December 8, 2007

You may or may not be familiar with It’s a database of people who went to various schools and colleges. The people who run the site try to create an online community of members. Hindering this effort is the fact that for any of the useful features you have to upgrade to a paid membership.

Many sites have adopted a model where you are given a useful service for free, but you have to pay for the service if your needs exceed the free offering. uses an enticement model. The free services are really not useful as far as I can tell. You can see some names of people from your school days, you can see who has signed on to But if you want to send them any sort of a message you’d need to pay for an upgrade.

If you give them your email address they will send you periodic updates in an effort to get you to drop money on them. They’ll tell you how many new people have signed up from your past school classes. They’ll tell you that x photographs have been posted by people in your network. They’ll tell you that a few people have actually even visited your profile.

If you want to know who those people are, you’re going to have to pay.

Just lately, they’re ratcheted up the hard sell.

I am told that in May of 2007, someone not only visited my profile but signed my guestbook!

If I pay, they’ll tell me who.

No thanks, Classmates.

I’m still in the same neighborhood (basically) where I grew up. I’ve run into people I knew from high school. It can be fun to say “hi.” But is it worth money? Not to me.

I admit, the mystery alone is cause for some curiosity. As mysteries go it’s pretty thin, but I can imagine that people who really have nostalgia for high school find it really compelling. I bet Classmates rakes in some dough in this trick.

Posted by James at December 8, 2007 10:02 AM
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Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the Classmates guest book entry was like Naymz' "inbox messages," where the message you got is an auto-generated message from the website itself.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at December 8, 2007 1:25 PM is the same way...steer clear of them both.


Posted by: Magick1 at December 8, 2007 2:37 PM

My guess is that their real target market is people who are socially isolated and lonely. If you have no friends and no significant other, I'm guessing it has to be really appealing to think you could reconnect with people from high school or college - even if they're people you weren't all that friendly with back then.

Posted by: David Grenier at December 8, 2007 3:18 PM does it too. You can post a profile but you can't send messages or read messages anyone sends to you unless you subscribe. Not much worth in that.

Posted by: Mike at December 8, 2007 3:22 PM

Hey! Someone signed my guestbook too!

Wotta loser ;-)

Because I am socially isolated and lonely, with only a few friends and no significant other, I DID sign up for the paid version of Classmates some years back. There were a few people I wanted to get in touch with who had moved out of town. Not to mention that I had moved out of town too. It was great to reconnect with them again. Some of us had things to say to one another, and it was worth it for that.

A few years later, someone else got in touch with me via Classmates, so that was cool.

Almost nobody uses the Classmates paid service for anything other than the ability to email others, though, so that "community" thing just ain't gonna happen. It didn't appeal to me much to begin with, and I can think of much better, cheaper ways to do that, like yahoo groups or google groups.

Posted by: Julie at December 8, 2007 8:56 PM

Yeah. I'm real skeptical that someone signed my guestbook hoping to find me but was unable to catch a trace of me using teh interweb.

Posted by: briwei at December 10, 2007 12:51 PM

Ha. Lucky you. There are multiple people out there with the same name as me - and to confuse matters, at least two of them are professional writers.

Posted by: Julie at December 10, 2007 2:06 PM

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