October 31, 2007 |
Yaari is Hindi for friendship and Prerna Gupta, founder and CEO of Yaari.com and co-founder Parag Chordia, are playing heavily on that key word to create a social network for the Indian youth. Their goal is to go head-to-head with Google?s Orkut for the Indian market.
In an interview with Kiruba Shankar at PodTech India, Ms. Gupta born, raised and still living in the USA had this to say, ?Well, I first came up with the idea in June of 2005. So, I was about a little under a year and a half ago. And that time I was looking at a venture capital firm so,” Ms. Gupta goes on to say, ?…at the same time, Facebook (at that time was really becoming very big in the US. So, I was, one of my friends actually was an executive at the Facebook… I wanted to do something in India, with all these things kind of came together and I started wondering what’s going on with social networking in India?.
According to Ms. Gupta part of her reason to create Yaari was, ?…I was in a very short time convinced that there was a big opportunity in India for social networking site that was specifically targeting Indian youths.?
Registering for Yaari
When accessing the registration page of Yaari I was stunned to discover the following notice:
Immediately as a potential registrant by seeking and accepting membership, Yaari tells you, you have to grant them unrestricted access to your personal contact list. Something it seems many registrants failed to read in the beginning as they now complain and cancel their accounts after the fact. The contradiction is that when you join or create an e-mail account on other sites they warn you NOT to give out your password. With Yaari it is a matter of how badly do you want to join? Potential Yaari members really need to ask this question before proceeding, Is it worth compromising my privacy to the extent of allowing Yaari uncontrolled access to my personal e-mail account(s)?
It goes on to state that THEY (Yaari), NOT YOU, will, ?…notify your friends that you have registered for Yaari and will encourage them to register for the site?.
Then Yaari smoothly turns the tables as they put the onus back on you to decide if membership is worth giving up the privacy of your e-mail contacts. ?Yaari will never store your e-mail password or login to your e-mail account without your consent. If you do not want Yaari to send an e-mail notification to your e-mail contacts, do not register for Yaari.? That then raises a question of just how many individuals even took the time to read the latter before joining Yaari.
To ensure they (Yaari) gain the sought after access to your contacts list when you try to enter an e-mail address for registration a bubble pops up with the following details, ?You must use a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail address. No-worries, we use this e-mail to confirm your registration, and will not spam you or sell your contact information?. Once you have decided which email address you will use based on your three choices another screen pops up asking for your email account password before you can continue.
On entering Yaari, I found nothing out of the ordinary as I noted the normal multiple advertisements and the headers directing you to the normal choices of service provided as on any social networking site.
Yaari design is simple yet effective as I navigated the site with ease.
Except for the heavily ad driven pages; it seems Yaari has done its homework for making the site profitable, based on the fact it, like other social networking sites, does not charge a fee for membership. I did note a small twist when I opened my Friend?s page as here Yaari has opted to solicit advertising from you the member by offering you your own advertising space.
Reflecting about how Ms. Gupta had expressed that Yaari had been created with Indian Youth in mind, I questioned the value of offering them ad space, for a fee of course.
Yaari, overall, has taken advertising solicitation to new lows as nearly every link has a pop-up advertisement attached, which personally I found to be annoying.
I could not help but chuckle as I then went to the Mobile link page. You have the choice to use Yaari on your cell phone and Ms. Gupta has taken it on herself to provide you the opportunity to view HER most popular friends, HER profile, and the opportunity to pinch HER, as well as your contact friends.
My immediate thoughts are of a vain woman who feels that everyone is joining Yaari solely because of her, yea right!
As for adding Yaari to your mobile, based on Yaari already spamming emails of member e-mail contact lists, my consensus would be to avoid using this option.
Yaari groups however, does offer interesting choices with something for everyone with such groups as Music, Journalism and Business to Leisure and Spiritual/Religious, to name a few, under which members have the choice to create and/or join a forum of their choice and allowing members to create and interact, free of marketing pop-ups.
