Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(March 1999)

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Subject: Re: Topica-Dot-Com Open For Business
From: Rich Kulawiec <rsk @ gsp . org>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 05:02:11 -0500
To: Michelle Dick <artemis @ rahul . net>, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <>; from Michelle Dick on Mon, Mar 01, 1999 at 02:13:52PM -0800
References: <> <>

On Mon, Mar 01, 1999 at 02:13:52PM -0800, Michelle Dick wrote:
> > Again: the correct definition of spam is UBE, "unsolicited bulk email".
> Reasonable people disagree, but nevermind, for the moment let's go by
> your definition.  

This isn't my definition.  This is the definition which has been hammered
out, refined, debated, tested, etc., by the anti-spam community over a
period of many years.  It is deliberately phrased in this manner in
order to avoid the unnecessary issues of motivation, number of complaints,
and so on -- and to avoid free speech issues, which are frequently
raised, red-herring fashion, by spammers.  It seeks to define spam
as conduct, not speech.

> Define "bulk"

Hmmm, I would have thought it self-evident, but let's try "not sent
individually by one human being to another".

> So, are Stephanie's emails requesting information to the appx 1/3 of
> list-owners who are on her list unsolicited (i.e. they didn't ask to
> be added to PAML), spam?


> And what about Topica's emails to list-owners whose lists are listed
> on their site not at the list-owner's request, offering archiving, spam?


[ Aside: I suggest that any entity whose business model cannot work
without resorting to spam has a flawed business model and should either
abandon that model or the business itself. ]

> If I have a one-time mailing to 10,000 people, is it OK as long as I
> spread it out over enough time or if it is triggered by third parties
> (who don't know they are doing so)?

Is it unsolicited?  If so, it is spam.  The time period you spread it
out over is not relevant to the definition of spam.  Nor can it be:
if diluting the impact exonerated the activity of spamming in any way,
spammers would simply hang their hats on it as justification for
their activity.  They have already done so with far flimsier rationales.
For example, spammers frequently cite proposed-but-never-passed legislation
as if it had the force of law.

Rich Kulawiec

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