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Email from Google.



8:45 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I recieved this in an email from Google.

<email saying promotion via unsolicited emails was used and is prohibited>

I don't ever send "unsolicited" email. The only people I email are those who have subscribed to my message board and have made at least 1 post. They have the opportunity to select "recieve email from admin" when they register and I also put a link to the user control panel in every message I send with instructions on how to unsubscribe. I replied to Google with that info.

What do you guys think? Am I not allowed to send my registered users emails regarding activities we plan on my website?

The only mass mailings I have sent since joining Google nearly a year ago occured within the past month. The message was regarding our websites 10th anniversary and the special events planned around it.

[edited by: jatar_k at 9:57 pm (utc) on Sep. 13, 2005]
[edit reason] no email quotes as per TOS [/edit]


8:52 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are the "mass mailings" you mentioned to a different address list than your opted-in list of registered users? If so, that could be the source of your problem. Your opt-in mailing list is fine, a mass mailing probably isn't. If you didn't already mention what those mass mailings were, and tell Google that they won't happen again, you should do so.

Sounds like what you got was a warning.

Longhaired Genius

8:53 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hope it works out. Let us know what happens.


9:12 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Are the "mass mailings" you mentioned to a different address list than your opted-in list of registered users?

I don't understand what you mean by this. The mailing list is automatically generated by Vbulletin. I set it to only send mail to those who have at least 1 post on the site and only to those who have opted to have mail sent to them by the admin.

Why shouldn't I be able to announce happenings to my websites users? I can agree with all of Google's rules, but if they won't let me correspond to my userbase that's heavy handed and wrong. Google sends me messages about their updates. Why shouldn't I be able to do the same?

I'll just have to wait and see what their reply says. I'll let you know what I find out.


9:29 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Here we go.. they replied pretty quick :)

"Thanks for your email.

The complaint we received was from someone who had not already registered with your forum. In order to opt-out of your mailing list they first needed to register with your site. Therefore, we request that future mailings include an opt-out link that does not direct people to a page containing Ads by Google. Thank you for your understanding."

Well, either the person who reported me is a liar or they are using an email address of someone who had registered on my site. I have no other email lists than the one generated by Vbulletin so there is zero possiblity of me sending truly unsolicited emails.

Now I just have to figure out how to get the Google ads off of my Control Panel and registration pages. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


9:30 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

did your announcement have a "unsubscribe" link?

if it did I would email them and tell them you only emailed to your vBuliten user list and they can opt out - that you never send unsolicited emails


9:41 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Perhaps you are NOT EVEN the one sending the Spam Emails in question.

Perhaps someone else is send Spam emaill about your site in order to help or harm your site. However, being how many people are on the Net, my guess is that it is probably one of your competitors trying to get you kiched out of Google AdSense. Most people wouldn't go through such effort to HELP someone - as if SPAM Emails are helpful to anyone!

Haven't you ever seen those emails that spammers make to hide their true identities? They are VERY GOOD at making the headers look like it came from some other mail server. In fact, many times they hack an unsecured mail server to send out their Spam sales messages.

Perhaps this is an off-shoot of that scheme? Perhaps one of your competitors is using this Email Spammer's trick to make it look like the message was coming from your server... OR in fact they did hack your mail server to send out their Spam message "Come Visit My Web Site"...

The treachery never ends... There are some REAL EVIL people on the Net that will break any rules there are to promote THEIR agenda.

I would Ask Google for a copy of the alledged Spam email to try to determine where it actually came from, given that you say you email only "opt-in" forum members.

[edited by: alwaysthinking at 9:42 pm (utc) on Sep. 13, 2005]


9:41 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes I have an unsubscibe link which takes the person to the User Control panel. The trouble is, when they click on the link to the CP they first have to log in. I bet the people having problems can't remember their password. The emails I send all have the username as the first line of text in the body of the message so it looks personally addressed.


10:02 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

well its not your problem if they cant remeber their password - fact is they signed up for it

- im sure there is a retreive password function or something - I would email google and tell them how you are set up - sounds ligit to me


10:09 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Why would someone contact Google regarding the way emails are sent from or about our websites?


10:35 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Some people hate Spam Email so much, they go to great lengths to try to punish the sender. They try to track the origin and get the sender's Host to drop their the Spammer's account. That's why Spammers often hack other domain's email servers to send out their Bulk Spam... They'd be banned in no time if they were using a legitimate hosting account.

However in rickhz's case, I question that someone who was utilizing would take the effort to complain to Google about the alleged Spam email...

After all, to receive the site's email the person would have signed in and participated in the forum. Makes little sense that a forum user would turn around and complain about receive email from the forum (although a few people are just plain ornery and senseless). That's why I am suspicious as to the true source of the Spam email. I think a competitor might be sending the Spam to get rickhz in trouble.


10:46 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A better question is why G has a policy regarding this, as their Adsense program is concerned.
There are a thousand ways to promote a website, and who is to judge what is considered spam for their reasoning?

My forum sends out newsletters from time to time as well.
Those that no longer wish to receive them always get their email address taken out of the system.

