Ok, so I check my email first thing on Wed 16 Feb to find a message from a close friend.

“What’s that email all about then mate?”, he asks.  “No idea – which email?” I reply.

Turns out, it was this email (I have removed private email addresses, etc):

Join me on Ecademy

Connect to the right people
Market your business
Grow revenue

photo Steve Dowe
Upgrade to PowerNetworker
7 day FREE Trial
ps. Join today and receive a free trial PowerNetworker subscription>

This email was sent to
To avoid receiving these emails in the future go to

The Ecademy Limited. Registered in England and Wales. Company Registration:3651083 VAT:718037736

So, from a contact list I’d imported probably 2 years ago, since which I’d downgraded from a PowerNetworker to a Free member, suddenly is sent a whole load of invites to people I’ve not spoken to.  This is not good.

Now, before the critics chime in, yes I know that the terms of importing the contact list are that ecademy will send out invites on my behalf.  This is not an issue – I agreed to that…2+ years ago.  A lot changes in that time.

Miffed as I was that this had happened, I considered blogging about it and finally let it lie … until the same message was again dispatched, early this morning (24 Feb), to the 180-odd contacts who had not yet responded or read their email.  This, in my book, is tantamount to spamming.  “Oh, you didn’t buy my product?  Here, try again…”.  Ad infinitum.  This, a happy member does not make (especially since finding out that a customer of mine has received 3!).

So, sorry to all the contacts past and present who have endured these messages.  At least I was able to obtain the list of contact data back out of ecademy so that I could message everyone separately and invite them personally to LinkedIn.

Let me just say, however, that despite this I have otherwise been happy using ecademy.  Support has been good and the web site is useful in connecting people.  But this method of increasing memberships is a little too covert for my liking, and the time is coming for one or more new platforms in business/social networking, with open, user-controlled features and content.

In the meantime, I await with interest, the outcome of my correspondance with ecademy’s support team:

Sent 24 Feb 2011


I wish to close my account.

Can you also promise that the details of people who are in my contact list, but who are not members of ecademy, will be removed from your database?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,

Update – 24 Deb 2011

Well, an automaton can do that for me too! I quote:

Delete Your Account

Deleting an account is a major step. Once the account has been deleted, you will not be able to re-join using the same email address. All your records, contacts, posts, comments and messages will also be deleted. Deleted records cannot be recovered.

This process is irreversible.
Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?
As an alternative, Click on ‘No. Just hide my profile’ to hide your profile and turn off all email messages, leaving your account intact.
If you definitely want to be permanently removed from Ecademy, type in your password, check the confirmation box and choose the ‘Yes. Please delete my account’ button below.

Today is Document Freedom Day. To celebrate, many of us open source netizens are doing the right thing and rejecting email attachments sent in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Access – 95, 97-2003 and so on.

The campaign is quite simple: refuse locked-in file formats.

The Free Software Foundation has provided some interesting examples of “polite” rejections to send to people who have emailed an attachment with a proprietary file format.

It’s a difficult thing, to tell someone that you are rejecting their attachment through choice.  You fear that it comes across as being awkward.  Breaking the social “norm” and standing for something you believe in is rarely painless.

There are ways to deal with this though, and the best way is probably humour.  It’s a serious message, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all haughty overtones and morally correct principles shoved in people’s faces.  Making it funny will make it stick just as well.

Here are a few of my suggestions for handling your email rejections with a bit of added spice.  It’s a safe assumption that your friend uses Microsoft Office, so you could include this link at the end (http://www.sun.com/software/star/odf_plugin/get.jsp):

  • “Thanks for your email attachment.  Unfortunately, my dog ate it. He likes anything that is completely unpalatable, especially proprietary file formats.  He doesn’t seem bothered at all with open standards formats like the ODF, though.  Could you re-send your file using that format please? “


  • “Thanks for the document.  Sadly, we do not use proprietary file formats any more as the internet has brought about a revolution in open document format usage.  It happened so quickly that no-one noticed!! Please could you re-send your file in Open Document Format (ODF)?..”
  • “Thanks for the information. Regrettably, I am unable to open this format of document because I have become enlightened.  In my new karmic state, I only desire peace and harmony, and closed-off formats disrupt my inner sanctum.  Please could you re-send this file in natural, organic and eco-friendly Open Document Format?”


And of course, you MUST MUST MUST include a link to the Document Freedom Day web site, or to the Free Software Foundation, or to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or to the Open Rights Group, or …


Thanks for watching!