SparkPeople: End of an Era
SparkPeople is dead; long live SparkAmerica!
I’d already noticed that most of my SparkPeople friends had left the site or become inactive, years ago. What do they say: “Use it or lose it”? I hadn’t been very active there, myself. In March, I switched from the Fitbit I’d used for years to the Garmin vivoactive 4s. I joined the YMCA. Data seemed (at the time) to sync better with MyFitnessPal, and I ditched Fitbit when it tried to credit me with the superhuman feat of walking 49 miles in a day. Friends were amazed and impressed! I was not.
But MyFitnessPal has improved a lot since I first joined in 2012, and now offers the best tracking of food and exercise of any site I’m aware of. It has some social features, as well: an active Community Forum, status updates, and even blogging. Sort of.
Blogging on MyFitnessPal
I’m tempted to say that MyFitnessPal is the worst possible blogging platform ever, but that would be grossly unfair. I said the same thing about SparkPeople. Yet we former SparkPeople muddled through and had a fairly thriving community of bloggers. I think it’s fair to say that blogging isn’t MyFitnessPal’s core business and it’s not what they need to excel at, is it?
Former SparkPeople, Sparkers, Sparkly Peeps, people who love to blog: See Brennan Armacost’s post, New Page to My Blog if you have or would like to start your own blog and have it found more easily than it is here on MyFitnessPal. Even if you’re only blogging on MyFitnessPal, it might get you a few more readers. “Blogrolls” are old school, but they served us well, back before Facebook made them seem obsolete.
It’s not as if I’m new to blogging and have no frame of reference. See A Little Trip Down Memory Lane – on my real blog.
If you blog on MyFitnessPal, be sure to write your posts offline, on your PC. I think that the editor, there, times out – and when that happens, POOF! Your post vanishes into the ether. So write fast, write short, or save often. Or write offline. Also, beware of using the HTML tab. I tried that, too, and lost the whole post.
Like I said, blogging is hardly MyFitnessPal’s core business or its biggest draw. Let the development team work on making app integrations and forum searches work flawlessly – there are plenty of places to start a free (or relatively inexpensive) blog. What you get by blogging on MyFitnessPal, is the option to limit readership to members of MyFitnessPal or your friends on MyFitnessPal only. That is a little harder to implement on a free blog, and may be important to you if you don’t want to share your “fitness journey” with the whole wide world.
Be Wary and Wise
If you initiate a friend request on any social media platform, including MyFitnessPal, please introduce yourself. Have a public/all members profile that’s filled out completely. Don’t send me a friend request and ask me to introduce myself, first! If we’ve interacted, extensively, in comments or on another site, and I recognize you and you recognize me, that’s one thing. But if I send you a friend request out of the blue, I promise I’m not offended if you challenge me to explain where we met or why I think we ought to be friends. I’m grateful to those who’ve accepted, but I hold myself accountable to this rule, too – feel free to say, “Halt! Who goes there!” before letting me in.
Fakes exist on MyFitnessPal, too. I just yeeted one this morning. They exist on every social site.
I wish that more people understood the following terms better:
- social engineering
Most of what’s referred to as “hacking” isn’t. Few people want or need your Facebook credentials. But they will happily steal your photos to create a more believable fake – or “imposter” – account. If you have accidentally friended a fraud, usually on the strength of a photo and mutual connections, they will have access to any information you’ve shared with friends, including personal posts and photos. This is a form of “social engineering.” From here, the attacker worms his way into people’s confidence and tricks them into divulging information they normally wouldn’t.
Please read Social Engineering Attacks for a fairly clear description of various social engineering schemes. Really read it. Even in organizations where cybersecurity is part of the culture, the most savvy people are still at some risk – especially those who think they’re too smart to be outwitted by a cybercriminal. I like to say that most of us are just one cup of coffee away from a bad decision, some days.
Another good report, if you have a little time on your hands: Social Engineering Attacks – MDPI This isn’t just about staying safe on MyFitnessPal or Facebook. It’s about things like keeping your financial accounts, healthcare data, and other personal information secure. So please, take the time to read and get familiar with how these things work. Stop saying “I’ve been hacked,” when in fact, someone’s wormed their way into your confidence and enticed you to click a bad link that sends malware to your friends, or talks you into giving them your credit card number, or preys on your fears and gives you a fake bank login page where they collect your social security number or password. That’s not “hacking.” That’s social engineering. Remember the rule with vampires? They can’t cross the threshold until you invite them in.