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Shelfari, tool of Satan

I’ve been asked why I prefer LibraryThing to Shelfari. Here’s why: because Shelfari is run by dirtbags.

Brian over at Laughing Librarian links to a post on LibraryThing’s Thingology blog that spells out why you should avoid Shelfari, a LibraryThing knockoff that when you sign up will attempt to spam your email contacts six feet deep.

A few months back I had a similar experience with a FaceBook plugin — I wish I could remember which one — that spammed every contact in my AOL instant messaging buddy list. I felt inane, a total Internet rube.

It’s cheesy marketing and a bad, bad thing to do.

Now go set up your LibraryThing account and tell them I sent ya (though actually, they won’t ask who sent you… LibraryThing is pretty laid-back that way).  If nothing else, if your house ever burns down you’ll know what books you owned. On a brighter note, LibraryThing has saved me at least $100 so far by answering the question, “Do I already own this book?” Plus it’s a fun network.

(If you have written a book or three, for heaven’s sake set up a LibraryThing account and ask Abby, LibraryThing’s MLS-decorated librarian, to make you an LT author. Then be sure your books are in there! I was the first owner for A Mile Down.)

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  1. Agreed. LibraryThing is so laid back it asks for nothing but the name and password you want to use. LT lets the book-loving community build itself rather than instigating the marketing gunk Shelfari opted for. I’ve been in LT for more than a year and am very pleased with it.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  2. Thanks for the heads up. I haven’t created a librarything account yet, but it is first on my to do list for the next week.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Laura wrote:

    I posted about this on my personal blog and got a reply back from a member of the company that they’ve fixed it now.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  4. LT also sells a Cuecat barcode wand for bupkas, and though you’d never use this wand at a real circ desk, it’s a hoot to wand in your own books (and saves a lot of time). I’m impressed by the variety of sources LT provides.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  5. Dave wrote:

    Dave from Shelfari here.

    Yes, we had a problem with our invitation design, which caused a lot of people to unintentionally spam their friends. We fixed the problem back on November 8th and detailed what went wrong, how it got worse.

    We’re really sorry that this happened to a number of our readers. Read more about the story here

    We’re actually not dirt bags, though Tim from LT has spent a significant amount of his time the past few weeks trying to make that case. We’re nice people and we feel that we’ve made something pretty great.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Dave, I had observed the Shelfari spamming problem some time ago. Let’s be clear that the “problem” was part of the software’s design. It took posts by Gawker and other luminaries (51 posts, as noted by Tim) to convince your company this was a bad way to get customers.

    Of course Tim is posting about this; it’s because it helps give him a competitive edge. I don’t like every feature or lack of feature in LibraryThing, but just as I’ll sit tight and wait for CostCo to come to Tallahassee rather than shop at WalMart, I have choices about the book networking software I use — just as you have choices about how you design Shelfari — and a company’s decisions about how it operates in society inform those choices very heavily.

    I didn’t go over the top and refer to Shelfari as a “rapist,” as Gawker did; that’s a word I don’t use lightly. But after 17 years online, if you want to really, really tick me off, first, design your software to spam my network of colleagues, then once you’ve been caught, piss on my head and tell me that it’s raining.

    Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink
  7. chuck ralston wrote:

    “If nothing else, if your house ever burns down you’ll know what books you owned.” I had just begun my book inventory with Library Thing in early 2006, then my house fire in July 06. Most of my books were spared fire-smoke-water damage, but insurance required that all be removed to warehouse storage for ozoning (removes smoke smell). And 14 months (Sep 07) later my books were returned in completely random order packed in those 1.5 CF cartons — along with other ozoned household goods. I’ve been sorting and re-arranging using LT as my “shelflist.” It works and Tim Spalding and his team do an excellent job at LT. Only drawback thus far is lack of bib records for recorded music (LPs and CDs). And it would nice to have a ‘series’ search capabiliy.

    Monday, November 19, 2007 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  8. Chuck, I’d like several things: series, serials, and type of ownership (own, excessed, borrowed, library_borrowed, etc.). But I’m glad to see that having a book inventory helped. Wow. What a story.

    Monday, November 19, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  9. Anna Creech wrote:

    Chuck, I’ve been waiting for a LibraryThing for recorded music, as well. I recently checked out RateYourMusic for the first time in years, and I must say I’m impressed. If they don’t have it already, you can add the item, in any format, with all the relevant information. You can also submit corrections to existing records. It’s not AACR2-level cataloging, but for a searchable inventory, it works. I’m currently working on my CD collection as I pack, but I may end up having to finish the rest after the move.

    Monday, November 19, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  10. Anna, thanks — that’s a good tip. I definitely don’t need AACR2 for my CDs; again, I’d just like to know I have them.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 6:39 am | Permalink

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