Thursday, November 24, 2005

When did you last un-signup?

As someone whose both job and natural curiosity with technologies compels me to sign up and experiment with new Internet based services, I've started thinking about this recently.
Why do service providers on the whole not provide an easily accessible method of 'leaving' a service?

Maybe they hope the 'We haven't seen you for a while' type emails I receive periodically will have an anti-churn effect which brings me rushing back, but more often than not they just remind me how many services in which I not longer have any interest , still have my contact details. Of course the digital identity thinkers would have this solved by me revoking the service's licence to my details I guess. But that’s not quite the same thing as a definite notification of intention to leave the service.

Of course one answer is that ‘number of signups’ is a staple, if often misleading, success metric so there is an obvious disincentive to provide any exit button, especially for start-ups trying to justify their existence and funding demands.

I was talking about this to my colleague recently and we both tend toward the same practice or merely stopping visiting a site and assuming that our account will atrophy over time! But do they, and is this enough?
If the service just sits there then all is cool, but I've has some annoyances lately. A social network tool I has a look at has been mailing everyone in my address book regularly with invites to join (Incidentally - sorry is this effected you!!!!!!!!!). Yeah it's my fault for importing my Gmail contact list into the thing, but I was testing the features. I've tried many times to kill the mail outs. I have no ongoing interest in the services......

..... I just want to pull the plug.

Come on service providers - give us the ability to un-signup!

All this of course raises another question about a user's data and any meta-data that they have imported into the system of generated by its use. In reality I would maybe not just wish to leave the service but also to take my data with me!