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Spamhaus CEO Linford Clarifies Retail Email Position

12/26/12

In the wake of last week’s report that Spamhaus has been blocklisting retailers for sending messages to email addresses with typos in them, the anti-spam group’s CEO Steve Linford was kind enough to clarify his position in the comments section of The Magill Report.

In order to understand what Linford is referring to, if you haven’t read last week’s report, it would be best to start there.

Here is Linford’s clarification unedited:

“We are sort of half with you on this one Ken, we don't want to frustrate legitimate marketers and especial not retailers such as Gap, however it's difficult to reconcile telling senders that all bulk mail sent to Spamhaus users must be COI [confirmed opt in]while at the same time saying "Well if you're Gap you don't need to care about COI or SBL policy, just bulk away to non-COI and we'll tell our users to regard you as the exception to the policy".

“What we are doing currently is trying to make large retailers who refuse to use COI aware of the issue by flagging them in SBL listings but - note - as in the case of SBL168458 which you link to in your article, that these SBL listings list the IP address as "...0/32" - which is not actually blocking them (because nobody runs mail servers on ".0"). It was changed to 0/32 as soon as the issue was raised. We use "0/32" listings as flags to alert the senders and their hosts to an SBL policy issue but without actually blocking them, our way of warning that they're violating SBL policy and we will have to enforce SBL policy if they ignore the issue.

“The reason we must highlight the COI issue with some big retailers is that when we buy online we trust the retailer with our private email address for purchasing or delivery problems and inevitably with some that trust is lost when we then start receiving junk to those addresses. A world tired with receiving junk to addresses they give retailers who won't let an online purchase continue without an email address is a world that learns to enter made-up email addresses or "president@whitehouse.gov" into the forms instead - to retailers who are happy to assert that the made-up address or indeed The President has fully subscribed to a ton of bulk mailings when to all normal minds they have not. In our view retailers shoot themselves in the foot by leaving this avenue for abuse open and Gap urgently needs to address their problem (which has been ongoing since June). COI has been Best Current Practice in mailing list management since at least 1996.

“While it's true that COI has a drop-off rate during confirmation, I would argue that the drop-off rates you see are due quite simply to logical reasons: (1) User has entered a bad address and did not get your COI request. (2) User was not really that interested and having had a minute to "cool off" has now decided not to subscribe. (3) User actually couldn't give a damn, did you really want them that badly? They'd probably have pressed the "this is spam" button later. (4) User gave someone else's address and that recipient chose not to confirm. (5) Your COI request arrived looking like just another advert to press delete on.”

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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: Andrew Stephens
Date: 2012-12-30 01:36:11
Subject:

Question from n00b:

Just trying to get the true meaning of SPAM

Answer Given:

Spam is whatever someone is doing that costs the pseudo-economy best known as the "Spam Economy" adopted by Barry Shein, Rob Pike, and various other Internet Architects years ago when they figured out they couldn't beat spammers. It was also supported by Google and they lobbied, unsuccessfully, to get the Gov. to back it. Since it was dead in the Elected Official's eyes, but the only solution to fight spam that Barry and the rest of the Anti-Spam Community could come up with (or maybe the most profitable)was to "charge for spam". Obviously that didn't sound good to ANYONE, so instead they built an economy based on these elements:

1. Deliverability:

It's simple, we own the servers and they can't deliver the message to our users unless we say so. So, we simply won't say "yes" to a commercial mailer that hasn't "paid the piper". So, who's going to be the "piper"?

2. Reputation:

Returnpath is a reputation management company that "helps senders get their email delivered". Does that make any sense to you because last I checked ALL email should be delivered unless it is spam and Returnpath won't work with spammers...so why are legit business forced to pay another company to vouch for them? Easy...it's all about the Benjamins baby!

3. Blacklisting:

Abuse is a funny word because it means whatever the person says it does. That makes it real convenient to label any and everyone that the ISPs don't like for whatever reason. Political, personal, spiritual,professional...whatever reason. The bottom line is, if you are making money from using email to communicate to your customers...you have to pay someone in this pseudo-economy. See South Brooklyn, NY "Lecase Family" for a better understanding.

4. Advertising:

None of this is possible without A LOT of lobbying power. Who can they get to do that and fund a campaign against this new word that the world hasn't gotten familiar with, "spam", in order to leverage it for this new economy of theirs. Oh yeah, that would be the media gurus that want to control every advertising and communications venue on the planet...private or public. These major media aka "The Big 6" formed a non-profit organization called MAAWG or "Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group" and used the DNSBLs and this new word they have found to manipulate the markets and eliminate this new threat to their marketing power...namely EMAIL.

Email has always been free to send as it should be, but that won't work for greedy people and these are the greediest of all. Do your own due diligence and you'll see through the veil quickly. They are math geniuses, but they are not real good at cover-ups. The media companies, well they are freaking amazing at cover-ups, so you'll have to look at MAAWG and MAAWG alone to see what is really going on at the top because, unless you are at one of their conferences, they will never admit to be any part of this (understandably).

Look it up:

Google "Barry Shein The World Spam Economy", "MAAWG" (look at Members Roster), "Email Senders and Providers Coalition" (Approved advertisers for Big Media), "Rob Dike Plan 9" (This guy is the Architect that helped put the backend together), "Tom Roessler ICANN" (This is the inside contact to W3C aka Tim Berners-Lee or the creator of the HTTP web), "Spamhaus Project" (This is the DNSBL Blacklist Orginazation aka The Pawn for Big Media's control over advertising), and last but certainly not least..."The Can-Spam Act of 2003" (This is the actual LAW set forth by Congress on the topic of SPAM. Any violation of this law means that a commercially intended message sent via email is SPAM).

So there you have it. There's a Red Pill and a Green Pill...the choice is yours. Welcome to OZ aka "The Internet"!
Posted by: Lone Wolf no Cub
Date: 2012-12-27 10:26:57
Subject: It's not just list volume

List volume is not the only issue that needs to be carefully considered, it's also messaging frequency. Gap can be counted on to blast daily promos, and while they do offer some good incentives (E.g. 30% off), this is over-messaging. COI or no COI, is an engaged recipient seriously one who clicks through and buys a new pair of jeans every day?

The two pillars of old-school DM mentality can be fused into one tower of babel -- Out of Sight, Out of Mind. The idea that blasting as much as you can to as many recipients as you can needs to change in a marketing world that is increasingly behaviorally focused.

It's a broader question of strategy -- does it make sense to send 'average' incentives on a daily basis rather than 'great' incentives less frequently. Call it cyber-fatigue if you will, but you're just as likely to lose good customers to an overbearing marketing strategy as to poor point-of-sale collection practices.
Posted by: Just Saying
Date: 2012-12-27 05:00:40
Subject: Whats wrong with COI?

I’d like to add another couple of reasons to Steve’s list;
(6) The recipient did not receive your confirmation email because the sending IP is blocked (which is unlikely if the sender uses COI)
(7) Due to the data capture process being unclear, the recipient didn’t realise they had agreed to email marketing.

But the fact of the matter is that COI does reduce the sign up rate and volume of email addresses being added to a marketers list. While volume matters most to marketers, there will always be resistance to change common practice. The problem stems from the senior level marketing exec’s who cut their teeth in direct mail or broadcast media. They cannot understand why you would ever want to broadcast to less people; they still think that when the marketer sends, the recipient receives.
Volume will be lost with COI, but would it be volume that represented any commercial value? (other than to ESP’s that bill on CPM)
Maybe I’m wrong, but if anyone would like to suggest some points as to why a willing and active recipient would refuse to click the confirmation link, I’m all ears.

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