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Global Initiative needed


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Brought here from a PM ... can't get over the concept that this person wants to call others "lazy and irresponsible" but apparently spent zero time researching various realities before firing this opening salvo.

Hi spam Cop.

I need your help to try to get a serious discussions started amongst ISP's and companies like yours regarding legitimate commercial mail vs spam.

We operate a legitimate web company and provide content services to major ISP's with whom we have white lists.

Yahoo, AOL, Orange + MSN (no white list but with JMR etc. ).

The problem is that, in their eagerness to fight spam, email operators have also made it too easy for legitimate operatros such as outsleves to be tagged as spam.

This has come about because oh how and where the spam report buttons are placed in the email clients.

All our mailing lists are opted in, Unfortunately, users often simply forget that they opted in to a service sometimes ten years ago.

They are too lazy to look for the unsubscribe link in the footer so they just hit the spam button thinking that this will then block the m ail form their inbox.

IN fact, our JMR reports on Hotmail SNDS are less than 0.1% so we are in pretty good shape but still far too many of our legitimate deliveries arrive in the 'Junk' folder instead of the in box.

I would like to launch a new Global Initiative that could help enormously.

A very simple solution.

All Email providers add a third mail folder in their systems called 'Commercial mail'.

All legitimate senders of commercial mail then register with an organisation like spam cop for instance. We could show our corporate identity and make it fully legit. In the mail headers, we would add a code that identifies us as a legitimate sender of commercial mail and all our mails would go into the designated 'commercial mail box'. NOT the spam box.

This way, users can receive personal mail in their inbox and any spam mail masquerading as personal or commecial can be more aggressively attacked and blocked.

I believe that all legitimate businesses would be happy to agree to such an arrangement. If users have opted in correctly, they will still check their commercial offers several times per week and will than have the power to choose what and when to open.

They can still use a filter to send a particular mail to the 'inbox' if they prefer.

Such a system is absolutley neccessary and very soon. ALl companies are rapidly realising that they need to market via email.

Very very soon, email will be the NUMBER 1 marketing tool over TV, radio and billboards etc.

The spam issue is not going to go away, it will only get bigger and bigger.

Knowing this, legitimate organisations such as ours, need to have a way to communicate with our clients and prospects in a professional manner that does not constantly tarnish our reputation because of a few irresponsible email recipients who are just lazy or just forgot that they opted in or who just don't realise what the spam reports do to the sender.

My main question is:

HOW CAN WE GET AN INTERNATIONAL FORUM STARTED BETWEEN PLAYERS SUCH AS YAHO,O FREE, MSN, ORNAGE, ALICE, SBC etc. etc. to agree on this initiative?

Thank you for your help with this.

<Personal data removed for this post>

Initial Reply:

Hi spam Cop.

"I" am not "spam Cop" .... For wanting a 'global' action/reaction, you're off to a pretty bad start. I'll help kick things off by opening your question up for real discussion. Please see http://forum.spamcop.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10157

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Maybe this individual(s) is looking for free marketing and certification of their "good" intentions by spam Cop? or maybe its just words that their legal staff will used to prove their legitimacy when hauled into court? Its obvious that these folks feel that they can get by with just about anything these days.

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Brought here from a PM ... can't get over te concept that this person wants to call others "lazy and irresponsible" but apparently spent zero time researching various realities before firing this opening salvo
Had to stop reading -- my brain began to hurt.

-- rick

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users {our customers} often simply forget...

{Our potential customers} are too lazy to look for the unsubscribe link in the footer so they just hit the spam button...

In the mail headers, we would add a code that identifies us...

communicate with our clients and prospects in a professional manner that does not constantly tarnish our reputation because of a few irresponsible email recipients who are just lazy...

I think this "legitimate web company" needs a new business model.

They seem to be targeting memory challenged, lazy email users. Wait that is who spammers want as "clients and prospects" and that appears to be a fairly large target audience.

They seem to have a limited understanding of how the email system they want to modify works now. Not a good starting point.

But thinks for the relief.

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For the benefit of anyone who might genuinely be interested in the subject of how one might run an honest bulk-mail operation, here is my own contribution:

http://www.rickconner.net/spamweb/ethicalbulkmail.html

Also lots of reading here on the forum in the FAQ at http://forum.spamcop.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=3882.

