« Wesleyan University - Giving their Graduates an Extra Edge | Main | Tennessee Tech University - Alumni Relations Enhance Fundraising »

July 31, 2007

Monmouth College - When an Online Directory ISN'T a Good Idea

Every now and then I run across an idea that belongs in the Worst Practices Bucket.  When I found Monmouth College's online alumni directory, I decided this practice definitely fit the category of "worst practices."  Why, you may ask?  After all, in the past I've discussed how important having such a directory is for your alumni, so they can find each other, communicate, and network.  I've spent a lot of time going over how vital it is for alumni to be able to find each other in order to help with job searches, chit-chat, and even just for a bit of nostalgia, as all of these helps your alumni stay connected - not just with each other, but with their alma mater.

The reason I'm placing Monmouth College's online alumni directory into the Worst Practices Bucket is actually quite simple.  They've made this directory accessible to the public.  Anyone can look up information on Monmouth's alumni - whether they're alumni or not.  This is a problem for several reasons.  For one, email addresses are exposed to the public, which means spammers can find them.  For two, it doesn't allow the alumni to feel safe in sharing their information because they know that it will all be exposed to anyone with an Internet connection and a computer who visits the site.

When alumni are resistant to share their information, a sense of community cannot be built.  What more valid reason is there than not wanting your email address, and other identifying data, to be exposed to the public?  An online alumni community's goal should be to connect alumni with each other and with the college.  If alumni are uncomfortable placing their personal data in the online directory, then everybody loses.  I'm also not sure why Monmouth College has chosen to go this route, as it doesn't save them any time.  The information still has to be updated in the system, and that takes valuable staff time.

Your online alumni community should be a bridge between you and your alumni.  When alumni are resistant to become a part of it because of a publicly accessible online directory, the bridge becomes broken, so the original reason for creating the directory, and the community itself, is no longer valid.  Giving your alumni a secure place to find one another is critical to the success of your community.

Posted by Don Philabaum on July 31, 2007 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b8da69e200e3981f19d88833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Monmouth College - When an Online Directory ISN'T a Good Idea:

Comments

I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.

Posted by: College Research Paper | Jan 7, 2010 8:00:49 AM

I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.

Posted by: College Research Paper | Jan 8, 2010 9:43:15 AM

I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.

Posted by: College Research Paper | Jan 9, 2010 1:03:39 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.