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Last week I posted an article Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button? that takes the position that there's a right and a wrong way to use the spam reporting tools provided by email services.
I'd heard from friends that publish email newsletters that this happens, but now that I'm publishing my own weekly newsletter, it's become a little personal. The problem? Using the "This is Spam" button, or it's equivalent, on email that you asked for.
To make my point, consider this: most email newsletters are now what's called "double opt in" - meaning you have to say yes twice - once when you sign up for an email newsletter, and then once again when you reply to the confirmation mail asking if you really want to get that mailing.
Email that you receive after asking for it, and confirming that you want it, is not spam - not by any reasonable definition.
So why are users clicking on the "This is Spam" button on the email that they explicitly asked for?
One of the commentor's on my original article belligerently gives one reason: he doesn't care. If he decides he doesn't want the email, it's the spam button he uses to make it stop. Others apparently don't recall signing up - even though the process is somewhat painful. Some misfire and click the spam button by mistake.
And many simply don't understand what is, and is not, spam.
What almost all don't understand is that miss-labeling legitimate email as spam hurts us all. Services that use that data to tune their spam filters may prevent other subscribers from getting the mail they asked for.
Sure, internet publishers are hurt, since they can't deliver the service requested by their customers. But it's those customers that are hurt as well.
As complaints of missing mail rise, the spam filters are then necessarily loosened - resulting not only in the requested email, but also allowing more spam through for everyone.
The bottom line? Know what is and is not spam, and educate those around you to use the tools appropriately. Unsolicited email is spam. Requested newsletter subscriptions are not.
This is article 9636 - for related links, or to leave a comment, go to askleo.info, enter 9636 in the go to article number box in the upper right. Add your comments to the discussion, I'd love to hear from you.
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