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Spam IT

7 Ways to Be Mistaken for a Spammer 383

ancientribe writes "The "This is Spam" button popping up on many service providers' email services can be empowering for a user, but it can also be the kiss of death for a legitimate business that gets canned with a click of that button. Dark Reading has a story on seven common missteps that can lead to a case of mistaken spammmer identity for a legit business trying to send its marketing email, newsletters or other correspondence."
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7 Ways to Be Mistaken for a Spammer

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:11AM (#17826896) Homepage Journal
    What I hate is that there is little room left on the internet for legitimate advertising. When the first spam messages went out back in the 90s, they didn't try to be as deceptive or fraudulent as they are today. People still hated them, but at least they were being more honest about their practices. Nowadays you have real spammers that are disruptive, invasive, fraudulent and don't care that they are these things. This is the real spam. However there are still a lot of people out there that think that every piece of marketing material whether its legitimate or not should be treated as spam and the person sending it should be hung out on a noose.

    If people are going to have this opinion in a capatalistic society, then that's hypocrisy and I think they need to think a bit more about what they are doing. If these people think that advertising shouldn't have a place in our society then I think they should consider that maybe money doesn't either. Because we can't have both. Capitalism needs marketing,

    When I put advertisements in my signature line, I try not to be invasive, fraudulent or deceptive. But yet people treat me like I'm hell incarnate. I think that's wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Damn you and your subliminal advertising.

    • I admit it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <.mindstalker. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:20AM (#17826980) Journal
      I admit it, I to have purposefully signed up for commercial emails that I later got tired of receiving. Instead of unsubscribing which was difficult I simply hit the Spam button on gmail. Maybe marketters need to make unsubscribing a bit easier and they might not get caught up in service wide filters.
      • Re:I admit it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MaggieL ( 10193 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:27AM (#17827090)
        Maybe marketters need to make unsubscribing a bit easier and they might not get caught up in service wide filters.

        "To unsubscribe, go to our website and edit your preferences with a military-grade password you either don't remeber or never actually set yourself. The 'forgot password' link might actually work, but then again probably not. Why should we care; we'll keep sending you our ads at your expense until you manage to make us stop somehow. Aren't you glad we are *legitimate* spam...I mean...'marketing email'?"
        • Not only that, but unless I can consciously remember signing up for a particular mailing list, I'm not going to use its unsubscribe link -- I'm just going to mark it as Spam.

          Why? Because an "unsubscribe" link can just as easily be an "this email address is live, sell it to all the other scumbags" link. Unless I know that the organization it's coming from is legit, clicking on an 'unsubscribe' link in an email is considered harmful, and I won't do it.

          If you want to send out bulk emails (and I think this is a pretty terrible idea to begin with), you should carefully cull your lists if you don't want to be marked as a spammer. I don't want to get messages from someone for the rest of my life, just because I bought something from them once. At best, that's going to make me regret ever doing business with them. Just because I bought something from your crummy web store, shouldn't give you the right to send crap to me forever; if I haven't made another purchase in a few months, I'm probably not coming back. Roll the old address off of the list, and move on -- you're probably just going into a junk-mail box somewhere anyway. (Or more likely, being "eaten" by Spam Gourmet [spamgourmet.com] after the 10 messages from you I told it to let through have come and gone, because I didn't trust your ass not to spam me in the first place.)

          The ultimate definition of "Spam" is pretty simple: it's email that people don't want to receive. If you're sending out email to people who would rather not be getting it, you're a spammer, plain and simple. It may not be illegal (yet), but it doesn't mean that it's not obnoxious.
      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:39AM (#17827258)
        #1. Since you're sending out HTML email anyway, why not put the unsubscribe button at the top of the message? If you're going to be funny and make it an "unsubscribe from this particular spam run" then you need to add a second button, again at the top of the message, that will unsubscribe the recipient from ALL of your mailings. ALL of them. Not most of them. Not some of them. Not everything except the ones the marketing department really wants to get out. ALL OF THEM.

        #2. If that's too much work for you, try an automatic opt-out program. Send a message once a month saying that you're still subscribed ... but that your subscription will end on (insert date) of this year UNLESS you click on the "continue my subscription for another year" button at the top of the message or copy this URL to your browser.

        I am not going to waste MY time trying to find where you've hidden the unsubscribe option.

