I’m a small investor in Shelfari. I read a ton and thought it would be fun to play along with them at home and both a user and an investor. About a month ago I started noticing increasing chatter about Shelfari spam during the invite process in my RSS search feeds on "Shelfari." I regularly passed them on to Josh Hug, the CEO of Shelfari.
I hate spam. I’ve been an investor in two companies that are aimed at making email safer for humanity – Postini and Return Path. While I’m a small investor in Shelfari, the increasing noise level around Shelfari invite spam bothered me, and I told Josh.
Josh listened, paid attention to the problem in his spare time (37 seconds a day), responded regularly to my emails, and a few weeks ago (within a few days of me increasing my "hey – this is getting worse" messages) promised a fix.
The fix is here and Josh wrote an extensive post titled Invitation design that describes the root causes of the problem and walks through their changes. I just tried it with my Gmail address book and I think the changes likely fix 100% of the issues. Josh’s explanation – both of the UI problem as well as the reasons it wasn’t obvious to Shelfari that it was an issue – is an excellent example of using blogging to communicate what you are doing as a company.
Shelfari wasn’t intentionally spamming (as they were starting to be accused of) – they were just intensely busy and weren’t focused on a problem that emerged as their user base grew geometrically. By addressing it out in the open, they should earn extra karma credibility points.