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Spam, Advertising, and The Media

What's Spam?

Spam is unsolicited e-mail pushing a point, be it asking you to visit a web site, or asking you to buy a used PC. If you didn't ask for it, didn't join the mailing list, or didn't put your e-mail address on a web page asking for more information about they are selling, (and maybe even if you did,) it's Spam! And Spam threatens to destroy the internet more effectively than any government ever could!

What happens to the man handing out pamphlets on the street corner? Where do we see his pamphlets? Yet those who rebuff him gladly drop a quarter into the newspaper vending machine. Why?

Spam and Netiquette are not anything new under the sun. Just think about it for a moment, and you should see these same rules elsewhere, along with those who have profited hansomly by using them wisely, as well as plenty more who have lost their shirts.

The Rule is CONTENT

One may observe that most media contain far more content than advertising. Why? Because an all-advertising medium creates a limited attention span. If the viewer wants exactly what is offered, he or she may pick up the auto ads publication, or view the home shopping network.

But by and large, when advertising exceeds some level, the viewer turns the media OFF! So the other media have, over several HUNDRED years of use in news print, evolved an etiquette for their media -- percentages of advertising content, rules for content and advertising placement, user vs advertiser pricing, etc. That print media etiquette carried over in to radio, then television, and some ten to twenty years ago, the ARPANET. Nearly ten years ago Prodigy picked up on that model, and allocated part of your screen for advertising to allow you lower access costs. Done right, it's nothing new. Done wrong, your target audience gets angry enough to kick you off.

What If Everyone Spammed?

If all the hundred of thousands of companies in the USA started using cheap internet e-mail for advertising, incredible advertising bargain as it now seems, the percentage advertising in our e-mail boxes will give us little of what we came to the internet for. We will turn this medium OFF!

This is what the complaints of the further seeing members of our community are trying to prevent before we reach a crisis level!

E-Mail is used primarily as a person to person medium, like the telephone. How many of us want to receive those tele-marketing calls? Even with snail mail, how many of us would not protest receiving a thousand pieces of junk mail each week?

Who Pays for Adver-Spamming Vandalism?

Adver-spamming goes beyond the telephone analogy. Why is fax advertising illegal? Who pays for the fax paper? The Recipient! Adver-faxing can be construed as a form of vandalism of fax paper and denial of service when more important information is blocked for lack of paper or time.

In fact, anti-faxing laws in a number of states apply to system including 1.) a modem capable of receiving fax transmissions, 2.) a computer processor, and 3.) a printer capable of printing; this REGARDLESS of actual format or method of transmission. Penalties are about $500 per PAGE per recipient. So if a mere 100 people complain about a two page spam-o-gram, you could be out $100,000 plus legal expenses. And if the spam-o-gram reaches the UK, it falls within England's Computer Misuse Act by altering data on a computer disk without authorization, a serious criminal offense.

Who pays for the bulk of the costs of e-mail advertising? Here too, the recipient pays for the bandwidth, the modem and the disk space as well as personal time. And runs the risk of loosing other valuable communications when these overflow.

In most cases, unless e-mailers show us what we REALLY want to see, it is easy to see them as vandalizing our disk space and bandwidth, and report it to the postmasters and abuse ID's of the several service providers near the source. Why do you think AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, and Netcom now have ABUSE@ complaint ID's? Why do you think Cyber Promo just had to pay AOL over $60,000 and agree never to spam them again?

So, if the typical e-mail user receives one or two cleverly done and Highly Relevant e-mail campaigns a week, he or she MIGHT not get too angry. Provided the e-mail is HIGHLY tailored to the individual's interests, and no one gets more than one copy. (Meaning, don't spam the mailing lists!!!)

But as the percentage advertising content rises, so does the anger. TV may have reached one quarter advertising, paid for by the advertiser. Radio may have reached similar advertising content. Most of us now only tune in for a few select shows, and bemoan the advertising content. We switch channels, or increasingly, withdraw and turn that media OFF!

What Works?

So, what are you going to do, Mr. Advertiser? Force us to kill your net access? Force us to take you to court, as AOL did with Cyberpromo? Or are you going to follow some semblance of other media etiquette, and pay us with cash or content?

What works? About the only things I know of, are:

In each case, even the last one, we are rewarded with more attached CONTENT than advertising. It isn't netiquette. It's the old fashioned etiquette of the media which came about over the course of hundreds of years of experience in newspapers, then radio, television, and has been entrenched in the net right from the start.

History Shows...

History shows that when you break that old fashioned media etiquette, you will be turned OFF! Follow media etiquette, and as Hearst, Rupert Murdock, and other media millionaires have demonstrated, you will be rewarded hansomly!

And until you do use it wisely, till you pay us with CONTENT, ACCESS, or CASH; WE, the internet personal user base, WILL FIGHT YOU TOOTH AND NAIL to keep you from destroying our new found personal media! We will be DARNED SURE not to buy your products, and will continue to INSIST that your net access is terminated!

It's your choice... You can trash this media and destroy it for all, or use it wisely and help you and your potential clients and customers profit. None of this new, this is just human history repeating itself.

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