Update (7/27/2015): This weekend, someone claiming to be a deliriously happy Foap customer posted a glowing review of foap in the comments of this post. In addition to being written like marketing copy, the post featured a point-by-point rebuttal of the article below with integrated links back to specific pages of the foap.com website. I thought the whole comment sounded a little suspicious, so I traced the associated IP address of the commenter back to its source: the town in Poland where Foap is based.
I can’t prove that a member of the foap staff, posing as a happy customer, placed that comment, but I will always believe this was the case — which gives me yet another reason to think of the company as clumsy and creepy. Say “Nope” to foap!
* * * * *
Foap.com offers iPhone photographers the opportunity to upload photos and sell them in the “foap market” for ten bucks a pop. (Five dollars go to the photographer, and five go to foap.) The site also offers assignments (“Photos needed of families at a barbecue!”), and, if you feel inclined to do so, you can shoot those photos on spec and hope that foap will pay you for your troubles.
I signed up months ago, back when foap was shiny and new. I shoot a lot of iPhone photos in exotic locations. “Why not get paid for a few?” I asked. I uploaded several dozen photos. Of these, about two-thirds were judged “foap worthy” by foap’s invisible panel of judges, and they promptly appeared in the foap market.
And that was it. Oh, I got email — lots of it — telling me that other people were rating my photos or that I needed to go rate other people’s photos in order to increase the visibility of my own. But beyond that, I didn’t hear much from foap at all … and within two months, foap went silent.
I had forgotten about foap — and uninstalled the app — when about two months ago I started receiving between ten and fifteen emails a day from the service telling me that other users were rating my photos. “Three stars!” “Four stars!” Frankly, after months of silence, it seemed odd (and even a little suspicous) that my photos were suddenly being rated by as many as fifteen strangers a day, most of whom seemed to have the sort of screen names a random screen name generator might choose (jqf0041, for example, or Pjx4582).
Eventually, getting that many emails a day from a service I was no longer interested in grew tiresome, so I went looking for a way to turn foap off. Surprise: while it’s easy to sign up, it’s not so easy to delete your account. In fact, the *only* way to delete your foap account is to send an email to email@example.com and request an account deletion.
So I did that. I heard nothing at all from foap — but those spammy “Your photo’s been reviewed!” emails kept on coming. So I sent another request. Again, no reply — but the spammy emails increased.
Ultimately, I decided to send an account deletion email every time I got a spammy email. After about six days of doing this religiously, I finally got a response: “We’re receiving a massive amount of emails, so please consult our FAQ.”
Normally, I’d just write a rule to delete every email from foap.com … but in this case, foap still had my photos in their system, and I wanted those removed from the system. So I kept at it, sending the same email to firstname.lastname@example.org again and again.
About two weeks later, I received an email telling me that my account had been deleted — but not just me! The email I received was cc:’ed to hundreds of other users. Not bcc:’ed, mind you, but simply cc:’ed, so now I was in possession of a list of email addresses of a big group of people who, like me, were wanting out of foap. I gotta say: that slip-up didn’t do much for my confidence in the company … or the company’s ability to protect customer information.
But the most problematic thing of all? I didn’t make a dollar at foap. I never sold a single photo.
And I can hear you now: “Well, maybe that’s not foap’s fault. Maybe your photos just stink!” Maybe they do. But there’s just one problem: I can’t find anyone else, anywhere else, who says they’re making money with foap. Google it yourself. You’ll find hundreds of tech sites regurgitating foap’s press releases and gushing about the opportunity foap represents. But I didn’t find a single blog post from a single actual photographer claiming to have sold a single foap photo.
Based on my own experience, here’s my advice: say “Nope” to foap.