The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

IS IT SPAM IF YOU ASK FOR IT?
Online marketers take great offense to being compared to spammers. Their definition of spam is limited strictly to the junk that shows up in your inbox complete unsolicited; this is different from legitimate email marketing, or permission email, which is requested. Unfortunately, the war against spam employs tools that often can't tell the difference, and as a result, it costs more for marketers and others to ensure that their missives get delivered.

The question is, if you end up not missing that blocked newsletter or daily news update, is it particularly worthwhile to get it in the first place? My workplace recently put in stricter email filters that have dramatically reduced the amount of spam we get (although the levels are already starting to rise again). These filters did their job too well, taking out a few newsletters that I had been getting as well.

But the thing is, I didn't even notice that I wasn't getting those things until a couple of weeks later. With quite a few of them, it had gotten to the point where I deleted them without looking at them, because I found they were no longer worth my time to review them. When the filters were adjusted to let them through again, I was actually disappointed.

Additionally, I think a lot of organizations play it pretty loose on what consitutes permission. I've found that once I've signed up for one newsletter, I start getting a lot of other useless junk, most of it barely-disguised marketing pap. At that point, you're obviously getting spammed, with the flimsy excuse that "you asked for it" stemming from requesting something totally different.

UPDATE: Recent research related to this topic apparently reveals that I'm not alone in having these attitudes.