Slideshare is being integrated into Scribd as of tomorrow. To avoid falling under the TOS of Scribd, per their own suggestion you need to delete your account.

I always thought Scribd was Slideshare’s more evil sibling, even if I don’t remember precisely how I arrived at that conclusion. I deleted my own Slideshare account last week. Tonight I deleted my company’s Slideshare account as well.

My company also has a Scribd account, from the time when you couldn’t really upload regular documents to Slideshare yet. It went unused for the past 4 years or so, but we do use some embeds on our site.

I tried to also delete that Scribd account tonight, and immediately ran into the type of dark patterns that justify my existing perception of Scribd.

First Scribd does not allow you to download all of your own content. Read that again. We had 43 documents on Scribd, I could download 20 of them, and then downloads simply stopped working, and a banner appeared suggesting I open a monthly subscription. They had a 30 day free trial, so I went that route, and downloads then resumed. After downloading all our content, I deleted all content from our company’s Scribd account.

Second, I ended the free trial subscription as well, which does the Facebooky thing of having to confirm 3 times or more you really want to cancel (we’re so sorry to see you go, are you sure you don’t want to change your mind, if you click this we’ll pull a very sad face… etc.)

Third, after deleting our content I wanted to delete our account and could not find a deletion button. I had to duckduckgo how to delete a Scribd account, and on their own help page found that I could not delete our account until a subscription has been cancelled (which I did) and it has reached its end date. Until then there’s no deletion button visible. This means I can delete my account only on October 23rd, when the 30 day trial subscription ends that I already cancelled, and which I only entered into because they wouldn’t allow me to access my own content otherwise!

Good riddance, in short. Or rather: good riddance, in 30 days. Added it to my task list so I don’t forget.

5 reactions on “Scribd Dark Patterns

  1. This reminds me of an email I received a while ago from Slideshare, around the time that the merger into Scribd was announced. I was bemused by this because I’d only notionally been a Slideshare user, as I’d also been on LinkedIn when they acquired Slideshare. Because I’m no longer on LinkedIn and nuked my account several years back, I don’t have a Slideshare account to close, so I just told them to stop emailing me. In the event I get any emails from Scribd I’ll know that that instruction wasn’t obeyed.

    Thankfully, I never took the bait and signed up to Scribd, so I’m glad that I didn’t have to go through the rigmarole that you endured. I chuckled when you describe their account closure process as ‘Facebook-y’ — I nuked my Facebook profile last year and know exactly what you mean. Oh, and definitely a good idea to double-check that they’ve actually cancelled the subscription.

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