Joho the Blog » The Grinch who Turned Down Testimonials

The Grinch who Turned Down Testimonials

I have problems with Orkut and other such e-friendship networks because they make binary the most analog of relationships. But I really hate testimonials. I am neurotically compliment-averse to begin with, but encouraging people to write little paragraphs praising one another cannot help but spawn an Economy of Bullshit.

What makes it worse is that the couple of testimonials I’ve gotten (and declined) have been from actual friends who thoughtfully crafted paragraphs that meant something to them and to me. And then I slam the door on them.

I wish Orkut would make this less awkward by letting participants opt out of receiving testimonials.

Cross-blogged at Corante Many2Many.

8 Responses to “The Grinch who Turned Down Testimonials”

  1. Funny, I was just posting about how I find testimonials far more useful than “friend” designations. ;-)

  2. Nice posting, Scott. And I agree with you that further dividing “friends” into degrees won’t help. In fact, it makes matters worse because it further distorts our friendships by making them yet more explicit. Explicitness is the death of sociality! (Sometimes.)

    I see what you’re saying about testimonials, but I think they inevitably are going to be debased fluff … so now I not only have to say that someone I barely know is my friend (because the alternative is to hurt that person’s feelings), but I also have to dredge up some BS about how great s/he is. Yech. Not to mention that saying a few nice sentences about someone you genuinely care about is a task best left to poets.

  3. David (as I just alerted him in email) already has two testimonials on his orkut page. This is the consistency one attains (of peanut butter? of silly putty?) by studying philosophy at the post-graduate level. What would Habermas do? I am outing David here on his own blog because I delight in annoying him even though we are excellent friends. one might argue that this is not how friends behave toward one another, but that would lead only to futher filospfikal debate. at least I’m not posting the “testy moanial” that he rejected, the bastard!

  4. I do indeed have two testimonials on my orkut page. I accepted both because my policy of accepting all who claim to be my friend, including a few who I’m pretty sure are fictitious, has ingrained a twitch reflex in my mousing hand. I thus accept the testimonials thinking they were friends.

    Yet one more reason why I’d like a no-testimonials preference setting in Orkut.

    My new tagline for Orkut: All maintenance, no value. At least for the likes of me.

  5. The fan is a big point I’d like to see tweaked. I’d like to list a number of folks as fan like Doc or Declan McCullagh that while I read regularly at least with you I have interacted via the comments and email so you you have some knowledge of me, but not sure that Doc and Declan would remember me. Why fan someone? I enjoy your writing and it’s not as compliment heavy as the testimonial. While I am sure some folks may think I need to fan him because he ‘fan’ed me and it may well get overrated, I only fan those people I think do great work and would like to let them know. I have seven fans right now and only maybe 3 or 4 are people who know me or my work enough to make an assessment.

    As for the testimonials yea social BS but our words do allow for the gray areas a little better than firm social distinctions.

  6. Urkel

    There’s been a lot of talk about Orkut lately: what works, and what doesn’t; who can get in, and who can’t; whether ‘friend’, ‘cool’, and ‘hot’ are enough to capture all the nuances of the modern relationship. But we here…

  7. Nice posting, Scott. And I agree with you that further dividing “friends” into degrees won’t help. In fact, it makes matters worse because it further distorts our friendships by making them yet more explicit. Explicitness is the death of sociality! (Sometimes.)

  8. Funny, I was just posting about how I find what makes it worse is that the couple of testimonials I’ve gotten (and declined) have been from actual friends who thoughtfully crafted paragraphs that meant something to them and to me. And then I slam the door on them.

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