Does Orkut have absolutely no sense of social propriety?

I joined Orkut back on about day 3 after their launch. At the time, knowing several people following the social software / online social networking space, I invited all the ones I knew who weren’t already members… academics, journalists, bloggers, etc. That was back at the end of January.

I’ve been fully unimpressed by Orkut. Like so many social networking sites, particularly those that try to bridge between personal and professional, it has a few interesting ideas, but some major shortcomings when it comes to social propriety, e.g., being asked to rate all your contacts as to how “sexy” or “cool” they are. Since that initial batch of invitations, I haven’t invited other people to Orkut, except at their request.

But this week took the cake. Apparently, Orkut took it upon itself to re-invite all the people I had put in as friends who hadn’t joined yet. Bad enough that they did it. Worse, they did it in my name. That’s right — they resent my original invitation!. 90 days later!

This is horrifying to me. A serious academic in the space and a CEO both were polite enough to reply to me saying they weren’t interested. I have no idea what the various major journalists, etc., must think. I end up coming across as a petulant nuisance, and I don’t even know it’s happening!

Orkut, neither you nor any other social networking services have any right to send something out in my name without explicitly telling me what you’re going to do! There’s nothing on Orkut anywhere that gives any indication that this is going to happen!

Now, to salvage my reputation and credibility, I feel the need to go send personal apologies to the 20-30 people this may have gone out to (and I don’t even know for sure who it went out to or when).

Some sites, thankfully, get it right. LinkedIn, for example, sends a notice after 30 days, in their name (not mine), that the invitation is getting ready to expire.

If I didn’t feel obligated to stay there as an observer, I’d cancel my membership. Get it right, Orkut, if you plan to stick around.

UPDATE: Apparently, Orkut had posted something about this on their news page:

Invitation Problems 4/27/2004

We reported on April 1st that a set of mail problems had been fixed. We have now solved an additional set of issues specifically related to invitations. A large number of invitations that we tried to send in the past either were not delivered correctly, or were unusable. We are now resending those invitations. We have attempted to remove the ones for users who did signup with the service, but there will still be some duplicates.

Hmm… at least this explains it. Still doesn’t make it right. I appreciate them trying to remove the ones who had signed up. But sending the rest of them 90 days later without asking anybody was a bad decision.

There’s a saying: “In business, timing is everything.” What might have been appropriate three months ago isn’t necessarily now. Regardless of the reason for it, Orkut still shouldn’t have sent them out without asking.