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Author: jiml8 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 16420  
Subject: Oops. Date: 1/17/2005 9:52 AM
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I am starting an email newsletter, for occasional distribution. I just sent a complimentary copy to my entire mailing list, with thousands of email addresses in it.

It says in the newsletter that this is an opt-in mailing and if you want to subscribe please just reply to a specific mailbox.

My intent was to automatically harvest the responses from that mailbox. But I forgot a few things.

I forgot about autoresponders: "I am away and will check my email when I get back". I forgot about viruses - even though I just opened the box earlier this morning, the viruses are starting to pour from infected systems.

I forgot about the occasional individual who won't follow instructions and does a reply with "please remove me from your list" in the body of the email.

The response rate is high; I expect to have a few thousand subscribers when I am done with this.

And I have to manually open every single one of the emails.

Oops!!!!

*sigh*
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Author: snaray Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10575 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/17/2005 10:01 AM
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Welcome to the wonderful world of bulk email - where mistakes happen at the speed of light.

Lately (after having send out emails with typos in them) I've taken to turning my SMTP server off when generating emails & letting the messages queue up in the pickup folder. Then I can randomly open up a few in my email client to preview them & make sure all is well before re-starting the SMTP server to send them out (or delete them & start over).


  - Sri


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Author: zentec Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10576 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/17/2005 10:19 AM
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There are some rather affordable services which use Lyris or other high-octane mailing list software packages. This handles everything for you and is worth the grief.



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Author: them Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10595 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/18/2005 12:18 PM
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I just sent a complimentary copy to my entire mailing list, with thousands of email addresses in it.

It says in the newsletter that this is an opt-in mailing

-------
Unfortunately, those two statements are mutually incompatible, Jim!

I hope these are all people you know, because apart from all the other problems you've discovered, you've also just spammed them. It's not opt-in until after they request it and you've confirmed it in a secure fashion.

Remember spam is NOT about content (nor intent - and I'm assuming yours is good), but about consent. If you're sending unsolicited bulk email, you're spamming whether your intent is good or not. Please reconsider!

and tread carefully... We'd hate to see you go over to the dark side! ;-)

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Author: jiml8 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10600 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/18/2005 5:22 PM
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Unfortunately, those two statements are mutually incompatible, Jim!

*shrug* chicken and egg problem.

I need visibility.

Responses right now are running about 30:1 positive.

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Author: them Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10603 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/19/2005 12:27 AM
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*shrug* chicken and egg problem.
-----
Really, it's not. Only if you don't care about doing things the right way - and I have a hard time believing you really felt that way - you're a Fool, after all!

Responses right now are running about 30:1 positive.
-----
So for every thousand, 33 people are upset enough about having their resources stolen to complain? Dude, that's quite bad - perhaps as bad or worse as the typical "block on site" career spammer!

You don't really want to promote a legitimate business by theft, do you? Totally apart from it almost certainly being against your ISP's TOS - it's just not good business.

From one of the bettern known authorities on spam, Spamhaus.org:
Opt-out (which is what you've described):
"All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the mailing list, and which requires recipients to opt-out to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email. The sending of Unsolicited Bulk Email is illegal in most of Europe and is against all ISP Terms of Service worldwide."

*Please* read http://www.spamhaus.org/mailinglists.html
There is some excellent information on doing it the right way, and avoiding becoming part of the problem that is destroying the usefulness of email.

Also see MAPS' guidelines for proper mailing list management:
http://www.mail-abuse.com/an_listmgntgdlines.html

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Author: jiml8 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10612 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/19/2005 8:33 PM
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Opt-out (which is what you've described):
"All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the mailing list, and which requires recipients to opt-out to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email.


Read it again. Opt in is what I described. They get one because if I don't send it they won't know about it.

They want more, they opt in. They don't opt in, they don't get more.

Quite simple.

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Author: them Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10613 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/19/2005 9:09 PM
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Read it again. Opt in is what I described.
--------
Sorry - opt in is where they've asked for your mail. Unless I've misunderstood, they didn't ask for it, right? You're sending them unsolicited advertising, right? That's not opt-in.

