Goodbye for now, Jelly – it’s not you, it’s the marketers

So, I’m uninstalling Jelly barely a week after the much-hyped Q&A service hit the Play Store(s goog). The app has potential that I can’t quite pin down yet, but right now it’s too annoying.

It’s not just a matter of the stupid questions, the lack of filtering, the inability to respond to responses (sometimes people need clarification on the question), or the distortion caused by having a contact who follows many thousands of people. It’s not even because of Biz Stone’s teeth-grindingly inane rationale for the whole thing (“We just kind of increase that global empathy quotient just a bit in our lifetime, and wouldn’t that be great?” – actual quote).

No, the real deal-breaker is the marketing. The thing launched like three seconds ago and already I’m getting notifications for “questions” from mobile phone companies, soft drink firms and so on. As Mashable put it, Jelly is the new “play toy” for brands.

Now, I’m not naïve. I know that a free app is going to come with an element of advertising. I get it – the revenue will come from brand partnerships or whatever. I think “native” (a.k.a deceptive) advertising sucks, but if it’s at least a bit obvious, it’s not the end of the world. Yay for media literacy.

But for Pete’s sake, can’t you marketers let me get comfy first? Maybe let me poke around and see why this new platform is fun (a debatable point) before you start hitting me over the head with the brand hammer? Do you have to be in there from day one?

Of course you do. Your business card probably has “social” printed on it somewhere, and it’s your job to experiment with new platforms, in order to see where the opportunities lie. In this case, the platform enjoyed vast reams of pre-launch hype, so you were ready and waiting.

Which is fine for you, but bad for Jelly. Why? Partly because of screen real estate.

Marketing on Twitter(s twtr) is only mildly annoying, because we’re only talking a few entries in a long stream of brief messages. Marketing on Facebook(s fb) is significantly more annoying, because the ads are much bigger and take up maybe a third of the screen (don’t get me started on Facebook’s upcoming auto-playing video ads). So on Jelly, where each question takes up the whole screen, marketing becomes unbearable.

Also, push notifications. Without those, I’d forget I had Jelly installed – I haven’t had a chance to grow to like it yet, remember? With them, when the notification is for a poorly-disguised marketing message, I get stabby. As a rough guess, going on how it currently feels to use Jelly, I would say that 1 in 7 “questions” are tentatively trying to big up a brand or drive traffic to a site or post (around the same number are good questions, and the rest are just people messing around).

So for now, it’s bye-bye Jelly. Someone let me know when there’s a better ratio of good content to bad, and I’ll think about reinstalling it.