> At 07:17 PM 2/21/95 -0500, Keith Moore wrote:
> >Mailing lists aren't generally created
> >for the purpose of allowing people to advertise on them.
> I disagree.
Read my sentence again. Most lists weren't created for the purpose of
allowing people to advertise. The lists are to allow people to
express their opinions, ask questions, and maybe even rant and rave.
You can call this advertising if you want to, but it's stretching the
meaning of the word. Most people seem agree that some limited forms
of advertising are sometimes appropriate on some lists. But that's
not why the lists were created in the first place.
> Mailing lists aren't that different from Magazines, especially when
> you are talking about something like China News Digest (which is
> essentially publoshed using a list), or a moderated mailing list.
Most people would find the content of most mailing lists quite
different from that of most magazines. Most mailing lists will let
anybody (or any list member) post a message, but you have to go
through an editor to get published in a magazine. The editor of a
magazine does a lot more than make sure the article is "on topic".
The fact that an electronic magazine can be distributed with mailing
list software, doesn't mean that other analogies hold between mailing
lists and magazines.
> Consumer reports magazine, for example, won't sell my name to other
> companies, but they do take money to distribute marketing materials to me
> directly. This way, they can control what their readership gets. A list is
> very similar in this regard, and it strikes me that it is up to the
> list-manager's discretion whether to open the list to paid messages.
Most lists aren't currently in the business of distributing marketing
materials to their members. The members of such lists joined those
lists on the assumption that the list was not for the purpose of
advertising. A list that allows advertising is not necessarily a good
place to discuss things. Imagine a face-to-face topical discussion
with 10 people in which one of the people always try to sell his
product. One person like that can destroy the entire discussion.
A few lists ARE explicitly set up to distribute advertisements. So
just because something is distributed via a mailing list doesn't mean
that advertisements AREN'T appropraite. But the people who sign up
for those lists do so specifically because they WANT to receive ads.
This isn't true of the people who subscribe to mailing lists on other
> Let me make a different point. Some customers of ours use InfoMagnet to
> search several lists for people asking questions their product can answer.
> For example, if you sell medical supplies, you might want to know whenever
> the word "buy" or "purchase" comes up in the medical groups. When the topic
> does come up, you might contribute to the group and simply say "We sell
> medical supplies, check this URL for more info"
Sometimes that kind of thing is appropriate. It depends on the list.
As I said earlier, I have at least one list in which this kind of
thing would be welcome as long as it were strictly on-topic and it
didn't happen very often. But I run several lists that are used for
technical discussion in which any kind of advertising would definitely
> I'd also point out that usually that list are in fact nothing but a vehicle
> to "advertise" one's opinion. Each person's opinion is shaped by different
> factors. When a vendor is advertising their opinion, people tend to object
> if they sense that the opinion is based more on a need to earn a living than
> the intrinsic truth of the opinion.
You can call this advertising if you want, but most people would not
use the word "advertising" to describe stating one's opinion. And
just because you can call it "advertising" to state your opinion,
doesn't mean that other forms of "advertising" are appropriate. They
have a little bit in common, but they're not the same thing.
> And finally: has no-one noticed that the signature lines at the bottom of
> each person's email message is in fact an advertisement?
They're not there in each person's email message, and when they do
appear, they're not usually advertisements in the normal sense of the
Don't get hung up on words. Just because you can call something
advertising (perhaps by stretching the meaning of the word) doesn't
mean it's inappropriate to have it on a list.
People here have been making an effort to explain what is or is not
appropriate. Reducing all of this advice to "advertising is good" or
"advertising is bad" is missing the point.