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Ken Magill

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Dela Quist Doesn't Like MainSleaze ... Not One Bit


Editor’s Note: Not surprisingly, the reactions to last week’s launch of anti-spam website MainSleaze were swift and divided.

Some email-service-provider representatives have apparently decided to use the site—aimed at naming and shaming big-brand marketers who spam and their ESPs—as a resource to investigate clients MainSleaze’s bloggers claim are spamming.

“[T]here are four ESP reps from four ESPs now responding to posts, launching investigations, and helping clean up the messes that we report,” wrote MainSleaze co-founder Catherine Jefferson in an email to The Magill Report.

However, not everyone is enamored with MainSleaze. Dela Quist, CEO of digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx, took issue with the site in the comments section of The Magill Report. Unfortunately, The Magill Report comments section stripped out his paragraph breaks and made it practically unreadable. [Working on that.]

Quist’s comments are worth reading. The one issue I would take with them is that Quist, like many people, seems to be under the misperception that a reporter covering something he deems as news is an endorsement. I did not endorse MainSleaze. But I felt its launch was an important development of which mainstream email marketers and their service providers—my readers—should be made aware.

Here are Quist’s comments unedited except for some minor punctuation:

Hi Ken

I am a big fan of yours but I strongly disagree with the folks at MainSleaze and am a little surprised you are giving them airtime. I fail to see how picking on big trusted brands will make any difference to the issue of spam or consumer confidence at all. It is just a publicity stunt and I am surprised you BS detector failed to spot it.

According to your post and I quote Catherine Jefferson [of MainSleaze] from your article. “It’s a tiny, tiny percentage of spam [overall] and ordinarily wouldn’t be worth our attention, but it is not a minuscule percentage of spam that ends up in people’s inboxes because the IPs they’re sending from tend to be trusted and the spam tends to be spam only in some cases.”

In other words, not only is the problem insignificant in the overall scheme of things these brands mostly aren’t “spamming.” As soon as I read that my mind immediately went back to a blog post of yours in February about the permission debate. Not only did you state that “the permission debate has been settled. Not to everyone’s satisfaction, but it’s been settled. No, explicit permission is not necessary. Marketers who don’t get explicit permission are playing a dangerous game, but, no, it’s simply not required. That fact may irritate some, but it is a fact”.

Which means that setting up MainSleaze to embarrass big name brands - and again I quote you directly is “akin to ladies who lunch debating over how they can change their own behavior to lower gang activity in South Central L.A”.

Can you see why I would struggle with that contradiction?

The problem with the whole spam debate is the fact that there IS no effective legal definition of spam. I have often heard it described by respected industry figures as anything the recipient of the message decides is spam. It would be like throwing a bar owner in jail for serving people who look underage! How can you run an industry on that premise?

The other problem I have is the belief that if an email you send to a dummy address or hits a spam trap, even repeatedly, is an indication of spamming while never hitting a spam trap is an indication that you are not spamming. That is simply naive

There are lots and lots of companies that will either sell you a database of known spam traps or provide list cleansing services which claim to - and largely do - identify and remove bad addresses. So here are 2 scenarios:

- I am a well-known brand that decides to harvest or buy 1 million addresses and spam them, so I either buy a database or hire someone to cleanse my list and then very carefully stagger and mingle the deployment of these cleansed addresses with my good list to stay below the radar
- I am a disgruntled person or employee with knowledge of deliverability and access to a database of spam traps who decides to “subscribe” them to your email program
See where I am going?

Big brands may be easy targets, but they are NOT the problem in fact I would go as far as to say that the majority of people fingered by MainSleaze for “spamming” will have done so by mistake - an act of omission rather than an act of commission if you like. Looking at some of the posts I would say that they are potentially providing a platform for people with malice at heart to traduce their competitors and will not make one iota of difference to the spam problem.



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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: 2011-10-31 15:03:21

If it's not causing Dela any real harm, then he's free to ignore it. If it doesn't matter, then the industry and world will ignore it. Methinks he doeth protest a little too much, though. Others of us reading that new blog have found it very insightful so far.