I spoke by phone to the person ultimately responsible for the ad this
afternoon, a John Petiton. Most of what was discussed is material for a
column I'll be writing for _Internet and Comms Today_, but it might be of
interest to know that:
a) Petiton got the idea for spamming from C&S's book, which he saw in a
bookstore. He does not even understand what the Internet is, per se.
b) I explained at length that his belief that Net users are unilaterally
opposed to use of the Net for commercial purposes in any way, shape, or
form is mistaken; I explained the difference between USENET, the Internet,
and the World Wide Web, and told him at length about the Web.
c) One reason people are so angry is that the spam was posted to moderated
groups; he did not know what a moderated group was and it appears that his
"hired geek" took it upon himself to forge approvals.
d) he feels that by putting the word "ad" in the subject line of each
post, users could just say "I don't want to read that" and go on -- and
was astounded by the massive negative reaction.
e) he feels that the payoff will nonetheless be nonnegligible, and
repeated the claim by C&S that they'd made a mint; in other words, 10,000
hostile email messages and fax-bombing is worth it if you sign up a lot
of new customers.
I got the impression of talking to a badly confused non-computer-user who
read C&S's book, was swayed by their tune, and didn't realize that C&S had
selectively edited the facts about the Green Card spam to leave out the
*massive* outpouring of hate and harassment which spammers of this
magnitude inevitably earn.
I suggested that he set up a WWW page, and even offered to send him HTML
Assistant for Windows to help him do it. I also pointed him in the
direction of magazines like Netguide and Internet and Comms Today and to
the WWW section of his local bookstore.