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I Sent a Link Request - And Got a Spam Warning from My ISP
Helpful Tips for Anyone Developing Links
Powdork

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 6:14 pm on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I recently went through (by hand) a national list of clubs pertaining to a section of my site and emailed a request for a link to the webmasters of the sites I found. Basically the email said "If you think this site would be of use to your visitors please add a link" and it was sent to 180 recipients. Well it turns out someone reported the email as spam. It did not have an opt out type thing because it was the only email I plan to send to these folks. So now my ISP sent me a warning saying that they will terminate the account if they get another report. I am tempted to just switch hosts since I feel as though now I am being held hostage but don't really want to go through the trouble. I am also considering never sending another email to anyone with aol.com as there address.
Anyone have experience with this? Any tips to avoid strike two?

 

howiejs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 4:35 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

These are not v*iagra or gr*w bigggger emails - they are business contacts.

I get a ton of off topic link requests - but I don't report them! I review the decent ones

Include your address / phone number and a note where they can email if you if they do not wish to be contacted again - and respect these requests.

DGBrown

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 4:36 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I get link request E-mails all the time. I'm sure some are from people individually sending the E-mail by hand and others are auto generated. Some of these have care and research, others are just blanket E-mails. All of these are spam. Some entity (whether natural or artificial) did a search somewhere and noticed that I have good listings and a good PR score and wants to profit off of this.

And I believe that in no way does having a website mean that you implicitely agree to have people spam you. That's what you say to justify your own actions. It doesn't make it any more right.

Manga

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:01 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Powdork, I think what you did is entirely legitimate and not spam at all. The problem is that currently there is a withhunt against anything remotely identified as spam. This is getting in the way of legitimate commerce. The whole idea of Unsolicited Commercial Email was created back in the day by people with non-commercial web sites. Today, however, there is a lot of commercial activity on the Web and cold calls (unsolicited) are a normal business activity. Unfortunately, in the current climate you have to be very careful, even when sending legitimate emails. There are a lot of spam zealots out there who don't know the difference between spam and legitimate business. My advice to you is to follow the CANSPAM rules to the letter in any commercial email you send, and use as many best practices as possible. Then, if you get any complaints you can tell everyone to kiss your back pocket ;-)

Powdork

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:22 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

And I believe that in no way does having a website mean that you implicitely agree to have people spam you.
I agree. But if this is on the page.
"Comments, suggestions or questions about this site, contact the webmaster [webmasterworld.com]."
I would think sending a request for an on topic link would be ok.
What happens if I use my own server and it gets blacklisted? If it means AOL is off the list that would be ok but if the repercussions are larger then maybe not.

For the record, it took about five hours to get all the addresses and send the email. I've gotten about seven one way links out of it so far and one asked me to reciprocate, which I did. There may be more, these are the ones that replied and said they would add the link. One became very indignant that she couldn't reach the site because of the adbocker blocker. She responded by saying that the site was not appropriate for her members because ut uses ads (adsense). Almost all the other outgoing links on her resources page go to sites running ads of all sorts. I have since removed the adblocker blocker.

<added>Ooh boy, front page:). The first thing I did last night when I saw the snazzy new title was go check to see if it had made the front page. For the record, it was my hosting company that sent the email rather than my ISP (my bad in the original title). I don't think ther's any difference though. I imagine I would have gotten a very similar letter from them had I used that email address to send the letter.</added>

[edited by: Powdork at 5:29 pm (utc) on Dec. 23, 2004]

ogletree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:25 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just because you get good responce from some of your spam does not mean that it is ok. The big spammers gets lots of sells from their enlargment emails or they would not do it. Some people open up one of those spams and say hay I could use some of that and buy one.

CritterNYC

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:31 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I you sent out a ton of generic link requests... then yeah, that sounds like spam to me. Doesn't matter if you sent each one individually. Doesn't even matter if you mention the website name and include all your contact details. It's still generic spam.

On the other hand, if you send a personalized link suggestion based on truly visitting a site and seeing a real relevance and good reason for such an exchange, that would not be spam. Unless, of course, the site specifically has a link exchange page with an email address on it for exchange requests.

Yes, spam is UCE (Unsolicitied Commercial Email) and, true, all link requests do fit that bill. But an additional test is, how specific is it to you? If the email sent could easily have been sent to 100s of other people as is... or just by substituting a domain name... then yeah, that's spam. If, on the other hand, it is specifically *to* the operator of that website based on a possible mutual benefit and it is obvious that the sender has both visited and understood the site and sees a genuine opportunity for benefit, then it would not be.

