Ecademy allows public access to emails and sends out spam. Will it ever learn?

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Ecademy, is an odd old thing. It’s one of the UK’s oldest social networks but remains stubbornly “2003” in appearance and operation. Its cultish method of operation – awarding “black-star” membership to those who pay $100 a month for the privilege – regularly causes flair-ups among the members who don’t pay so much, and who seem to be variously small-time consultants and small businesses. It routinely bans members who question the way the site is run and inevitably this ends up appearing online somewhere.

I wrote about it extensively here, after which the site’s fans – like a horde of zombies smelling fresh, living blood – were set on the post and I had to eventually close the comments.

It also doesn’t help online relations that they have some kind of “feature” which means that their members seem to regularly spam unwitting recipients. Some examples are here, here, here, here and here.

And it now turns out that for some time the site (probably unwittingly, certainly incompetently) has been making publicly accessible tens of thousand of pages detailing email conversations with its customers.

Edit the last few digits in the range 1 – 22400 of a URL like and you were able to access all sorts of emails. I tried this out myself on the weekend. It made quite entertaining reading.

At least you could do this, up until today.

They appear to have now plugged the hole, but not before blogger Paul Walsh captured an interesting exchange:

re above blog:
Can I ask why it is permissible for this idiot to badmouth me in public on this forum…
I am shocked this evening to see that this ‘chap’ posted my (unrequested) testimonials as a joke and of ‘whats wrong with this network club!
I have just signed up/paid as an powernetworker within the last few days – unless I get a response I would like to cease my member ship & receive by return the amount I paid to join returrned to my credit card…
I find it disgraceful that this character asassination can take place… & if this Ecademy I want no part of it

I asked Ecademy to respond and give their side of the story several hours ago but they have not done so. I’ll update the post if/when they respond.

Update: They finally responded.

  • Nevinho

    Hate to be the grammar police, but if that’s representitive of the quality of people on ecademy then they can keep their exclusive little club to themselves.

    I prefer to network with people who know how to read and write!

  • Simon Raistrick

    I spoke to the director of ecademy some time ago about improving the User Experience, but he seemed to think that (a) it’s fine and (b) his idea of social networking is that you get everything for free – it seems he has built his business like this. All I can say is that he was wrong on both counts, and it shows in the end product.

  • Nikki Pilkington

    Well done to Julian for plugging the gap quickly – but I find it odd that they didn’t know about this earlier than today – it was being discussed in a private club over a week ago.

  • http://underconstruction Li Chen

    I was a paid member but for what? iI left too many blackstars spam me every time 2 mins. It is ridicules, what do the directors get paid for? them must be millionaires just for having a server with a bit of blogging and message board.

    It does look like it was made the 80’s and do not say it all about networking crap, i had hundreds in my network and not one lead and helped over people lots, its a total rip off.


  • john m howitt

    I am sure this must be a mistake and is just people who are attempting to damage their own brand.

    Thomas is one of the worlds most connected people and actually knows people in more countries around the world that there are countries. Now that’s clever. Knowing Thomas is cheaper than an ad in Yellow Pages.

    Penny, who always looks like Princess Di to me is, as her own publicity states “A networking legend” and she regularly runs clinics to help networkers decide which shades of pink mix well together when they are establishing their personal brand.

    The Ecademy also runs a very special service not unlike Hotel California, once you join you are there forever (it’s called ‘not cleansing the database’), however i don’t think Hotel California spams you to the same degree.

    However as i say this is all carping by people who wish they had a Web 3.0 site like the Ecademy when most if not all of it’s members not foolish enough to leave in the first five minutes are undoubtedly millionaires, or did Penny say Brazilianaires?

  • Ste Andreassen

    If you’d like to know more about how BlackStar originated, read this –

    As for Thomas’ comment in the “10 years old” article, mentioning the “vigorous debate”, Thomas wouldn’t know vigorous debate if it bit him on the nose. Try getting answers, and you will be met with a wall of obfuscation, or he will simply ban you from Ecademy.

  • Whatever

    Cry some more, don’t like it? don’t visit.

  • Telda Troof

    Good old Ecademy. It’s a laugh a minute, isn’t it?

    It’s the Belgium of networking sites – irrelevant and run by people you’ve never heard of

  • john m howitt

    actually the Ecademy is quit popular in Belgium.

    • Telda


  • Jack

    As a former Ecademy member, there is just something totally odious about the whole organisation. When I was several years younger and somebit greener I went to a few of their gatherings and found them full of self-centred, egotists who pounce on anyone with a pulse to try and flog their ‘life coaching’ courses to; it’s painfully parasitical.

    I’m not one for generalisations ordinarily but I’ve yet to be disabused of the impression that every ‘Blackstar’ (equivalent of masonic high priests, or so you’d think) has to pass a test confirming that they are suitably – yet pitifully – self-aggrandising.