They get one because if I don't send it they won't know about it.
------
Again sorry, that's just not true.
"I don't send it" != "they won't know about it"

Read the links I posted. There are legitimate ways to build legitimate mailing lists for legitimate businesses. Spamming is quick, easy and cheap - that's why it's become the huge problem it is today. The ease to you of sending spam vs legitimate means of developing a mailing list has no relevance to whether it's ok or not.

What is relevant is that stealing resources from a potential customer is a very BAD way to start (or continue) a business relationship. Not only that, it's illegal in many areas and will get you booted off any ethical ISP. Ever heard of the Boulder Pledge? The one where you vow never to give any business to a spammer, even if they stop spamming? It's getting more popular.

It doesn't matter that you want people to know about your business.
It doesn't matter that you haven't thought of better ways to do it.
It doesn't matter that this is easier for you.

You are not owed a living on the internet. Nobody receiving spam owes anything to the spammer - yet somehow the spammer doesn't get this. Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you're a nice guy/have a great business/are a Fool/whatever, that you're different and the rules don't apply to you.

You don't really think that it's ok to steal from people because it's cheaper and easier for you to advertise that way, do you?
Make no mistake - spam IS theft, pure and simple.

They want more, they opt in. They don't opt in, they don't get more.
------
I have several thousand emails all claiming that. It doesn't scale, dude.

Please quit while you're ahead.

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Author: Babble Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10614 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 4:35 AM
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Read the links I posted. There are legitimate ways to build legitimate mailing lists for legitimate businesses.

I don't send bulk mail or have an online company, but I'd be interested to learn more about this. I read those links but didn't see much advice on how to build legitimate mailing lists. They talked mainly about how to treat the customers you have, not how to find more of them.

All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the mailing list, and which requires recipients to opt-out to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email.

I have bolded the 'and' above because as it reads, it implies that a mass mailing has to violate both clauses of this sentence to qualify as spam. As I understood it, jiml8 only violated the first clause.

I hate spam like everybody else and living in Germany I love the law here that bans unsolicited email. It stems from a similar law that also bans junk mail flyers from being stuffed in your mail box. Nevertheless I see the dilemma for small businesses. How can they find new customers if they are not allowed to send even one email to find out if they may be interested?

As you have rightly pointed out, thats not our (consumer's) problem but I note that the US Government has declined to ban unsolicited email, and I think this was their reasoning - not to put another obstacle in the path of small business. There are many annoyances associated with advertising and commerce in the US, such as billboards plastered everywhere, strip malls and small-operator semi-trucks parked next door in what should be your quiet neighborhood. But by being friendly to small business, the US has become the world's engine of economic growth, so there are benefits along with drawbacks.

If jiml8 is going to grow his business, hire people and pay more taxes to help the rest, is it so bad that he sends potential prospects one single email they can easily delete or filter out using software?

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Author: jiml8 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10615 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 7:17 AM
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Sorry - opt in is where they've asked for your mail. Unless I've misunderstood, they didn't ask for it, right? You're sending them unsolicited advertising, right? That's not opt-in.

You quite clearly have misunderstood the very thing you posted.

Let me enlighten you on the meaning of the word "AND". When AND appears in a sentence, then both phrases of the sentence must be true in order for the sentence to be true.

Period. End of debate.

It doesn't matter that you want people to know about your business.
It doesn't matter that you haven't thought of better ways to do it.
It doesn't matter that this is easier for you.

You are not owed a living on the internet.


Yeah. It doesn't matter. To you. It does matter. To me.

What matters to me trumps what matters to you, in all circumstances, when it is me that is making the decision.

Once again. End of debate.

I am tired of being a "nice guy" and trying to follow rules and avoid pissing people off while everyone around me is eating my lunch by doing just that. My social conscience is not merely tired, it is exhausted, and I have decided to throw it out. Forever.

From now on, Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else.


Oh. By the way. Ploink.

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Author: MarkHiatt Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10616 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 7:35 AM
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>
> From now on, Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else.
>

And another Republican is born…

Look, do what you want, but I will never book a room or a vacation or a rental car or an airline ticket with Orbitz, based entirely on the year in Hell I spent with a crappy browser and the popup ads they placed on four of my favorite (daily visit) websites. Four times a day, at least, I had to close their little window just because I wanted to read about X, Y or Z. Maybe I should rightfully be mad at the website, but I blame Orbitz.

