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It grew because it allowed users to find specific content that could not be found in easily in print, TV or radio. It allowed people to interact, express opinions and develop friendships with others with their same interest.
Since 1998 the number of users has more than doubled. The large media companies, the dot coms have arrived. Many of them have failed; others like AOL are in trouble.
Why? Well I feel part of the reason is that they tried to supplant those things that that attracted the original Internet visitors. The rush to content has been an effort to transform the traditional media, news, magazines, TV and radio to Internet format. This is mass media but not the special interest content of the earlier period.
Fueling this rush were advertisements aimed at transforming direct mail and telemarketing to the Internet. Some of these sites worked and some didn't. Part of the reason for the failures has been the losing sight of what first brought visitors to the Internet.
With the rise of the huckster on the Internet, has come a concern about privacy. No one wants their credit card numbers compromised or to be identified to the hucksters. No one wants to be profiled or to have his or her interests tracked. The Anti-Spam movement is becoming a powerful force preserving privacy.
The downside to this I feel is that we are often throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If we can not identify people with interests like ours; if we hide behind a bunch of different screen names; if we filter out everyone that we haven't communicated with before, aren't we giving up the very things that attracted us to the Internet?
I can tell a caller to stop calling, and they have to stop by law AND I have ways to track them down and deliver the law's full punishment. Same thing with postal mail - I can demand a stop AND track down someone if they do not.
As for blocking and tracking - I collect all 3000+ stations' calls and track to 6 second increments. I also block calls both at the central offices and my PBXes that I do not want to receive, and pay nothing for them.
This cannot be done with spam (yes there are rare exceptions), therefore the parallel fails.
As for "focusing on core issues" non sequitur.
I do not believe "enhancing customer service quality and responsiveness" has anything to do with spam. I can enhance my responsiveness till I am blue, my user mailboxes will still be full of spam.
I have also asked the question whether a value-added email system would be workable. By value-added I meant one that could impose a set of rules that mailers needed to abide by. and that receivers could specify acceptance rules.
I have also discussed both these ideas with the limited number of webmasters I am in contact with.
Truthfully, no one is really serious about doing anything but complaining. Two minutes into any conversation it seems everyone starts to worry that the better mousetrap will cause customer service problems and lost business correspondence. The overhead of managing permission in a large organization would be huge and they are unwilling to take on that task.
I grant that is a possibility, but again, I'm not talking at all about prohibiting the sending or receiving of email - what I'd like to see is the option to do something about it *if I choose*. Right now, I am being assaulted without recourse, and it is frustrating and tiresome.
Recently I heard a news report that one of the big ISP's (Earthlink perhaps??) was going to build into its service the option for its subscribers to automatically have popup windows blocked. They said it would set them apart from AOL and MSN, who generate extra revenue by selling the popup ads (never mind that their subscribers hate it).
That is the same attitude Outlook, Eudora, and all other services need to embrace - make our use of the web more enjoyable *and set themselves apart* from all the other companies that could care less.
Gosh, what a refreshing idea - make it a priority to keep the customers happy. If only such a radical notion would catch on, maybe we could see some real improvement...
to me that is the ONLY real issue...if UCE cost the sender only and didn't require the recipient and their ISP to cover the majority of the associated costs, then I can't see any problem with it...but that isn't the case...so there is NO right to make me pay extra to my ISP just so that somebody can send me advertisements
as far as I'm concerned everything else is trivial...the bulk untargeted UCE would largely disappear if spammers were somehow made to cover the entire cost, and we would be left with sensibly targeted email marketing with the costs borne by the advertiser
if I saw any sign that the "spam industry" was prepared to accept that as a long term goal I would be a lot more sympathetic...but whenever I read that somebody is demanding the right to get me to pay for their free lunch it doesn't go down tremendously well
Yep - it's as if every junk postal mail came with a "postage due" stamp on the front. That's what the spamcreeps are doing to the WWW - making US pay.
I don't think a freedom of speech issue can be put down lightly by calling it a "right to spam". Freedom of speech is guaranteed so that people may freely communicate even if the hearer doesn't like the message. It is so the pro-abortion people and the anti-abortion people can both fairly state their points of view. It is so that a news organization report what is happening without the fear of the government.