Portions of Yaari Policy Questionable
If Yaari does not store members’ e-mail passwords then how are they able to e-mail members contact lists to seek membership?
F) Member Account and Password
… Member is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of Member’s password and account. Furthermore, Member is entirely responsible for any and all activities that occur under Member’s account…
No Spam Policy
We at Yaari.com are opposed to spam. Our No Spam Policy and Terms of Service prohibit all users from engaging in any activity involving spam on our service.
What Yaari Members are saying?
# 4 May 9th, 2007 at 7:22 am ?…Hi! I’m surfing yaari since february 2007. Since then I have made lots of friends through yaari. so I am a die hard fan of this site…?
# 5 May 9th, 2007 at 11:03 pm ?…Wishing PRERNA with all the ‘prerna’ for a joyous and colourful SUCCESS.?
#9 September 2nd, 2007 at 11:45 pm ?Yaari has spammed all the contacts in my address book. The spam invites all contacts in my address book to join yaari or else I will be sad.? ?Try Yaari at your own peril.?
# 11 September 4th, 2007 at 10:00 pm ?What is the meaning of “created by Indian youth, for Indian youth” by a person who never lived in India? It is just a marketing hype and one another spam.?
#16 October 18th, 2007 at 5:19 pm “…This site sent out over 600 emails to my entire contact list. I’m not even Indian! Prerna Gupta needs a quick 101 on business ethics before she tries to become an entrepreneur.”
I first became aware of Yaari when I received an invite from one of my LinkedIn connections. Because of the number of requests to join varied networking organizations I have now made it a policy to check out each invitation before I decide to reject or commit. Yaari, as I learned, was full of surprises as I began an adventure into a world reeking with all the makings of a mini Enron.
My first hint at the notoriety behind this social network was when I googled Yaari and immediately found controversial warnings of e-mail contact list invasion. After I examined a few of the expressed claims, I decided to reply to my business contact to substantiate he had indeed sent me the invite. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered the return address was to email@example.com as opposed to the e-mail address of the Yaari member.
His reply was, considering the time zones, quick and to the point. ?…excellent Allan, thanks very much for your thoughtful actions I would never send out an email like the one you received I deleted my account as soon as I found out what they did so please consider the email as spam my email I always sign with “best regards, ****”
best regards, ****?. I have chosen not to reveal his name out of respect for his privacy.
Now I was extremely curious and needed to find out, for myself, what was happening. After all, I was writing a story on Yaari and I needed to have some concrete information of my own to ensure my facts were correct.
Remember Yaari has already stated they only use your e-mail to confirm your registration. They will NOT spam you or SELL your contact information. However, Yaari policy clearly states in section E) ?Notice Regarding Commercial Email?
Members consent to receive commercial e-mail messages from Yaari, and acknowledge and agree that their e-mail addresses and other personal information may be used by Yaari for the purpose of initiating commercial e-mail messages.
In non-technical language as a member, you have authorized them (Yaari Admin) the full rights to your e-mail contacts. In addition, you authorized Yaari to send out invitations and potential commercial e-mail messages for which you the member are responsible for the content. The fact you are unaware of any correspondence sent on your behalf from your e-mail account without your knowledge is in this case irrelevant.
A lesson it seems many of Yaari?s disgruntled members have learned the hard way as noted in, ?Comments to Prerna Gupta of Yaari.com?.
I did join Yaari to ensure I was able to give an honest review. In doing so, I found a flaw in the registration process that allowed me to bypass giving Yaari access to my e-mail contacts. I did take full advantage of the flaw and in my research, I found Ms. Gupta to be misleading and manipulative as she feeds, like a pariah on a people in a country for which she does not live, purely for profit at their expense. Yaari.com is in my eyes nothing more then an elaborate internet fraud bringing shame to honest social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Orkut as examples and needs to be investigated fully by the laws governing such internet sites.
All of this from two Stanford University Alumni that makes me ask the question, is this what Universities are teaching, ?How to Create International On-line Swindles 101??
Yaari.com gets two thumbs down and I mean down.