Protect Yourself from Being Called a Spammer

Written By: Glen Palo

The purpose of this article is to help website owners, writers,
internet marketers to protect themselves from being accused of

Anyone that has a website, webpage or electronic newsletter and
communicates using email, publishes articles or promotes their
URL can be accused of being a spammer.

First, knowledge is the first step to prevention. Unfortunately,
to date there is no official or agreed upon definition of what
constitutes spam.

The internet today is the result of the collaborative efforts of
the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IETF is a large open
international community of network designers, operators, vendors,
and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet
architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. These are
the guys that write the guidelines (RFC) and standards to which
everyone adheres to make the internet function. They wrote the
Netiquette Guidelines (RFC1855). For more info, visit

The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE)
according to their website (http://www.cauce.org) was created by
netizens to advocate for a legislative solution to the problem of
UCE (a/k/a “spam”). Unfortunately, they do not specifically
define spam other than provide a list of characteristics of email
sent by unreputable marketers promoting pyramid schemes, chain
letters, etc.

>From my research, I have concluded that spam has been defined as
junk email, unsolicited bulk email (UBE), unsolicited commercial
email (UCE), unrequested email and more.

Here is a quick check list of things that would possibly be
considered spam:

=>Sending advertisements, solicitations, or any type of mailing
that was not requested (even if only sent to a single person)

=>Posting advertisements for your web site in news groups,
bulletin boards, or any other public medium where such posts are
not appropriate

=>Having other people do either of the above.

Most Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies are
anti-spam. They have to be because of the severe consequences
of being labeled tolerant of spam, and, particularly being listed
on the Realtime Blackhole List maintained by Mail Abuse
Prevention System LLC (MAPS).

According to the MAPS website at http://mail-abuse.org/, they
are a not-for-profit California organization whose mission is
to defend the Internet’s e-mail system from abuse by spammers.
Their principal means of accomplishing this mission is by
educating and encouraging ISP’s to enforce strong terms and
conditions prohibiting their customers from engaging in abusive
e-mail practices.

ISPs that share MAPS concerns about the harm caused by spam often
request access to MAPS’ databases so that they can decide whether
to block email which originates from the listed sites.

Consequently, ISPs have to fear being listed by MAPS if they are
not aggressive in combating spam. As a result, many ISPs will
shoot first and ask questions later when one of their clients
is accused of spamming.

How do you protect yourself from spam complaints?

First and foremost find an ISP or hosting company that takes a
proactive approach to spam complaints. Review their Acceptable
Use Policy (AUP) or Terms of Service (TOS). If the AUP or TOS
does not state how or what their process is for handling spam
complaints, ASK! Also ask them about their attitude regarding
SpamCop. It appears that SpamCop is becoming the defacto spam
clearing house.

When an ISP or hosting company receives a spam complaint, their
policy should be to diligently, and swiftly investigate the
reported incident. They should make every attempt to determine
the actual origin of an email, as well as the intention before
making a determination. Their policy should be to issue a
warning first.

If you have an opt-in, opt-out mailing list, it should not be a
problem. Even then the possibility does exist for someone to
“forget” that they opted in. Using a double opt-in method list
is ideal for maintaining opt-in lists. The request to be added
to a list is submitted and then the submitter has the requirement
to confirm the request prior to actually being placed on the
mailing list.

People writing articles for publication in electronic newsletters
should be particularly careful in selecting their ISPs and hosting
companies. The possibility exists that an article could be
published in a newsletter that someone claims to be spam.

In short, there isn’t a set, specific method of determining how
someone will react to a mailing, however using common sense, and
reading as much as possible about the pitfalls of spam, should
steer readers clear of any major problems.

Some links readers may find helpful:

About the Author

Glen Palo has published the Achieve USA Home Business Journal since
1998. For a subscription, please visit http://www.achieveusa.com
For more information on protecting yourself from spam complaints
send an email to spam2@achieveusa.com

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