Monday, January 19, 2004

Is there any such thing as legitimate spam?

I had two articles about online advertising to read on my Palm today. One was from the New York Times, and it was about the growing difficulty that advertisers have with pop-up blockers. AOL, Netscape, and the upcoming new version of Internet Exploder all block pop-ups. Webmasters can't make you look at their pop-ups, so that form of revenue is drying up. The other article was from Wired news, and it was about big companies that want to send out mass mailings, but they are having to watch their language because their mails get caught in anti-spam filters.

Here's the Wired article.

Now, as far as pop-ups go, I find that I'm on the fence and oddly sympathetic. I, personally, HATE pop-ups and cheerfully use my own blocker to its fullest capacity. On the other hand, I patronize many free web sites, enjoy their content, and understand that they must rely on advertising revenue to stay alive. They often complain that they are having a hard time staying afloat with the decline of advertising dollars. I realize this makes me something of a hypocrite, because I want their content to survive but I do not ever read their ads. Nevertheless, I understand the issue.

But bulk email is a whole 'nother matter. Hey big corporations, you want to bulk email me but can't get past my spam filter? Hang on, let me play a sad song on my virtual violin.


Okay, enough of that. To all bulk emailers who didn't get my permission, I say "Fuck you!" I am NOT obligated to read your ads. You aren't offering me anything of value. I pay monthly fees for my internet connection, email provider, and web hosting provider. You don't give a dime to me OR to any of them, and I'm not obligated to read anything from you.

In my view, there is no such thing as a legitimate reason to send me advertisements that I didn't ask for. And I don't care whether you're Coca-Cola or Taiwan's local "herbal viagra" dealer -- if I WANT information on your product, I will seek out your web site. And if you think your ads will tell me something I want to know, you can bloody well pay the rate that you need to to get a billboard, newspaper or television ad. Don't ask me to spend MY extra time using a service that *I* pay for so that you can worm your way into my consciousness.

I strongly favor anti-spam measures that require the sender to correctly identify themselves. And it's not because I care about separating the "legitimate" ads from the non-legitimate ones. It's because I long for a day when I will never see fifteen messages with the same header, each coming from a different variation of "". When a company is required to put just one single, verifiable address on all their junk, it will make it that much easier for me to block their ass. Nyah.

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