        Spammers often do not have an unsubscribe button/link (those that do usually collect the addresses). If I cannot INSTANTLY find the unsubscribe button then I'm going to treat you like a spammer.

        Oh, and one other item - USE YOUR OWN FUCKING DOMAIN.
        If I look at the headers and I see that you claim to be a@b.com but the sending server's IP is tied to c.com then I'm going to blacklist c.com as a spammer.

        Okay, one last item, if I put the sending server's IP address into a browser and get a generic "unsubscribe" page, yeah, you're a spammer.

        If I put c.com (from the above example) into a browser and you don't have a webpage, yeah, you're a spammer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by araemo ( 603185 )
          What he said. ;)

          On a more general note, in my opinion, spam is this:
          Unsolicited Bulk Email.

          It doesn't matter if it is commercial. It doesn't matter if you have a business partner I once bought a chia pet from.

          I did not solicit your email, and you sent it in bulk to many people. It IS spam, no matter how legitimate your business is.

          Many 'legitimate' companies have been put on my spam lists because they have sent me emails when I never gave them my email address. Yes, this would be a much smaller problem i
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Fozzyuw ( 950608 )

            On a more general note, in my opinion, spam is this: Unsolicited Bulk Email.

            I'd go a step farther... SPAM is bulk unsolicited correspondence of any kind. The keywords being bulk and unsolicited. All these damn 0% pre-approved credit card applications I get every day (probably 2-3) is not only spam, but a huge waist.

            At least I can click a button to remove spam from my email inbox. =)

            Cheers,
            Fozzy

            • by Zenaku ( 821866 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:57AM (#17828282)
              All these damn 0% pre-approved credit card applications I get every day (probably 2-3) is not only spam, but a huge waist.

              You aren't supposed to be eating them, silly! Just throw them out!
              • Send it back! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by rabel ( 531545 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @01:35PM (#17829720)
                No! Remove any self-identifying information and then tear up the paperwork and send it back to them in their own postage-paid envelope. Toss some small rocks in there just for good measure since they pay the return postage by weight. Once you've done this a few times, it become second nature and only takes a moment.
            • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:09PM (#17828470) Journal
              All these damn 0% pre-approved credit card applications I get every day (probably 2-3) is not only spam, but a huge waist.

              Calling them "spam" may be true, but it's just insulting to imply that they're fat, too.
        • Okay, one last item, if I put the sending server's IP address into a browser and get a generic "unsubscribe" page, yeah, you're a spammer.
          I didn't understand this at first, so just as a clarification for other innocent minds: the technique above is used by spammers to confirm valid e-mail addresses. You thought you unsubscribed? Quite the opposite!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dawnzer ( 981212 )
        What about the emails from legit sites where you intentionally checked the stupid little box that tells them you don't want your inbox littered with there newsletters, special offers, etc. - but they send it anyway?!

        Why should I reply to their email with "unsubscribe" in the subject box, when not only did I not ask to receive it, but I specifically asked not to get it in the first place?

        I love the SPAM button in Gmail. I also love the Spam recipes Gmail shows me when I check the SPAM folder.
      • Re:I admit it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Thansal ( 999464 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:50AM (#17827384)
        The fact that most "unsubscribe" links are just ways of letting spammers know that the E-Mail is a live one is the reason I use the spam button.

        also, the articly basicly just lists a number of things that mark spam as spam. IF you are doing any of those thigns you are NOT legitimate, you are spam.

        not keeping up with unsubscribe? well that is then unsolisited email and it is spam.
      • ... actually getting rid of spam...

        I know, I know, it's a beaten-to-death subject, but there are many valid commercial offers to many interested parties. Spam made all this marketing mess.

        We need to purify email, by means of a new protocol (another beaten-to-deatch subject)...

        Have you already checked EmailXT (http://www.emailxt.com/ [emailxt.com])? It's a protocol that promotes a simple transition path from the current email system, removes unsolicited bulk email (spam/viruses ) from existence, and adds new features like
      • Yep, I have done something similar. When I moved to the UK a couple of years ago I joined every job search site I could find, so was getting daily emails from each with reponses to searches I had set up.

        Once I was employed I went to unsubscribe from each of these. Most of them I was able to do and they stopped coming through but 3 either had no way I could find to unsubscribe or ignored and unsubscribe requests. So they are now marked as spam and I dont see them anymore.

