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




msg:420896
 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?

 

rocknbil




msg:420956
 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.

annej




msg:420957
 2:58 am on Dec 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Am I understanding right that this was a mass mailing? Would it be safe to write individual letters and email them?

Another possibility would be to write to each site telling them you are impressed with thier site and have linked to them. I'm assuming a related site here. Then put your site in your signature and just leave it at that.

But if people are just sending in all email from senders they don't know then I guess you could still be identified as a spammer.

The part that doesn't make sense to me is the website owner has put his or her email on thier site. Isn't that inviting mail.

diamondgrl




msg:420958
 4:10 am on Dec 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I frankly think this whole turn is a ridiculous over-reaction to an otherwise serious problem.

There are unsolicited commercial emails and then there are unsolicited commercial emails. If a potential customer emails - without first asking permission - I welcome it. But it appears that most folks here, and possibly the lawmakers, are defining that as spam.

When I send a link request, I send a personal email. I don't think that should be considered spam.

Powdork




msg:420959
 4:52 am on Dec 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Am I understanding right that this was a mass mailing? Would it be safe to write individual letters and email them?
Yes, it was the same letter to 180 email addresses I collected by visiting the sites of different clubs and organizations highly related to my site. The problem is that I often get personalized spam.
"Hi Powdork,
Our records show your recent mor t gage application has been approved".
When I send a link request, I send a personal email. I don't think that should be considered spam.
As was pointed out earlier in the thread the email doesn't even need to be opened to be tossed into the AOL spam report bin. Someone could have visited the site and been taken aback at my stance on adblockers at the time (which was my fault). Additionally, since it was a one time mailing I didn't put any unsubscribe information in the email. These are some of the things I didn't consider, but should have, prior to this mailing.
gmiller




msg:420960
 4:12 am on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Historically, the determining characteristics of spam are that it's repetitive and that it's unwelcome. Whether or not it's email or commercial really isn't all that relevant. My first run-in with spam was with a noncommercial abuse of the chat feature on a multiplayer roleplaying game in 1991.

So 180 link exchange requests (which were apparently unwelcome enough to generate one or more complaints from users) would tend to qualify. When you send out a lot of them, there are plenty of things that can irritate the recipients. I know I tend to grumble when I get one nearly identical message sent to me for each web site I run. It could be that you accidentally did something like that to someone.

danny




msg:420961
 7:44 am on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Spam is any unsolicited bulk email.

Powdork's mailout was clearly bulk (one can argue about the line, but 180 recipients is pretty clear) and in my opinion unsolicited. If I put an email address on my web site requesting comments, feedback, etc. that is an request for comments, feedback, etc. from a person who has actually looked at my site and has something to say about it - it's not a solicitation for any kind of bulk mail.

cabbagehead




msg:420962
 9:29 am on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess what we can always do is slap up a temporary domain and website .. ask for recip links to that site ... and then when people respond when can ask them if they *also* want to link to the real site. :)

I wonder if these registrars realize they're just going to force us to be more spam-like in our techniques by acting like this?

PS - GoDaddy did the same thing to me 6 months ago and I had to pay a $50 blackmail fee and agree to go to another registrar to get them to unlock the domain. First offense and all I was doing was freaking reciprical mailing.

cabbagehead




msg:420963
 9:36 am on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Spam is any unsolicited bulk email."

You know - that is just way too simplified. What if you write to your mom and she doesn't first authorize you to send the email? What if you send vacation photos to friends and family ... that's bulk, right? What if a hot girl gets my email address from a friend? That's someone you don't know writing to you. I wouldn't mind that. Or what if someone finds my email address on my website and writes to me about my services? That's an example of getting an email address from a website online rather than direct reference. Is any of this spam? Give me a break.

This is why I think the CANSPAM act is about as good as you are going to get. It has to be open and tolerent to the gray area. If a person uses a valid email address and does not contact the person again if requested .. that's what really matters, IMO. The real spam problem is when people start masking who they are and not respecting requests to not be emailed. That's the cleanest line you're going to get without violating everyday email usage patterns.

Macro




msg:420964
 4:44 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Spam is any unsolicited bulk email."
You know - that is just way too simplified. What if you write to your mom

I have only one mum.

What if a hot girl gets my email address

Still not bulk.

What if you send vacation photos to friends and family ... that's bulk, right?

Absolutely! And that's SPAM in my book. I don't want to see anybody else's vacation photographs. And I'll be damned if I'll have them - with their bulky attachments - clogging up my inbox when I'm at work or when I'm accessing the net via a dialup connection on a 14.4K mobile modem somewhere. Stick them on a file sharing site somewhere and tell me the URL when we next meet. Then leave it to me to decide if I want to see them or not. Stuff them down my throat and your email is just as welcome as the spammers' ;)

larryhatch




msg:420965
 4:48 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

I asked 6 or 8 people in a crowded bar to link to my website.
The bartender threatened to cut me off, so I shut up.

scareduck




msg:420966
 4:00 am on Jan 3, 2005 (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?