The downside of Freedom of Speech is that we may get some advertisements for products we don't like. Still the right to create and diseminate these ads are protected. You don't have to like it but in the US our Constitution guarantees it.
If an anti-abortion group wants to hold a press conference and call the doctors "baby killers", that is their constitutionally protected right. The same is true if a pro-abortion group says that "a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body".
Those groups can send me letters with first class postage in which they ask for donations, and that is protected. The spamcreeps can email me those exact messages, and that too is protected - BUT I DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT! Which is how it stands now.
Put into place reasonable rules of conduct, and reasonable charges, and then they will bear the expense of *their own* behavior. I just don't see anything about that approach which should be objectionable. The rest of us pay our own way - why should they be exempt?
The courts can and do support limits on "free" speech - telemarketing opt-out laws, fraud, treason, zoning, and many more. Just look at the advertising limits on tobacco and alchohol!
But with email there is currently no realistic mechanism to enforce any reasonable limits, as well as no agreement on where a line "should" be drawn.
The thread title asks "Are Privacy Concerns Killing the Internet?" I'd say certainly not "killing it" right now, but these concerns are making for some problems, and might make for bigger problems. So it does pay us to be involved in intelligent debate, because something more WILL happen in this area, and it might not be pretty.
Do you know anyone whose email got tangled in one of those spammer list services, just because of a compliant -- with no chance to defend themselves against a mistaken accusation? I do, and it can be as financially painful as a nuisance lawsuit.
Here's a different kind of example: one of my clients has offices in Europe and the US. The European office's ISP happened to get on one of the "banned" lists (a smaller one.) So for a period of more than a week, there was no email coming into the US offices.
The solution was a move to different service providers on both sides of the pond, but it cost some bucks and lost productivity.
When a solution is developed then the proper place to go with the solution, in my opinion, is to the standards group not to the government. This is a worldwide problem and the United Nations isn't really equiped to handle it.
If the solution requires a change in the functionality of email piecemeal legislation just isn't going to work.
How could functionality be changed. It would be possible that an address list could be maintained of address that a post office would accept mail from. All other mail would bounce off if it were designed that way. A new type of email transaction could be developed that asked to be added the the acceptable mail list.
I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but it is an example of a technical solution. Unless you change the process, I believe that spam will continue to be a problem. In my opinion it is a trival problem but know that others think it is a great problem.
Adding fees to the Internet doesn't seem to be in tune with the spirit of the Internet. I doubt that email or most content will ever be paid for except by advertisements. The whole thrust of the anti-spam movement, in my opinion again, is biased against business. So it will fail because businesses are the ones that are paying a large percentage of the cost of the Internet.
Email spam is a major problem apart from direct costs - It creates mass business and personal inefficiencies, and gets po*rn sent to young children. 90% of spam mail appeals I cant even use anyway -(increase your pe*nis size. buy a decoder for cable (only works in US)) - advertisers suddenly dont have to target, they just have to blanket market. it costs them literally almost nothing. If we know the real cause, could we borrow Googles Phd's for a few hours to come to a solution?
So it will fail because businesses are the ones that are paying a large percentage of the cost of the Internet.
.. and increasingly resolving problems relating to spam are making up a significant proportion of that cost..
Who knows maybe there is some correlation between enlargement services and down markets?
A non-official recolleciton of my mailbox's contents suggest that up markets have a lot of "opportunity" scams and MLM type, down market more about enlargements/enhancements. Wonder why...
These sometimes pompous and misguided individuals send us the vilest and crudest threats brimming with self-righteous indignation demanding that we delete the spammers' websites, delete their domains (as if that is even possible) and other assorted draconian sanctions.
Some of these antis are getting far nastier than the individuals that they claim to detest so much. We respond much better to polite and informed requests. Beligerent and foul emails go straight to the place that we put our other unsolicited email - the bin.
Think of it like this: You have a neatly kept front yard to your home. But everyday this guy stops at McDonald's for his dinner, and everyday when he gets to your yard, he just throws all the empty containers over the fence into your flower garden. And you are never able to stop him. This happens every single day without exception for months and months, so you are constantly going out in the evening and having to clean up all his garbage. Finally one day he does it when you see him, and you are in a particularly foul mood, so you go out and throw it back in his face along with some choice words.
