Annoying automatically added AIM bots

I have the dubious pleasure of having friends on pretty much all of the major IM networks. Of these, at least among my own contacts, AIM is the least popular.

Partially it’s probably the relatively bad user interface of program, the limited emoticon set, and other aspect of the IM functionality. Additionally it may be the, somewhat justified, conception of AOL services as being simplistic.

And partially it must certainly be due to their attitude. As became apparent yet again a few days ago when they automatically, without my request or consent, and without any indication of interest on my account, added two bots to my contact list.

I signed on to my IM client, and was immediately greeted by these messages from AOL System Msg:

AIM added a new AIM Bots group to your Buddy List.

Send IMs to moviefone and shoppingbuddy for great holiday flicks and gift ideas. (To remove ‘em, just right-click and delete! Learn More)

And lo and behold, my contact list did list this new group called AIM Bots, and it did have these two new contacts in it.

Listen, AOL: if you want to let me know about new services, publish them, and hope I’ll notice somehow. Try to make them good enough that other people will tell me, buy ads, or send this as a service message to the email account associated with the AIM account (but only if I agreed to recieve such messages). That’s all fine. But just automatically subscribing me to those services, especially if they take the very visible form of new contacts in my personal IM contacts list, is not fine. It’s actually very very bad behaviour.

On their behalf, though a very small and minor plus, they did mention that it’s possible to delete the new contacts. I expect anyone used to managing their contact lists will know that, but it’s quite possible they have plenty of users who barely knows how to open a chat window with a few contacts that someone else defined for them.

But letting people know they can reverse the addition, is not enough. That’s annoying, and it feels invasive. I choose who, or what, I want on my contact list. Not the IM client.

So I had to spend the few seconds of removing the new unwanted contacts, and deleting the leftover empty group.

At which point, for a reason I can’t fathom, they still didn’t leave me alone. Instead they felt that they have to let me know what I just did. I got yet another message popping up from AOL System Msg:

The following bots are no longer available and have been removed from your buddy list: moviefone, shoppingbuddy. To find out more about bots, go to http://aimtoday.aol.com/aimbots

What’s the idea of telling me that, beside annoying me? I know these bots have been removed. I just removed them myself.

If there were plenty of reasons for contacts to be removed automatically (Do they also remove active bots that they decided I don’t need, without asking me? I can’t quite bring myself to believe that) then such notifications are in order. But that’s not the case. Telling me that something happened, when the only reason for it happening is that I did it myself, is plain stupid.

Or maybe this was simply their way of letting me know where can I find the whole selection of available bots. Funny way, to do it not when the new bots are available (Well, alright, they did it then as well), but after I explicitly shown I am not interested in a bot.

Some companies just don’t get it…

17 Responses to “Annoying automatically added AIM bots”

  1. int-bum says:

    you sound like a cry baby. i find that moviebot is helpful when if am looking for a movie. its not that much of a hassle to just fucking delete the bots, you are either lazy or incompetent to aim in general. you seem like a loser geek that has nothing better to do then complain about something that aol is trying to make easier for you.
    goodbye loser,
    int-bum

  2. Post author comments:

    First of all, they didn’t add moviebot, they added two other bots.

    Second, yes, it’s easy to delete them. I even mentioned that it’s easy. But that is not the point. The point is that they shouldn’t add them without a user request. They have lots of bots and keep adding more. It’s my decision which ones are useful to me, not theirs.
    If I want a bot, I can add it. That’s pretty easy too. It shouldn’t be my job to go remove bots I didn’t want, though. Someone who wants an extra service, that is not included by default, should do the easy work to add it. Someone who isn’t interested in a service he didn’t subscribe to shouldn’t be forced to remove that service. It’s that simple.
    Plus, by the same logic of “it may be useful to some percentage of the people, and it’s easy to remove” you may just as well justify spam. Some people find it useful and follow through, or we wouldn’t have a problem. And deleting a message is easy. That still doesn’t make it right.

    A contact list should contain people, or bots, that a user want there. It’s the user’s responsibility to decide. Creating a basic “package” to new user, including those bots, is legitimate. But adding contacts automatically to a list of an existing user, that isn’t. Contacts should only be added when the user adds them intentionally.
    What’s the next step, AIM deciding that based on a user’s interest there’s a person he may like, and adding human contacts automatically??

  3. Post author comments:

    Hmm… Wait, you actually got here searching for “Annoying AIM bots”. And with that you have a problem with someone complaining about the AIM bots?
    That’s funny. Really.
    I was considering to maybe also mention that I got quite a few hits since making this post with people looking for ways to remove AIM bots (I think, like you, that it’s very easy, but apparently some AOL users don’t agree). But your search, in the context of your reaction, is much more amusing.
    Thanks!

  4. Luke SwissalpS says:

    Those bots might be usefull for people living in the US.
    They don’t cover europe so it’s a “nuisance” to have to delete them from the lists whenever I set up a new system for someone around here.