Speaking as the victim of about a dozen or more of these every single day, I would have to say -- yes, it's spam. You need to make your pitch to the individuals. You need to do it through contact forms, if they exist. You need to make these things sound like you actually care about the individual target -- which spam never does.

Powdork




msg:420967
 4:17 am on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

You need to make your pitch to the individuals.
Personally, I get more offended by the emails that try to cater to me personally and I know they don't know me. These sites don't get a lot of traffic or requests for links because they are not marketed at all. They are basically resources for the clubs members who are looking for info on the upcoming club trips. OTOH, just because the individual sites probably don't get many link requests, the webmasters probably do, at least for other more popular sites. As far as the forms go, I used them when they had them.
As an aside, I too get lots of reciprocal link requests every day. I never get a flat out request for a link, without the reciprocal part.

DaButcher




msg:420968
 2:02 pm on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a relatively large community (7700+ UNIQUE visitors per month, 300.000+ hits)
From time to time, I get requests about linking.

Some are just about PR.
I then reply to the people who sent the email and ask what they can offer me. Why should I link to them?

I wont link to them, just because they have a high PR rating in google.

Why should my members be interested in theire products?

If they offer my members discounts, etc. Then it might be interesting.

If they only offer me a listing, it's not really interesting, since I dont think I'll get any *real* hits off most of the requests I have.

If I get generic spam, I simply let my filter handle it and move it to the spam-box.
I dont bother reporting to the ISP.

If it's economic scams, I report it to "ěkokrim" (Economic Crime dpt. in Norway), and they persuit the case, if they find it interesting.

deluxcougar




msg:420969
 12:39 am on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I had a similar problem with aol. They seem to have supersensitive users. I know longer accept any Affiliates to apply with an AOL email address.

KathieFry




msg:420970
 12:56 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

<< it was the same letter to 180 email addresses >>

If I received the same exact message that was sent to 180 Webmasters, and I had not subscribed to the sender's newsletter, I would consider that email to be spam.

- Kathie Fry

phantombookman




msg:420971
 1:42 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Spam without a doubt!
Whenever any practise (not just net related) could cause doubt or concern as to acceptability ask yourself what would happen if everyone did the same?

I certainly don't want an email from 22 million webmasters in one of my areas!

trees




msg:420972
 2:25 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Since when does the website owner have to put his or her email on their site?

annej 9:58 pm on Dec 29, 2004 (EST -5) msg #:62
The part that doesn't make sense to me is the website owner has put his or her email on thier site. Isn't that inviting mail.

[edited by: engine at 9:50 am (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]

trees




msg:420973
 2:43 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Macro @ 11:44 am on Dec 31, 2004 (EST -5) msg #:69
What if you send vacation photos to friends and family ... that's bulk, right?
Absolutely! And that's SPAM in my book.

Thanks to the operators of this Forum, you are welcome to post your personal opion here. Fortunately anyone who reads your posts is also free to ignore them. <JOKE> If email which you send to your personal friends or personal family is SPAM, this suggests to me that your Viagra By Email business must be getting pretty desperate. </JOKE>

[edited by: engine at 10:19 am (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]

trees




msg:420974
 2:59 pm on Jan 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

larryhatch @ 11:48 am on Dec 31, 2004 (EST -5) msg #:70
I asked 6 or 8 people in a crowded bar to link to my website.
The bartender threatened to cut me off, so I shut up.

That's because you forgot to buy a free drink for anyone who would give your website a link :rofl:.

[edited by: engine at 10:20 am (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]

rocknbil




msg:420975
 2:29 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why would you buy a free drink? Sounds . . . . Democrat.

:-D

eikelein




msg:420976
 8:06 pm on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, here another $.02 worth...

All the above ballyhoo (no offense intended!) has quite some time ago brought me to NEVER let anyone but me decide what is spam or not.

Clearly there are undesirable bulk UCEs and so on. But for family pics, forwarded (dumb and irreverent) jokes and so on there is IMHO only ONE authorized instance do make that determination and that's me myself.

I have gotten to love Mozilla's and Firefox's Junk Controls, even if it means a few more clicks.

Quoting myself: "... to NEVER let anyone but me ...". And I have already broken that rule by switching to an ISP with wireless broadband who does a SUPERB job of filtering almost all porn.

Conclusion: Seems to me we all have to find our own individual ways to navigate this jungle. Did I go off-topic? If so, I apologize.

This 81 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 81 ( 1 2 [3]
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