I don't care that they're giving away cruises. I don't care that I could Win! Win! Win! I don't care that their price is $2 less for the same room. They pissed me off and the neat thing about Me being Me is that I don't have to take that. I don't have to shop at Orbitz.

People are just trying to get you to Play Nice. You know and understand the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. It really is up to you, and nothing any of us says can force you into anything.

But I suspect that somewhere, some other website owner is gleefully rubbing his hands together and pouring over his Lexus brochures.

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Author: TheJTrain Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10617 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 10:36 AM
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> From now on, Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else.

And another Republican is born…
...
I don't care that they're giving away cruises. I don't care that I could Win! Win! Win! I don't care that their price is $2 less for the same room. They pissed me off and the neat thing about Me being Me is that I don't have to take that. I don't have to shop at Orbitz.


Wait, so you'd rather indulge your own animosities than help those rank-and-file Orbitz programmers, data entry, and travel agents earn a decent living? Sounds an awful lot like "Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else."

No offense intended, and I'll defend as hard as anyone your right to make your own decisions based on whatever factors you choose - but it just irks me when meaningless labels get tossed around by anyone and everyone like they're God's Own Truth.

JT,
and I'm not even a Republican

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Author: TMFSpeck Big red star, 1000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10620 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 11:50 AM
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"All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the mailing list, and which requires recipients to opt-out to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email. The sending of Unsolicited Bulk Email is illegal in most of Europe and is against all ISP Terms of Service worldwide."

If I understand jiml8's original post, he had an existing mailing list to which he sent a marketing piece, inviting the recipient to opt-in to recieve more.

And, if I understand the definition above correctly, if one doesn't have express permission for the mailing and one requires opt-out, then one is sending UBE.

The OP omitted some key information (where did the addys come from, was there an unsub link, was there clear contact info, etc.). However, it could be that jiml8's mailing said "At some point you requested info via email from me. Here's a sample. If you'd like more, opt-in for a subscription. You will receive no further messages unless you opt in. Here is my mailing address and contact information."

While such a message may be "spam" by a strict definition (any non-transactional business email that wasn't specifically requested), it wouldn't necessarily be UBE, and, furthermore, would likely pass muster with CANSPAM laws (NOTE: I am not a lawyer).

jiml8's not requiring opt-out. He's requiring opt-in. Presumably those who don't opt in would then recieve no more emails from jiml8.

Subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless.

Side note:
I am not necessarily taking a personal or professional position here - just raising further points for question and discussion. I don't think there's anyone here who doesn't think spam is an enormous problem, but in the real world, there's still plenty of confusion surrounding exactly what it is and what to do about it.

I've disagreed with many of you on various matters (and in various contexts), but have found, on this board in particular, lots of intelligent advice and insight on a number of subjects. I sincerely hope we can continue spirited debate of important issues such as this with the open-mindedness, respect, and intelligence I've come to come to expect on Webmaster's Corner.

peace,

Speck



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Author: snaray Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10622 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 12:31 PM
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I do a small opt-in mailing list which currently stands at about 530 active subscribers (4 months ago it was zero), and I was able to build up that membership just by tying it in with a well-used service I run off of our website.

An option on any account is a "send me other emails" which roughly half the subscribers have checked off & would allow me to send them other news or alert them of new subscriptions they can add. Barring that, I can still reach the others by appending a similar message to the existing emails which they are subscribed to.

ie. let's say you're subscribed to mailing "A", but did not check off the "send other emails" option. However I want to tell you about the brand new subscription called "B". The next time I send mailing "A", I can still put a note at the end of it saying something like "there's a new subscription option called "B", if you'd like to enable it, do so at the account administration page <link>"

So I get my message out to my list without offending any delicate constitutions.


From OP: I just sent a complimentary copy to my entire mailing list, with thousands of email addresses in it

If the terms presented to them when they signed up to that original list (ie. the "contract" for list membership) doesn't prohibit you from sending more messages, then you're free & clear. After all, they gave you their email address for a reason...



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Author: MarkHiatt Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10624 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 12:42 PM
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>
> I've disagreed with many of you on various matters (and in various
> contexts), but have found, on this board in particular, lots of intelligent
> advice and insight on a number of subjects. I sincerely hope we can continue
> spirited debate of important issues such as this with the open-mindedness,
> respect, and intelligence I've come to come to expect on Webmaster's Corner.
>

You're right, 'Speck. I'm sorry I went off.

