since the site never sent me a confirmation email, I have no idea what addy I used to sign up (I often use "plus addressing" when registering for websites so that I can at least track who is sending me spam. I also have several email address that I use for sites that reject the '+' as invalid.) Anyway back to the point I'm always a bit sceptical of sites that don't send a confirmation as it imply's that they want me to forget about them as soon as I've signed up.

Anyway because I get curious about these things I did a bit of digging. Seems like Namesdatabase is a (possibly the only) product of Opobox (opobox currently has no independent web presence), a company run by some guy named Gabriel Weinberg. (As of March 20 2006, Opobox was purchased by United Online who also own classmates (You will find no mention of this on the Namesdatabase site however.) It's interesting that he still seems to be getting the server uptime monitored with updates sent to his cingular cell phone. I guess that means he still works there with his $10m windfall.

Seems like him and a Highschool buddy, Michael Arjona, founded Opobox as a "Permission email" service to provide legitimacy for spam emails promoting a mailing list system called "lernection Mercury" (now defunct, which is just as well, my best guess is that the idea was a web/email based list management service that they could use to harvest emails) targeted at educational establishments. (According to the Namesdatabase itself they graduated from Walker School in Marietta, Georgia, Class of 1997. Other people have uncovered that Gabriel alegedly went to MIT and did rather well for him self there. It is still fun to see him post for help in forums & them get outed as an aleged spammer... even if the angry individual was 2 months late to the party. My favorite however is that it seems his masters thesis at MIT was on "A Systems Analysis of the Spam Problem"... Oh the irony.

So apparently I should have also checked the wikipedia before as there seem to be some other guy from Princeton, by the name of Dan Cunninham who is the co-founder. The wiki has no information on Gabriel, either on his own or in relation to Namesdatabase.

Anyway that really seems to be all I have to say on this except that I wish I knew whose email adresses I'd put in there so I could warn them off it and appologise!



Blogger avatar_of_cunning said...

From the comments on Marv's blog - "Furthermore, they flat out lie about your privacy. In the namesdatabase 'about' page, they state: "We enable people to remove themselves from The Names Database at any time, which instantly and automatically deletes any personal information associated with the profile removed from The Names Database." However, in their TOS they state: "You grant Opobox a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, royalty-free right to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat Your Information in any media now known or not currently known, and (b) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Opobox will not pay you for Your Information. Opobox reserves the right (but not the obligation) to remove or edit Your Information, but does not regularly review Your Information." Once you've supplied them with YOUR data, its THEIRS. They will never remove it, and make no bones about selling it."


4:37 pm  

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