Let me start this article by stating I am vehemently opposed to
spam and that it is the worst possible way to get your message
out. Various groups have been trying to stop spam since it was
first used on the internet. However, how can we stop or outlaw
something which has never been clearly defined.
I have been unable to find a universally accepted, fits-all
definition of spam. There are many ideas about spam and just
what it really is. In my opinion it is receiving unsolicited
email (email which you have not opted to receive). Even this
definition must be applied judiciously and with a certain amount
of common sense.
For example, a dear friend could forward an email which you find
offensive. Should you be in a bad mood, you could report your
friend for spam (and also the originator of the email your
friend forwarded, even though it was not the originator’s intent
for you to receive this unsolicited email). In this situation
the originator (who is innocent of wrongdoing) and your friend
will most likely lose their ISP and web host provider simply
because you are having a bad day. Is this fair?
More and more ezine publishers and article writers are being
accused of spam and forced to fight their ISPs and web host
providers. Many of these spam complaints are totally unfounded.
In some cases it is because a person forgot they subscribed to
the ezine and when they receive it they say they have been
spammed. In other cases the person has written an article which
was published in an ezine accused of spamming. Here all the
advertisers and the article writers are accused of spam and lose
their ISPs and web host providers.
These advertisers and article writers did not commit the offense
of spamming. They were accused by association. Most articles
written for the internet are free for publication, which means
anyone can use them as long as the articles and resource boxes
remain intact. Unless the writer is being paid for the article,
there is no way of knowing when, how or by whom the article will
The truly unfair method currently used to fight spam considers
everyone accused of spam to be automatically guilty. The great
majority of ISPs and web host providers shut you down without a
second thought when you are accused of spam.
You are not given a chance to prove your innocence. Guilty or
not, you are shut down. For most of those trying to make a
profit on the internet, this is a sword hanging over their
heads. Every time they write an article for publication or send
out an ezine they are taking the chance of being unfairly
accused of spamming.
No ezine publisher or writer in their right mind would ever
consider the use of spam. Their livelihood depends on their
ezines and articles, so why would they use something which would
destroy that source of income?
Those who use spam as the method of getting their advertisements
out should be stopped. But not by taking all the innocent people
down with them.
True spam is usually fairly easy to spot. There is a bogus
return address consisting of nonsensical numbers and letters,
either no way is provided to remove yourself from the list or a
bogus address is provided as a means of removing yourself from
the list, there is a footer in the message which contains a
supposed act of the United States Congress defining spam, or
other such obvious items.
99.9% of the ezines I have read have a clear and easy way to
unsubscribe. Should you use the link and find you have not been
unsubscribed, it is possible you subscribed using another email
address which is being forwarded to your current address. The
ezine publisher cannot unsubscribe you without the original
address from which you subscribed.
If you are really upset by spam, why not concentrate on those
who are truly guilty of spamming, and not the innocents. Use
your efforts to punish the guilty instead of indiscriminately
crying spam every time a piece of email hits your inbox.
As an ezine publisher I get a great deal of spam in my inboxes.
Rather than waste my precious time trying to track spammers down
or reporting them to Spam Cop, I use my delete button. It is
efficient and deadly. The spam is gone as soon as I hit delete.
One of the truly great characteristics of the internet is its
use for the free exchange of information. This freedom is being
seriously challenged by those who believe in the indiscriminate
use of Spam Cop or other such anti-spam organizations.
I can’t speak for you, but I get a great deal of information,
education and entertainment from the many ezines to which I
subscribe. It would be a severe loss if they all quit publishing
because of the fear of false spam accusals shutting them down.
In conclusion, spam should be stopped. However, it must be
stopped with common sense and discrimination, not with a
vigilante mentality. Being accused of spamming is one of the
rare instances in current human history where you are considered
guilty until proven innocent.
Whatever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?
Should anyone out there in cyberspace have a universally
acceptable definition of spam and a means of fairly and
judiciously enforcing it, I am extremely interested in your