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WANT TO HIT A SPAMCOP HARD?

By Bob McElwain
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004

In the film, "Cool Hand Luke," the vicious, sadistic prison warden was fond of saying, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." In the end, prisoner Paul Newman came to "understand" the true meaning of this comment.

A while back, a friend of mine copied a message to me that had been sent to a list of SpamCops and others. I was the object of the exercise to come. The subject line was, "We have another list owner here that [sic] needs to be educated."

Not much difference in the two statements, actually, for "educated" in this context means "business destroyed."

The Source Of This "Complaint"

I had distributed a brief article advising against requiring confirmation of subscription requests. In it, I described the results of two attempts at using them. In the first trial, 40% of new subscribers did not confirm. In the second, a longer trial, 37% failed to confirm.

I can't be certain this article triggered action, for I was never informed. But it was appended to the message received as mentioned above. It appears I was added to the "get-him" list because I recommend against requesting confirmation.

Radicalism Is Rising In Popularity

Sure, we've had some bad times in this country. When Senator Joe McCarthy got you up to the stand, you were guilty before you sat down. Since the early 80s, there has been an awesome increase in small, organized, targeted extremist groups which cram their views right down your throat.

Never mind they ignore your rights in doing so. Never mind you may be seriously hurt, even destroyed, by their unilateral actions. Never mind they make the judgement of your guilt in a manner you can not contest. You are guilty. Period.

In "True Believer," Eric Hoffer years back clearly pointed out the dangers of such groups to democracy as we know it. His concerns have proved to be justified, as have his predictions about such groups significantly reducing individual freedom over time.

SpamCops In Perspective

To put SpamCops into this category is absurd. They are trivial. They hide behind false names, as others have done for centuries behind masks and robes. They violate the very rules they claim to espouse. Compared to other forces at work in this country, SpamCops and like minded people offer only a gnat sized threat in a hawk-filled sky.

With one real exception. On a single unjustified and unsupported claim, a webmaster can find his ISP and website shut down without prior notice. And without recourse. For a small business just making it, this can amount to the "straw" that brings total collapse.

Small business people are the target. And SpamCops have been effective at doing vicious damage to many. The nature of the vicarious thrill they get in doing so escapes me.

This is real power. And it appears to be used for its own sake. In all else, SpamCops are utter failures.

Impotent Phonies

They are powerless to prevent real spam. The junk overflows our mailboxes, and we stand helpless before it. So do SpamCops. They can't shut down an ISP or a host owned by spammers. Or those they sell their lists and services to.

So they've taken a giant step and essentially redefined spam as anything received you did not request. A target-rich environment. Requests made, then forgotten, bring messages called spam.

I was pounded by SpamCops regards an article sent with my name on it. I pointed out the only way to get that article was to send an email to an autoresponder address. I was ignored, of course. Their continuing innuendos and implied threats were disturbing.

Two Giant Leaps

They took a giant step by taking advantage of specialized software now available. It scans any document and automatically sends their "spam" to every URL and email address found. Fascinating. I'm now a spammer because my work appears in an ezine they have defined as spam. Nuts. This usually amounts to someone forgetting they subscribed.

Their latest step is even more absurd. You are now "spamming"
with a 100% opt-in list if no confirmation is required. What in the world does confirmation have to do with unsolicited bulk email?

My thanks-for-subscribing message includes URLs to the goodies. And a URL that can be clicked to automatically unsubscribe.

When you open your front door to a knock, do you close it and require another?

Facts About Subscriber Counts.

You're bound to lose a few list members along the way. Some choose to unsubscribe. More make a change in their email address and do not think to subscribe again. Thus you will inevitably lose membership each month. Possibly 2% of your list.

So long as the number of new subscribers exceeds the number lost each month, your list will continue to grow. But try a confirmation request, and you may find the number of new members does not replace those lost.

Now explain to me how I'm going to grow a business in such fashion. And further, explain how SpamCops can decide that a list that doesn't require confirmation is sending spam. Then go on and make it clear just what SpamCops intends to accomplish with this demand. I don't think they know. They simply delight in hurting people.

So What's Next On The Agenda

Right. You guessed it. Content. If SpamCops can make confirmation indirectly the "law," what's to prevent them from judging the content of a given newsletter as unsuitable, and thus spam? Maybe a piece such as this one directed at the evil done by such a rag-tag bunch of low-lifes.

A scary thought to me. This would open a whole new world of opportunity to destroy helpless individuals.

Fighting Back

Don't even think about it. If you are attacked by SpamCops, respond minimally and politely as required, and get on with your business.

These people absolutely thrive on conflict. They glow with inner "strength" in the heat of battle. They can amass an array of other right-thinkers against you.

Forget it, for it's a battle you can not win. It is impossible to reason with irrationality.

Hitting Where It Hurts

However, you can now hit back. And in the right place. Their pocket book.

In a recent issue of her ezine, "The iCop Whistle Blower," jl scott offered a neat piece about the absurdities of SpamCops. She wrapped with a positive and powerful suggestion. I want to do the same here.

Serious minded people are joining in a class action suit against these people. You can contribute information or choose to participate. Here are some key links.

Victim Form - Explain How You've Been Hurt

Notes about how this all got started

Keep up on what is happening

In Closing ...

Here's a comment from jl scott. "I salute the people who are determined to organize this class action suit. Clearly, if we don't do it ourselves, these wild-eyed lunatics will continue to hurt decent and ethical businesses."

I applaud her stand. Come join in; the water's fine.

About the Author
Bob McElwain, author of "Your Path To Success." How to build ANY business you want, just the way you want it, with only pocket money.