I don't understand why this is so difficult for some people to grasp.

Powdork

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:34 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just because you get good responce from some of your spam does not mean that it is ok.
I'm not using that to justify it and I don't particularly consider that level of response good. I just mentioned it because this is the link development forum.
davelms

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:39 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Disagree, a link request is very much commercial. I can't imagine someone sending out link requests for their personal, never-hope-to-make-a-profit web site.

Of course they do, all the time. Or at least my experience shows this to be true. Perhaps once people get into the 'commercial game' they forget that there are tens of thousands of personal sites out there with the same aspirations that people might one day visit them. None of which is for financial gain. But they still find sites of a similar theme to theirs and still request a link exchange. A link exchange request therefore, and I think I agree with the original poster, does not necesarily have to have any commercial links (no pun intended) to it.

Learning Curve

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:53 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the time you've spent on this thread you could have started moving to a better ISP.

rytis

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 7:05 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

On my site I have web form for link exchange requests. I provide contact Email in another section also but for requests about the product only and it is stated so.

Thus any link requests to me by Email are SPAM by any definition. Happen on bad day and I may well report you ;)

R

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 7:27 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

redirects users of adblockers to a 'why you can't see my site' page. That seemed to irritate some of the emails recipients

If I received a wonderful, handwritten note extolling the virtues of my website I would be feeling quite warm to your request. Until I looked at it and discovered trickery to prevent me from seeing it. Just because I can't stand flashing things all over a page. I would immediately reclassify you with the sites that open 57 popups when you try to leave their site. If I knew where to file a spam report I would certainly try. However well written and personalized the original request may have been, it would only amplify the sense of betrayal.

You can't ask people to help you, and then slap them and call them unworthy when they try to help.

Powdork

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 7:28 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whether or not the email is spam is irrelevant. It only takes one person to report it and as Sweet Cognac pointed out in msg 21 the email doesn't even have to be opened to get tossed in the 'report as spam' bin.
So how can we avoid ending up in this situation. Here are some tips so far.

1. Don't send mail to aol.com addresses.
2. Get your own server.
3. Include an obvious and easy way to unsubscribe or a notice that there is no surviving list (one time email).
4. Use the phone.
5. Use a temporary server to host site during large email campaign.
6. Snail mail link campaign.
7. Send emails one at a time with lots of personalization.
8. Only request links from those with online forms for contact.

Some of these may be useful for those that do respond to link campaign emails. For instance "don't list an AOL address on your site". Or include a form for contact and a separate email address for other correspondence.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 7:41 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking now of listing only an AOL address on my site. Thanks for the idea, guys.

Powdork

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 7:57 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

You can't ask people to help you, and then slap them and call them unworthy when they try to help.
Absolutely right. Which is why, regardless of how strongly I feel on the subject, I have removed the redirect.
mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 9:26 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's quite sad but email is practicaly no use now when it comes to making first contact.

I still try emailing potential link partners, but I know the vast majority of them will end up getting deleted without even being read.

It just makes email seam like a waste, it has now got to the extent where you actualy want to email someone, but unless it is a reply you run the risk of being reported for spam. I think the entire email protocol needs a good shake up or it is just going to fall away.

Mack.

the_nerd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 9:45 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think it helps the cause of fighting spam to draw such harsh rules. If any unsolicited email I send is considered spam, then I spam my family and friends all the time.

not quite - SPAM is unsolicited COMMERCIAL email.

helenp

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 11:27 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>not quite - SPAM is unsolicited COMMERCIAL email.
<<<

what is commercial emails?

Sort of sending christmas cards to all old clients, could be considered spam?

caine

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 11:31 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Personally,

if an webaster wants to link up with any of my sites, and represents a site that has obvious lateral/industry connectivity, i will happily give it.

Also i hunt links manually the same way also. I don't see a problem.

merlin30

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 11:53 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

A request for a link exchange is not commercial. You aren't trying to sell a product or soliciting for a business opportunity or venture or any other form of monetization.

Of course, your underlying intentions may be highly commercial and the recipient may well suspect this - but the link request itself is not commercial.

DGBrown

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 12:50 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

You are still profitting off of the link in some manner. The reason for the link exchange is to raise your the PR for your site so that you get better listing.