A passerby who sees that might say you overreacted - all the guy did was throw some paper on the ground. But what you know, and the passerby doesn't, is that he has inflicted you with his trash day in, day out, and you'd had enough.
That is how so many of us feel about the spamcreeps - we have just had enough. You of course are not literally sending the spam, but to the recipient, you are enabling it, so out of frustration, they send the nasty messages.
If this scourge is going to be stopped, ISP's are going to be on the front lines, so while the "messenger" may not be saying what you want (in their anger), you should take it as a clear signal that others are getting real fed up by the behaviour of the clients that you appear willing to accept. That appearance may be wrong - you may in fact be vigorously trying to stop spam going through your servers - but that is the perception they have, and ignoring them will do nothing to change that.
Nobody likes to be threatened, would you pull your finger out to help someone who had just abused you?
The people writing to you are angry, they are frustrated, they are at their wit's end ... but they are venting - it is all talk.
The spamcreeps are sending messages to un-suspecting recipients that are often extremely crude and offensive. They are often outright scams intended to take the person's money. It is more than just talk - it is action. It is an assault. And under the status quo, the public can do nothing more than just stand there and take it.
You'll stop getting those nasty threats when we - the recipients who are just minding our own business - have a recourse to stop this madness. But until that day comes (if ever), the public perceives you (meaning the server community) as part of the problem, not as part of the solution.
And so server software / hardware must be developed, and policies put into place, that can reduce this flood of garbage to nothing more that an occasional trickle - and the sooner the better. The first IDP's that successfully do that will see their business grow, and those that do not will see their subscribers run to the competition.
Spam-rage like road-rage is unacceptable. A person must limit his behavior when angry.
I don't think it helps to make excuses for people that are acting incorrectly. I find it hard to believe that a person could be 'at their wit's end'. Anyway they have no right venting on an innocent third party.
They are bullying.
And I have no sympathy for bullies. After all the emailer is within the law and exercising his inalienable right.
The anti-spammers have to stop bullying! If the can write legislation that is constitutionally acceptable and get laws enacted, then they have the burden of doing this first. Then they can press for compliance with the law. Right now the law is on the spammers side.
Any person that is rude and bullying and wants to remove my freedom of speech will not get my support. Laws, not people at their witís end, rule the US. The Bill of Rights was developed to protect us from these kinds of people.
Keep in mind the average person gets more unsolicited direct mail that email. Where is all the direct mail angst?
Having read the Constitution, Bill of Rights, & etc., I don't recall anything saying merchants had an inalienable right to propagate advertising campaigns by any means they desired. Some municipalities have banned billboards within their geographic area. Cigarette and alcohol advertising is stringently regulated. Paid advertising on television and in print media is required to be clearly identifiable as such.
Commercial speech is consistently held to different standards than political or personal speech. Companies selling potentially harmful substances are required to tell you their risks, or tell you where to get that information, etc., etc., but if you're sitting in my living-room, I can offer you a beer without being legally obligated to inform you of the potential risks it may pose to any developing fetus you may be carrying about your person.
Much of the spam I receive violates truth in advertising laws, and the rest of it violates most people's standards of good taste. There is no inalienable right to force-feed me half-truths and obscenity in an unrelenting campaign to separate me from my money.
Some of it is found here:
BTW, try it, it works --I've cut incoming direct mail by approx. 75 percent now. It takes a month or more for your C&D letters to filter into the main databases.
>A person must limit his behavior when angry.
We agree, cyril. In fact, my favorite quote is "Revenge is a dish best served cold." (Star Trek - The Wrath of Kahn. No, I'm not a trekkie.)
I also agree with the general premise that the privacy boogieman has hurt the web -particularly ecommerce. That said, when I open my email account in the morning and am confronted by 150 emails, I find myself muttering "Thank You MailWasher!" My very next thought is often "How much abuse can John Q. Public withstand before he gives up on email? ...or the web?" Speaking as a webmaster who trades daily in opt-in PII, I'm worried more about the ill-effects of spam over the long term. I'm afraid it's generating something of a "recoil reaction" to the web. That's an overreaction, to be sure, but it will kill my business just the same.