I suspect that the general procedure is NOT to build the list first and fix it later, to stuff unsupported bits of code in the headers, or to blame all your problems on "lazy" or "irresponsible" subscribers.

-- rick

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Rick: Unsubscribe: Another reason for not requiring a password, or an email from the user... As an administrator, I have accounts that we still accept mail for due to the nature of their position for a long period of time, but they have become "inbound-only" accounts. As such, there are lists I can not unsubscribe from because I can not send an email from that account, or I have no access to their account (and do not feel comfortable trying to reset their password to gain access).
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Rick: Unsubscribe: Another reason for not requiring a password, or an email from the user... As an administrator, I have accounts that we still accept mail for due to the nature of their position for a long period of time, but they have become "inbound-only" accounts. As such, there are lists I can not unsubscribe from because I can not send an email from that account, or I have no access to their account (and do not feel comfortable trying to reset their password to gain access).

Thanks! I will make an appropriate change.

-- rick

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Actually, IMHO, he has a good idea. The problem with unsolicited email is bulk commercial email. If there was a way that it could be identified as legitimate (for instance in the headers), then all bulk commercial email would be blocked unless it was specifically whitelisted by the recipient (which many companies now request you to do). Anything that was unsolicited and bulk (which is pretty obvious most of the time) could reported via a junk mail and that IP address blocked for all customers. Of course, spammers would ignore commercial bulk listing, but soon would be blocked. If they did attract people via websites and sent legitimately header marked bulk email, then they might get whitelisted by some, but it wouldn't matter to the rest of us since we wouldn't whitelist them. And it takes care of those accounts that send you email just because you bought something and didn't search diligently enough to find out how to stop it before it started. You just never whitelist them and they have to remove your name or get a bounce every time.

Also, doesn't anyone remember the mail newsletter manager who had a paid list and still had people report newsletters as spam rather than unsubscribe?

Miss Betsy

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Rick: Unsubscribe: Another reason for not requiring a password, or an email from the user...
Thanks! I will make an appropriate change.
And of course an 'alternative opt-out' process would include one final e-mail to the subscription address confirming the deletion as assurance against commercial sabotage/mischievous opt-out by a third party. I guess list managers wouldn't really need to be reminded to do that.

And yes, that 'inwards only' e-mail address scenario can arise for ordinary account holders too and though, no doubt, it would be simple enough to regain full access to such an account who would bother, just to unsubscribe from a few lists? Thinking of my recently-dropped ibm.net/attglobal.net account (which had no webmail component on the basic plan and dial-up access went by the board long ago). Unsubscription from the 'forwarded-to' account couldn't work (though I gave it a shot - the customary acknowledgments never arrived within the 30 day window).

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Sorry, I only do one edit per page per night (and most of the time not even that!).

Most of the lists I belong to (quite a few in the office, I'm trying to cut back) use web links for "account management," but I can see where lists still mired in the majordomo/LISTSERV model might not be able to offer this capability (instead, you have to e-mail the list manager bot).

From the sender's perspective, it seems like there isn't much to replace positive feedback from the recipient. You could de-list addresses where the mail doesn't appear to get read, but this is troublesome (web bugs may get blocked by mail clients, while delivery confirmation requests won't get answered even by those who actually read the mail).

I would assume that mailing to an account that was actually closed should cause a DSN, which the sender could collect and use to prune his list (although some providers might not bother with such bouncing). If the account is simply "read-only" (de facto or de jure), then I guess the only sure way to remove a subscription is to get a positive unsub request from the account holder, obviously through some means other than reply e-mail.

If the from- or return-path addresses are valid, a mail admin might be able to use this channel to request that mail to unresponsive addresses be stopped, but then again how's the sender going to know that he is really hearing from an honest admin with an honest request? The idea of the "one final mail" might be better than nothing.