So let's call spam: Solicitation of an individual (or organization) with no prior contact for the use of personal gain.

hbirnbaum

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 1:15 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Why not host in a country where SPAM is legal? I beleive it's just a problem in the USA.

universetoday

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 2:50 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

One thing that I do to get one other webmasters' good sides is do something nice for them first. Tell them that I like their website, and offer to mention it in my next newsletter.

This gets a huge response and a chance to make a friendship. And it's much easier to get your friends to do favours for you, like exchange links, than complete strangers.

submitx

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 5:30 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I won't consider link exchange requests spam if it is personlized. I don't like to get automated requests because most of the time it is junk and unrelated. You should persomilize your link requests and only target to ralted sites.

Also, US spam law says, if you inlcude your physical address on the bottom of your email and a way to be removed and you also send from a legit email address, then UCE is OK, even tough some ISP's make up their own rules about this. What I would also recommend is not to send emails from your ISP account, instead get a Free email account somewhere.

sit2510

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 6:52 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>> What I would also recommend is not to send emails from your ISP account, instead get a Free email account somewhere.

It is also a good idea to ask your ISP how many bulk e-mails they allow per session or hour. For ex. one of my ISP permits about 120 e-mails per hour. If exceeded, that particular e-mail domain will be auto-blocked and we need to contact their Admin to lift it.

creepychris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 9:22 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hehe. I think someone must have read this thread becase for the first time ever, I've received, not one, but two, link exchange requests, to the e-mail address listed in my whois info and not to the e-mail address in the site. Weird.

WebDon

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 9:23 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Important to remember:
Just because an email is for legitimate business doesn't mean it's not SPAM.

Just because an email meets all the requirements of CANSPAM doesn't mean it's not SPAM.

An email can be legally sent (I'm talking about here in the U.S.; don't know about other countries) and still be considered SPAM by other service providers.

Also, there is NO law (as far as I know) that says a service provider must allow your email to be received by their systems. So any service provider, whether it be a host or ISP, can block you as a spammer even if you've only ever sent 'legal' email.

The bottom line is that any email you send could be 'considered' SPAM and whether or not it gets reported depends on the opinion and mood of the recipient at the time.

The only way to totally avoid the problem is to not send the email. Beyond that be careful and use some common sense.

adfree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 3:03 pm on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I publish several e-mail addresses as of potential response, request area. All unrelated messages that come in get deleted. Spam or not, I only respond to messages that I need to.
Simple.

wackybrit

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 9:26 pm on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

All the link request mails I receive are from morons who clearly automate the process. The important thing is to keep it personal. If you want something from me, write to me, not to 1000 other people at the same time.

When I get an e-mail saying 'We would like to trade links with your site, EXAMPLE.COM, we have a site that is in the "Automotive - Car" category', I know I'm on to a loser.

Brougham

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 11:12 pm on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a firm believer that the link request ( or request for permission to start sending out enewsletters to database contacts etc) should be by personalised letter sent through the post. O.k. it takes longer and costs the price of a stamp but the recipient at least knows that you have put in some thought and gone to some trouble to make contact - it separates you from the herd.

lisaevenson

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 8:56 pm on Dec 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I send job inquiries and they're considered spam! I guess I'm soliciting money somehow. Every email is spam, and hosts never question it. They don't even look at the email that was sent, or care if you have proof.

rocknbil

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2066 posted 1:24 am on Dec 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Early on in this thread it was mentioned that "two years ago it might have been OK."

This is really not true. I learned early in my career - about 6 or 7 years ago - the most succinct description of spam from my ISP admin at the time, before Congress turned it's eye toward the issue.

Any unsolicited email falls under the description of spam.

Period. Not commercial, not religious, not just once, not a thousand times, in fact it doesn't matter what the content or frequency is. Even if a "contact us" link is clearly displayed on their page, it can fall under the description of junk mail.

True, this is clearly abused on both sides of the fence. If a legitimate site visitor contacts someone about their products, it is likely to be perceived as a contact. If they contact them by the same link to push their wares, it will be considered spam.

Intent is irrelevant. You could be giving away free cars and if you do it by email - you're spamming.

The latest developments, that there be an unsubscribe link in working order, only release the spam-monkeys from LEGAL prosecution. ISP's can pull your plug any time.

The solution is pretty easy: FIND ANOTHER WAY. A non-intrusive way.

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