In my own defense, I want to point out that I began my response to CHC with this sentence: "Rudeness is one of those regrettable human behaviour's that is pretty much always unnecessary." So we are in total agreement about this (though with road rage, people do in fact die, whereas spam rage is nothing more than over-the-top venting).
From rcjordan: "How much abuse can John Q. Public withstand before he gives up on email? ...or the web?"
This is precisely my concern. The well is being very slowly poisoned by the spamcreeps, and if they are not stopped (or at least minimized), it is just a matter of time before most of the people whom we wish to reach will stop coming by to drink at the fountain. And if that happens, it will make the roles that many of us serve on a daily basis pretty much unnecessary.
Because the methods of transmission are so intrusive and because spammers use private resources without permission, First Amendment considerations may be outweighed by the fact that spammers have shifted the cost of advertising to the recipient and to the ISPs. Just as the bulk fax statute has significantly slowed the transmission of that form of advertising, so may the drafters of the Anti-Spam Act find that the congestion of such privately owned resources as home computers and equipment belonging to ISPs is sufficient cause to regulate spam almost out of existence.
In the end, the courts will have the final say, but they also may support such a statute as not unduly burdening the First Amendment as long as the law regulates the means of transmission and not the content itself.
I don't think the argument should be about specific laws or rights, it should be about ethics and good business practise. This is what is missing and what gets people upset.
Also, only a very small percent of the advertising email I recive is legitimate or legal. Most of it has false reply addresses or contains incorrect/incomplete information or is outright illegal here. No one has the right to send me this kind of material.
1) that sending email is too cheap. I dont think there is any way for ISP's to charge for sending our emails but if a very small amount was charged, it would be almost unnoticeable for someone sending out say 100 emails a week, but a nice whack for people sending out 1,000,000 emails a week, which is where most spam mail comes from
2. that, as bird points out, it is the receiver that pays for the email, not the sender. The sender may well have to go the prob of writing a para or two of copy, buy a bulk emailer or subscribe to a service, but the receiver pays for disk space, on-line time downloading, buying anti-spam software, and/or manually having to e-valuate and delete every peice of spam manually.
To me, the best option is to CHARGE for it, say only .01c to 1c per sent email Junk emailers only make a profit becasue of their ROI. Their actual hit rate is measly, but because it dosent cost them much, its worth it. Charging may also force the serious ones to target better.
Im with RC on this one. These days we treat fax and phone enquiries very seriously, and the value of email is seriously devalued. Ive been saying it in this place for years, but iid say it again, that email as a communication method is highly threatened by spam email. Spam emailers are mainly short timers - they dont care about the long term survival of the medium they use, when they destroy it for normal people, they will just move onto the new spam method, whatever that may be.
PS I checked my email this morning. After 8 hours while i slept, i received 135 emails. 10 were legitimate personal/business emails, 45 were legitimate list subscriptions i find useful, and 80 were spam - (thankfully marked for auto deletion by Mailwasher)
Someone mentioned in an earlier post that no-one complains about the junk mail received in the US Postal mail - not true, it's just that the volume is much lower (probably because it costs to mail). Remember, the many of the scams you now get in email (including the Nigerian Advance Fee scam) used to come by postal mail before email became so widely available. People have been prosecuted and convicted for mail fraud and scams using postal mail and for that to happen, someone had to complain. ALso, when the volume of postal junk mail gets so large that people start getting notices from the post office to the effect that "Sorry, we couldn't deliver your check (personal letter, bills, etc) because you mailbox is over capacity with all this junkmail so your important mail has been returned to its sender or discarded" and suggestions that you make monthly payments on a larger mailbox, you will start seeing the same sort of issues crop up over postal mail. Spam is more than just an inconvenience or nuisance.
Everyone agrees that illegal email should be stopped. So stop it. There are laws on the books. Work to get them enforced.
The problem with using a word like 'spam' is that the anti-spammers define 'spam' as illegal email in their arguments. Then they call legal advertisements 'spam'. It is not a fair tactic.
This is more than spin. They do it because they know in the US that they are attacking our Freedom of Speech, which is protected by the US Constitution. That's an uphill battle because we have a History of fighting and dying to protect things like our Bill of Rights.
