rapportive, a plug-in for gmail, provides background information from the social web about people with whom you correspond. btrandolph posted about it here last month. I liked rapportive, but shared todd’s concerns about having no control over what was shown to other rapportive users. this morning, I received an alert from the company saying it had updated the product to allow users to edit elements of the collected profile. combined with google’s launch of its OAuth app platform, expanded user control should attract more gmail users. with this step, rapportive took a big step toward being an essential tool for many gmail users.
rapportive starts strong, gets better with age
the tech blogs were in love with rapportive for a day or so – readwriteweb had the biggest crush, telling readers to “stop what you’re doing and install this plug-in.” todd’s review was more skeptical – he questioned a few key elements of the service, asking “is rapportive outing you?” his two big issues? permissions and editing capability.
permissions first. rapportive runs on gmail inside firefox and chrome. users of internet explorer (bless their luddite hearts), safari and opera need not apply. also, rapportive runs on the web-based version of gmail. therefore, gmail users who access the service through an email client like outlook don’t get any of that information. however, everyone’s online information is fair game – whether they are a rapportive user or not. advantage, gmail users. todd used the example of the minister at our church. she’s comfortable online, but not a gmail user, and had no idea that her social profile was showing up via rapportive. in its initial rollout, rapportive provided ages, as well. happily, that feature has now been removed.
in most cases, the information revealed is not a big deal. so the fact that said information may be provided without the subject’s knowledge can be nudged and winked away. a bigger issue (because it affected me) was that the rapportive profiles were not editable. rapportive pulls information from a repository called rapleaf . rapleaf, I’m guessing, sends crawlers out periodically to scrape data from various social sites, including several google properties. it holds a ton of information, and it is very fast, which is probably what helps rapportive smoke services like xobni performance-wise. to be fair, it has been a while since I used xobni, but when I was trying it out, it made my outlook crawl.
rapleaf is cool, but it is a black box. if you are feeling brave, go check out your profile. if you find something hideously embarrassing that is not (as far as you are willing to admit) accurate, you can delete your rapleaf profile. other than that, there is no schedule listed for when information is updated. in researching todd’s profile (my own was immaculate, of course), I found some shall we say questionable items. I attribute these to his yahoo address (“[email protected]), which is frequently hijacked by notorious retrobates bertha, beverly and bartholomew todd when they sign up for sundry sketchy services. rapportive only uses the vanilla parts of the rapleaf data, but it was a wake up call nonetheless. todd’s response? he removed the rapportive plug-in. (note to non-clickers: the link is to a hilarious graphic that you really should see)
a promising social crm tool
well, good news for my beloved. and everyone else. I learned that rapportive now allows users to edit some of their profile. specifically, name, picture and work history can be edited or deleted. social media items like twitter, facebook, myspace et al. are still fixed, but changes are promised (see screen shots below). another problem todd alerted me to is that only the profile associated with a gmail address can be edited, since the only access to profile items is within the gmail interface. but the changes are a very good sign that the product will continue to evolve, and the developers have been super responsive. overall, rapportive is a very useful tool for gmail users!
and now, the promised screen shots. if you’re wondering why I used jeff’s and todd’s profiles when I am so much better looking, it’s because I am not the social media gadabout they are. okay, it’s because my profile is practically nonexistent.
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