Users vs. Accounts vs. Signer-Uppers

I’m a signer-upper. I admit it. I have a problem. Most of my friends are too. (Well, my nerdy online friends, but then, that’s most of my friends.)

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“Hey look, Froblunet launched today!?”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know, but I should probably sign up, create a profile, and check it out!”

And so it goes…

Scattered across the web are pieces of me… Accounts I’ve signed up for, wanting to check out some new site, just to see how they do it. How do they handle importing friends? How do they do uploads? How? How? How? It’s a question web people tend to ask. We’re either convinced there’s something interesting to see, or something to learn, so we sign up, give it a try, and maybe use it. Or maybe not. I should probably sign up… this might be the next big thing!

And then sites get to brag that they have 1 million users. Or that in their first day they had 100,000 people sign up. (75,000 of which never return.) But the media likes those numbers, and the news sites, and blogs, and investors like those numbers. They make everyone feel good. Except me.

Here’s an idea… Now that I’ve signed up for Froblunet, which is the hottest new thing since yesterday, I’d be totally fine with them emailing me months later if I never log in again and saying:

Hey, we noticed you haven’t logged in for 3 months, are you still interested in using Froblunet? If not, would you prefer to:
1. Delete your account (We’ll delete your data, and your email, and never bother you again.)
2. Inactivate your account (You can reactivate any time… we’ll reserve your username, and keep your email on file in case you ever want to try it out again, but we won’t email you again.)

I’d probably pick option 2 in many cases. Yes, inactivate my account! (Maybe it’s just my fear of deleting accounts. Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

But it’ll never happen.

I mean, I’d like to see this happen… but I think it’s unlikely. Sure, some engineer at Froblunet might think it makes sense, and would probably prefer to know that the people using the system are actually using the system. More accurate numbers are things engineers tend to like. Capacity planning and all that. But the sales and marketing guys would never go for it. Why say “We have 200,000 (active) users” when they can say “We have 500,000 users!”

By the way, I’m launching this new site next week that I’d love to have you sign up for…