        If this means they are more likely to
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by shine-shine ( 529700 )
        This brings up an interesting possibility. Since so many users are now using the same few well-established web-based email services, why not establish some sort of a protocol for passing an 'unsubscribe' link in the header, and ask the web-based email service providers to show an 'unsubscribe' button, adjacent or instead of the 'spam' button?

        This leaves some room for exploitation, but this can be resolved if companies get white listed to be able to use this feature.
      • Making it easy to unsubscribe is a definite must do, and it has to work. There have been numerous occasions on which I've wanted to unsubscribe, followed all of the directions without fail, and yet continue to receive the email that I no longer want weeks later. At that point I mark it as spam and that company goes down a bunch of notches in my opinion.
    • I think the problem is more for companies that send out emails to people who have subscribed to them. There's probably a lot of people who would rather press "spam" than "unsubscribe", even for mail they signed up for in the first place. And not just for advertising emails either, this happens to newsletters and so on that aren't sales-related at all. This has resulted in a lot of website FAQs with the entry "Q: I didn't get my newsletter / registration email. A: Check your spam folder".

      Generally, spam seem
    • Nice (and very old) discussion on this point if you look up the first Usenet spam, Canter & Siegel ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canter_&_Siegel [wikipedia.org] ) also ( http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,19098,00 .html [wired.com] _) and from 1994, some reaction to them: http://groups.google.se/group/news.admin.misc/brow se_thread/thread/34588f6adcaf2c79/ad6060b1bd82c185 ?lnk=st&q=cantor+siegel+&rnum=10#ad6060b1bd82c185 [google.se]

      There's really no way to draw a dividing line between legitimate marketing and spam excep
    • by r00t ( 33219 )
      Capitalism does not need marketing,

      Without marketing, will I starve to death? No, of course not. I will seek to buy food.

      Will I not have a car? No, of course not. I will seek a place to buy one.

      I might not buy a pet rock, chia pet, or similar. Oh well. That's a gain for me.

      We could really use more stuff like Consumer Reports, but funding is difficult.

      A good start though: strict truth-in-advertising laws. Today it is considered "free speech" for a company to lie about their products, subject to very few limi
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by owlnation ( 858981 )
        It wold be great to see that happen, but I suspect it won't, far too many lobbyists.

        Just imagine..."I can't believe it's not butter" would be become "I believe it's a petroleum industry by-product"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by muellerr1 ( 868578 )
      If I want money then I have to put up with advertising? That's just not true. Moreover, I believe that even 'legitimate' marketing materials, when mailed to my house or displayed on my tv count as spam, which to me is unwanted solicitations. In the case of TV I can tivo-skip commercials and with snail mail and telemarketing I can cut it down with the DMA opt-out. So according to you, I'm not really a consumer, even though I spend tons of money each year just living here. I just don't think that capital
    • Let me understand this: Are you actually complaining about not being able to send unsolicited advertising to a person's private email account? In the United States? I am trying very hard not to shed tears for you.

      I have traveled all over, and there are few places that provide as many opportunities for advertisers than the US. Japan comes to mind, but you can still travel to parts of Japan where you won't see billboards, and there are strict limits to nuisance calling. Not so in the US.

      You say that when
    • When I put advertisements in my signature line, I try not to be invasive, fraudulent or deceptive.

      Good for you. However, unrequested advertisements sent to my email address are invasive, period. And calling your advertisements a "news letter" is (mildly) deceptive. If you do neither, then, again, good for you. But I will call those who do spammers.

      • by suso ( 153703 ) *
        Good for you. However, unrequested advertisements sent to my email address are invasive, period. And calling your advertisements a "news letter" is (mildly) deceptive. If you do neither, then, again, good for you. But I will call those who do spammers.

        As do I. I wouldn't send out advertisements via email because that's more invasive. You have to "go through it" to get to your real email. The only exception to this is if I was going to tell my current customers about a new service. But that's very few an
    • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:45AM (#17827308) Journal
      Marketing makes capitalism worse. It is an attempt to alter demand through psychology. It works. But it doesn't make anything better. Without advertising, consumers would purchase goods more in line with their needs and actual desires.
    • Nowadays you have real spammers that are disruptive, invasive, fraudulent and don't care that they are these things. This is the real spam.

      No, dude. There is no objective definition of spam. If Fred calls something spam, then for Fred, it's spam. It doesn't matter if the sender was a legitimate business, or even if he signed up for the newsletter in the first place. If he doesn't want it anymore, then he can go ahead and click the "this is spam" button in his e-mail client, and it will be right.

