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How not to capture names for your mailing list

I came across a website today called Thought I’d look at it – I look at new sites and try new software virtually every day. It’s part of keeping current. And listing yourself on people search sites is an important part of personal branding.

Names Database LogoThe site requests your name and email. That’s fair, since it purports to be something like ZoomInfo. Aah, too impulsive. I should have done some research first. Here’s a snippit from their Wikipedia entry:

The Names Database is a social network, owned and operated by United Online, the parent company of, with headquarters in Orem, Utah. Unlike most social networks, it requires that new registrations include five email addresses of friends or acquaintances. The site immediately checks the validity of the addresses, disallowing fraudulent information.

So what’s wrong? First, is an overly aggressive and sometimes misleading site. There have been a lot of consumer complaints about their marketing techniques. That would have made me think twice, and at least research them before signing up.

But what’s worse is that you have to give them other email addresses even before you can find out what they’re offering. And you can’t put your own address in each time, because they really do check. And although I may have done something wrong in registering, I didn’t get to read the Terms and Conditions before I gave them a throwaway address (something I often do if I’m not sure about a site).

Of course, at this point, I just closed the browser window and wrote them off. But a little while later, I got an email to my throwaway email service saying that I could join anyway, even if I wouldn’t submit friends’ email addresses (and I want to add “to their spam machine” but i don’t know if that’s true).

Fortunately, they provided an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email, which I used. Whether or not it will be honored is another matter entirely. Even the wording in their confirmation email was defensive:

Please also note that this message is a transactional relationship email that was explicitly requested by wfeigenson@***.com from The Names Database at using a computer with the IP address of on 2009-02-20 22:24:13.735743-07 while signing up for a Basic Membership.

All in all, I feel like I was slimed. It’s probably why – even though they claim over 33 million users – I’ve never heard of them.

As my grandfather used to say: “feh.” (Please don’t ask me for a translation, use your imagination.)

Please read the Wikipedia entry and research this site if you’re thinking of signing up, also please read my two comments.

Posted in Marketing, Personal branding.

Tagged with , .

One Response

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  1. walt says

    Update: they are now spamming me, despite my request to be removed from their mailing list. And what’s even stranger, their site is now unreachable (DNS doesn’t resolve). Makes you wonder why they bother with the spam, but then it’s often hard to figure out spammers.

    Update 2: namesdatabase came back online. Sorry world. So I’m unsubscribed again.