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Can someone PLEASE help me understand this??


traci
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I am not trying to be a spammer, I hate spam as much as everyone here does. But for the past two weeks I have had a lot of spam issues. I have been running a free stuff website for the past 4 1/2 years and this is the first time in all of this time that I'm having these problems. I send a daily newsletter to folks who have visited my website and used the sign up box and then also confirmed their subscription in their email. I send my newsletter to these subscribers through Aweber. My question is... If these subscribers have double opted in, meaning they've told me TWICE they want my email then how in the world could it be considered spam when they receive it???

I have been questioned by my website host as to if I am spamming and I had to prove to them that I am not and they closed the case. And now today the website that I use to shorten my urls is questioning me as to if I am 100% sure I am not spamming. I have not heard back from them as of yet but in their questioning email I noticed at the bottom of it, it says if they feel I am spamming they will report me to Spamcop. And that is how I ended up here. I want to gain as much knowledge about spam as I possibly can because I do not want to be a spammer in any way shape or form, that is not my attention. So what should I do???

Any and all suggestions are extremely appreciated, thank you.

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<snip>

I send a daily newsletter to folks who have visited my website and used the sign up box and then also confirmed their subscription in their email. I send my newsletter to these subscribers through Aweber. My question is... If these subscribers have double opted in, meaning they've told me TWICE they want my email then how in the world could it be considered spam when they receive it???

Hi, traci!

...Two things to look at for you:

If, after reading these, you have questions, please return here and post back to this topic with the "Add Reply" button beneath the bottom-most post or using the "Reply" button to the bottom right of this post.

I have been questioned by my website host as to if I am spamming and I had to prove to them that I am not and they closed the case. And now today the website that I use to shorten my urls is questioning me as to if I am 100% sure I am not spamming.
...What kind of proof do they expect? Consider being asked to prove that you are not a thief: how would you do that? There's an oft-quoted maxim, "you can't prove a negative." If they think they have evidence that you are a spammer, you might be able to refute it but only if they present it to you (or at least provide you with enough information to allow you to refute it).
I have not heard back from them as of yet but in their questioning email I noticed at the bottom of it, it says if they feel I am spamming they will report me to Spamcop.

<snip>

...SpamCop won't care. SpamCop only lists IP addresses that are sources of spam which have met a threshold of reports by members and/ or e-mails to spam Traps.
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Thank you Steve I will take a look at those links. Since my post I was able to speak with Aweber, the site I send my newsletter through and they think the reason I have spam complaints is maybe instead of using the unsubscribe link at the bottom people find it easier to just click that big fat spam button, so I'm making a change starting tomorrow to put the link at the very top of my newsletter. And I am hoping the 2 topics you've suggested will offer me more ideas of things I can do to keep myself out of the spammer zone. Right now I just really feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place with no wiggle room...

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Nothing in this Topic relates to an issue with the SpamCop.net Parsing & Reporting System. Moving to the Lounge area with this post.

Sorry for making my post in the wrong spot Wazoo. I was just thinking that since I was threatened with being reported to SpamCop & wanting to prevent it before it happened that reporting is where my post should have gone, my apologies. :)

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That was a natural assumption to pick that forum, but this is a 'user' forum so that topics there are about 'how to report' and 'problems with reporting'

The more logical assumption would have been the Spamcop Blocklist Forum where people who have been blocked post since spamcop reports can result in the IP address that sends it being added to the spamcop blocklist. Sometimes people post there when their web host receives a spamcop report and cancels their contract.

However, you have only been threatened with having a spamcop report made against you which makes it a more general question - in fact, you said in your first post, you wanted to learn about spam. It is really great that you are such a responsible and conscientious internet user!!

It is a nightmare for list managers that people forget that they sign up or don't unsubscribe, but just use the 'junk' button. There was one list manager who had a /paid/ subscription list where occasionally a subscriber would send a spamcop report! You might forget that you signed up for a free subscription, but it's hard to believe that someone who paid for a subscription would forget!

If there is more than one person using the computer, sometimes the other person (the one who didn't sign up) may report it or mark it as 'junk'. I have done that twice - once when I was very new at reporting, I made a spamcop report and once, after spam had mostly stopped from legitimate sources, I sent an email to a company asking to be unsubscribed (I never use the unsubscribe from emails where I don't know I have subscribed). I don't know for sure but I think possibly my husband did sign up and then lost interest, however I didn't ask them if they had confirmed subscription. In the latter case, I had marked it as 'junk' several times, but it never stopped them from coming.

