Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 1997)

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Subject: Re: fresh horror from AOL
From: Brad Knowles <brad @ his . com>
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 01:10:48 -0500
To: Subir Grewal <subir @ crl . com>, list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <>
References: <v0300780eaf1dbe9b9403@[]>

At 8:41 AM -0500 2/5/1997, Subir Grewal wrote:

>AOL doesn't have any credit card info on me, I'm not very curious about
>their service, so I never asked.  But I've been getting both CDs (better I
>think because they aren't writeable) and disks mailed to me.  I'm
>presuming the contact info is coming from the Whois database.

	I don't think the Marketing folks even know that something called
the "InterNIC" exists.  I suspect that you're getting those disks and
CDs because you fit a particular marketing profile -- you probably
subscribe to technology-oriented magazines like _Scientific
American_, _Discover_, _Popular Science_, and other audiences that
the Marketing folks have decided they want to  target.  I guarantee
that your name is on dozens of mailing list databases that get
sold/rented among the whole commercial business market (served by
several companies that specialize in demographics), and that's where
they get your mailing address, etc....

	I just wish they were better at *removing* from that list of
people to whom they send disks/CDs who are already subscribers (just
check the internal databases against the external ones and delete any
duplicates), and particularly make sure that they remove any and all
employees from those marketing lists.

	I can't tell you how many drink coasters I now have.  ;-)

>What might be workable, is AOL experimenting with a little gateway
>that handles list unsubscription/subscription for its users.  A little
>jiggling around with the mailer (or simply an extension/plug-in to it),
>some idea of what list-software is used to manage the list, and voila
>unsubscribe at the click of a button (or two, just to confirm).

	We could probably do this for the lists that are officially
listed on our "list-of-lists" (I'd be inclined to do it through web
pages, since programming the same sort of thing using the online
tools is a pretty arcane art), but we would most likely be unable to
do it for any others.  And that would create an even worse situation,
as we'd hand-hold these people right up to the precipice, and then
let them take that next step on their own -- right into a black hole.

	Now, if we could get the official mail/news gateways set up for
"popular" lists, then everything would be under our control and we'd
be done.  If we could get official permission to use the entire PAML,
and rig up the sort of thing you recommend for any lists on it, we'd
pretty much cover everything that our users are likely to ask for.
But there'd still be these private lists out there for which we would
not have educated our users at all, and that would remain a problem,
no matter what.

	I think Chuq's idea of "they have to go through this screen and
at least glance at these various useful topics before we let them
subscribe to mailing lists using our interfaces, and therefore when
they have trouble, hopefully 0.01% of them will remember this page
and come back to it" might help some of the rest.

Brad Knowles,                                  MIME/PGP:
    comp.mail.sendmail FAQ Maintainer     <>
        finger for my PGP Public Keys and Geek Code
The comp.mail.sendmail FAQ is at <>

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