SlideFail: Making fun of yourself: Ok. Getting your users to embarrass themselves in front of their own networks: Not cool.

I got an e-mail from Slideshare this morning:

Hi ceonyc,
We've noticed that your slideshow on SlideShare has been getting a LOT of views in the last 24 hours. Great job ... you must be doing something right. ;-)
Why don't you tweet or blog this? Use the hashtag #bestofslideshare so we can track the conversation.
Congratulations,
-SlideShare Team

I assumed it was because of my Educational Outcomes presentation... that maybe some group of educational administrators finally decided they wanted to know what happened to their students after they graduated and whether school was worth all that money.

I checked and suddenly it had over 100,000 views.  It was around 500 the last time I checked it.  Something was odd.  I went searching bit.ly, Google inbound links, Twitter search... couldn't figure out where the traffic was coming from and spent a fair bit of time trying to track it down.  Someone else asked on the nextNY list and then I realized it was a joke.

I responded "I think it's a joke" and the guy wrote back:

"If by "joke" you mean "obnoxious social media d-baggery joke of an effort at guerrilla marketing" then yes, I agree."

I can't say my own opinion is far off from that, which is a shame, because I really like Slideshare.  It's an awesome service that I recommend all the time. 

The problem with the joke is that they asked me to tweet the presentation out using their hashtag--which meant that all of the people who fell for the joke would be easily findable.  Not only that, but what they really wanted to see was for me to tweet out to my network that I thought my presentation got 100k views, only to have to retract it later and look like an idiot. 

The people who put things on Slideshare are professionals.  These aren't videos of two 14 year old girls lipdubbing Lady GaGa.  These are pretty serious presentations, often given at conferences, and those people who are using Slideshare are undoubted connected on Twitter to their professional networks.  To try to coax them into looking foolish in front of those people just isn't cool.

April Fool's Jokes are best done when everyone knows it's a joke, they're done a little tongue-in-cheek, and they poke people a little bit, but not at their own expense.  The Smellr site was hilarious...  and at worst, it may have bruised the egos of some already wildly successful people--not rank and file users who are actually trying to get their presentations seen and would be disappointed when the views turn out not to be real.  That's not who you should be picking on today.