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About advertising type E-mail to people who established prior contact

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  • Omer Zak
    A) Introduction Several businesses engage in the practice of sending unsolicited E-mail advertising their goods to people, with whom there was prior business
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 18 3:18 AM
      A) Introduction

      Several businesses engage in the practice of sending unsolicited E-mail
      advertising their goods to people, with whom there was prior business
      contact.

      This practice is not always pleasurable for the recipients, but does not
      quite fall into the definition of spam.

      After a recent incident, to which Linux-IL subscribers witnessed, I have
      the following idea about controlling this kind of E-mail.



      B) The basic idea:

      The companies in question often include at the end of the E-mail a
      statement that the recipient is getting it because of prior contact and
      that he can unsubscribe by sending a message to a certain E-mail
      address.

      My idea is to expect them to add to the statement also a dated
      description of the prior contact in question. For example "You attended
      a course organized by us at 13.7.1978", or "You logged into our Web site
      last time at 22.2.2002".

      Then, any unsolicited commercial E-mail without such a statement can
      automatically be considered as a spam. Forged statements can be easily
      caught, if the recipient has an archive on his PC.



      C) Examples from sourceforge.net - could be improved:

      1. Used in monthly mailings:
      When the SF.net team sends out a site-wide email, we sometimes see
      replies that look like this: "Hey! I didn't ask to be on this list! You
      spammer. I hate you! I hate your dog! (insert other colorful phrases
      here)." The truth is, when you registered on SourceForge.net there was a
      check box that said "Receive Site-wide updates, low volume." You left it
      checked when you submitted the registration form, hence you are
      receiving this email. We send these updates every 4 to 6 weeks, so it
      truly is low volume. However if you want off, this is not a problem.
      Simply click on the link.

      2. Used in a relatively recent E-mail:
      This message was sent on behalf of SourceForge.net based on
      the existence of your user account on our site.



      D) Question:

      Should a particular format be prescribed for such statements?
      On one hand, any prescribed format is bound to be forged by spammers.
      On the other hand, format will make it easier to parse and validate this
      part of E-mail messages. And we need the E-mail headers anyway to judge
      whether it was sent by the bona fide sender or forged.

      I'd like to know of any objections or refinements before I propose the
      idea in its final form.
      --- Omer
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