A fair tactic would be to count only the legal advertisements a person get as unsolicited commercial email. Get a statistical basis for the volume of email they are talking about. And then make their arguments and get the Constitution changed. Let the people of the US decide if they are going to give up their rights to Freedom of Speech.
I have also presented in other posts, alternatives that the anti-spammers can try that does not impact Freedom of Speech.
1 - They may work to change the email standard to establish a class of email that required pre-approval of the email sender.
2 - They may also join one of the alternative email systems that have been founded that are trying to implement this. I have posted on a system that does this.
3 - Right now, anyone or any company can easily turn off their email post office on the Internet. No one owns the Internet, so no one can impose rules on acceptable behavior.
4 - They may filter to their hearts content.
All these things are within the anti-spammers rights.
it is as simple as that...free speech doesn't come into it...you are demanding the right to confiscate money from others in order to advertise...that isn't a right...it is one hell of a privilege that has been abused to hell and beyond by many otherwise legitimate companies just as it has been abused by the pornographers and con men
if the email is well targeted then there is a strong case for it...but unsolicited bulk emailing costs the receiver of the email...as such it is unfair...unless a system is put in place where the senders of UCE pay towards the costs ISPs incur in dealing with it, then it remains an unjust and immoral imposition on the rest of us
If I didn't specifically ask for it, I don't want it. I don't care how targetted it is, if it is unsolicited it is unwelcomed. Period.
If some company had something really worthwhile for me, then it is my loss - I'll take my chances, and will be grateful for it.
Well one of us is certainly missing the point.
The Internet is a public venue that transmits unsolicited emails. You didn't invent it and you don't own it. By connecting your post office to the Internet you are implicitly agreeing to accept whatever comes your way.
From my point of view, the sender has the right to send the email. You have the right to NOT connect to the Internet or to do whatever you want with what is sent to you. But you don't have the power to connect and then dictate the rules that everyone else in the world must follow.
The chaff comes along with the wheat!
The major problem with the anti-spam movement is that they are assuming moral superiority when in reality they are avocating something that is unconstitutional in the United States.
"what exactly is a "legal advertisement"
By legal, I mean permitted by law.
By advertisement in this context, I mean a public notice that is transmitted via email aimed at selling something.
From a later post, I get that you mean that anything at all that is unsolicited should be banned. Can't you see that the US Constitution is aiming squarely at your idea. You want anything you do not agree with to be suppressed. We need to get your approaval before presenting any idea, is that what you want?
This is one of the points where you are clearly wrong. In fact, this isn't true for the physical mailbox you place on the street either. People have been convicted for trespass for sending unwanted mail long before the internet was invented.
By advertisement in this context, I mean a public notice that is transmitted via email aimed at selling something.
This is a contradiction in itself. By definition, e-mail is a private communication channel. There is no way to send a "public notice" through a private channel.
Actually, you just confirmed the main point that makes spam illegal. Spammers treat other peoples private resources as if they were public property that they can freely use for their own purposes. I know that you don't like to hear that word, but by all the definitions that I can think of, this is and remains theft.
I didn't say banned - I said don't send it to me. Publish the ad/idea/theory/manifesto on their own website, and make it available to all the world. This I wholeheartedly support and defend. Just don't make me pay for junk I care nothing about, and often find offensive.
If I am walking down a public sidewalk and a man is on a soapbox anouncing the availability of naked Britney Spears photos, I can just ignore him and walk on. If he comes onto my property to do the same, I'll have him arrested.
My email box is my property - it is not public property. It is my property because I pay for it. I do not pretend to be a constitutional scholar, but for the life of me, I do not see the connection between unregulated email and freedom of speech.
Again, if for example on their website they have a "sign up for our newsletter" form, and anyone signing that form gets an email message everyday claiming that the CIA is secretly engaged in every kind of possible corruption, that is fine with me. They can say whatever they want to people who ask to hear. But if they do send it to me against my wishes, then pay my server 1 cent / email so they can accumulate the funds and provide me the best possible access to information that I do genuinely care about.
But don't jam it into my personal non-public email inbox - if I didn't ask for it, I don't want it, and if I don't want it, I shouldn't have to take it.
THAT is freedom.