      What I ha

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:45AM (#17827318) Homepage Journal
      I think you're going after a bit of a strawman here.

      It is true that back in the 90s, when the Internet was primarily an academic network, people freaked when it started to be used for marketing. But that's water long under the bridge.

      The problem isn't that deceptive spam makes email useless for legitiamte marketing. The problem is that spam makes email useless for communication.

      Google has shown its not advertising that's the problem. It's interference.

      The fundamental tenet of capitalism is that if people are free to make rational choices, they will optimize their welfare. I think that while exceptions certainly exist to this idea, it is reasonably correct. However, this presupposes that people have the freedom to direct their attention where they would like to, and to make decisions without interference. In other words, capitalism requires not only the freedom of marketers, but the privacy of consumers to achieve optimal results.
    • What I hate is that there is little room left on the internet for legitimate advertising.

      You and the original article seem to have this idea that there's a difference in content between legitimate advertising and spam. I'm not so sure there is. Are the advertisements for fake meds spam because the company is illegitimate or because its unsolicited advertisements?

      I'm of the opinion that it doesn't matter if the company is legitimate or not. I don't care if it's fake viagra or real bonsai trees. If advert
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      However there are still a lot of people out there that think that every piece of marketing material whether its legitimate or not should be treated as spam and the person sending it should be hung out on a noose.

      If I feel the need to purchase a product of category X, I'm going to inform myself through hopefully neutral sources. Marketing doesn't count, since it it biased by default.

      Capitalism needs marketing

      I think what you're trying to say is "A free market economy needs marketing". Which still isn't qui

    • If people are going to have this opinion in a capatalistic society, then that's hypocrisy and I think they need to think a bit more about what they are doing. If these people think that advertising shouldn't have a place in our society then I think they should consider that maybe money doesn't either. Because we can't have both. Capitalism needs marketing,

      What sort of nonsense is this? If you accept the concept of a free market, then you must accept the fact that there is a market for businesses that do no
    • by Tom ( 822 )

      However there are still a lot of people out there that think that every piece of marketing material whether its legitimate or not should be treated as spam and the person sending it should be hung out on a noose.

      Here's one of them.

      Doesn't anyone notice anymore that spam isn't an Internet-only phenomenon? I do. When I go to work, or virtually anywhere, I'm being spammed by ads. Try finding a place in the inner city where you can turn 360 without being flooded by more ads than you could recall after the spin.

      Advertisement is intrusive, and on purpose. I wouldn't mind the entire marketing sector being made illegal on penalty of death. I don't advocate the idea, because it will probably be impossible to draw a sharp e

    • by simpl3x ( 238301 )
      I'm currently working in advertising, and increasingly we're finding that, no capitalism doesn't need advertising or marketing in this sense. There are a lot of very relevant ways to attract people to products that are not intrusive and can be interesting. Somebody stated that, perfectly targeted advertising is no longer advertising, but information.

      Once this hits the mobile, the distinction will be important.

      Also, sending emails every other day is a damn good way to be listed as spam!
    • I don't ever ask for marketing emails. I don't want them.

      Just because I occasionally buy from a company doesn't mean I want to hear about their new offers.

      Where I can opt out of mailings at sign up time I do so. Where I can't I'll tag them as spam which as far as I'm concerned is exactly what they are!
    • by Cylix ( 55374 )
      Regarding your sig...

      Perhaps because people don't come to slashdot for advertisements. Granted, they are here and it is quite necessary for the survival of slashdot, but user generated advertisements do nothing for slashdot or it's users. (Other then those posting the ad).

      No, you are attempting to garner revenue from the users herein and we don't really care for it.

      You'll get no sympathy here... if you want to sell something go post it to craig's list or ebay where the users expect to receive such things.
    • At least, not to me or anyone else I know. Nobody wants advertisements sent to their residence unrequested. Now the LAW might say these unsolicited advertisements are ok...but we all know that the law != justice.

      I don't like junk mail in my mailbox that I have to sort and recycle.
      I don't like junk mail in my inbox that I have to inspect and delete.

