I already distrust these sites that let others hijack my bio and only let me reclaim it if I become a member. It's a blatant extortion scheme to get me to join. Look at my Gleamd profile, which I found last week:
Feels like a weak Wikipedia entry. But on Wikipedia, I could pop in (even without an account) and explain any flaws. My edits would be reviewed by other Wikipedia users, and eventually some fair profile would come out. But I can't edit anything about myself on Gleamd. Instead I can make an account, "claim" to be myself, and write a note saying I have wings. And then I can go claim to be Chuck Norris.
Gleamd at least could be a poor man's person-search. Yahoo Mash, though, doesn't do anything real. I found out about it when Ben Gold (an Internet fanboy) made me a profile:
On the upside, Yahoo let me delete this profile and opt out of getting more made. Thank god, because I don't see much promise in Yahoo's new stab at social networking. (How could a site with so many rich social properties like Flickr, Upcoming, Yahoo Games, and Yahoo Groups decide that social networking should look like Yahoo 360 or center around "my celebrity look-alikes"?)
Mash's failures are many. The site allows people to edit each other's profiles, but also allows people to close off their own profiles — which means everyone who knows how to do so, will, while the technically inept will become frustrated at their loss of control. The page itself turns me off: the "This is fugly" link, the empty fields that depress me without enticing me to fill them, and the "Mash Pet" that the New York Times calls "a little hand drawn figure that is modeled after a Tamagotchi or a Neopet." Tamagotchi! How's that for up-to-date cultural relevance!
I can only hope that sites like Gleamd and Yahoo Mash compete for the same busybody users and thus remain on the fringe, so people can continue to find me through Google and my own sites. Social networks are stressful enough when I create my own profile; please don't create them for me.