Oops, you just spilled Quechup on your pants

More sleazy tactics in the world of Web 2.0 marketing

Just when you thought it was safe to re-enter the online dating pool (actually it's never safe) comes news from Cringester E. T. about social network Quechup putting spam sandwiches back on the menu. It seems that all of a sudden she's getting messages from other Quechup users who want to meet her. To hook up with them, however, she must sign up for a 'premium' Quechup membership at US$6 to $30 per month.

Regular readers (at least, those who didn't unsubscribe after my April Fools "resignation" last week) might recall a minor kerfuffle last September when Quechup was accused of sending spam by accessing its subscriber's email address books to send "invites." (Quechup VP Glenn Fine hotly denied the accusations.) E. T. smells a similar rat here. She writes:

I don't think these are emails from genuine members, however the emails they are sending me aren't the usual sleaze you'd expect from some nut job, looks like someone on their team is sending them out specifically to get people to join. They are from recently divorced, caring company directors looking sexy in their wetsuits and "nice swedish girl" looking all friendly with her dog (and I don't mean in a gratuitous way, I mean in an Andrex puppy ad kind of way!)....I'm not saying I'm not hot at all, but I have little details on there about myself, no pics, but I do say I like men or women, so they seem to be targeting me with one woman and a couple of guys, with profiles that seem slightly too contrived.

Once I finished hyperventilating, I checked the test Quechup account I set up last fall. Sure enough, there were two messages from the Nice Swedish Girl with her Nice Swedish Dog. The first message was virtually identical to the ones E. T. received, and the second one urged me to sign up for a premium membership in order to read it.

Thanks but I'm not that desperate, and neither is Apache. (Though the dog is definitely cute.)

I sent a note to Fine asking what's up. It's possible that this is the work of some rogue Quechup affiliate who gets a commission for sign ups, or a sophisticated phishing scam. Or it could simply be more sleazy tactics in the world of Web 2.0 marketing. At any rate, if I learn anything more I'll update this item.

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Robert X. Cringely

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