    I’m not sure you can complain about not having requested the bots as you did request the services from AOL.
    You know, if you read the terms and conditions or by common sense, that AOL has the right to improve and expand the services at their liking.
    You also know that a free service must be subsadised in some way and you can’t really say they don’t give you the option not to use the extra service. So actually it’s not worth grumbling about much. (imho I might add)
    Apparently we all three do like doing so tho, or these entries hadn’t been made lol

    Chat/blog well! :-D

  5. Yaron says:

    Hi,

    Yes, they do have the right to do whatever they want with their service. I don’t pay for it, and their terms and condition pretty much leave it open for them to do almost anything they like with it.
    That doesn’t mean that I should also be happy about it, though. They may decide breaking at noon for a two hour siesta, and for late at night when the users are better off sleeping, is also an improvement. That would be much more annoying, but well within their terms.

    Complaining is fair, as long as the terms don’t explicitly say I can’t complain. The terms don’t say that. So the annoyance of these bots isn’t enough for me to stop talking to the people I know who insist on using AIM. That doesn’t mean I can’t be annoyed about it. There is a whole wide range of how bad things are.

    And hey, everyone likes to complain. It’s a very basic human trait. It’s good at relieving tension. And it’s fun. So as long as there are at least real reason to complain about, there’s nothing wrong with complaining. ;)

  6. Shadowgoo (TheSmashBot626's botmaster) says:

    ehehhhe I got here by searching for “annoying aim bots”, but I think the ones that advertise porn websites are annoying. Uggggh……

  7. r says:

    I appreciate the complaining, because not only was it annoying to find these things added to my account, I was afraid it meant someone had access to my account or my computer that I didn’t know about. Thanks for posting it.

  8. Post author comments:

    Yes, they did it again recently.
    I actually wrote this post a while ago, but it seems that AOL just like to keep repeating some bad behaviours over the years…

    I’m not sure if the official AIM client made some explanations when the bots were added, but other clients (I’m using Trillian, but the behaviour was probably the same on Miranda, Gaim/Pidgin, and others) simply had the bots listed without anything.
    If they have to be rude enough to stick five new bots into my contact list, without asking, the least they could do was to have one of them open a chat window on the first login and send over an explanation on what happened.

  9. J Johnson says:

    I use Trillian at work and Pidgin Portable everywhere else and I hate it that AIM throws these bots on my program (with no warning in either place). It just seems like a poor business practice to me but considered the source (AOL) it does not surprise me. I was an AOL dial up user back in 95-97 and they provided a great service. Now, they are trying to compete with Google, Yahoo and MS and they cannot find any traction with users. Placing bots on my IM is not the way to get me to use your product.

    I think that “int-bum” is a Time-Warner stock holder angry over losing his money to a dumb investment! ;)

    Thank you for the post.

  10. Post author comments:

    What’s more curious is that there are plenty of their users complaining about it, practically no users (besides int-bum) who claim they are happy to have new bots shoved willy-nilly down their throats, and yet AOL just keep adding the bots, time and time again.

    It’s a dumb idea to begin with, but people and companies make mistakes. The trick is to realize when what you did was a mistake, and to avoid doing it again. And again. And again. AOL just sticks to making mistakes, and then repeating them.

  11. CheeseKing says:

    Fuck int-bum, these bot things are freakin annoying as hell. I too came to this site hoping to find a way to block these things from randomly popping up in my Trillian contact list. The only reason I even keep AIM on Trillian is because I have a few friends who insist on using the sorry-ass excuse for a messenger program. I freakin HATE AOL..

  12. Ten says:

    AIMbots are an artifact, as is int-bum, of AOL marketing. Due to poor management (thanks time-warner) the marketing department is allowed to push "aimbots" and other offensive marketing materials on unappreciative users. The best response is to simply close the AIM account and move to Yahoo or one of the other IM providers. Far as I know, only aol has such clueless marketing and management.

  13. Post author comments:

    Yes, I don’t recall anything similar from Yahoo or MSN, and AOL do have a long long record of overly enthusiastic marketing-based decisions. I think I did get a few similar bots on ICQ, but that was well after they were purchased by, ahem, AOL.

  14. JamesA says:

    I came here hoping to find a way to prevent them from being added. I suppose there isn’t a way!
    I deleted a bot from my trillian yesterday at work, then when I got home, only to be welcomed by the same bot a THIRD TIME this morning! Attempting to block it this time to see if that works!

    Oh and fuck int-bum, he’s the whiney bitch.

  15. JD says:

    How to remove AIM bots?

    I resent having these bots planted on me. They show up in my Gmail chat list. I haven’t been able to figure out how to remove them. Could someone please spell it out step by step? Thank you.

  16. Post author comments:

    PJ, just remove them as you would any other non-bot contact. They’re not harder to remove than anyone else.
    The main problem with them is that they’re being added without your confirmation.

  17. Instant payday advance says:

    I liked the points you made in this blog, I was un aware that this was an issue, and now I can understand a few things with my IM ability

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