    Overall – propped up by the Blackstar lakeys – the organisation is a fantastic example of a cult of personality and, like other fanatics, many Ecademists are zealots in their defence of the order. Those at the top are seemingly blinkered as to why others view their self-congratulatory club as little more than a shop for having someone feign interest in your tinpot company as they inveigle you to pat their back in return.

  • Ecademy

    Ecademy became aware of an issue with external visibility some if its support communications on Saturday 16th December and within 30 minutes had resolved the issue. Ecademy would like to stress that the visible communications were of a support nature only and were categorically not private messages between members.

    Contrary to claims that hundreds of thousands of support records were visible, Ecademy has less than 19,000 support requests currently in the system, most of which are simple requests for help with the website.

    However, from time to time, some members used the support system to record a complaint about another member. Ecademy operates a separate procedure for members wishing to provide member feedback and on this particular occasion a member had used the support system to lodge feedback about another member and it was this communication which has been circulated.

    Ecademy treats the privacy of its members as a top priority and apologises for any inconvenience or distress caused by this fault. It is also unfortunate that it appears some individuals were aware of this issue several days earlier, but did not alert the business at that time. Ecademy would like to thank the members that did bring this issue to their attention and encourages all members to continue to report issues directly to the support team as soon as possible to ensure a quick resolve.

  • Not Ecademy

    “Contrary to claims that hundreds of thousands of support records were visible…”

    In fact, the claim was TENS of thousands. {{ We aren’t talking “membership” numbers here, Ecademy, so there’s no need for exaggerflation. :) }}

    FACT: support records numbered 1 through about 22,500 were freely visible, so that claim – unlike yours – is accurate.

    “…most of which are simple requests for help with the website”

    FACT: the great majority of the records showed people asking for their accounts to be closed.

    FACT: most of those requests that included a reason cited the immediacy and volume of contact requests (aka spam) as the reason for leaving.

    Tut tut – you can’t even get your spin right!

  • Erica Johnson

    Several of those messages on public display were from me. I joined Ecademy a couple of weeks ago and suddenly I find my account has been suspended. No explanation, nothing. No response to my emails asking why, nothing. But they did give me a link which said I could check the progress of my enquiry. Unfortunately I had to be a member to log in and, yes, I had been suspended so therefore could not log in. Duh!

    What did I do to get suspended? Again, nothing. THey just took it into their heads to suspend me. If this is customer service, well, no wonder so many people are asking for their accounts to be closed.


    • Ste Andreassen

      Erica, it appears that you are a victim of mistaken identity. Certain members of ecademy can suspend an account if they suspect that a new account is fake, or if the owner of that account makes the mistake of commenting too much shortly after joining. The suspended person doesn’t get sent an explanation, just a message saying that their account is suspended next time they try to log in.

      Mr Not Ecademy – I too trawled through a few of the messages, and the vast majority were indeed requests for deletion.

      Anyone who looks at their content will know that claims of hundreds of thousands of members are ridiculous. The active, contributing members would be in the tens, maybe low hundreds.

  • Matthew Anderson

    @ Stuart Oliver & The Butcher

    Sigh – they made a mistake and dealt with it when found. What’s the big deal?

    You will find bugs in all applications and sites where large sections of code are required, including:

    Microsoft Operating Systems
    Wordpress (which this very site is built around)

    All having large dev teams but still do regular exploit updates to squash nasty bugs.

    No matter how much you test the only real testing is through user experience and time. So, like I said, it’s no big deal. If anything they should be comended being quick of the mark with a fix, if it was Microsoft they would simply fix on the next update cycle.

    I expect, Mike, that you are a really good coder and test to destruction, huh? Happy to give you a real job if that is the case, come see me sometime :)

    Note: I am an ex Ecademy member. Will not be renewing and am proably somewhat bias. Feel free to flame, I know you wanna. ;-)

  • Ian Hendry

    @ Matthew Anderson

    What’s the big deal? How about the annoyance to the people whose details have been exposed and clear data protection law breaches? It’s one thing Internet Explorer hogging memory, but other people’s data remains other people’s data and should always be treated as such. It’s the ONE thing you get right before going live and make sure you test when you make changes.

    I am afraid it is the sort of shoulder shrugging laxness you are seeming to support which leads to such cock-ups. Inevitably it is never the lazy coder who is the victim of such slackness though, is it?

    All said, this is unusual to see from Ecademy. There is much to should at the Powers about, but poor user privacy has never been one of them in the five years I have been on tthe site.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  • Robert Quaranta

    Must admit to having used the ‘message all contacts’ feature myself just recently…to wish my fellow business people a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :)

  • Get - Site aims at one-stop-shop to set up a business

    […] Lastly, their biggest challenge is in not becoming Ecademy. […]

  • Gripper

    Some people in this BLOG have mentioned that they have been banned or removed from ecademy. Could you please tell me how you managed this magnificent task, as despite asking them FOUR times (not politely on a couple of occasions !!) to remove me from their mailing list and to stop sending me mail EVERY day, they have chosen to ignore me. That would be consistent with the impression I have got from this Blog that they seem to be a bunch of IGNORENT inepts.

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