I hope that the links you got earlier have some helpful hints (one I know is to eliminate bounces from your list because people forget to notify lists when they change email addresses and then someone else gets their email address and your email truly is spam to them. You might make sure that the people who send out your list for you use that kind of practice and any others that are recommended.) You might also check out their reputation. There was a long discussion here recently about another service who had had several reports and the consensus was that they did nothing to make sure their clients had confirmed subscription lists and many of their clients were using 'bought' lists.

As someone else said, you need to see if you can get more concrete proof from your web host about why they think you might be spamming. Some web hosts are so paranoid about being labeled as harboring spammers that they don't really investigate accusations. On the other hand, how would they have any of the alleged spam to report? It may have nothing to do with your mailing list. Ask them to send you a sample of what they are thinking of reporting.

The other possibility, of course, is that your computer has been infected and is sending spam without your knowledge. Particularly since this problem has just cropped up. Did you just get a wireless connection in the past two weeks?

Please let us know what you find out. Hopefully, there are other responsible mailing list managers who would profit from your experience.

Miss Betsy

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I have a couple of questions that are handled in the FAQ articles I believe...

1. How often do you send out your newsletter?

2. How do you handle bounced messages? At work I have had occaision to turn on old email accounts that have been bouncing as undeliverable for years only to find legitimate newsletters still being sent to them. If I have a new employee with the same address (it has happened to me a few times at 2 different companies), that is unsolicited commercial email to that new employee and reportable through SpamCop.

3. How does your unsubscribe work? At my current company, when there is a termination of an account in our department, the address gets added to a "spamtrap" address. For the first year after someone leaves, I unsubscribe from anything except the hardcore spam (pills, watches, etc.). Usually, there is a link with a specific code that automatically fills in the email address and sometimes what subscriptions that address has with that company which helps because I don't need to investigate to which address the message was sent to and I can unsubscribe from all. These also usually send a confirmation that the address has been removed. Sometimes, it leads to a blank unsubscribe form which is OK, but harder to deal with, and leads to less trust that it will work. Few of these receive confirmations. Some unsubscribe links or directions are to "Reply with remove in the subject". These are often the least successful as our company has a strict policy against sending email from someone else's account. I often receive back an automated reply stating no subscriptions were found. Sometimes, these are handled manually and my note in the body stating the address the message was sent to should be unsubscribed, will get a response.

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Another thing you might check on, make sure the company that is sending your emails for you puts in some sort of subscription verbage to the effect:

"This message was sent to youraddress[at]domain.com because you signed up for a newsletter on mysite.com"

Any reputable mailing list software should be able to insert the necessary information from your database.

Are you cleaning out dead address from your list on a regular basis? This is another task that reputable software should be able to do for you.

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Another thing you might check on, make sure the company that is sending your emails for you puts in some sort of subscription verbage to the effect:

"This message was sent to youraddress[at]domain.com because you signed up for a newsletter on mysite.com"

Any reputable mailing list software should be able to insert the necessary information from your database.

Are you cleaning out dead address from your list on a regular basis? This is another task that reputable software should be able to do for you.

Oh wow I didn't even know people were still replying to me. I had this topic set to notify me of a reply but I think probably since it was moved that went away. Anyway, I'm still working on ways to keep myself out of the way of spam threats. I send my newsletter through a very reputable website called Aweber. They have an online customer service chat & I was able to chat with someone there who had me do a couple of things to try to keep me in the good. She had me add my unsubscribe link at the top of my mailings, I'm not thrilled with it being there becuase that isn't the very first thing I want my readers to see so in addition to that I wrote a small note myself thanking the reader for subscribing to the email and explaining they can unsubscribe yada yada yada. The person I talked to at Aweber also had me redo my confirmation email, after a reader subscribes to my newsletter they are sent a confirmation email where they have to click a confirmation link, as soon as they click that link they then receive another email basically saying thank you for signing up and this is what you can expect to your email and how often, all of that useful info. Basically just reminding them that they did sign up and I'll be emailing them soon with a newsletter. So I put those 2 changes into action today.

