Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

Not everyone wants to be in a community

So, yesterday, I joined the Mahalo Greenhouse programme. I am doing this not because I want to make any money out of it. As a non-U.S. resident, my earnings would go straight to the Wikimedia foundation anyway. I joined up because I want to share my expertise on technical topics - things like Microformats, the Semantic Web and so on. (The possible chance to win an iPhone lured me in, even though it would probably be U.S. only)

A few hours later, I get an e-mail welcoming me in to the programme. I log in only to find that you can't just make any page you like, but have to work to the schedule which Mahalo set. I know they are paying - but this seems to break Benkler's model of social, peer-production which demands that there be a certain level of modularity and granularity to contributions, as well as respect for contributiors.

And then I wake up to find my inbox just filled with unending piles of e-mail. I mean like 37 Mahalo-related threads in my inbox. What were these e-mails? "Intro", "Hey", "Hello", "New guy", "Intro", "I'm in! Hi Everyone!", "hi all!" etc.

Okay, I put on a certain curmudgeonly, cynical air, but I hope the dear reader will agree that this is not exactly appropriate. Sorry, but I signed up because I may be able to make a contribution to this product and help guide interested searchers to useful resources on topics I am interested in. That isn't licence to fill up my inbox with chatty introductions by other Mahalo guides.

You don't get that when you join Wikipedia or SETI@Home or WikiHow or YouTube.

I'm not alone. On the 'greenhouse' list, Benjamin Markowitz writes:

I don't need my account canceled, but we need to do something about all this email. I am drowning.

Thomas Palompelli writes:

Due to the insane volume of emails i just received to my personal email account, around 65 in an hour, I would like not to participate in Mahalo Greenhouse. Can you please deactivate my account or instruct me how to do so.

I forward this message to the Mahalo management with my resignation:

For the same reason, can I do the same? I woke up with a flood of substanceless e-mails this morning. I need my time and a sane amount of e-mail more than I need $15 donations to the Wikimedia Foundation.

I've already got far too many mailing lists to keep track of without having Mahalo editors just sending tons of "Hi" messages. Count me out.

Sorry if I am sending this to the wrong place, but I need my Inbox back as soon as possible, please.

So, that was that. I joined to share my expertise. I was never told I'd be put on a mailing list. And now I've left without even trying to submit one page or getting one payment (albeit donated to Wikimedia).

I haven't got time to read the phatic communication from people I don't know. I'm already on Twitter to get phatic communication from people I do know. Sorry Jason, but this amount of unwanted e-mail has forced me to leave with immediate effect. Good luck with Mahalo.