Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.

Mike drops a clanger

Posted by MikeCooper on February 6, 2009

Yesterday I wrote my first “Blog in Error”, and I’m feeling a bit sheepish about it. I’m not above sticking up my hand and saying I made the mistake, though, so here’s my post in an effort to set the record straight.

I signed up last week for a new online pronunciation site called Forvo.com. The idea is that people around the world can send in pronunciations of difficult or local words, and the community benefits as a result. I have access to the BBC’s own Pronunciation Unit, which is great, but it’s always useful to have something else up one’s sleeve for when they’re shut (which is outside office hours).

So, I registered with Forvo.com. I figured that as it grows, it could become a useful resource, and the website is friendly, clean and seems easy enough to use and contribute to.

Yesterday morning, out of the blue, I received a nice email from someone in Poland, called Anna, telling me how to pronounce the word “virtu”, complete with an MP3. Very useful to the guy (Andrew) who apparently wanted it; not so useful to me; but easy to delete, and I figured I must have received it thanks to my notification settings on the site.

This was my first mistake.

When I looked a bit closer, I noticed that the email was sent not only to me, but to “103 others”. Sure enough, in the “To:” field, there were the names and email addresses of 103 other people – some of whom I recognised as other voice talents, and whom I took to be other subscribers to Forvo’s service.

This was my second mistake, and an incorrect assumption on my part.

Sharing 103 people’s emails with each other without their permission is really bad, and I was incensed. How could Forvo have got such a basic thing so wrong? I posted about it here, but I shouldn’t have done until I was sure of what was going on. An email from Forvo later in the day denied that there was any connection with them, and this morning I received confirmation from the sender of the email that this was her mistake. This doesn’t explain how someone I’ve never dealt with, in Poland, has my details and everyone else’s, or why she thought it would be a good idea to write to 103 people and put them all in the the “To:” field for all to see, but that’s a separate issue and has nothing to do with Forvo.

I got it wrong, and I’m sorry for any confusion. Hopefully you can see why signing up for a site and then getting spam of a very specific and similar nature might lead me to the wrong conclusion, but that doesn’t excuse me. There was a correlation here, but no causation.  I’m very grateful to Forvo for their understanding, and I wish them every success with their venture. In fact, as a community effort it will do best if more people sign up, so here’s your chance.

To rephrase my original blog title, Forvo.com did not drop a clanger. I did. Lesson learned.

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