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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10630 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 4:22 PM
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Babble,

I hate spam like everybody else and living in Germany I love the law here that bans unsolicited email. It stems from a similar law that also bans junk mail flyers from being stuffed in your mail box.

You live in a country that bans most forms of unsolicited direct marketing and has very strong privacy laws, so you don't really understand the scope of the problem here. I have customers who can't get legitimate email at an address, because their boxes overflow daily with spam. This isn't even remotely targeted spam, but just a blanket blitz of ads for crap of every sort - and multiple identical emails per day from some spammers.

Businesses here can send as many mail flyers as they want, call you constantly, and spam you with abandon. Do you really think 99% of those "opt-out" links do anything but confirm that you have a spammable address? I don't have a problem with the first two, because 1) there are lists here for opting out, and 2) it actually costs the company money to print and mail or hire someone to talk on the phone. It costs absolutely nothing other than a flat fee for an email list and the email hosting to send as many spam as they like.

Nevertheless I see the dilemma for small businesses. How can they find new customers if they are not allowed to send even one email to find out if they may be interested?

I don't know about other customers, but I make note of the businesses that spam me. I refuse to do business with any of them. I am not on any list blocking snail mail. If they want my business, they can go to the cost of printing something and mailing it.

As you have rightly pointed out, thats not our (consumer's) problem but I note that the US Government has declined to ban unsolicited email, and I think this was their reasoning - not to put another obstacle in the path of small business.

Their reasoning is that no one in congress is remotely technically intelligent. Check out any of the recent laws applying to the social side of the Net for further examples.

If jiml8 is going to grow his business, hire people and pay more taxes to help the rest, is it so bad that he sends potential prospects one single email they can easily delete or filter out using software?

I'm not going to comment on the original poster, because I haven't finished reading the thread, and I am a little confused about some of the details (exactly where he got the addresses he used, what kinds of email they had agreed to receive, etc.) Let me ask you this: Would it be so bad if every US business sent you one piece of spam per month? How bad could that be really? The last tally I saw had about 25 million US businesses. How long would that email address be usable?

We are to the point now where over 60% of email is spam, and the numbers keep climbing. This is going to bring the whole system to its knees in the next few years. There may come a time when you look back fondly on how you could send email anywhere in the world for free, because that may be a casualty of what is happening with spam.

Amphian

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Author: jiml8 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10631 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 5:11 PM
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The OP omitted some key information (where did the addys come from, was there an unsub link, was there clear contact info, etc.). However, it could be that jiml8's mailing said "At some point you requested info via email from me. Here's a sample. If you'd like more, opt-in for a subscription. You will receive no further messages unless you opt in. Here is my mailing address and contact information."

Actual wording:

This is your complimentary copy of The Landlord's Resource, an occasional newsletter for real estate investors and managers. Unless you opt in, this is the only copy you will receive. If you like what you see and would like to be added to our mailing list, simply reply to this email.

If you wish to contact us for any other reason, don't reply (unless you want to be on our mailing list) but instead email us at info@propertymanagerresource.com.


To this point several hundred have opted in and two have failed to read the instructions and have replied to the email with an "unsubscribe" message.


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Author: them Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10633 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 6:25 PM
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For what it's worth, I responded to Jim because he has provided help to myself and others here on the Fool when I've needed it. Here, I saw an opportunity to return the favor and share some expertise/experience that I happened to have. Some of the replies here clearly show that spam is a realm - not unlike oh, say, webmastering - where some of the important nuances aren't necessarily intuitively obvious or clear from the outside.

I have attempted - and will attempt - to offer information when I feel I can add value to a discussion, and especially if I see an opportunity to save someone - especially a Fool, who has helped myself and others - trouble down the road. I've assumed good intentions and tried to behave accordingly - I will do my best to continue along these lines, and will also apologize if I have not been successful in this or in explaining these issues clearly.

Again, I saw an opportunity to save someone I perceived as a good fellow a lot of trouble down the road that he didn't see coming. If this helped others as well, all the better. This is a community I've grown attached to in the 6+ years I've been a member, and while there are few here I really *know* on a personal level, the assistance, knowledge & cameraderie I've gained here are really worth something to me. People on this board and others have kept me from making some embarassing mistakes and I wouldn't feel right about not at least trying to return the favor.