To answer Stevens questions,

1. I send my newsletter Daily Monday through Friday, most Saturdays, and sometimes Sundays. On my website right about the sign up box I do let people know it is a daily newsletter and remind them again in the confirmation and thank you email.

2. As far as my bounces, Aweber is amazing and handles all of that stuff for me. That is part of what I pay them for. If a messages fails to deliver 3 times in a 60 day period that subscriber is automatically unsubscribed from the newsletter.

3. Ew question 3 is a toughy... Once a subscriber is unsubscribed whether they unsub their self or their unsubbed for bounces or whatever. I don't do anything with them, just delete them off of my list and forget about them. It is very easy for a subscriber to unsubscribe from my newsletter though, their is a link at the very bottom of the newsletter explaining that they can use the link to either unsub or change their email address, it's their personal link. And as I said that link as of today is also located at the top of the newsletter. So it's now in the newsletter twice.

I forgot to mention earlier that in addition to the extra unsub link at the top of the newsletter, and reminding the subscriber in the confirmation email what to expect, I have also included a link under my sign up box on my website to show the subscriber a sample copy of the newsletter so they will know what to expect in their email. I'm still trying really hard to take all of the precautions that I can but as I mention in my very first post, I know nothing about how spam works but I do know I've covered alot of ground since my first post. And yet, when I went to post my newsletter today with all of these new precautions, I couldn't help but feeling a little hesitant like maybe I've missed something in the spam area and I'm so afraid that all it takes is 1 junk button happy clicker to get me labeled as a spammer ugh.... So any ideas of what if anything that I'm missing or could do different???

Also thanks Miss Bessy for your insight, your examples were great and probably a great possibility in my case. My newsletter is basically a family friendly newsletter and looking through my subscribers emails earlier today I did notice there were more than ALOT of suchandsuchfamily[at]... whatever or soandso[at]whereever emails, do you know what I mean? So your example reminded me of that and all of those people are sharing that email then yes, I can see where 1 family member may request the newsletter and other family member may say whats this junk and click junk not knowing what it is... And if that is the case, then does Spamcop or whoever the big spam boss person who closes are sites etc, do they take those types of things into consideration or do they just see the spam complaint and shut us down? See, these are the kinds of things that frighten me. I've been doing my newsletter for over 4 years {I think I said that already} but this is the first time in all of that time that spam has really been any kind of an issue....

I have really good protection on my computer {or at least the guy I pay to take care of the computer tells me I do lol} plus I dont send the newsletters from my computer like out of outlook or anything like some folks do, I send the newsletter directly from Aweber, so I think if I did have a virus that would still be impossible unless this virus can log into Aweber, create the email, and publish it, then click the send button. I do understand what your talking about with the whole virus issue though. And again, I admit I'm clueless, so maybe that possibility is what I'm overlooking... I dont know...

...What kind of proof do they expect? Consider being asked to prove that you are not a thief: how would you do that? There's an oft-quoted maxim, "you can't prove a negative." If they think they have evidence that you are a spammer, you might be able to refute it but only if they present it to you (or at least provide you with enough information to allow you to refute it)

I'm not real sure about what the site host expected out of me when they asked me to prove this but I was completely honest with them, I explained how I obtain and maintain my mailing list from start to finish and I suppose I did a good job because they said as far as their concerned the case is closed. Which is great news but, it's just scary to think people are so quick to cry spam that it could happen again and who knows if they'll be as cool with it the 2nd time around... Which is why I'm here and ready to learn how to save my site and my sanity lol.

Thanks everyone I'm sorry this is so long winded...

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...then does Spamcop or whoever the big spam boss person who closes are sites etc, do they take those types of things into consideration or do they just see the spam complaint and shut us down?
The good news for you is that SpamCop can't "close your site." That privilege is reserved for your hosting provider; SpamCop has absolutely no say in the matter. If the provider sees a lot of complaints about your site, and they seem to be well founded, it may take action against you -- or, it may not.

SpamCop's main business is running a blocking list called (not surprisingly) the SpamCop Blocking List. Whenever SpamCop sees a sufficient volume of spam sent from a specific IP address in a short enough time, it will add this address to the SCBL. By itself, being listed in this way means nothing to you unless you try to send mail to someone whose ISP uses SCBL for spam defense; then, the mail simply won't be delivered (and might be rejected outright). This decision to block or reject is made by the user of the SCBL, not SpamCop itself. To use an analogy, the credit bureau does not decline my loan applications -- the lender does, after consulting the credit bureau info. If your mailing service manages to stay off of the SCBL, you should have no problems with any of this. Websites are irrelevant here; the SCBL simply doesn't do anything with them.