      Spam sucked in the 90s, and it sucks harder now. It sucks so hard now that people ( like the parent ) are waxing nostalgic about subject lines that clearly spe
  • Mistaken??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:12AM (#17826902) Journal
    While it is a 'nice' check list for the corporate guy trying to get a handle on the major issues, it boils down to "Ways to confirm that you are a spammer, or a fool", rather than being 'mistaken' for anything.
    1. Ignoring "unsubscribe" requests.

      sending email to people who tell you not to do it anymore makes you a spammer

    2. List "repurposing."

      Selling email addresses to other business, makes you a spammer.

    3. Providing unclear privacy checkbox instructions, and ignoring users' responses

      Ingoring user email preferences makes you a spammer

    4. Losing track of internal desktop and server machines that can be used against you

      Losing track of systems shows you are a fool

    5. Not keeping databases and address lists up to date

      A two-fer both a spammer and a fool!

    6. Having vulnerable mailer forms on your Website

      Poor coding shows you are a fool, in particular as this is an old old trick

    7. Working with non-reputable third-party mailers

      "lie down with dogs wake up with fleas"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ucklak ( 755284 )
      I have a site that follows said rules.

      I have a form that sends a verification email to the recipient that the recipient must reply to in order to receive newsletters and to be eligible to win a monthly prize we give away.

      80% of AOL users that fill out the form tell AOL that the verification email is SPAM.

      4% of the AOL users in the current database reports the newsletters as SPAM.

      With that being said, we are seriously thinking if removing all AOL users from our database and not allowing AOL email addresses t
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
        It's just life, and stupid users.

        I have a list that is mailman based, double opt-in of course and unsubscribe information at the bottom of every email (plus I'll do it manually if they're too clueless to click a link). Every now and then someone reports it as spam, because they couldn't be bothered unsubscribing or even sending a 'please unsubscribe me' email.

        Heck, mailman even auto-unsubscribes after a small number of bounces, so it's not like it tries too hard...

        90% of ISPs can spot the induhvidual immed
    • Re:Mistaken??? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by British ( 51765 ) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:29AM (#17827120) Homepage Journal
      As an addition to #1, I hate websites that require you to enter a password to UNSUBSCRIBE. Like their marketing emails are so precious that they don't want anyone else unsubscribing you. Yeah.... Most likely you would have forgotten said password.
      • They cannot even monitor their email logs for rejected messages ... so they can remove those addresses from their list ... yet they're supposedly savvy enough to maintain a database of usernames and passwords tied to email addresses? For years? Accurately?

        No, this is just about making it more difficult for you to "opt-out".

        Listen up "email marketing companies", you want to make it slightly easier for me to unsubscribe than it is to auto-forward you messages to a blacklist. I'm going to take the easiest rout
    • by ynohoo ( 234463 )
      you left out:

      8) did you tempt someone with a freebie to get them to sign up for your "marketing"?
      you're a spammer

      Just because the post-office considers junk mail a "business oportunity", does not mean that I don't think you're a public nuisance.

      Ditto for email.
      • He didn't leave it out. It may surprise you, but these 7 points were actually in the article. It surprised me, because I thought the article would mention things like "The subject line of your e-mail just says Hello Mr/Mrs X". But no, the article mentions these 7 points that indeed are highly indicative of a spammer. The title was clearly wrongly chosen. But your 8th point could certainly be added...
    • by Tango42 ( 662363 )
      Indeed. The best way to stop people marking your emails as spam is to stop sending out spam.
    • by Eivind ( 15695 )
      That kinda struck me too.

      Do they honestly claim that someone who ignores unsubscribe-requests, uses lists for "other" purposes than those the user agreed to, ignores users unchecking "subscribe" boxes (which are by default checked offcourse!), still sends email to adresses in an old-not-updated database and lets spammers do their marketing is MISTAKEN for a spammer ?

      I'd say anyone that fits even a third of these points are definitely a spammer, there is no mistake whatsoever.

    • by Tom ( 822 )
      Mod parent up, exactly what I was about to say.

      There are very, very few "legitimate marketing e-mails". If it's advertisement and I didn't explicitly ask for it, it's spam. It really is that simple.

      So, instead of "7 ways to be a spammer", they should have written an article "3 ways to make sure you are not a spammer":

      1. Send advertisement only to people who have explicitly asked for it (opt-in), and that means without the "please spam me" clause being hidden in 1-pixel sized text on page 34 of your obscure
    • Can I add...

