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Online Invitations Still Broken

'Tis the season for holiday gatherings, which means it's the season for invitations to said events... which most of the time means an Evite invitation.

I'm happy about two of those three things.

Evite dominates the online-invite market but shouldn't. Although it has progressed a little since my rant about it last summer (it has a mobile-phone site that, after I reset my password, now lets me view event details on the go), it remains needlessly annoying.

Its worst offense is its habit of forcing users to visit its Web site to get any useful information about an upcoming appointment, even just its date and location. I'm sure Evite's advertisers are thrilled with the inflated page-view counts that result, but it wastes everybody else's time. It also adds work if you use an e-mail program that, like Google's Gmail or Apple's Mail, can detect those when/where coordinates in a message and offer to add the event to your calendar.

Evite's own site, in turn, tries to saturate you with advertisements at every moment. I don't begrudge this IAC subsidiary the right to make a living (note: IAC chief executive Barry Diller is a board member of the Washington Post Company), but can't it at least ditch the nearly-full-page ad that takes you away from the invitation after you reply to it?

I'm far from alone in this resentment of Evite. Yet this site won't go away.

Evite competitors such as Pingg, Anyvite, Planypus, Socializr and MyPunchbowl have all won favorable reviews--but their market share remains a tiny fraction of Evite's.

The biggest threat to Evite may come not from another specialized invitations site, but from services running on sites people already use. A year ago, I expected that Google would add that kind of feature to Google Calendar and promptly squash Evite -- but that hasn't happened. Microsoft, however, offers Windows Live Events for users of its Windows Live site. And then there's Facebook Events, which has the advantage of riding on an immensely popular social network that tens of millions of people log into every day.

Over the last year, I've started seeing more of my invitations arrive through this last channel. I've begun using Facebook Events to set up events as well -- for instance, the holiday gathering my wife and I are planning for later this month.

Unfortunately, there are those Luddites who aren't on Facebook (note to AZ, MT, DO and KG: Would you please get with the program already?). So for this party, we had to set up a second online invitation outside of Facebook. And the easiest way to do that was to reuse the template from last year's gathering, which we'd set up on... Evite. Yeah, I know. I'm sorry.

Have you been able to extricate yourself from Evite? What service did you switch to?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 5, 2008; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Gripes , The Web  
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Comments

I've been hosting a holiday party for years, and I've been using Evite for most of them. This year I've added a Facebook event as well, and it's ok, just need to monitor two places. The only way around it would be if Facebook offered a "guest" functionality.

Posted by: Hemisphire | December 5, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Your comment about your friends needing to "get with the program" and join a social networking site that _you_ have chosen so that you can send them invitations is ridiculous. That's a significant flaw in the service and not a benefit. That's like expecting me to join the Rotary Club just so that I can receive postal mail from others who happen to be members a club I choose not to join. That's such high-school clique-think that it's embarrassing that adults think this way.

Some people have better things to do with their lives than follow the annoying trivialities of social networking sites like Facebook. (There's a reason I'm glad I'm no longer in high school.) If you enjoy Facebook, then power to ya, but it's absurd to think that the problem with Facebook invites is simply that a few of your friends have failed to join.

The new Wave 3 release of SkyDrive by Microsoft got it right. The beta version required a Passport ID in order to share private files with others. The new version has removed that limitation and that's the way it should be.

Posted by: scarper86 | December 5, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I'd heard, but I'm not sure if it's true, that Evite collects all the email addresses that are entered and, I'm guessing, sells that information to 3rd parties. True??

Posted by: DrBeaker | December 5, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I want to see a standard email invitation and RSVP format emerge and all mail clients support it (we're essentially just waiting on Outlook at this point, but because of Exchange it's unlikely). Then we won't need ANY of these sites to manage these things for us, just send the invite from your email client and your calendar will manage the responses as they come in.

The only advantage to these sites is that all the attendees can see everyone else's responses. That function could be replicated using a cloud calendar like Google's, so these sites had better notice the writing on the wall before it's too late.

Posted by: divestoclimb | December 5, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so it's "bad" for evite to force people to its site to get event details, but it's not bad to force people to not just go to the Facebook site, but to sign up for an account and be subjected to dozens of cutesy quiz challenges and "gifts" from friends and all the other cruft that goes with FB?

I use this strange substance called "paper" and a service called the "US Mail" to send invitations. I encourage people to respond using a fabulous technology called "the telephone."

Posted by: larrymac | December 5, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Lovely withering critique, Scarper, and I concur 100%. No Luddite (the number of email addresses I possess rivals football teams), I loathe the entire concept of 'social networking' site and the "what I'm doing this second is SOOOOO important" triviality of Twitter that I'm in full rejection of them both.