Jim writes:
Let me enlighten you on the meaning of the word "AND". When AND appears in a sentence, then both phrases of the sentence must be true in order for the sentence to be true
-------
Again, I am afraid you are wrong, forgiveably as it happens (explained below).

An aside for any nitpickers reading this; may I point out that nothing in that less-than-optimally written definition of Opt-Out precludes more than one solution set to the definition of Spam. E.G. - "All critters with four legs AND that bark, are dogs" does NOT mean that a critter with four legs that doesn't bark isn't a dog.

Babble quotes & observes:
"All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the mailing list, and which requires recipients to opt-out to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email."
I have bolded the 'and' above because as it reads, it implies that a mass mailing has to violate both clauses of this sentence to qualify as spam. As I understood it, jiml8 only violated the first clause.

-----
To me - and likely to most with a background in spam/abuse - it would seem clear there is a problem here. (hence the "forgiveable", above)
My apologies for not catching that myself. This was a definition of "Opt-Out", not a definition of Spam - and taken out of that context makes it more confusing (it could have been written more clearly, to be sure).

Lest there be any further confusion on this point, and to avoid any accusations of this being only my opinion, Steve Linford (the founder of Spamhaus) kindly confirmed this for forms sake, in an email to me - the relevant part of which is:
===================================
That sentence relates specifically to "Opt-Out".

Naturally all Unsolicited Bulk Email is spam. The definition being here:
http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html

===================================

Moving beyond that misperception..

Jim wrote:
Yeah. It doesn't matter. To you. It does matter. To me.
----
When I said "It doesn't matter that...", I was not saying his business had no importance. I was pointing out that the fact that it is his business is irrelevant to whether a course of action was ethical or not. I meant no disrespect to his business. As it happens, believe it or not, his business does matter to me. I've followed his postings about it with interest, and learned from some of his experiences. All the more reason to not want to see it harmed by an ill-informed decision.

Babbel wonders reasonably:
How can they find new customers if they are not allowed to send even one email to find out if they may be interested?
------
There are many ways, and it's a good question. I will compile information and provide it in a separate post. The relevant point here is simply that it is not incumbent upon a consumer to provide any business with a way to advertise that is easy for the business - nor to unwillingly subsidize the advertising. It's not the consumer's responsibility to help the advertiser. This is NOT the same thing as saying there should not be any advertising - simply that the advertiser needs to foot the bill himself. Spam is junkmail, postage due - with no option to decline the charges.

Babble also suggests:
I note that the US Government has declined to ban unsolicited email, and I think this was their reasoning - not to put another obstacle in the path of small business.
------
This is perhaps a topic for a whole other post, but I will suggest that it was not small businesses they were avoiding inconveniencing. I will also point out that the CANSPAM act did not obviate all more restrictive laws. "Declining to ban" is not the same thing as saying it is ok. Is there anyone here who really looks to the government to decide whether A, B or C is a Good Thing? Does the lack of a law prohibiting an action make it by default, ok?

and
If jiml8 is going to grow his business, hire people and pay more taxes to help the rest, is it so bad that he sends potential prospects one single email they can easily delete or filter out using software?
---
Sounds reasonable on the surface, right? He's only one small business - how much harm could he do even if he tried? Here's the problem - it doesn't scale. There was a study done a couple years back that illustrated this. If every small business in the US sent only ONE email to you (let alone those who would not stop at just one), you would spend the rest of your life doing the classic spammer suggestion - JHD (Just Hit Delete). More businesses come into being faster than you would be able to keep up with. Assuming an 8 hr workday, ALL of your time would be spent asking to be removed/deleting.

Look at it another way. The internet is a big pool in which we can all relax, play, work, whatever. Every now and then someone is too lazy to get out and go to the lavatory (or perhaps just plain has an accident) and pees in the pool. Not very noticable when it's just one person in a big pool - but when more and more people start doing it... and when peer pressure no longer precludes leaving "floaters", the pool gets awfully rank, awfully fast. Further, after a certain point, it ceases to be relevant whether someone is lazy or through no fault of their own, incontinent.

The answer is simple. Don't pee in the pool - and remove those who do.

