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The S word

Do you want to promote your site? I know how you can contact one hungry bullion ear-males. If you know how to get them to send you just a penny each you will be ritch.

This is a risky article because it will be easy to use terms and phrases that will get it deleted from your mail server before you ever have a chance to read it. I will try my best to convey the message without using the deadly terms but if you don't receive it, all I can say is sorry; not that you will see the apology.

What is with Mothorola? You can get one of there toe-wy paigers for three. (I know it is atrocious spelling. I am trying to avoid getting this email dumped). Do you need a little vagra? Someone sent me an ear-male telling me where you can get some very cheep (tweet tweet). Deer Fiend (my favorite.) If they where really my fiend how come they don't know my name? (But some of them do!).

Need to re-marriage your morchage at the lowest interesting rakes possible?

Did you know that everyone is after your URL? If you don't buy every possible combination of your business URL with every new dot.what that has been authorized by the authorized bodies that be, then Bil Cates is going to register it (he has a team of lawyers working on it right now. Quick or you will be too late. Where you? Hope not!) Bil knows that your URL is worth a mint and he intends to build a candy company around it.

I don't get a lot a sax emails but I know some people that do. The assumption of course is that they deserve it. I guess my problem is that I need to get my business known so that I can afford to pay for my on-line gambling which know doubt explains why I could use some help to get my credit fixed! Ha! I just got an email telling me how to fix my credit so that I can borrow enough money to win big on an on-line gambling site to pay to get my business known. I'm in luck.

This newsletter currently has 15,000 subscribers. In Internet terms that is not a huge number but it is reasonable. Several high profile sites and newsletters also syndicate it and republish many of the articles with the appropriate authorization. The reason I decided to write this article this week is because one of our ISP's (we have 4 or 5) sent us an email stating that we had been reported for Sp_m and they would not tolerate it. "Please see that this practice ceases immediately (sic)." Their misspelling, I obviously don't need any help.

My knee jerk reaction of course was to get very defensive. We get lots of span. We don't send it, at least not knowingly. In the three years that we have been publishing this newsletter we have only received one other complaint about span. With 15,000 subscribers and close to 100,000 software downloads that is probably not bad. What made this complaint really interesting however, was that it was not even about this newsletter. The complaint was lodged against WebProNews an publication at I don't mind using their name because to the best of my knowledge (which is not extensive here) they are a legitimate newsletter. They include an unsubscribe email link (as we do) in the newsletter so that getting off requires a single click, they have a web site (as we do) so that they are not anonymous, and they gave me credit for the article they republished, none of which is typical of the professional spanners out there.

From your perspective and ours when we wish to promote our business, this type of incident brings up two significant issues. First, why would our ISP have been so ready to issue a warning when just a little research would have indicated that it was unwarranted? The fact is that none of us are likely to be tolerant to the professionals that send out laterally millions of span ear-males every day. The reason our ISP probably sent their warning is because in fact they are either unwilling or unable to do anything about the real source of this pestilence. They consequently want to appear to be doing something but in truth if they had any ability to, we would not be getting inundated with it.

Secondly and far more insidiously, their inability to tackle the real source of the problem means that all of us are potential targets when someone needs to appear to be addressing the problem. The real spanners are well hidden using their own servers probably in a jurisdiction that is not going to be persistent about pursuing them (just a guess, I don't really know). That means that when it is time to demonstrate that you have zero tolerance you are going to prove it with anyone you can catch.

You want to promote your business on-line? Feeling a little paranoid yet or vulnerable? You did not by any chance send anyone an e-mail recently about your business opportunities. We get a lot of business opportunity email, even from subscribers to this newsletter! You didn't did you?

Unfortunately that is probably the most insidious aspects of span. It paints with a huge brush that is more likely to cover the legitimate business than the professional spanners. Everyone needs to promote his or her business, which on the Internet probably means sending potential customers or business partners an email. When does your email change from a legitimate contact to span?

There is no doubt that there are many gray areas regarding what is truly slam and there are a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs that sometimes push the envelope. Sending that "great idea" email to ten of your colleagues is one thing but sending a "this product news is just too important to wait" to the 100,000 people that have ever visited your site is pushing it. Despite the inappropriateness of the second case, neither of them comes close to the real slam many of us get everyday.

I actually understand the real spanners. They have millions of email addresses and if they sell them at a fraction of a penny each to just a few advertisers everyday they can make a lot of money. If their servers and business are located offshore (maybe they are on a pirate ship in the mid Atlantic), there is little any major jurisdiction can currently do to stop them.

What I don't get are the company's that use professional slamers. If this newsletter can get censored by our ISP because another newsletter used one of our past articles what is an ISP going to do to a customer whose email address shows up in hundreds of thousands of real splam emails? Needless to say, I cannot recommend that you use "maps" to promote your business. If you have enough money to hide your servers offshore you can probably afford to use legitimate promotional methods to promote your business. If you are using an established ISP to host your site you had better watch out. They may shoot first and state that "we don't tolerate manners" after.

An on-line business needs to use e-mail to contact and promote its products. That after all is why the Internet is so attractive and useful to many businesses and entrepreneurs. The activities of the professional hammers can interfere with that directly by inundating our inboxes to the point where legitimate mail can get lost or filtered, or where a valuable address must be discarded. A far more dangerous aspect of it however, could be the label that is applied to you with the possible loss of your web site and business.  That is exactly what could happen if your ISP or other protectors of the Internet cyber-ways react to complaints without investigating properly or accepting that the campaign you just used is either acceptable or an honest mistake.

In all fairness, ISP are especially vulnerable to this whole mess. They are the one's that are most likely to get attacked by sackers and have their mail servers flooded with junk to the point where their customers start to complain. Even so, they are also responsible to ensure that they investigate complaints properly. Blindly reacting will invariably miss the valid target that is quite well protected and prepared, and hit someone else that is unfortunate enough to be nearby. If you are accused of that then you should take whatever steps you can to protect your reputation. Post a denial or explanation on the site that issued the complaint if possible and definitely contact your ISP to provide an explanation. Loosing your site due to an accusation of Sam is far worse than loosing it to a mac attack. It will be difficult to ever get it back.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 2000 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.

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