Don’t Laugh at MeWe!

By Shamus Posted Sunday Apr 29, 2018

Filed under: Personal 35 comments

Well, this is embarrassing. It’s a lot more fun to write about malfunctioning technology than to explain my bone-headed mistakes, but the only way to avoid this sort of thing is to not make bone-headed mistakes and I still haven’t figured out how to do that.

A few weeks ago I posted the Twilight Zone story of creating a MeWe account, having it vanish, creating another, and then having the original account send me a friend request. Last week a member of the MeWe team saw the post. The did an investigation and were able to sort out what happened. (Spoiler: It was user error.)

Back in the old days – in the mid aughts or so – I was juggling three different email addresses. I had one from my internet provider, one here at my domain, and a third through gmail. The plan was that @shamusyoung would be the public-facing address conversing with the masses, and @gmail would be for a small list of friends / professional contacts. However, it was somewhat random which one I’d use when creating a new account someplace. When I’d try to do an account recovery I’d have no idea which email I’d used to create the thing. It was madness.

So about seven years ago I made a new rule: All accounts will use @gmailWhy? Because gmail has better spam filtering than my @shamusyoung address.. So now ALL accounts tie to @gmail. Over time, the @shamusyoung address fell out of use. If strangers want to contact me these days they usually leave a comment on the site or DM me on Twitter. Very few go to the trouble of finding the @shamusyoung contact info.

Obviously my two MeWe accounts were bound to these two different addresses. That was my mistake. I created the first using @shamusyoung and then went looking for it later, assuming it would be @gmail.

So that’s the mistake. But how did I make it? What would possess me to create a new account here in 2018 using an address I barely think about and haven’t typed in years? And having done so, how could I not notice when looking for the account two weeks later?

I THINK this was a result of the way I was invited to MeWe. Someone sent the invite link to @shamusyoung. I’m betting that when I clicked on the link, it set up an account for @shamusyoung without me needing to type in an email. So I didn’t notice I was linking MeWe to the wrong email. At some point in the distant past I set up @shamusyoung to auto-forward to @gmail, meaning this mistake was invisible to me.

So how did I get a friend invite from myself? According to MeWe:

On the first account you must have selected the optional feature to Sync Contacts. If this is selected it will auto invite your contacts ONLY if they join MeWe.

Huh. (That’s a cool feature, although I might suggest that invites make it clear if they’re sent via automated systems or through direct user interaction. Like, if I was divorced I might still have my ex-wife in my old contact list, and thus when trying to import all my buddies I’d end up sending her a friend invite. This would likely create confusion and misunderstandings for both of us. Then again, maybe feature requests like this ought to come from someone who kept their wits on the account creation page.)

So that’s how I created a surreal mystery for myself. I have to commend MeWe’s support for being so good they went and solved my problem without even being told about it or asked to do anything.



[1] Why? Because gmail has better spam filtering than my @shamusyoung address.

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35 thoughts on “Don’t Laugh at MeWe!

  1. MadTinkerer says:

    Unlike some companies, evidently MeWe is not run by robots / lizard people.

  2. Steve C says:

    Very few go to the trouble of finding the @shamusyoung contact info.

    I sent you an email earlier this week about a resource for your Dumb Industry posts. [sadface]

    1. I sent him one too, but wipe off that sad face! He’s got it forwarding to the one he reads, so we’re good.

  3. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Since we’re admitting failure I’d also like to amend my previous comment on the subject. Last time I pointed out that doppelgangers stories like “Shamus” was telling us often involve an evil twin with facial hair. I’m ashamed I failed to point out that quite often the doppler will send a public message later on assuring everyone that the strange events were all a silly mistake and that everything is back to normal. Don’t panic. Don’t lock your doors. Register to MeWe, the people there are just great.
    Join us.

    1. Droid says:

      *puts on a third layer of tin-foil*
      Quick, hire an exorcist! Start a fundraiser for it! Real Shamus is losing the battle!

      … what? Oh, the three hats? Uh, umm, I … like to be energy-efficient?