This is not to say I don't have a Facebook account: someone set one up in a name we both share (our birthdates are a bit off) and used one of my email addresses as his. So far, none of _MY_ friends have attempted to 'Friend me' through it, god bless'em.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | December 5, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

FireFox with the Adblock Plus extension works just fine to strip the Evite site down to only the bits you need to see.

Posted by: tegularius | December 5, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

For the record, Evite does not sell any email addresses.

Posted by: kimchris2 | December 5, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I will not submit to the idiocy of facebook or myspace just to avoid having to see an ad when I respond to an evite. Besides, my next click is to close that tab, doesn't matter what the page is showing.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | December 5, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I strongly agree that Rob is way off on his belief that a Facebook or similar account is some sort of given these days. Senseless rubbish, this fad.

What's lost here is the silly notion that before the Internet, it was impossible to schedule a party. Virtual invitations are for virtual friends. If you want real attendees, try real invitations.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | December 6, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

God bless you, tegularius! I just installed Adblocker Plus and decreased the load time for the Washington Post home page by about a minute and a half. Loads almost instantly now! Thanks soooo much!

Posted by: tbaxter | December 6, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm one of those people who were around at the beginning of the Internet. I helped create major sites, I have industry credentials, and I still don't even fathom Facebook. Yes, my kids have it, I'm not opposed to it.

But the idea that people care about my every move is a bit laughable. The idea that people want to check on my page doesn't fit in with people who are older than about 30 (roughly).

For me, when someone older than about 35 mentions their facebook page, I assume one of two things, they're either trying to promote something (album, small business, etc) or they're locked into some weird peter-pan thing where they are trying to relive their youth.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 6, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

When I want to invite REAL friends over, I just grab the phone and call, sometimes an email message will do the job. If this something more formal then a card sent courtesy of US Mail with a RSVP will be enough.

Really, what's the point of using evite, facebook, etc. Just because thousands of immature lemmings swear by these services doesn't mean they make sense.

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | December 6, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

RP
Of course I am a luddite, the multiple cell phones, 4 computers, Ipods etc notwithstanding. But seriously, Facebook? How many ways do people need to contact each other? You can always call me, e-mail or text me at any one of 9 different numbers/ on-line accounts. Some of which I've had since the late 1980's
MaT

Posted by: mathoya | December 7, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

So, no one's going to answer Rob's question, huh?

Posted by: cbr1 | December 7, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

When I get invitations from evite I only respond directly to the person extending the invitation. As a matter of personal web policy, I won't register "on demand" for a site, and at 61, I don't need to be on facebook. I find sites like those intrude too much into my personal space.

Posted by: momj47 | December 8, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

One still needs to open an account with evite if you want to view the invitation and reply to it. so having to sign up with facebook is not the reason to avoid it.

I don't think it's about opening/having accounts with evite or facebook. My take is that it is about exposing more or less of yourself on your choice of networking site. As of now evite is a less intrusive facility as it focuses on invitations to events.

Facebook events and other such sites already have a lot of your information because these are primarily networking sites with friends.

It's one's choice how many networking sites to join, but one would tend to gravitate to where friends already reside and use them for like purposes.

Google has Orkut for networking and its Events facility, but I don't think that site has too many subscribers. As for other networking sites, a couple of school alumni sites (alumni.net, classmates.com), LinkedIn, and the others mentioned by Rob also vie for our attention. How many ways do we need to contact each other?

Apparently lots and lots, as these sites are still getting built and are still able to sell ads (I don't know about making money).

Posted by: rickgonz | December 8, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I use Manvite - www.manvite.com - to send free online invitations for beer drinking and Redskins game viewing with my bros. No self respecting man would send out an Evite with a frittata recipe on it for events like that.

Posted by: jwsills | December 8, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

FACEBOOK?!

Meh.

Some of us have real lives and no desire to waste a large amount of it on fads like Facebook.

Gee what's your mood right this very minute, every minute of the day/night?

Honey I just could not care less, even if paid to do so.

And don't get me started on Facebook's crackhead cousin: Twitter. AT least the "twit" part is correct.

I think Facebook people are video game people; they have come to equate pseudo-interaction on the internet with interaction between actual live people and use that equation to validate wasting days at a time fascinating themselves with a new game . . . . or Facebook.

Posted by: lquarton | December 9, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with mathoya and lquarton. Why should we use Facebook? My wife can barely keep up with her e-mail and I really don't need another account to maintain. I use LinkedIn for professional reasons and Myspace for music / hero worship. I have absolutely no reason to add Facebook as well. All my friends have my e-mail address, from you to the most-Luddite of them. Yeah, Evite is a pain for all of the reasons you describe. Maybe something will come along that is better. However, joining a whole new service like Facebook is not the answer.

P.S. We will see you next Saturday.

Posted by: slar | December 9, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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