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Edited: Nov 22, 2007, 10:40pm Top

Short: I have added code to prohibit members from sending out more than 70 comments, friend or group requests. At 50 you get a warning.

Long: In the last two days two members, both LibraryThing authors, went crazy with friend invitations, over 4,000 between them. The invitations were apparently sent out at random, or close to it.

Members started a Talk topic about it, and Abby and I received a number of emails. Reactions varied between bemused and annoyed. I think one forum post summed it up well, "I felt 'weirded' out as it didn't seem right for LibraryThing."

Those are my feelings too. LibraryThing isn't some lowest-common-denominator social network where you can "friend" a fried chicken and spam-advertising is accepted. It's about real connections and respect for others' opinion and attention. Advertising your book by sending out thousands of "friend" requests is cheap. It was clearly against the terms of service anyway.

In general, LibraryThing is a remarkably "funtional" community. There are a thousand ways of acting out, but it's quite uncommon. Now and then spammers make a few bogus groups, or an argument gets too heated. We've had zealous "frienders" before, but this was on a new scale.

So I added a technological solution. Members can now only send 70 comments or requests per day. At 50 the system sends you a comment about the limit, and sends one to us as well so we can monitor it.

While 70 seems high, I can see occasions when it would be okay. Send 20 comments, reply twice to each and make ten people friends and you'll hit it. But it's low enough that a spammer won't get very much advantage, and we'll be alerted to the activity. It should be noted that just because you CAN sent seventy messages doesn't mean that it's okay to. Seventy identical messages or friend requests is spam no matter what the limit.

What will happen to the member-authors? I think I'm going to delete all the friend requests that haven't been picked up yet, but I need to confer with Abby to see what she knows about it. (Abby runs the LibraryThing Authors program.) I'm particularly irritated that one of the authors is NYT Bestseller. I'm hoping some agent or publicist was responsible. Chincy either way.

Nov 23, 2007, 12:40am Top

I added a feature to see the LT authors in your library.

Nov 23, 2007, 11:25am Top

Tim, excellent response, in my opinion. This author/friend thing struck me as so wrong, and so outside the bounds of what is "cool" on this site. As somebody else said somewhere, I think those two authors effectively shot themselves in the foot, but I'm glad to see LT is addressing the issue for the future. And thanks for the "See the LT Authors" feature, too. Good idea.

Nov 23, 2007, 11:58am Top

Thanks very much Tim, I don't complain very much, I love LT, but this just really REALLY bugged me! I like your solution.

Nov 23, 2007, 12:08pm Top

Thanks Tim!!! Great, quick customer service as usual. :)

Nov 23, 2007, 12:24pm Top

Thanks Tim! I really appreciate your way of dealing with the issue.

Nov 23, 2007, 1:00pm Top

Much appreciated, Tim. And I really like the new "see the LT authors" feature, so I think something good has come out of the incident.

Nov 23, 2007, 4:28pm Top

Thanks, Tim. Think that that kind of self promotion is beyond the pale and did a block on them. It has the reverse effect of making me never want to buy or even read anything they write.

I think your solution is a good one.

Nov 23, 2007, 5:53pm Top

Yeah, good response.

Nov 23, 2007, 6:35pm Top

Yes, thanks Tim. I got the friend request from both. I was mildly annoyed after checking them out, but deleted them without too much additional thought.

Would some suggestions given to authors when they become LT authors help? dos and donts?

Nov 23, 2007, 8:05pm Top

Much appreciated Tim. When I got my 'friends' request, I became a bit suspicious because I hadn't recalled ever even seeing the person's name before. Then I went to his profile page and saw that he had just joined a day or two earlier, and had a full screens-length of friends already.

I noticed his 'friends' request is gone, but he shows up as 'pending' when I look at the "edit/see others friends' connections" page. Any way to clear that out?

I have no objection to being a 'friend' of anyone (lord knows I like the ones I've already got!); this particular fellow wouldn't have qualified for my 'acqauintance' list at this point...

Nov 24, 2007, 1:39am Top

Thanks Tim. I also agree that this isn't My Space. I think putting in a friend request for someone you've chatted with is good, putting out a few feelers to say hi to strangers is fine, but the "competitive friending" goes against the social friendliness we develop naturally.

Nov 24, 2007, 4:38am Top

I would like to add my thanks too, Tim, for such an inspired solution! Not only did you deliver a rapid and decided response to our dilemma, but while keeping the much-respected integrity of this site you enhanced it within your response.

I feel SO much better...:)

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