Yes, I’m the type of gal who likes to mess about and try new tools and sites. So, nine months ago, Formspring seemed like an amusing timewasting tool – people can ask you questions, either putting their name to them (usually a Twitter name), or anonymously. You then can answer them, and post the responses in your Formspring stream, either for the world to see, or only to your followers (I’m not sure if this was originally an option). You can also follow other people, and ask them questions too, so it can be quite interactive.
Yes, I know it was and still is attracting bad publicity for the fact that school kids use it to bully each other, but school kids can and will use anything to bully each other, from verbal abuse, notes written and passed around, text messages, or messages on various popular sites that over time have moved from MySpace, to Bebo, to Facebook and Twitter. Just because some people misuse it, doesn’t mean a tool is inherently bad. And as an adult, if I didn’t like any questions I received, I could either delete and not answer them, or publish them with a good putdown response.
So, I had fun: I was asked a lot of questions, and in the process actually had to think quite deeply about some things: in daily life you’re not often asked about your aspirations, dreams, or fears, so I learned a bit about myself. I also laughed myself silly at some of the questions, and had great fun thinking up suitably silly responses.
But, after a few months, I got bored. I abandoned the account about six months ago, and recently decided it was time to shut it down – why have that info floating about freely out in the world if I’m not actively using that service? So, I went to close the account.
But no, you can’t shut your account, you can only disable it. Huh? But…erm…I want it gone, and everything on it: there’s no sensitive info in my responses, but it is my choice whether that info stays posted, or not.
Ok, no delete account option? Right – lets delete those questions and answers: surely there must be a “delete all” option? No.
Cue me spending a good chunk of time deleting individually (with a pop-up “are you sure?” box for every one) three hundred and eighteen entries. Six hundred and thirty six clicks to delete. Not counting the page refresh every time the page of entries was done, to reload more to delete.
Ok, so they were all gone, yes?
When I deleted the entries, the questions were regarded as unanswered, and went back into my inbox, waiting for me to answer. As the questions themselves still sometimes contained potentially identifiable info about me, I wanted them gone too. Now, this was marginally better: at least the questions could be deleted in chunks of twenty five at a time. So only thirteen clicks to get rid of them. Plus page reloads.
Right, anything else I can do to remove “me” from this site, since they won’t get rid of the account?
OK, the profile picture – I can remove that, yes?
No. There’s no option NOT to have a picture, just to replace a picture. Hmmmm. Right, so I’ve now replaced that with a picture of something else random, but the option to not have a picture at all would have been far better.
What else? Oh look – I can effectively “protect” the account, so anyone who’s currently subscribed to see what I post, and be alerted when I answer a new question is removed, and have to request to “refollow” me. Much like Twitter – a better way of controlling who sees the material you’re posting. Ok, so the account I want to kill is now protected.
Now, after doing all this, clearing everything out that I can and making what’s left as inaccessible as possible, I’ll disable it. And look, there’s an option when disabling it to say why you want it disabled, and add further comment…so I informed them that I no longer wanted the account, and wished for it to be deleted.
Lets see if they get back to me on this point, eh?