Want to download a file from Scribd? Upload one – Part II

A couple months back I wrote about an interesting(weird?) feature of Scribd that asked me to upload a file in order to let me download another. I wasn’t the only one who found this ridiculous (read comments) and obviously it didn’t go down well with some of us. I happened to run into that feature (which I had almost forgot) again while trying to download one of the featured documents from the site. Here’s what I got after clicking the download link

scribd_presentations need an audience

Oh, so instead of a boring textual message we now have a graphic trying to convince us that in the benefit of community we should upload more presentations. I like most other users(presummably) on the internet didn’t let this deviate it from the goal I started with and clicked “Maybe Later” but folks at Scribd were equally adamant in not letting anyone download something from their servers without getting anything in return (who needs Attention, Engagement etc?) so I got this

scribd_subscribe or continue to download

Right, So if I am not uploading a file I might as well follow(or subscribe) to some people which Scribd feels match my needs(or their’s ?). For a second I can understand the upload presentations prompt, but prompting users to SUBSCRIBE to other users when all they really want is to download a goddamn presentation ?

O Scribd, what were you thinking ?

Apparently there’s another graphic that one gets to see while attempting to download a presentation

scribd_giving back to the community

Thankfully unlike last time Scribd has not only made it optional(maybe later) to upload a presentation before getting to download, they also tell you that you won’t be prompted to upload once you’ve uploaded two presentations or more.

scribd dont worry

(Footer of those upload prompts)

As mentioned in last post I don’t think that forcing users like this works well. Not only does it irritates users it also leads(or might lead) to people submitting random garbage just to get around the needless hurdles like these.

What do you think about these prompts?

Is there a win-win solution for such situations (for both site owners and users) ?

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5 thoughts on “Want to download a file from Scribd? Upload one – Part II

  1. Arun

    Well I guess it just makes users more frustrated. It might be a bad thing getting in the way of users. What Scribd is trying to attempt is capture their attention so that the next time they have something to share, they think of Scribd. It’s good they’ve made this optional. In the long run this could end up in what’s known as “classical conditioning” (Ivan Pavlov experiments). Users get so used to clicking “maybe later” that the message has no effect on them. If someone really has something to upload and share, they will do it anyway. In comparison, the name “SlideShare” is so very clever, it has a call to action in the name itself and subtly triggers user behavior. 🙂

  2. Manoj Ranaweera

    Interesting tactic I was not aware of! Thanks for sharing it. I wonder whether KPIs triggered this behaviour from Scribd! Assume that the number of users who upload is very low compared to number of users who download or read from Scribd. This is certainly true with http://www.edocr.com.

    We would also love to improve this KPI, but have no intention of introducing such measures at this stage of our own development.

    As we are becoming more enterprisey, we are actively reaching up to companies to become customers of edocr.com (yes, they pay us).

    The biggest question is, should someone (this includes companies) be:

    1. a consumer (someone who download and interact)
    2. a publisher
    3. or a consumer and publisher

    I think Scribd is trying to conver (1) to (3). The behaviours of each of these types are different from the others. Interesting to find out which KPIs if any have they assigned to each of above.

    mmh! interesting. Our focus is now on (2) as we are way below the critical mass. As Scribd has reached the critical mass, they have the luxury to experiment. Good place to be.

    Let me know if you wish to cover edocr.com in the future. Happy to respond to any queries you might have

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