The Jtrain (who is not a Republican) responds to Mark:
Wait, so you'd rather indulge your own animosities than help those rank-and-file Orbitz programmers, data entry, and travel agents earn a decent living? Sounds an awful lot like "Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else."
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I don't think that follows. Choosing to ignore Orbitz (for instance) is not the same thing as "Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else". Protecting oneself - not by taking action against, but simply by avoiding completely optional interactions - from someone who IS evincing said attitude is hardly being selfish. I would call it prudent. And I'm not a Republican, either... ;-)

TMFSpeck then pointed out a very salient fact:
The OP omitted some key information (where did the addys come from, was there an unsub link, was there clear contact info, etc.)."
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This is indeed a critical point. It was my assumption that since Jim did not state this when questioned, that he had in fact, not collected these addresses in such a way that this subsequent mailing was defensibly legitimate. Especially factoring in his complaint ratio and manner in replying, it seems quite unlikely.

Were the following methods used in building the list in question?
- New subscriber's email addresses must be fully verified before mailings commence.
- Terms and conditions of address use must be fully disclosed.
- Acquired lists must be used for their original purpose.
- One subscription, one list.

I would love to be wrong on this - truly, no sarcasm here - but if the use of this list is at all informative, I am guessing it's origin is suspect as well.

snaray then points out:
If the terms presented to them when they signed up to that original list (ie. the "contract" for list membership) doesn't prohibit you from sending more messages, then you're free & clear. After all, they gave you their email address for a reason...
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Right (although I might phrase it a little differently) - IF the list is valid in the first place (a clean list, fully verified and confirmed), AND the recipients have already agreed to receive further emails OTHER than what they signed up for. Those are some important provisos, and typically a user signs up for a specific purpose, not for just "anything".

and then helpfully adds:
let's say you're subscribed to mailing "A", but did not check off the "send other emails" option. However I want to tell you about the brand new subscription called "B". The next time I send mailing "A", I can still put a note at the end of it saying something like "there's a new subscription option called "B", if you'd like to enable it, do so at the account administration page <link>
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That's a great example of one way to accomplish the objective. Care must be taken however that the "note at the end of it" advising of B's existence is not simply a sneaky attempt to include B itself, in A. All such contracts need to be interpreted as strictly as possible in the favor of the consumers privacy. Why? Look around you. Last time I checked a few months ago, roughly 3/4ths of the mail coming into our servers was spam.

The point is not to do away with business or advertising, but simply to keep the costs where they belong - the responsibility of the business.

Speck refers to a hypothetical message that might read "At some point you requested info via email from me. Here's a sample. If you'd like more, opt-in for a subscription. You will receive no further messages unless you opt in. Here is my mailing address and contact information.", and comments:
While such a message may be "spam" by a strict definition (any non-transactional business email that wasn't specifically requested), it wouldn't necessarily be UBE, and, furthermore, would likely pass muster with CANSPAM laws (NOTE: I am not a lawyer).
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As reasonable, respectful, and generally knowledgable as you are, I really hate to disagree with you, but a couple of misconceptions must be corrected here (What? A TMF'er is NOT omniscient? ;-)
A. "Any non-transactional business email that wasn't specifically requested" is not the definition, strict or otherwise, of spam.
B. Any value for "transactional" (unless you mean "solicited") or "business" is irrelevant in terms of spam. Content of any kind is not part of what makes spam, spam. Remember, it's about conSent, not conTent.
C. The "B" in UBE stands for Bulk, not Business.
Spam, "strictly" speaking is Unsolicited, sent in Bulk, in the form of Email. Jim could send each of his list members pretty much anything he wanted to - one at a time - and avoid invoking a strict definition of spam. However, one can still alienate customers, violate Terms of Service/AUP's, be added to various Block Lists, and even potentially be successfully sued - all while avoiding this strict definition.
D. Passing muster with CANSPAM similarly does not preclude any of these Bad Things happening.


Speck then writes:
jiml8's not requiring opt-out. He's requiring opt-in. Presumably those who don't opt in would then recieve no more emails from jiml8.
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Again, I fear I must disagree. Think about it. He is NOT requiring opt-in if he is sending UBE before the opt-in actually happens. Make sense?
He is also simply not in a position to be requiring anything of anyone who has not requested his mailings - and for that matter, "Presumably" does not scale. We've learned one cannot presume any such thing in the larger group.

Subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless.
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Agreed. ;-)

At the end of the day (and of this very long post, which I sincerely hope may have clarified, enlightened, and caused some rumination), I am grateful for:
- anyone taking the time to read it
- TMFSpeck, for doing his typically exemplary job of inspiring gentlemanly behaviour of Fools
- the opportunity to (hopefully) provide information to anyone who might find it of some use, and to learn more myself and see how things may look from others' POV.

Finally, jiml8 wrote:
I am tired of being a "nice guy" and trying to follow rules and avoid pissing people off while everyone around me is eating my lunch by doing just that. My social conscience is not merely tired, it is exhausted, and I have decided to throw it out. Forever.

From now on, Me first, regardless of what it costs anyone else.

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This has to be one of the most disturbing things I have ever read on the Fool. Ever.

========
Jim - if you should somehow happen to read this (despite "ploinking" me), I am truly sorry for whatever circumstances have occurred to cause you to feel this way. I wish it hadn't happened to you and I wish both you and your business well. If I hope you can move forward without making the "pool" a nastier place for the rest of us at the same time (which is what keeps this from being a simple matter of poking my nose into someone else's business), well, that's not necessarily inconsistent with the former wishes.
Good luck to you.
========

A little help from someone here who hasn't been, err, "ploinked"?
If someone would be so kind as to share with Mr Jiml8 the clarification of the misunderstood "definition" and Steve's confirmation (including the link, http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html ), then I would sleep easier tonight knowing that regardless of what he chooses to do, he at least isn't acting on a critical misapprehension. Thanks.

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Author: TMFSpeck Big red star, 1000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10638 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/20/2005 10:27 PM
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Excellent post. I'd like to respond/clarify to some of the comments directed my way in particular, if I may:

"Any non-transactional business email that wasn't specifically requested" is not the definition, strict or otherwise, of spam. [...] Any value for "transactional" (unless you mean "solicited") or "business" is irrelevant in terms of spam.

The definition of "transactional" as I'm using it here includes stuff like order confirmations, receipts, and (yes) unsubscribe confirmations. Strictly speaking, they may be "unsolicited" (or not specifically requested) commercial communications, but I think most reasonable folks would not include such notifications as spam.

Another type of unsolicited bulk communication can be like the one I received once from my web host. It was sent to all current customers and it advised of a recent DOS attack they had experienced, what they were doing to prevent future attacks, and gave general tips about how to make our own files and scripts more secure. I never gave explicit permission for such communication, but it was indeed welcome information.

Again, I fear I must disagree. Think about it. He is NOT requiring opt-in if he is sending UBE before the opt-in actually happens. Make sense?

Yup. I was only pointing back to the original "Opt-out" definition, which I think now we both agree was inadequate in addressing the larger point of spam in general.

===========

Good points all. Thanks for the insight.

Speck

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Author: them Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10640 of 16420
Subject: Re: Oops. Date: 1/21/2005 2:21 PM
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Speck has a couple of excellent observations I'd like to comment upon (and then I promise to stop!):

The definition of "transactional" as I'm using it here includes stuff like order confirmations, receipts, and (yes) unsubscribe confirmations. Strictly speaking, they may be "unsolicited" (or not specifically requested) commercial communications, but I think most reasonable folks would not include such notifications as spam.
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Agreed - and I understand now what you meant, although I would think confirmations, receipts, etcs aren't really considered unsolicited as typically they are expected and disclosed beforehand.

Another type of unsolicited bulk communication can be like the one I received once from my web host. It was sent to all current customers and it advised of a recent DOS attack they had experienced, what they were doing to prevent future attacks, and gave general tips about how to make our own files and scripts more secure. I never gave explicit permission for such communication, but it was indeed welcome information.
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Are you sure that your ISP doesn't have something written into your basic contract allowing them to contact you with emergent info? To be honest, I can't quote mine off the top of my head, but I'd be surprised if they didn't - which of course would remove it from the unsolicited category. I think I'll check - but I would think that any reasonable contract would include permission to contact you in such circumstances.

I certainly agree that even with the strictest reading of definitions, that few would consider it spam (as long as the ISP didn't abuse the privilege somehow). The network must be kept functional in order to use it, after all.

Interesting food for thought - I think I'll revisit my own contracts to see how things like that are handled.

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