      8. Having an opt-out to mailings check box on your sign-up page, rather than an opt-in one.
      Deceiving users makes you a spammer. Mlb.com, this means you. And you are not alone.
    • by mike2R ( 721965 )
      Agree BUT it's actually a good article for it's target market - companies engaging in low-level spam who don't think of themselves as spammers.

      What we're talking about are companies (probably small or small-ish) who have lax email newsletter policies. You may think of them as spammers, but they don't - spammers are those sending viagra and porn, they are sending interesting information about their company to people who are mostly interested.

      You don't convince companies like that by shouting YOU'RE A SPA
  • hey, pizza hut! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by British ( 51765 ) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:21AM (#17826992) Homepage Journal
    I once did an online order from Pizza Hut, and I've been stuck on their mailing list ever since. I did their unsubscribe spiel, and was aghast: they said it would take 6-8 weeks for me to get off their mailing list.

    In this day and age of computers, 6-8 weeks to be removed off of their mailings is ridiculous. I'm not trying to buy a house here, I just don't want your correspondence.

    Legit marketing emails? Just go RSS or make a web page. Let them come to you.
    • by gmack ( 197796 )

      If you think that's bad try open magazine [open-mag.com] I signed up to get their paper copy years ago and they helpfully signed me up for their email list as well. The unsubscribe link only pretends to work and I got so desperate I set my mails server to bounce anything coming from them. A year later I removed the filter and two weeks later I got my monthly email from them.

      Just didn't expect that from someone claiming to support Open Source.

      • If you think that's bad try open magazine

        I can do you one better. I got some crappy spam with no unsubscribe link from the USPS about their "new and improved" online services, which I have never used. When I sent a complaint to postmaster@usps.com along with a copy of their own message they sent to me, it got bounced back as "We believe this message contains spam and will not process it". Any of the dozen or so other email addresses I tried to complain to failed in various different ways.
      • by gsslay ( 807818 )
        My solution;

        Look up offender's web site. Obtain a few example contact email addresses. Obtain managing director's name. Use this information to determine director's email address. Automatically bounce all spam from them straight back to director, with a little note telling him he'd stop getting these emails just as soon as I stopped getting them.

        Within a week, an email list I'd had no success getting off (and didn't ask to be on) stopped mailing me.
      • by cortana ( 588495 )
        Have a filter automatically forward the message to their postmaster with a complaint prepended? :)
  • Whether it is my physical or electronic mailbox, anything that more or less looks like advertisement goes to the bin without a second thought. The good thing with the email is that, most of the time, I don't even notice I got something in the first place.

    Like it or not, many people think they alrteady received enouth ads for the rest of their life and see them as an agression, no matter if they come from a legitimate business, and sometimes, even from business they are already buying from.
  • by gravesb ( 967413 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:22AM (#17827018) Homepage
    The only legitimate point is users using the "This is spam" button to unsubscribe to newletters they legitimately subscribed to. This isn't fair to an honest company. However, there are risks to advertising through newsletters, and this is one. As long as companies are informed of the risk, and can take steps to mitigate it, then its all fair, I suppose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NorbrookC ( 674063 )

      You also have honest businesses who should know better, and still make it onto spammer lists. Ziff-Davis is a good example. They were using a set of mailers whose headers would trip off a spam filter. I could deal with that, but not their behavior. I signed up for one newsletter - I did not ask for the 20 other newsletters they thoughtfully decided to send me. It took me the better part of a week to get off of most of the mailing lists, but every time I responded to something in the one newsletter I

  • opt -in (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Markspark ( 969445 )
    All the mail i receive from companies that i have not requested, is from my point of view Spam, and therefore gets reported as spam. I fail to see why many companies still believe that they have some right to mail me their commercials.. if I'm interested, i find their webpage. / Mark
  • eMail Layout (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tancque ( 925227 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:32AM (#17827168) Journal
    It also helps when you consider the layout of your eMail carefully. It has happened several times now that users come complaining that our mailserver tags their mail as spam. When investigating the eMail it is virtual in distinguishable from real spam. Some users even think that spam-layout and tricks to fool rulebased anti-spam programs is a "standard" for advertising, and things like obfuscating words are "Cool". (Really, I'm not joking)
  • I have a small business that has some "sticky" IP addresses (rather, they are hacked so that they stay the same). My netblock is listed as a dynamic IP address block.

    I recently tried to contact Rockwell Collins about manufacturing a part, however I ran into their spam blocker. Apparently, anyone who does not own their own netblock gets marked as a spammer. This means that small businesses, like mine, have problems contacting companies like this.

