Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #50
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About Our Meeting

'Contrariwise', continued Tweedledee, 'if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!' (Lewis Carroll  Alice In Wonderland)

I have nothing against Spam. It’s cheap, Good with eggs. Low carb. Heck, it’s almost a health food. I rarely eat it though. When I was younger I ate almost anything, but now, I really hate eating things if I don't know what is in it. Maybe it's just fogeyism?

That reminds me of email. And a different kind of spam. You just never know what’s in it.  

Lately, we’ve seen the spammers getting quite creative with subject lines. I especially like the ones that say: “About our meeting”, “About Your Order”, “Your Credit Card Was Rejected”, “About Our Phone Call”, and other creative juicies that almost make you want to open the mail to see what’s really in them. We have to give them an "A" for creativity.

OK. I admit sometimes I take a peek. It never has anything to do with the subject though. It’s usually a pitch for “Levitra” or “Low Mortgage Rates” or “Meet Your Wild Neighbors”. Like I would actually get a mortgage, buy pharmaceuticals, or let some stranger hook me up with my “wild neighbors”. I don’t know my neighbors real well, but I’ve never had to call the police to stop any wild goings on. 

Seriously, spam has become more and more of a problem. Not for the spammers, of course. We’ll tell you why later. But, for companies like ours who try to run a decent and honest business and rely a great deal on email to communicate with our members and subscribers it’s becoming a serious situation. For instance.every Friday we have to jump through hoops to make sure that InfoAve Premium, gets to those who paid to receive it. Trying to run through the obstacle course of all the ISPs who delete (censor) their customers email, and the spam-blocking “services” that "filter" (censor) customer's email, takes a lot of our time. Last week it consumed over eight hours of our time trying to make sure all our Premium subscribers got what they paid for. Who gets blamed when our Premium newsletter doesn’t arrive on Friday morning? Not the people who censored our subscribers' email. Oh, no!  We get blamed!

Recently, Hotmail, announced that beginning next April, it will no longer allow users to access Hotmail with Outlook and Outlook Express because of spam. Now really! Does Hotmail really believe that anyone will believe that's the real reason? The big-time spammers don't send spam with Outlook or Outlook Express. And, they sure don't send fifty million emails a day through Outlook Express via Hotmail (even with a business-class cable connection you couldn't send fifty million emails in a week let alone a day). So why don't you all write Hotmail and tell them to can the spam excuse. Tell them you know the real reason behind the change: They want you to have to go to their Web site to send and receive mail because they want you to see their ubiquitous advertisements and hope maybe you'll click a few while you're there. See? It has nothing to do with spam. It has to do with, what else? MONEY.

Now let us digress. While spam becomes more and more of a problem for legitimate businesses like us who depend on email newsletters to communicate with members and subscribers, it's still very easy to be a spammer. Here's why:

1. You can be as dumb as a box of rocks and make a ton of money

2. You can make a lot of money and not have to work very hard.

3. You can make a lot of money without investing much money.

4. You can make a lot of money with very little risk.

Spammer's have only one major expense and that is buying legitimate email addresses (yes, like yours and ours). They can buy millions address for about $500.00. Where do these addresses come from? Well, that's another story. Email harvesters, shady spyware outfits who promise they won't share your information with anyone, your own Web site (if you have one and were naive enough to put your real email address on it), Web BLOGS, message boards, and all sorts of of other places where you might have given out your email address. (No, not us. We really do keep your information on a secure server and our lists are protected. You're safe with us and we guarantee it.)

So, let's say a spammer sends out 10 million spam emails a day (this is actually not a lot for a "professional spammer) and only 1 of 100,000 bite on his/her sales pitch, then that is one hundred sales. If they make a commission of $10.00 a sale (that's probably lower than average) they make $1000.00 a day, 7 days a week. That's an income of $364,000.00 a year. If two out of 100,000 bite ..hmm, you do the math. So, for a few thousand dollars investment they can reap huge rewards. Easy money. Fairly low risk. How many spammers do you read about that actually go to jail? I think we've heard about 2 or 3 out of thousands.

What about the new Can-Spam Act? Well, has your spam decreased or increased since congress passed that law? It's probably increased because it actually makes it easier for spammers to send spam. All they have to do to comply with the law, basically, is to give you a means to unsubscribe (That's funny! How can you unsubscribe from something you never subscribed to in the first place!) and include a mailing address. Now really? What address will they use this week?

Who's to really to blame for the horrendous increase in spam? The people whose skulls are full of mush and BUY things from the spammers. The one-out-of -the 100,000 that make it highly profitable for the spammers to send spam.

Now, let's talk about ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who censor your email. CENSOR is the right word. No Internet Service Provider has the right to delete your email without allowing you to look at what they are deleting. One of these days, I predict spam-filtering by ISPs will come to a screeching halt when some businessperson loses a million-dollar sale because his or her ISP deleted their email. It's going to happen. It will be big news. And, it's going to happen soon.Your ISP has no right to delete your email without having some means by which you can double-check what's being deleted. It is censorship. Can you imagine the U.S.Postal Service just throwing your mail away because they didn't like color of the envelope. Because junk mail usually comes in brightly-colored envelopes, they throw away EVERYTHING that comes in brightly colored envelopes. (AH, poor aunt Betty. She loves those big, bright blue envelopes and, wouldn't you know it? She just sent you $100.00 for your birthday in one of those blue envelopes. Too bad. USPS threw it away!)

And another thing, while I'm ranting away about ISPs, let me tell you another thing that really gets to us. When someone writes for help with one of our products, we always answer personally. (So, naturally, we spend quite a bit of time answering email.) We absolutely love it when someone writes for help, we spend our time answering personally and then send the email on its way to the person asking for help only to receive a "reply" a few seconds later from EarthLink asking us to click a link and go to a page on their Web site and type in a verification code that appears on little button that looks like this:

OOOOH I don't like this!

This is supposed to tell them we are real human people and not artificial people. So, not only do we spend time trying to help someone who has asked for assistance, then we have to take more time to go to a Web site and take a Rorschach Test just to make sure they get the answer they asked for!

Once again, we rely on "Big Brother" to watch over us. Take control! We all need to tell our ISPs that we don't need them messing around with our email. We don't need them "filtering" (read censoring) our email. There isn't a spam filter in this world that is perfect.  We all need to make choices and take care of our own email in our own way. Whether it's a personal spam filtering program like SpamBully or a program like PopPeeper that lets you preview your email while it is still on the server and gives you the option to remove it before you download it with your email program, we all need to stop being children. We need to get out of the mindset that others need to take care of us; whether it's an Internet Service Provider or a federal government. It's time to start taking back control of our lives. And we can make a great start by telling the Internet Service Providers who censor (filter) email to put their filtering software between two slices of bread and cover it with a slice of Spam (and a little ketchup) and swallow it whole. Like we said: One of these days, not too long from now, some ISP is going to get sued for deleting someone's important email. And when that happens, the Internet will change forever.

And if you know anyone who has purchased anything from a spammer, tell them thanks a lot. Enlighten them, please!

Now, does anyone have a good recipe for a Spam casserole?

Tell us what you think! Please

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