Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Apologies

Mitch and I are writing this post specifically to address the recent negative feedback on AMO ( about the evolution of Foxmarks into Xmarks. We definitely made some mistakes in how we rolled out our new Discovery features and we want to apologize for those and let you know what we’re doing to fix them. Anything that negatively impacts our relationship with you is something we take seriously, especially when it’s a result of our own actions.

With the upgrade to Xmarks, we’ve added two new Discovery features into the browser. One, called “Site Info”, shows you site information and similar sites when you click on the Xmarks info icon in your location bar. The second, called “Smarter Search”, adds an info icon to three sites on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live search results. Our “top three” is based on which sites have the largest number of bookmarks in our system.

We’ve received a wave of concerns on AMO that center on the addition of these two Discovery features and how we launched them. We clearly did not do a great job of upgrading our Foxmarks users to Xmarks and again we apologize. Here are the corrective actions we are taking based on your feedback:

  • Better communication about new features before they are introduced
    For the upgrade to Xmarks we emailed users in advance and opened a browser tab post-upgrade to explain the big changes in our product. We realize that not everyone reads this content and, for major upgrades, we may need to show a more explicit modal dialog to explain the feature and provide opt in / opt out choices.

  • Clear and easy ways for users to turn a feature off
    We plan to add a persistent, easy-to-find control to our Discovery features that gives the user one-click access to the Settings for turning these features on or off.

  • Clear explanation of what data we collect and how we use it
    We are enhancing our privacy policy and privacy FAQ to provide more concise human-readable details on what data we collect and how we utilize it in our service. You can read more details in the FAQ, but the important highlights are:

    • We never publish individual bookmark data (unless you explicitly share your bookmarks using the Xmarks “Share Folder” feature).

    • We will never sell your data to anyone.

    • We only use your bookmark data in aggregate (over half a billion bookmarks) to power our Discovery features.

    • We provide users a way to opt-out of contributing their bookmarks to our aggregation system.

  • Separate add-on for users that wish to sync with their own server
    In hindsight including own-server support in our mainstream add-on was a mistake. These two use cases are fundamentally different and own-server users suffered bugs and frequent updates that were irrelevant to them as a result. To address this we are creating a separate Firefox add-on, called Xmarks B.Y.O.S., that is a stripped-down version of our full Xmarks product. It will not contain any code that communicates with our servers and it will not include our Discovery features. This will be a product for advanced users only as it requires the user to provide their own server to host their synchronization data.

Clearly our transition to Xmarks was nowhere near as smooth as we hoped, and again we’re sorry for any trouble or distress we’ve caused. While we’re passionate about our new features and have been working on them for a long time, we also realize the evolution of Foxmarks to Xmarks represents a change that not all our users are going to embrace. We hope you’ll continue to trust us with your bookmarks and join us as an Xmarks user.


James Joaquin, CEO
Mitch Kapor, Chairman