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September 10th, 2002

When is spam spam?

Last week or so, my fiancee referred me to It’s a site where one can sign up to speak against the current “wars” on terrorism, and possible future US involvement in Iraq. I signed up for it. A few days later, I received a piece of mail from MoveOn filling me in on the situation. And a few days after that, another email.

Now, these emails weren’t advertisements per se; they pointed to other articles and things on the site that I might want to check out. But I didn’t appreciate them very much. On the second email, I followed the opt-out link and thus far, MoveOn has honored my request. That’s good.

Yesterday morning I was discussing this with Jeani, and I mentioned that I received a few pieces of spam from She countered and said that it wasn’t really spam in her opinion; she knowingly signed up for something of interest and accepted that she would receive emails on the subject. I responded that I considered it spam because I didn’t ask for it.

But is it really spam?

I pretty much consider any unsolicited email to be spam, at this point. If it’s something confirming a purchase or sign-up, that’s not spam – it’s a direct response to something I initiated. But what if a site asks for an email address? It seems pretty much guaranteed that they’ll spam in some fashion, doesn’t it? Why is it that way?

MoveOn, again, has respected my request. The only improvement I’d ask for is a checkbox at the time of sign-up, asking if I’d like to receive mailings from them or not. That seems reasonable, and doesn’t entail a ridiculous amount of coding.

I just don’t like spam much.

Posted in Technology

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 4:42:32 am
I think "spam" is a lot like "stalking" (aside from the fact that both terms are horribly overused): unwanted contact that you have tried, unsuccesfully, to stop. It's too much to call MoveOn's mail spam because you did open a door for them to mail you and they did honor your request to stop sending mail.

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 8:16:51 am
I see your point, Robert, but I just want to be sure: anytime I leave an email address on a site, I now have to assume I'll get spam from that site?

Ne'er mind the spam harvesters....

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 8:39:42 am
The short answer Paul, is yes!

FROM: Greg
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 10:15:43 am
It's my guess that the picture of Paul on today's Ping is what he looks like when he gets Spam.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 10:53:26 am
Spam to me is UCE (unsolicited commerical e-mail), plain and simple. I wouldn't consider what you got spam, Paul -- I would consider it an annoyance because there wasn't an opt-out mailbox, but since they honored your request (and assuming they don't share your address), they're operating in an otherwise respectable fashion, unlike anyone I would label a "spammer."

FROM: Logic 3:16
DATE: Saturday October 12, 2002 -- 11:04:16 pm
It's always a good idea to obtain a secondary "throw-away" e-mail address to use whenever websites ask you for your e-mail address when it's really none of their business.

What is this then?

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