This whole scenario leaves way too much for interpretation.


10:47 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I use Vbulletin too,

1-Show Ads only on the following pages “Showthread” “forumhome” “forumdisplay”
2-In the admin control panel and under the vBulletin Options > User Registration Options > choose “Verify Email address in Registration” (set it to yes): This way no one can create an account while using a fake email (that can result people receiving emails from you who are not members in your forum and never entered your site)

You don’t have to worry about sending emails to your members, that is your right and I use it once in a month at least (as a newsletter or important announcement about the community)


11:19 pm on Sep 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can I place the google code directly into those templates?


3:59 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

rickhz, I asked about the "mass mailings" because you mentioned them separately from what you had said about your opt-in list, and as a kind of afterthought. I got the impression that they were something different. But you were just talking about doing a mailing to your list.

Now that I understand that, I don't agree with the suggestion that this action by Google has been set off by a competitor or someone out to get you.

I think a different scenario is far more likely. Since you said this was the first mailing you had done in a while--in nearly a year--it's quite likely that a number of the people who received it would have forgotten that they had signed up for your emails. And that at least one of them would be an anti-spam zealot who would complain to everyone they could about the email. That would obviously include Google, since the ads are all over your site.

It sounds like you are well on your way to working this out with Google. In addition to the changes you are already working on for your site, I'd suggest using your mailing list more frequently. Regular visitors are a good thing, and if people get messages regularly, even if it's only monthly, they won't think they're coming from an evil spammer when they find them in their inbox.


4:50 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

rickhz, the first thing you have to remember is people are stupid AND rabid about email.

I've sent opt-in email to people that send spam abuse emails to my upstream that look pretty stupid when I forward their entire opt-in record.

Doesn't matter if they did or didn't, if you want to send bulk email this will continue to be a problem as I've said before - "people are stupid"


4:51 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jetteroheller is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The complaint we received was from someone who had not already registered with your forum

It happened in the last years several times, that some people registered me to strange mailing lists.

One time, 20 mailing lists.
I phoned some of them, was able to get the IP address, the person registered me.

After this, I complained over this IP address at his provider.

Because this seems to be a common joke,
it's now normal practice to receive an email

"Click this link if You really want to join
bla bla bla mailing list"


6:48 am on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Before registering in my site the user must request an email with an encoded URL. Clicking on this goes to the registration page where the registration process is completed.

So, for people to register in my site they must have access to the account.

I also send in all my communications an unsubscribe link *and* instructions on how to unsubscribe if the person doesn't want to click any links.

However some AOL users complained to my provider that I was sending unsolicited emails. I showed to my provider what the emails were (weekly newsletter) and that there's a double process for registration and another for opt-in newsletter - and these users still saying it's "unsolicited".

Anything users don't want to receive these days is spam in their view, even if they once subscribed and can't be bothered changing the subscribtion because they're too dumb or lazy.

It is a shame things go like this and cause lots of grief. And it is interesting that AdSense actually chases this kind of stuff - seeing that it is so open to attacks by fake subscriptions or fake email sender information as described before in this thread.


8:53 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That was my opinion as well.
Adsense is so far removed from how we manage our websites, it shouldn't even be a consideration of theirs.
Aren't we partners?
I bring traffic that is interested in what their AdWords clients are offering. So what's the problem?

Had the same problem with AOL and our newsletters.
I use Compuserve, it's the same company.
A few times after sending mass emails I would come home from work and not be able to log in to my CS account. They change the password when a complaint is sent.
The third time, I had a woman on the phone for 30 minutes before she admitted it was because of a link in an email sent.
Told her that if there is a probelm with that, they can close my account immediately and credit me for the remainder of my contract.
They don't even care what the emails were anyway!
They just make us work by calling to get a new password.
All part of the war on spam, gang.
Perhaps it's a good thing in the end, I dunno.


9:02 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This is an issue with all emails - and a big pain for legit. marketers who include their info and real links / addresses!

I have been using a "permission reminder" - on the top of the email

telling the user:
what site they signed up for
why they are getting the email
and a link to unsub. right up top

(in addition to a 2nd link on the bottom)


9:03 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Wait a minute!
Are you saying that if I send a newsletter showing to my users links to my articles in my site, and those pages have adsense, am I violating the adsense TOS?
Of course this is a totally opt-out private list.


10:25 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If this was the case it would be insane - newsletters are the best way to bring your visitors back. Some people register and would never come back, if not for an interesting newsletter, listing the events of the last week, what's next, comments.


10:44 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ann is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

It could be that spammers have compromised your sendmail .cgi or .pl

They did that to me once. Almost made me the most hated website on the internet.

I put the cgi on a secure sever and that seems to have solved the problem.

Recently found my little mainbookmark.js was compromised. Apparently some scumbag had found out how to get my bookmark to act on his site.

Just noticed traffic was taking a dip and a lot of my visitors are regulars who do bookmark the site so I checked it out, only thing I could think of. Now that is changed to a much simpler on page scriptlet.

Boy what scum won't do when trying to rise to the top!



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