Date: Thu, 8 Dec 1994 10:11:32 -0500
From: Tom McClive tommcc[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]EMAIL.UNC.EDU
Subject: Re: An Ad and a Question
The question first: What are your opinions of the posting of ads like the
following on ADS-L? Do you think all commerical ads should be banned from
the list (which would be difficult to enforce, of course, since right now
I am strong against advertisement of almost any form on lists.
If ads start appearing, they will never leave.
Already there are newsgroups conceded to ads (those with the prefix
biz.) and I really don't have a problem with these, since it's like the
home shopping channel. If you want to tune in, you can, otherwise you
never see it. But distributing ads through listservers is a horrible
idea. It is the equilalent of junk mail, only worse. The negligible
costs of sending these means that anyone can do it, so you will start
getting messages from all over.
The sample ad with the original post was for a product that may interest
people on this list, but think of all the products that would interest
us; you could get several ads a day easily. We had problems on the
CELTIC-L list recently when (1) someone used the distribution for a
completely unrelated product, and (2) someone was trying to get addresses
for a celtic products catalog. The first instance was easy, no one
wanted to hear it, but the second was touchy, some people were interested
in the catalog.
CELTIC-L maintains files on the listserver computer that contain
information on subject such as celtic bookstores and language courses. I
propose that route as a solution to the ads. If retailers wants to
distribute information to list members, they can send information to the
listowner and be added to the file. Then when members want information
on products, they can get the file. This would entail people learning
just a bit about listserver database commands, but it is not hard at all.
In the meantime, whenever people receive an ad, it is quite important
that they let the sender know how they feel. I always send back a note
stating that this is not allowed. I have gotten into many arguements,
but I have found that many of the ads come from people who honestly don't
know much about the internet and did not know that there was anything
wrong with what they are doing.
A stronger tactic for the regular advertisers is to send a message to
"postmaster[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]..." and then include their address behind the [AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] symbol.
Tell the postmaster that this person (include their address and a copy of
the ad) has been advertising and ask the postmaster to deal with them.
I'm sorry to ramble on, but this is a real problem and it will get
worse. Some of these people are like the automated phone advertisers:
they are willing to annoy a thousand people just to make one sale. The
low cost of distributing information on the net is a powerful lure.
tommcc[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]email.unc.edu