Address Authorization Management as a Service
February 28, 2016 5:50 AM   Subscribe

What solutions exist to the problem of enabling friends and family to keep in touch with you as your addresses (physical and internet) change?

I'm thinking of building an online address authorization application which provides a single point that my contacts can use to obtain my current address (provided I have authorized them to have it) in meatspace or online (think: street, facebook, snapchat, phone, whatever new service arises).

I might be unusual in the number of my friends who move around a lot, but I wish they had such a service so I could know where to send Holiday cards.

Pointers as to where this problem has been solved are welcome, as are admonishments that this isn't a real problem.
posted by grubby to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I always thought that USPS should have solved that problem by having "virtual" addresses that would forward to a current address. Anyhow you can deal with this in a few ways besides building a new service. You can create a private Facebook or Google+ group and invite only authorised users. This will give you the option to revoke access as well.
posted by pyro979 at 6:26 AM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Isn't this part of what social media (i.e. facebook) are for?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:35 AM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: As far as I can tell when people change address or phone on social media there's nothing better adapted to the case than making a post with the new address. There's no means of restricting access, and no good way of making your postal address available.
posted by grubby at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2016

Can't you restrict access to your posts to only friends?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:01 PM on February 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I seem to remember one or more of the big social media (I quit them all except Twitter) allowing you to specify who could see your contact information. That is, it wasn't an active post pushed to your friends when you remembered to do it, it was a "my info" page your friends could go to at any time. You could granularly allow people to see each item (mobile number, physical address, etc.) by name or by "list"

I'm not clear on what you're proposing, if not this. I have a domain name, which resolves to a web site, which has a contact page, which I can update at any time. I could, I suppose, make a login-like system for my web site so only friends could see the contact info. But what if I let the domain expire? No matter what you use, you run into the "but what if THAT changes" question, unless you're proposing that the government run it linked to your driver license or something.

For online "address" info, you might look at, which links your online identity all together.
posted by ctmf at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Facebook allows you to make your home address and phone number in your Profile available to "Friends Only". That's what I've done, and I wish more people would do it, for the reasons you state. Unfortunately, Facebook is making the Profile less prominent, in favor of Timeline, so it requires an extra click.
posted by wnissen at 1:07 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all for the answers - it seems in summary that online places have ways to restrict access to contact information, and a careful individual can make her contact info available to the right people, but there would be some effort involved in doing it across all accounts. There doesn't seem to be a good way to obtain an up to date list of addresses for the purpose of sending a holiday card, however.

Keybase is interesting - thanks for that tip.

Very useful information all round.
posted by grubby at 1:43 PM on February 28, 2016

You could look into namecoin. People have built software that tries to use it to store identities. Downside is every piece of information in the namecoin blockchain is public by design.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:44 PM on February 28, 2016

I strongly suspect I am misunderstanding the question, but wouldn't a shared Drop Box, Google Drive or Evernote folder be a way for you to give your friends access to your current contact information, plus anything else you felt like putting in the folder? Please ignore this if I am confused.
posted by forthright at 2:54 PM on February 28, 2016

It sounds like the problem is less letting contacts know your address, and more figuring out the addresses of your contacts when the holidays roll round?
posted by yarntheory at 5:40 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

If people send in change of address forms when they move, the mail finds them and a service like this is unnecessary. If you're really just trying to solve your own problem rather than looking for a hobby project, pinging the people you want to send cards to and getting their address at that time would be simplest. I get these pings from other people sometimes and it gives a nice feeling to the recipient. I think in a way that feels a lot nicer than being given yet another form to update.
posted by bleep at 11:11 PM on February 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have partially dealt with this by having the same cellphone number since 2001 and the same email address since 2003 (adding more addresses for different purposes, but keeping the same core one). That way if I had moved frequently, my friends would always have had a way to reach me to find out where I was.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:27 AM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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