Scribd are really annoying. I was put off of them years ago when Hacker News was set up to to append an auto-scrape url to the end of PDF submissions (the owner of HN is the same one who runs the startup incubator Scribd graduated from).

Ok, that wasn't Scribd's fault exactly, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth that it allowed this sort of activity - from one of its advisor's nonetheless! And at the crux of it they have their "slurp" action - which lets you upload PDF's from the internet and make them publicly accessible through the site. That might be a good business move for them (nets them a lot of documents) but it's a really unethical move to make the slurped documents public.

Hence; they were in the back of my mind as dodgy.

So today when I want to report a copyright infingemet (picked up whilst cleaning up a Wikipedia article) I clicked "Report this Document" - only to find I had to log in. Fine, they tempted me with a "sign in the Facebook". I wanted an easy solution (oops) and so just clicked through to sign in.

I went back to find that "Report this Document" only lets you report abusive documents - for copyright infringement they ask you to send a DCMA. This is a common get-out such sites use to increase the number of hoops you have to jump through to report copyright infringement.

It's a lot of crap because the document (which is from JSTOR) carries, on the first page, very clear copyright restrictions. So why can't I, an interested citizen, alert you to it?

Whilst I was grumbling about that I got an email saying "XXX has subscribed to your profile of Scribd". Hold on, I thought, that's someone I know on Facebook. Logging into my profile I was surprised to see I was "following" about 17 of my Facebook friends, all with Scribd profiles, and all with no activity on them.

Clearly people who had logged into scribd at some point in the past.


  • Why was I not told you would be auto-following them for me? I don't remember you saying so during the login process. It's not even in the email you sent me after I logged in. That's a pretty jerk move, assuming I would want to follow all of my friends.
  • Did they all get emails about me "following" them? I hope not or I will stop being annoyed and be really mad at you. I have a sneaking suspicion you have emailed all of these friends I have "followed", because I started getting a couple of follow-back emails...
Here's the thing that really annoys me; you didn't ask. If you had asked, not a problem, but because you didn't I think you, Scribd, are a spammy, annoying nasty unethical company.

So I deleted my account. Scribd; you are jerks, sort it out.

(sorry for the major rant, but I despise this sort of approach to users. And apologies to any of my friends who got a "subscribed" email about me, ignore it)