-- rick

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Sorry, I only do one edit per page per night (and most of the time not even that! ...).
I had sort of talked myself out of actually proposing an addition/change.
...Most of the lists I belong to (quite a few in the office, I'm trying to cut back) use web links for "account management," but I can see where lists still mired in the majordomo/LISTSERV model might not be able to offer this capability (instead, you have to e-mail the list manager bot). ...
I think you will find that sort of goes by industry/interest groupings, most I see/saw were pretty 'traditional'.
...From the sender's perspective, it seems like there isn't much to replace positive feedback from the recipient. You could de-list addresses where the mail doesn't appear to get read, but this is troublesome (web bugs may get blocked by mail clients, while delivery confirmation requests won't get answered even by those who actually read the mail). ...
Without specific experience in using web bugs methods I totally agree. Read receipts are maybe 50% reliable, delivery receipts higher but well under 100% and, again, that might be influenced by the industry (and nationality) demographics.
...If the from- or return-path addresses are valid, a mail admin might be able to use this channel to request that mail to unresponsive addresses be stopped, but then again how's the sender going to know that he is really hearing from an honest admin with an honest request? The idea of the "one final mail" might be better than nothing.
I think list managers tend to confirm removal more or less 'instinctively'. After all, they have a real interest in avoiding unnecessary removals. But that's a comment based mostly on reason, less on observation and not at all on research.
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I entirely sympathise with folk who have forgetful users who have forgotten they were subscribed because list traffic is very light.

I'm on one list which recently came back to life and we had dozens of angry 'members' swearing and cursing at the list because they were getting mail. The moderator could even produce the subscription confirmation yet folk still swore and cursed, refused to unsubscribe (on the basis that you don't unsub from spam) etc.

But I have little sympathy for a business model which sounds to be on the edge of spamminess.

Andrew

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bulk-mail operation, here is my own contribution:

http://www.rickconner.net/spamweb/ethicalbulkmail.html

Thanks.

from that contribution "I don't know how this could happen in a properly-managed mail operation, but often such lists will develop duplicate addresses."

I too have observed this, but I think it's rather "repeated sends".

That is, the batch operation to send out a emailing fails and is restarted from the begining, either because of the nature of the fault or because the package can't restart from the last good send or because the controller never learnt the proper way, just how to rerun.

I get this three or four times a year on a weekly mailing from a supermarket with the duplicates at least an hour apart.

[...]

cannot unsubscribe from because I can not send an email from that account, or I have no access to their account (and do not feel comfortable trying to reset their password to gain access).

Am I understanding you ?

No access, I agree, though some mailing list software allows someone to change to a new email address without any access to the old.

But um, sending an email from someone else's From: is pretty trivial and in the days before discussion mailing lists added passwords I was almost tempted to do it when the list admin was on holiday and someone kept sending "please unsub me" to the list rather than the unsubscribe address

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That is, the batch operation to send out a emailing fails and is restarted from the begining, either because of the nature of the fault or because the package can't restart from the last good send or because the controller never learnt the proper way, just how to rerun.
Thank you. That hadn't occurred to me. The business that kept sending me dupes was in a death spiral for reasons unrelated to e-mail, it could well have been a case of hammering the equipment many times in sheer frustration.

I'll make a change when it is my turn again to make changes ;)

-- rick

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But um, sending an email from someone else's From: is pretty trivial and in the days before discussion mailing lists added passwords I was almost tempted to do it when the list admin was on holiday and someone kept sending "please unsub me" to the list rather than the unsubscribe address

Trivial, yes. Ethical, no. It is also against our corporate policies to send email as another user by any means, including logging into their account (which as the administrator is also trivial before deleting the account).

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What I always do when it seems there is a legitimate mistake - either in getting email from some mailing list that I don't remember subscribing to or in getting duplicates - is to find an address. Sometimes it is a contact on the website, sometimes it is the abuse address. Then I email them that I am receiving these emails that I think are mistakes, but that, on principle and on the advice of the FTC, I do not unsubscribe from mailing lists I didn't subscribe to. So far, I have had good luck in being unsubscribed.

I don't know much about mailing lists from the sending side. On the receiving side, though, I wonder if some lists that depend on a purchase don't have a 'end' date so that they stop sending if you don't purchase again within a specific time frame.

Miss Betsy

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Yes I agree some mass mailings do suggest special handling. Not all businesses I have/have had a relationship with have a well developed understanding of proper email use. I have received thanks for providing some references for better emailing behavior.

I don't know much about mailing lists from the sending side. On the receiving side, though, I wonder if some lists that depend on a purchase don't have a 'end' date so that they stop sending if you don't purchase again within a specific time frame.
I to wondered about the 10 old lists, suggested by the OP. It is hard to remember the state of email or email list that long ago, to say nothing of changing interest.

Ten years later in life makes a big difference in interest: Soccer balls vs dippers for your 4th grader, geriatric care instead of mountain bikes. I would think that there would be some way to remove the deadwood from the list.

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