SpamCop's secondary business is filtering mail for individual users, and providing a facility for people to report spam they have received. This appears to be what is at question here. In some cases, websites named in spam messages will be reported along with the sources of the mail messages. These reports are advisory only; however, if the recipient of the report (e.g., a web hosting provider) deems it appropriate, it may take more draconian actions like shutting down a website. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that SpamCop does not actually keep track of websites named in spam, and does nothing but report them to their hosting services (and that only when a user of SpamCop initiates such a report).

You mention that the URL-shortening people have threatened to report you to SpamCop, but it isn't clear what they mean by this. SpamCop has no facility for "nominating" particular individuals to be put on the SCBL; this is an automatic process based on high levels of actual spam activity detected directly by SpamCop (and its registered users) and not on isolated unfounded complaints.

If you want to stay out of trouble with SpamCop, then following the mailing-list management practices referenced here should go most of the way to this end. It is probably inevitable that you will receive occasional spam complaints, but if you have a good reputation and a good working relationship with your providers, this shouldn't be much of a problem.

Of course, SpamCop is not the only spam-blocking or spam-reporting service out there, and these others may run by different rules.

Hope this is helpful,

-- rick

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First of all, having the confirmation token (I think it is called) is your defense against having someone use the 'junk' button. If you are reported for a particular email (at least from spamcop), you can show that that person did subscribe (or at least a person using that computer).

As I said before, mailing list managers do have to deal with subscribers who do not bother to unsubscribe. Since you are doing all that you can do to have a clean list, then no one who controls blocklists is going to consider you a spammer. You may from time to time have to explain as you did to your webhost, but once they know how you manage their list, they will understand.

One other thing that no one has mentioned is that most of the lists I see nowadays ask you to put their return address in your contact list so that it never gets blocked.

Since your web host accepted your explanation, my guess that it might be an infection on your computer is probably not a good one. I was a little bit confused about how they could 'report' you to spamcop. The only way they can 'report' is to send one of the emails they received to spamcop to parse. Since your list was well controlled with confirmation, unsubscribe, etc., they would not be receiving any email from you. And, therefore, could not report you. If they were threatening to report you, it meant that they had received a spam from your computer (not your newsletter from Aweber which comes from a different IP address). Since your newsletter comes from a different IP address, one explanation could be that your computer was infected and sending spam without your knowledge. Another explanation is that it was an empty threat. The third explanation was that it was not the webhost, but the URL shortening service and I misread it!<g>

Since your webhost closed the case, and the Aweber forum helped you to tighten up against the possibility of being falsely reported, the only one left is the URL shortening service. What did they say? I expect that if you have a great many links in your newsletter and that they change frequently, that might be a sign to the URL shortening service to investigate (the same way that an email service is suspicious of someone who sends out hundreds of emails in one day - most of them have limits on how many you can send in a 24 hour period). I expect that if you explain to them about your newsletter and the best practices that you use, that they will be satisfied. They might have also received some sort of complaint,. Apparently, like your webhost, they know that newsletter receivers are not always careful about unsubscribing, etc. so they sent you a stock notice. I don't understand very much about such services so I don't know whether they could legitimately 'report' your newsletter to spamcop. I wouldn't think so since they don't actually 'receive' it. I don't know what they will do when you explain to them. Perhaps they will whitelist you or perhaps you can expect to get more queries from them in the future.

Anyway, just make a template of explanation to send to those who do ask. spam is increasing and legitimate webhosts, email services, and other services are having to increase their vigilance against spammers. Just like you have to have a photo id to use a check for payment which wasn't necessary years ago, newsletter managers are going to have to 'prove' their legitimacy more and more, I expect.

Check in on your Aweber forum now and then to see if there are new twists to keeping your newsletter squeaky clean. spam is an arms war between providers and spammers. As spammers find out how to wriggle around something, providers put another test for spam in place and newsletter managers need to be aware of those tests so they don't inadvertently fail them.

Look at 'reports' as a way to make sure your anti-spam measures are up to date and everything is working as it should. Relax and enjoy sending your newsletter!

Miss Betsy

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