Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring (Web) Cleaning

I'm doing some Spring cleaning of my web accounts, social & otherwise, in honor of the gorgeous Spring we're having. There are two fundamental steps: disconnecting services that I do not use from accessing my primary accounts (Google, Twitter, Facebook) & then discontinuing the accounts/profiles of sites I no longer need. I'm certain I'm not the only one who samples numerous new services then promptly drops them, so hopefully this post will be useful to a few of you.

MyPermissions.org

A pivotal tool, MyPermissions.org enumerates the links to major "apps permissions" pages for sites like Google, Twitter, & Facebook. Many smaller services allow you to login with your major account & even more use feature integration, so it's important to sever access once you stop using a service. For instance, I removed Twitter access from GoPollGo, Academia.edu, Greplin, & RockMelt. I had forgotten about those last three so it was great to clear out; I might use GoPollGo in the future but presently there's no reason for it to maintain access to my Twitter.
Second comes the accounts I do not use enough to justify continuing. For most of these, what I did was scroll through 1Password, checking for accounts I have either forgotten about or do not truly need. Here are some example deletions.

Untappd

Social networking for beer drinkers, you "check in" your drinks and get badges. Yes, it's FourSquare for drunks. Not only is Untappd the epitome of oversharing in social media (I can't imagine any employer is delighted by my "weekday warrior" badge for consuming three beers on a Wednesday night) but it offered no added value for me. I keep a beers Google spreadsheet with ABV, ratings, style, and other data which I can then query for metrics like favorite brewer or style.

Greplin

A personal search engine that scans across Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, etc. accounts & gives results. Deleting a service like this is multi-fold: first I delete my account, then I have to head to each of those profiles & revoke access to Greplin. While I had high praise for Greplin at first, I rarely found use cases for it. There's definitely a place for services such as this, I just haven't found it yet. I stopped using the RockMelt browser (basically a social version of Chrome with sidebar apps) recently too & that process was analogous: a useful, interesting tool but also one with access to all my web personas.

All Menus

Online ordering from restaurants. Nowhere good in my neighborhood is listed & the site itself is disconcerting, with broken internal links & several errors. Breaks my "don't trust poor websites with your financial information" rule.

Cloud 9 IDE

Online IDE (code editor with fancy features) with Github integration that I never got around to using. Great idea & maybe I'll return to it, but for now I don't need an account.

Other Accounts

I also deleted my Campusfood, Stubhub, Meetup, Scrib, SoundClick, MySpace, PureVolume, & ReverbNation (those last four were artist profiles...I'm not still on MySpace) accounts. I deleted a Wordpress.com blog I no longer update & my account at an online retailer that I will probably never purchase from again.

I learned one major lesson from my Spring cleaning: online retaliers are the worst. Not only do they have your most sensitive (i.e. financial) information, they also are the most hesitant to empower their users. Few retailers provide a "delete account" button & many do not reply to customer support emails. All in all, it's better to centralize purchasing in online companies that get it, like Amazon, than trust a series of companies with questionable web development practices.

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