  4. Christopher Wolf says:

    If customer service is actively seeking out dissatisfied customers and preemptively fixing their crap before the customer brings it to their attention, that is a company I hope thrives.

    1. Amstrad says:

      My cynical side makes me think they’re doing this sort of thing now when so many people are looking for a Facebook alternative, but at some later date it will be less vital to get this sort of good will and positive PR so less effort will be spent on it.

      1. Syal says:

        I think it’s just a matter of it being a small company; it’s still likely a passion project for the folks involved.

        1. Zaxares says:

          This is basically my take on it too. Right now MeWe is still a small, nimble company who can afford the time/manpower to take notice of small things like this and devote the resources to checking it out. If/when they get to the size of a medium/large enterprise, posts like these will just get lost in the aether. But that does not in any way diminish what they’ve done in the meantime; kudos to MeWe for taking the time to look into this. :)

        2. Niriel says:

          Also, it’s still easily Googlable. I imagine that if MeWe gets popular, the search results will be more numerous. Then again you can ask Google to return only recent stuff, so I don’t know.

      2. Matt van Riel says:

        Well… yes? That’s called being a shrewd businessperson. They’re actively posting things that negatively portray Facebook because they know people will flock to them for an alternative (like the fact Facebook recently moved its user data OUT of Ireland to avoid the EU’s data protection laws).

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      Not really.

      Shamus Young is a minor internet celebrity. Having his only post on MeWE ending with “you’re not quite there yet” is bad publicity, having his next post be about how a nice MeWe employee helped him is good publicity.

      I’m not saying they did something wrong, but you probably shouldn’t assume that MeWe will give you the same customer service they gave Shamus in the long run.

      1. Matt van Riel says:

        *shrug* It worked. I signed up, at least to see what’s what. Can’t imagine I’ll stick around long unless it REALLY takes off, I’m in the business of advertising my works to an actual userbase if I want to eat, and no users = no sales. But it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on, especially as I really don’t like Minds.

  5. Redingold says:

    Like, if I was divorced I might still have me ex-wife

    This typo makes it sound like Shamus inexplicably turned into a Northerner for half a sentence here.

    1. Nick-B says:

      That’s nothing.

      Than again, maybe feature requests like this

      …made me trip and stumble, mentally, until I read it over and over a few times.

      1. Lars says:

        Over time, the @shamsuyoung address fell out of use.

        For a moment he forgot the spelling of his name. That supports the Evil Twin Theory.

        1. LCF says:

          Shamus and Shamsu.
          One is a mustache-twirling villain high on late-night coding while listening to dubstep.
          The other is an Evil Twin.

          (Kidding kidding kidding kidding…)

          1. Droid says:

            “… and thus LCF was never seen or heard from again. Some say you can hear him still if you listen carefully for soul-rending screams near the steel-barred windows of our Great Overlord’s Rehabilitation Room.”


            “And now sleep tight, children! You’ll have to serve our Great Overlord Shamsu well tomorrow!”

  6. The Rocketeer says:

    Let it begin: the synchronized point and laugh!

    *uproarious mockery ensues for no more than the appropriate interval*

    1. Droid says:

      *Obvious sidekick character does something really stupid in the meantime, making the canned laughter not only restart (breaking the illusion of the laughter being an audience reaction) but also interfere with itself in the worst possible way because this show hates its viewers*

      Yup, I absolutely had to share my gripe with reality/sitcom TV shows. The whole lot, really.

  7. Jennifer Snow says:

    I suspect this was my fault, then, because I have @shamusyoung on my contacts list since I’ve emailed you in the past that way.

  8. Gary says:

    What would posses me to create a new account here in 2018 using an address I barely think about and haven’t typed in years?

    You need an additional ‘s’ here.

    Good on that support staff. As others have noted, I hope this kind of service is standard for them right now.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So that’s how I created a surreal mystery for myself. I have to commend MeWe’s support for being so good they went and solved my problem without even being told about it or asked to do anything.

    Support doing their actual job in a helpful manner?What kind of madness is that?

