February 13, 2008

Is Grouply Spamming and Phishing You?

Do you belong to any Yahoo! groups? If so, you may have been solicited by one or more group members to subscribe to a service called Grouply. I do not want to link to this company, but it's easy to find their website. Grouply says that it organizes your messages from your various Yahoo! groups (soon to expand to Google and other groups) into one account. To subscribe to Grouply, you have to hand them your user i.d. and password for each group that you want to include in their service.

A member of one of my groups recently posted a warning to the group, writing that "Grouply can obtain your work through individual members and a handy tool to access private groups. Your work (and all information in the groups' archives and other files) could be collected by Grouply members and posted to their account. A specialty tool gives Grouply members access to private groups, even without a membership. Grouply members can click on members with similar interests and enter their otherwise private groups. All content posted from these groups can also be used by Grouply."

This warning caused another group member to contact Grouply for an explanation. We received this reply from Grouply's creator:

"We do not SPAM. People are referring to the invites that enthusiastic
users are sending to their groups. We provide a template they can
use, but unfortunately most people do not change the text so it looks
the same to all groups (and may look like SPAM). People were not
choosing which groups to send (as we expected them to do) - so some
groups were getting multiple invites. Honestly, this occurred last
weekend and surprised us. We just changed it so that people cannot
send an invite to a group if one was sent recently."

I really don't know what to think about Grouply. They don't "spam," they just send multiple invites to members of groups to purchase their service, using a template. They're surprised that their members used the template that they provided, and that their customers did not somehow coordinate amongst themselves to limit solicitations to one per group. Grouply now says that it will not send repeated solicitations to a group if a prior invite was sent to the group "recently," but their explanation does not define "recently."

I'm trying to keep an open mind about Grouply's legitimacy. But I don't understand their basic business premise. Why would someone need to organize their groups into one account, when one's groups are already neatly listed on one's MyYahoo! page or elsewhere, and one can already consolidate group messages into a simple digest form? One woman in my group says that she belongs to 250 different groups and has no problem keeping them organized herself.

One thing I do know: private online groups are no place for commercial solicitations, especially solicitations that are sent repeatedly using a template, which is spam by any common sense definition. If any of my groups get spammed in this manner, I'm going to contact the administrators pronto, and demand that the spammers be banned from the groups.


At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O No..I black person..Everyone run..So we are still living in the dark ages are we. Grouply is just a program, nothing else..How stupid can some people get anyway. Afraid of a computer program. It is just like registering for a Google Account or a Yahoo Account. It is not a membership, it is FREE, you just register, you have to do that or it won't work with the Yahoo Groups.
Think about it..To post here I had to use my Google USERNAME and PASSWORD..Now you got it and will spam the sh*t out of me..Maybe I should run and hide or speak abusive of this site..
The person was excited about Grouply and invited you or someone to check it out and right away everyone is scared to death, over a stupid program..What is the world coming to anyway? Cheers..Keithmj

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Ironically I've only rec'd a couple of these invites lately. I responded to one, stating that I wasn't interested. The person e-mailed me back, stating that they hadn't sent the initial e-mail. Sounds like spam/phishing to me.
Oh, & noodj seems like a total dick.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Upon further research, I see that some people are reporting that the so-called "members" sending these solicitations aren't even real people, just names made up by Grouply.

But leaving that aside, the concern I have is twofold. First, that any members of my groups who join Grouply could, by some accounts, act like a "worm" to forward the information regarding the other group members to Grouply, presumably for marketing purposes. Yahoo! and Google groups are private for a reason. And Noodj, I certainly do not have your Google PASSWORD as a result of you signing in to comment. Google has it but I don't. That's precisely my point.

Second, I don't see how the messages from Grouply members aren't SPAM. The messages are based on Grouply's template, and are repeated. If that's not spam, I don't know what is. Grouply is using its "members," if those people really exist, to spam their own groups so that Grouply can say it isn't doing the spamming directly. Grouply also says it isn't spam because, after a huge barrage of initial criticism, they now tell their members to wait a whole 30 days to repeat their solicitations, and presumably they encourage different members to send the solicitations.

Why on earth would people spam their own groups? I also find it interesting that Grouply says that its members are "enthusiastic," and that Noodj says "this person was excited about Grouply." Seriously, who would be "excited" enough about a service that purports to organize one's groups, other than someone who has a financial or other incentive to send these commercial messages on Grouply's behalf?

Noodj, what is your relationship with Grouply?

At 4:12 AM, Blogger andyswarbs said...

Why is it people assume just because someone speaks what they see as a sensible perspective which happens to be in favour of Grouply that they are therefore accused of having a formal relationship with Grouply!

The truth is that many people are signing up to Grouply and enjoying the service. Because of this large volume of people joining one consequence is that some people are hearing about it. However at all times Grouply is not spamming, instead what it is doing is asking permission to send an email on behalf of these people. The truth is that people are saying "yes, please sent out those emails."

You can prove this yourself. Sign up to Grouply with a temporary account. Throughout the sign up process click "skip" wherever possible - and absolutely no invitations will be sent out. Not a single one.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Andyswarbs -- I have already addressed most of your points in my post and previous comments. I suspected Noodj of having an association with Grouply because he used the term "excited about Grouply" and Grouply uses the very similar term "enthusiastic about Grouply." Call me jaded, but, in my opinion even if one is a Grouply customer, being "excited" about their product is as likely as being excited about the new phone books. Only Steve Martin in "The Jerk" felt that way, and he was, um, mentally challenged.

But again, even in the unlikely event that you are "excited" about Grouply, in almost every Yahoo! group I have ever heard of, members may NOT send commercial solicitations to the group, or permit others to do so in their name. That's problem one. Problem two is that, as I wrote, Grouply's solicitations are based on Grouply's own template, they are sent by or on behalf of multiple individuals to many groups, and they are repeated. Sorry dude, but that's the definition of SPAM.

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Stefan said...

Thanks for this informative blog-post. I was getting repeated messages from the same "person" who claims to be in a group I'm in. Then seeing that as part of their registration process they ask for another site's password ... no way.

This noodj guy is either a shill or a complete moron.


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