    I managed to get around the issue by routing my email thro

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by arkanes ( 521690 )
      But this brings up the crux of the problem: should companies assume that any IP in a dynamic range is a spammer email?

      My email server, my rules. Anyone who has a legitimate internet presence has access to a correctly configured mail server in a static IP block. I'm surprised you didn't run into it before, actually, because blackholes for dynamic IP blocks are very common.

      You don't have to own your own netblock, you just have to have an IP in a range that isn't marked for dynamic addresses. That's what th

    • But this brings up the crux of the problem: should companies assume that any IP in a dynamic range is a spammer email?

      Easy answer: Yes. I work as a sysadmin for an ISP. Over 90% of the spam we block comes from dynamic IP ranges (trojaned/zombie machines most probably). A lot of ISPs have or will be putting port 25 blocks on their own dynamic IP space so that their customers can only route port 25 to the ISP's email servers. If you absolutely must run your own mail server, then get a dedicated connection
    • But this brings up the crux of the problem: should companies assume that any IP in a dynamic range is a spammer email?

      That is the prerogative of the company who you are trying to send to.

      The fact is that 99.9%+ of the messages that come from dynamic ranges ARE spam from zombies. That's 999 spam messages to 1 legit message.

      Now, remember that someone has to dig through the spam that is delivered to his/her mailbox to find the legit messages. The possibility of missing important messages goes UP as more spam

    • by Darkon ( 206829 )

      I managed to get around the issue by routing my email through my ISP's email server (which is static), although it was very annoying to have to do that.
      Why is it annoying to have to do this? Even if you do need to run a local mail server for your company, just configure your ISP's server as your 'smarthost' and you'll be fine. I don't see the problem.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:41AM (#17827282) Journal
    I am on a mailing list for a local (okay, regional) club that has about 150-200 members. You have to opt-in to get on the list. Well, seems that one or two members didn't (or couldn't figure out how to) unsubscribe when they didn't want to read the list - they just hit the AOL "this is spam" button. That would be fine, except that AOL started blocking the listserve machine completely, and nobony who used AOL get their list emails. It took a while to petition AOL to get white listed, then some idiot got us re-blacklisted.

    To get around it, the list admin ended up reworking the list so that each recipient got thier own, personally addressed email. Not to stop the spam-blocking, but to find the "problem" user. A lot of work to get the list back up and running for those on AOL.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      I am torn between feeling bad for you, and laughing at the fact that your in a group with AOL users.

      Your group is going to have this problem many time. Assuming they have made the unsuscribe process crystakl clear, you need to make people get some other account to use your group. A yahoo account, for example. Or set up a web email service just for your users.
  • 1, 2 and 3 is spam (Score:4, Informative)

    by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:47AM (#17827338) Homepage
    1. Ignoring "unsubscribe" requests.
    2. List "repurposing."
    3. Providing unclear privacy checkbox instructions, and ignoring users' responses.

    If the "legitimate" emailer is doing any of these, that's not "being mistaken for a spammer". That's good old fashioned spam, pure and simple.

    1) and potentially 3) are violations of the CAN SPAM Act and will land the "legitimate" marketer in legal trouble (well, they would, if someone was actually enforcing the CAN SPAM Act).
  • I though this would be a list of technical reasons to get misbranded as spam, I think lots of small companies that send out (requested) mailings make these mistakes (or have them made by their providers) in all earnesty:

    1. Incorrect reverse DNS. 1.1.1.1 == mydomain.com but mydomain.com != 1.1.1.1 Spam filters really hate this, even if it reverses to the same class C network
    2. Mailserver on another IP address. www.mydomain.com == 1.1.1.1 but mail.mydomain.com != 1.1.1.1

    Just my recent experiences, hope it
    • The long and short of the article and discussion seems to be that the situation small businesses are in isn't distinguishable from spam in many cases. The moral of this story is don't be a small business.

      Reverse lookups are often not under your control. Your ISP gives you IP addresses that they maintain the reverse lookups for.

