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April 01, 2009


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Phil I saw this and thought it was for real although like you I did wonder because it didn't say which Slideshow. I cant believe Slideshare would do something like this. Sadly I posted someting on Twitter about the "bestofslideshare"



My sincere, personal apologies. Its just an April Fool's prank. I understand why you are upset, however, we did not mean to offend our users who we love. But I can see your perspective.

CEO & Cofounder, SlideShare

Brian Kelly

Hi Phil
Not only does this seem to be a mistaken attempt by Slideshare's marketing department to generate traffic and attention, as you suggest, I think there use of hidden images in their email messages and there encouragement of hashtags is unethical, as I described in my blog post at:

Brian Kelly, UKOLN

PS Congratulations of getting your blog post out so quickly.

Joy Palmer

Agree with both you and Brian Kelly that this is primarily about marketing, which makes this patently not funny. I guess it's a good lesson for us to learn from. Just posted a slideshow there myself, and wishing I didn't feel a bit conflicted about that.

Paul Ayres

As someone who was trying to use SlideShare today to upload a couple of presentations, this did not help - the site did not seem to cope too well with the extra traffic producing failed uploads etc.

... weirdly enough part of the presentation I was uploading was to recommend SlideShare - I'll be thinking twice about that now - I doubt that is the effect that they were hoping for ...

Thanks for the list of alternatives Phil - I will be taking a look at these

Jonathan Boutelle

Phil ... terribly sorry if we hurt your feelings. We were just trying to give everybody a good April Fools Day laugh. But it certainly seems like we didn't think this one though: my fault entirely.

Please accept my personal apologies.

Jonathan Boutelle
CTO, SlideShare


This is really bad.
Thanks to slideshare for ruining my day.
I am very upset because of what they did.

Karen Blakeman

I was running a workshop all day so didn't pick up my email until this evening. I was, though, demonstrating Twitter to the group and picked up tweets about the "Slideshare hoax."

When I got back to my hotel room and picked up the email my reaction as a user of Slideshare was that the email was not funny and totally pointless. Slideshare have shown total contempt for their users!

I had demonstrated Slideshare in my workshop and it was nominated for the their top 10 search tips at the end of the day. Had the workshop participants seen the brouhaha over this stupid prank they could well have decided that this was not a source to be trusted. I am now beginning to wonder. I use authorstream as a backup for my presentations and will make sure that I continue to do so.

As you say, Phil, Slideshare may regret this all too soon.

Erik Duval

I was a slideshare superstar BEFORE April, 1 - http://erikduval.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/history-of-chi-were-all-superstars/#comment-298 ;-)

This wasn't really a Great Idea from the Slideshare folks, but I'm not too upset about it. Some of my jokes are not such a great success either ;-)

Neil Infield

I always enjoy reviewing the April 1 'news' stories. My favourite so far is the Guardian newspaper switching to Twitter after 188 years of ink.

However, I was taken in by this email from Slideshare, and was on the cusp of blogging my unlikely increase in hits, which would have been embarrassing.

Glad to see the responsible parties have confessed their sins on your blog, and perhaps we can forgive this naive blunder this time.

After all the site is incredibly useful.


Jon Hansen

As I had openly admitted on Twitter, I too fell for the “prank” hook, line and sinker.

I also indicated that some would feel that anyone who expressed disappointment are limited to those who take themselves far too seriously.

I have never been reluctant to use self-deprecating humor - after all if we cannot laugh at ourselves as the saying goes . . .

However, I truly do rely on SlideShare’s numbers to inform clients about read activity. And while 20,000 reads was an hugely “optimistic” number, one also considers the source in weighing the veracity of the information. And as a side note, meteoric increases are possible as my blog’s syndicated readership base grew from 0 when it was launched in May 2007 to reaching 300,000 syndicated subscribers each month worldwide by August 2008.

Perhaps that’s what made it a great prank was the fact that no one could see it coming. On the other hand, to arrive at that point of creditability (re being a trusted source of info) is something that is earned and maintained through an organization’s conduct or actions. Ultimately, SlideShare’s hard earned creditability is what created the degree of trust that opened the door to making one susceptible to the prank in the first place.

In hindsight, is this really the way SlideShare wanted to leverage that trust?

Once again, and as demonstrated by a few user comments, there will certainly be some to tell others that they have to get a life and not take the situation or themselves so seriously. In the end however, SlideShare has to ask if their little joke furthered their organization’s best interests (i.e. added to the trust that people have in the company), or as it hurt it?

That is a question that should have been asked before hand.

As for me I will take my lumps because I am a big boy, and that’s life. But I will never view SlideShare in the same light, nor will I honestly look at your statistics with the same level of confidence I had prior to this morning.

One final note: I have now been assured that my secured documents re papers which can only be accessed through the utilization of a tightly controlled password were in fact included in the prank, and not exposed to a breach in security. However, the fact that these types of documents were part of the joke took the matter to an entirely different level that exacebated the situation.

In an upcoming segment of my weekly talk radio show, the subject of Web 2.0 services will be discussed. I had of course planned to talk about a variety of platforms including SlideShare,which up until today I had used almost exclusively. I am now certain that any discussions involving SlideShare (including listener call-ins) will focus more on the April 1st escapades, than the service offering itself.

It is a shame, because it is now apparent that SlideShare actually underestimated its impact on (and responsibility to) the market it serves.

Jon Hansen

Epilogue to a bad joke . . .

For those of you who fell for the SlideShare "prank" I thought that I would share the apology I issued to my clients (and readership) upon discovering the true nature of the view activity.

I am doing this for two reasons, the first is to show that there is no shame in being duped when dealing with what you believed was a trusted source of information.

The second is to perhaps help SlideShare to recognize the real consequences associated with their actions now that they are a bonafide Web 2.0 service provider and not a boutique platform. It will hopefully help them to also see that an unconditional apology without qualifications, in which they take full ownership for their actions, will likely go a long way to winning back the serious business user.

I am only glad that my original sharing of the false information was wrapped in my usual self-deprecating manner (i.e. with reference to being a rock star I informed my readership that the e-mail initially made me suspicious as my vocal talents are a cross between Slim Whitman and a howling coyote). I however cringe when I think about those unfortunate individuals who saw the "increased popularity" as a validation of their work.

That said here is my apology:

"I want to take this opportunity to personally apologize to you for this morning's e-mail regarding the "tremendous" numbers relating to the recent download activity for the "Riding the Crest of a New Wave" white paper.

As it turns out SlideShare, the platform in which a great number of professionals and businesses post papers and presentations admitted to "doctoring the numbers" and then sending an e-mail to an undetermined number of users informing them of the outstanding performance.

While the actual download activity has been respectable, it has certainly not been at the 20,000 mark.

While I am obviously a little embarrassed for having fallen for the prank (I am also going to have to ask that my deposit on the Brooklyn Bridge be returned), I have always believed in facing the music so to speak rather than sweeping it under the proverbial carpet.

And while one would not expect an organization such as SlideShare, who is viewed by many as being the leader in terms of the services they provide to take such liberties, it nonetheless proves that even the most seasoned professional can be fooled some of the time."

One final note, SlideShare has teamed-up with LinkedIn, which is a serious business network. I wonder how that organization and its members will view this in the proverbial morning?



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