[LINK] RFI: Help re SPAM Privacy Laws

Stilgherrian contour@prussia.net
Wed, 19 Feb 2003 09:50:23 +1100

At 13:39 +1100 18/2/03, Craig Sanders wrote:
>[snip] the content is irrelevant.  the fact that it is unsolicited is what
>makes it spam.

Then I'm afraid we'll just have to agree to disagree, Craig.

You're saying that *any* communication which is initiated by a vendor [*]
is always wrong -- no matter how it's worded, how individual, how 
polite, or how "relevant". That a vendor can *never* begin a dialog 
with a potential customer.

And I'm saying that anyone should be able to start the dialog -- 
provided that, like communication in any other context, it's done 
politely, appropriately, and with some measure of respect for the 
other party.

That is, for me the content and the context are *exactly* what 
determines whether it's appropriate or not -- or whether it's spam or 

I agree that spam's a problem. I don't think a blanket ban on vendors 
initiating contact is the solution. And from other postings on this 
thread, at least some people agree.

As an example, last year a vendor (who, I'll admit, I'd previously 
used in another context to provide another service) contacted me out 
of the blue with a suggestion for how I could work differently. That 
suggestion ended up saving me about $6000 in the course of the year. 
But I'd never have found out about it if he hadn't initiated the 
conversation. In fact I'd never even have thought of the  idea he 

Your emotional response to unsolicited commercial communication is 
obviously a strong one. Your posting uses terms like "clueless" (at 
least twice) and "inconsiderate jerk". You even say that "a FOAD [**] 
response is entirely appropriate". Yet the scenario being discussed 
was about an individual communication, and since the writer 
presumably wanted the recipient to respond, he probably included some 
real contact details. All other things being equal, if Person A 
starts off with a polite message and Person B responds with FOAD, 
then it wouldn't be Person A I'd be labelling as rude! :)

But, you're certainly entitled to not want to receive email like 
this. In which case any responsible business will respect a mechanism 
through which you can say "Please don't talk to me ever about 
anything 'commercial'," should you choose to list yourself in it. I 
just don't think that ban should automatically apply to everyone.



   * I'm using the word "vendor" for lack of a better generic term for
     "someone who is offering goods or services on a commercial basis".
     I honestly don't think the world really does divide neatly into
     "vendors" and "consumers". For one business I consult for, some
     20%+ of their business customers are also suppliers. Business is
     based on network relationships, and the networks go both ways. A
     courier firm will shift packages for a car company, but will also
     buy cars. Even an old-style employee-employer relationship has
     two directions: someone who works for Telstra will also have a
     phone bill to pay.

  ** FOAD: I had to look this one up, so I'm assuming others might have
     to. It stands for "fuck off and die".

Stilgherrian <contour@prussia.net>
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