    1. Mephane says:

      Truly some Hank Scorpio level villainy going on here.

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, man, and here I was convinced that Earth-2 Shamus was pulling a prank on you.

  11. Jabberwok says:

    Iiii hate automated invites of any kind. Getting spam from my actual friends is weird.

  12. Mephane says:

    I also signed up for it a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t actually used it in any capacity (don’t even have a single contact yet, just wanted to grab an account). One thing that annoys me is that while it doesn’t go all “you must use your real name” like Facebook (which was always reason enough to ignore the latter), it still insists on entering a first name and last name, when I just wish to be shown and known by the name I used everywhere online, i.e. the one I am commenting with. I have a sort of dummy last name for these cases that I used, but it’s still irritating.

    1. Niriel says:

      Ugh, that’s bad, no form should do that. If I were to store names I would probably store two strings, one for the full name and one for the name you usually use. You can write the same thing twice if you want, it’s just the idea that one is more formal than the other. If you leave them empty then the system calls you by your unique user id number and that’s it.

      This is an interesting read:

  13. This could probably be solved by repeating the email address in the welcome email. That way when the email get forwarded or you find it in a email archive somewhere you’ll know which email you used to sign up to the account with.

    And if changing the email in the account then a new email should be sent with the new account info.

    No idea if WeMe does this, but they they don’t they probably should.

    1. Droid says:

      E-mails (even auto-forwarded ones, usually) always contain a field specifying which account they were sent to. So the info was out there, it just never occurred to Shamus that that might be the problem, so he didn’t look for it.

  14. Guest says:

    You might want to edit the previous post on it then, because it’s kind of embarrassing how it is.

    Kind of makes me doubt the depth and thoroughness you put into your work, in a big picture way. It’s only a small part of that, but it’s close to a nail in the coffin.

    1. Tom says:

      Funny, I take the exact opposite view. My estimation of the intellectual honesty and thoroughness of someone who chooses not to hide their embarrassing mistakes, but instead to publicise the subsequent process of personally learning from them, generally tends to be quite high.

  15. Zak McKracken says:

    So … now that it’s working — how good is it? What’s better than FB, what’s worse (apart from the fact that most people aren’t on it)?

    And the crucial question I usually ask: If they’re not hoovering up user data to use it for marketing, then what’s their business model?
    Facebook’s business model is the very reason I’m not on their platform, and I’ve switched my main e-mail to a paid service that stores no user data (except of course the mails themselves…) and does not advertise to users. Feels wonderful. So “what do they eat” has basically become the first question I ask about any internet service. Any service might be nice to its users now but if their existence depends on monetizing user data, I’d rather keep a safe distance.

  16. Richard says:

    Um, hmm. Funny (sad, not haha) that I stumbled on this post while looking for support from MeWe with regard to my use of the service (- which video formats are supported; my brief iOS mp4 video results in an “Unsupported Content” message when attempting to use the iOS share feature. MeWe’s iOS app’s button for posting photo / video content causes the app to freeze or crash), either in the form of a more thoroughly detailed page than their short FAQ or via contact with a person, or even a bot.

    Their ToS (which I read hoping to find contact information for such support) refers to “MeWe Customer Support” but provides no contact information so I googled that exact phrase. Top hit was of course MeWe’s ToS from which I’d just come, apparently the only mention of the exact phrase on the web. Your post was among the next few hits by the way.

    Briefly hoping that you’d mention the contact information you used to reach to reach them, I was disappointed, in some sense, to read that they’d reached out to you. I guess without having shared their contact information, the Customer Support staff must be going stir crazy from boredom, desperately trolling the web for anyone who might need their support using MeWe. I hope the programmers aren’t too busy high-fiving themselves thinking they’d put out a flawless, or at least complaint-less, program.

    Maybe Customer Support will see this comment and reach out to me too. Short of that I feel like a castaway hoping someone flying overhead will discover my detritus-written SOS on the beach. (I should add that I’ve otherwise very much enjoyed using the service and it does seem very well programmed, just not 100% flawless).

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