Don’t Make Me Opt-Out

Dear Reader,

I got the following email this evening that really got me riled up.

Hello, Worderella —

Recently, we launched a beta test of a premium feature called “The Scribd Archive” that allows people to download certain archived content for a fee. This test does not restrict readers’ ability to interact with documents on Scribd or across the web. As a valued member of the Scribd author community, you will always be notified about new Scribd features, and we hope that you were not caught off guard by this test.

The program helps us maintain our site and fund development of future products, but we realize that you may want to ensure free downloads of your work so we’ve given you the option of removing all your documents from The Scribd Archive in your account settings page. By opting out of the Scribd Archive, your documents will be available for download (if you have enabled download) for no charge.

Thank you for your continued support and feedback.

-The Scribd Team

P.S. You can always fine-tune which notifications you receive or opt-out completely.

No. Lynn Viehl wrote about this a week or more ago and I can understand her fury because I’m furious as well. This is just as shady as Facebook automatically opting people into services they didn’t join Facebook for, all because the Facebook team assumes “hey, you joined Facebook, so you must want this.”

No! Do not automatically opt me into something and then tell me, as if you are being so kind, so very generous, to allow me to opt-out of this service I didn’t know I didn’t want because it didn’t exist when I originally signed up for the service.

The proper way to do such things is to create the service and email your existing subscribers about their newly available choices.

Authors, pay attention

No one likes to be automatically opted into a service without their permission. In an extreme case, it’s an army draft. You will make enemies. Give people the option to select your service, and those who want to, will. Those who don’t, won’t hate you for making them tell you they don’t want to.

Don’t automatically subscribe people who you have emailed onto your author mailing list. Send them an email that they have the option to, since you’ve exchanged emails and perhaps they might be interested. Don’t spam them on Twitter on Facebook by only talking about yourself, because you’ll have tons of un-follows and un-friendings… the ultimate opt-out.

I just really hate it when software companies take advantage of their customers. And I’ll be damned if I like it any better when authors take advantage of their social connections and readers.

All the best,