15 December, 2007

Its now easier to locate your Gmail contacts in Orkut. But...

Orkut has just announced the ability to check whether people in your Gmail Address book are already in your orkut friends list. If they aren't, you are given the option to either add them (if they are already orkut members) or invite them to orkut.

Original Post : orkut Blog: I'm feeling serendipitous!

This would've worked out better, If only Gmail didn't add each and every contact you ever emailed - even just for once - to your address book! When I tried out the feature, I had to spend hours cleaning up my Gmail address book. Why? The sequence of mistakes are as follows:
  1. A friend of mine gets a forward. He is compelled by the warning in the email to send it to all his contacts, because otherwise, he could die within a few hours!! (Have been receiving mails which ask you to forward them? They are called 'Chain Mails' - click here if you have a minute to spare.)

  2. He puts his entire address book into the 'To' field when sending the forward. By doing so, he has just exposed all the email addresses in his contact list to the entire world - even company emails, private addresses which other people trusted him with.. each and every one. If only he had put them in the 'bcc' field - the email ids of his contacts would've remained hidden from all recipients.

  3. When I got the email, I couldn't resist telling him the errors of his ways, so I told him the stuff I just explained in the last two steps through the 'Reply' button - but alas! I had used the 'Reply to all' button instead; my advice is now being sent to more than a hundred people - my friend's entire address book..

  4. The last mistake wouldn't have been so bad as it was, if it wasn't for the Gmail feature I mentioned at first - all of the addresses which I (accidentally) just sent the email to were now in my address book as well! People I don't even know, haven't even heard of - were now in my Address book. Great. Just Great.
So when I tried to use the new orkut feature, many of those contacts appeared in the list of prospective orkutians who aren't already in my friends list. Suffice to say, hours had to be spent cleaning up my address book before I could bring down the number to below 100.

One of the features I really wish Gmail had is the ability to combine contacts - I don't want to manually merge multiple entries into single contacts. But since I had to, I've already done that - just took me about three days... :(

I've also noticed another mistake some orkutians are making. They have multiple email addresses, like most of us do, say, tom@gmail.com & tom@yahoo.com. Lets say Tom created his orkut account using the gmail id (It was possible with any email id until Google integrated orkut into the Google Account). So when a friend searches for Tom with his yahoo ID, they may not find him.. Tom thinks, "Oh no! I don't want to keep my friends from finding me!"

So Tom figures out a workaround - he makes a dummy profile in orkut with his yahoo ID, and adds himself as a friend to that profile. Now when anyone searches for him in orkut with his yahoo id, they'll come to this profile, notices his real profile in the friends list, and sends the friend request to that profile instead. Simple, right?

No, its not, and there are two reasons: One, when we search for an email id in orkut, and if a profile with that address already exists, the orkut interface just gives us the option to add the friend; it doesn't show us the friends list of that profile. So, your friend won't even know that it was just a dummy profile. And Two, you could just add the second, third or even fourth email id to orkut's Contacts section in 'Edit Profile'. If you are signed-in to orkut, just click here to get there. All searches for any of the added addresses would lead the searcher to your profile.

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