      You might be a "fool" if there's an infected machine on your network, but many small businesses are putting out too many fires to see what sorts of unauthorized machines are ge

  • There are a number of very tempermental people out there who will label email that annoys them as spam, even though it isn't. They may have even signed up for a mailing list, but are not the type to be bothered with even trying to get off of that. Same people probably also find disagreement with them to be a sign of sheer stupidity, but that's beside the point. That's what bothers me about some of the user-controlled spam reporting. Most users don't know enough to handle this, and it can be bad for a busine
    • I have posted links to blog entries on other bloggers' sites during a disagreement because my post had a lot of information that countered their point, including links to some original sources (in some cases, the original source had died and my post was the last copy of that information). Not talking about spamming here, but discretely linking to a post that was relevant and contained information like facts and figures that were relevant to the points I was making. Soon after losing the argument, the other
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:51AM (#17827400) Homepage Journal
    This is especially frustrating to me, as it just so happens I am actually an exiled Nigerian prince who makes a perfectly honest living selling male potency supplements. Badly designed spam-blocking systems have made it incredibly difficult for me to find a complete stranger who will let me deposit sixty millions of American dollars into their bank account for completely legitimate reasons.
  • Most marketing and sales departments approach emailing as just another way to send out advertising like junk mail through postal system or catalogues being mailed. Except it costs very little to send millions of mail. What they dont realize is that for the customers too have very little cost to respond to unsolicited messages. A car dealer can be obnoxious on radio or tv and people cant do much about it and if they p*ss off thousand listeners and get remembered by say two of them, the advertiser gains. In t
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:06AM (#17827568)
    >> lead to a case of mistaken spammmer identity for a legit business trying to send its marketing email,

    If its unsolicted advertising its spam. It doesn't matter if the company thinks itself is legitimate or not.
    spam is not required to be all about p3n1s enlargement.
  • Missing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WedgeTalon ( 823522 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:14AM (#17827676)
    There's a major one missing:

    If you have a customer that cancels their account with you, take that as being an opt-out! If they cancel and then a month or so later receive an email from you, they will more likely than not just mark it as spam (with the other couple messages that got through their filters) rather than bother with opening your large, image-filled email just to click a link to go to your slow website to politely stop receiving your email.
  • At my old company everything that the marketing director sent out ended up in my spam box for some reason, even when I started flagging them as "not spam."
    1. Confirmed opt-in: Someone (maybe a legit customer, or not) submits an email address. You send exactly ONE email to that address, containing a "click this to confirm your subscription" link (or a "reply to this email") that uses a strongly randomized ID hash string (aka not guessable by malicious 3rd parties). If you don't get a valid response within a couple days, discard the address entirely.
    2. Honest 1st party addressing: Send all marketing from your own system. Prominently include your company contact inf
  • by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:52AM (#17828194) Homepage
    Let me just clear the tears out of my eyes.. phew, okay.

    Excuse me if I don't worry too much about businesses trying to send "legitimate marketing emails". Think about it...
    What is their motivation?
    Email is a good delivery platform because everyone reads their email.
    However, spammers have ruined email for "legitimate businesses", by making us develop better and better filters to automatically remove spam/marketing from our inboxes.
    What is the consequence? That email is no longer a viable transport system for marketing. Hear that? Spam proves that email is NOT a good marketing channel.
    Simple: they will go back to their previous techniques.
    I don't see how this is a problem. The public has made it clear: Email is not intended for marketing. Use other channels.
    We have simply drawn a line in the sand, the existence of spam filters is a message to companies out there who want to abuse email: "We don't want it." I don't see how this is a problem. Marketing has plenty of other tricks up their sleeve, they don't need this one.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @12:22PM (#17828654) Homepage
    I agree that there is little room left for legitimate mass emailing.

    In fact, I would say there is NONE.

    Look, we don't let people go around in the street, sneaking their hand into our pockets and putting their business card into it. Why? Because it is too close to an illegal act called pick-pocketing. Similarly, as much as the business men WANT to send out mass mailing, it is time to say:

    Hey your business model is too close to an illegal act, so stop doing it.

    There are alternatives, and frankly Email is NOT the best way to deliver 're-occuring' messages. You can do things like push technology where someone agrees to have a web site automatically background downloaded into a cache whenever they log on to the internet and stay on for more than 1 minute. A flag can pop up on your tool bar, saying you have unreviewed downloaded pages. I know push technology has failed, but that was in part due to email already being accepted. If we outlaw the email reoccuring mass-mailing, then that will give some form of Push technology an opportunity to fill the niche that email used to take care of.

    If we ever want to clean up email, we need to STOP mis-using it ourselves.

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