Why do developers and product managers skimp on profile management?

6 Jul

Now that OtherInBox is pissing off its users for the second time in three years, I’m going through the less-than-fun exercise of switching a couple hundred logins and subscriptions to new email addresses.

This has not been fun, not least because of the rote and manual nature of the updates. But it’s been made considerably worse by the half-assed approach many of these sites and subscription management platforms take to the basic task of updating user/profile/account data.

Here are a couple examples; neither site has a front-end interface to update the email address on file for either login purposes or notifications:

Site one

I’ve looked all over the site and left two chat thing on the Olark widget but no one’s responded to my question: how do I change the email address on file/login from [email] to [new email]?

we have to change it from our end is because if you’re currently logged into the site, then it causes a system crash if you change your login while you’re logged in!

Site two

Thanks for your email.

If you would like to change your email address you need to do the following:
1. Open a new account with the email address you want to use
2. Send us an email with both email addresses stating clearly which one you want to keep

Once we have the information, we will merge your accounts so that all the information is saved and the email address is changed.

Then there are the sites – more than two dozen, at last count – that decouple their obligatory marketing lists from their platforms. Meaning that an update or unsubscribe action entered on your profile isn’t synced with their email marketing platform of choice.

A word to all of you using “SafeUnsubscribe” from Constant Contact – stop. This is weaksauce:

Screenshot 2014-07-06 18.37.13

And Mailchimp folks, you might want to hide those segments/groups you’re using:

Screenshot 2014-07-06 18.44.46


The specialest of shouts to the many, many sites and lists that have neither a user-accessible way to either unsubscribe or update profile emails or any way of getting in touch with a human. That’s a “report for spam”, with extreme prejudice, for you.

5 good reads: on meetings

16 Feb

Hey, tech companies: your employee referral policy may be violating US law

23 Sep

I think alot about how to create and nurture diverse, high-performance teams and workplaces. That ranges from being vigilant about the language used in job adverts and in any company materials for which I am responsible to keeping an eye on whether recruiting and other company materials show only white men.

And I think alot about how hard it can be for a company full of young straight white men – read, most technology startups – with a hiring strategy heavily reliant on employee referrals to recruit any older brown queer women.

Because unless companies are intentional about diversifying their applicant pool, the referred candidates will tend to look, sound, and dress like the employees who referred them. People tend to refer (and hire) people who look like them; like attracts like.

This is often not the result of intentional bias or explicit discrimination, but intent (or lack thereof) doesn’t mean you won’t be held accountable for the outcomes, especially from a US legal perspective.

Emphasis mine, quote from a statement by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on prohibited practices:

It is also illegal for an employer to recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against them because of their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. For example, an employer’s reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic.

Take a moment and look around your office. Are your colleagues –  especially the folks in senior management, and the ones with hiring responsibility – mostly white men? Do you depend heavily on employee referrals?

Might be time to review your hiring practices.

[Obligatory "I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice" here]

Experts coast. Amateurs work.

5 Sep

I really enjoyed this perspective from “The Eloquent Woman” blog, on her recent decision to hire a speaking coach (she is, herself, a speaking coach):

You may wonder why a coach would get a coach. I don’t lack experience, skill or nerve when it comes to public speaking or chairing meetings. But it’s a poor chef who fails to keep her knives sharp. A trainer who seeks no training after she hits ‘expert’ status is just sharing the expertise of long ago, over and over again. I wanted to set the bar higher for myself.

Hands up! (or, on transparency in newsrooms)

22 Jul

Media types are all a-twitter about this Seth Godin post, “Principles for Responsible Media Moguls“.

So I thought I’d cross-post a piece I wrote in 2011 on transparency in newsrooms.

I’m fascinated by the concept of “radical transparency“, though not under the guise of eroding privacy norms.

The concept is especially relevant to media organisations and newsrooms; journalists and media executives are not themselves used to being obliged to reveal how the sausage is made.

Still, the (media) world is moving toward more openness around the reporting process, including in the slightly uncomfortable area of corrections and clarifications, and the not unrelated challenging of keeping on top of evolving stories. Online media have been far more willing to embrace transparency than their printed ilk. (Good examples: Business Insider’s use of Chartbeat, FT Alphaville passim.)

Along those lines, a colleague shared what I think are a very good set of rules for dealing with either corrections and clarifications or fast-moving news situations.

  1. Don’t kill posts
  2. Keep the reader updated about contentious things as quickly and honestly as possible
  3. Don’t back yourself into a corner by accepting the first plausible explanation
  4. Rely on facts whenever challenged

I will put my editor hat on here for a moment. These are excellent principles; in practice, the challenge is getting reporters (and indeed, editors at all levels) to be comfortable with what is a radical departure from the voice of God approach.

This is a challenge that can only really be tackled by creating an environment in which reporting is preferred to punditry; in which gaps in knowledge are met with training and mentoring instead of ridicule (because there is no shame in not knowing, only in not then seeking to find out); in which editors will stand up for their reporters when the pressure is on; in which genuine mistakes, errors and misunderstandings are acknowledged and corrected swiftly, openly and guilelessly; in which press release “journalism” is shunned; in which reporters are challenged to go deeper, to ask more questions, to seek more (and better) sources, and crucially, to always question their assumptions; and in which the most junior reporter feels empowered to fact-check or correct the most senior of colleagues.

Such an environment is not easy to achieve, but it’s worth it.

My $0.02, etc.

Storify: On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog

22 May

30 Important Women Under 30 in Tech: a list…

27 Apr

…in which I am included.

Thank you to the folks who nominated me, and to the BI reporter who compiled the listMegan Rose Dickey – for including me.

Me, on a list.

Panel: How Tech Is Changing the Way Women Work

25 Mar

Video: So you want to be a non-technical product manager?

24 Feb

28 Dec