We’ve talked in the past about why address book importing is just not ok.
But in addition to the fact that it trains people to enter their passwords at third-party sites, and to the fact that when you send out all those invitations it makes you look like a spammer, there’s another big reason to not do address book importing.
Because it destroys your credibility as a legitimate site.
By having invitations for your site sent to people who know that the person supposedly inviting them doesn’t even know them, and in fact has no real connection with them whatsover.
That’s because typically any email address to which the user has ever sent an email will receive one of those invitations.
And that’s because the average site that does address book importing does it in such a way that every single address in the address book is pre-checked to receive an invitation, and the average user who takes a site up on address book importing is also the kind of user who will not bother to uncheck any of those addresses (or even realize that they need to).
When a site does address book importing, and then sends out invitations to all those addresses, sure, invitations go to the user’s friends. And invitations go to the user’s family.
But invitations also indiscriminately go out to “support@” addresses, and “sales@” addresses, and “reply@” addresses, and “info@” addresses, and all kind of other addresses with which the user has no personal relationship.
We know, because we get those invitations all the time.
I’ll bet that you’ve gotten them too.
And when you did, what did you think about the site that sent them?