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August 23, 2005

Political spam
Posted by Teresa at 06:27 PM *

I feel like I’m being slowly driven crazy by unsolicited and unwanted political junkmail. Most of it is sent on behalf of causes I support, so I don’t want to label it as outright spam and tell Gmail we hates it we hates it forever, but I’m increasingly tempted to do so as the volume increases.

Thing is, I’m a brain-damage case who copes spectacularly well (if I do say so myself) with all kinds of stuff; but I’m probably slower than you are at tasks like sorting out plain spam from fellow-traveler political spam from real mail. The sheer amount of clutter generated by well-meaning lefty junk mail is getting to be a burden.

I find myself thinking, “If they’re really the good guys like they say they are, how come they send out spam?”

Comments on Political spam:
#1 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 06:51 PM:

I am deeply sympathetic. As I not only worked the 2004 campaign but contributed money I'm on every Democratic list known to man. And MoveOn. And People for the American Way. And on and on. No idea what to do about it though so let me know if you get any useful suggestions! And I get it by snail mail and telephone solicitation too.

MKK

#2 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 07:11 PM:

Do they not unsubscribe you if you ask? MoveOn did so for me, is why I'm bringing it up.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 07:22 PM:

I've tried unsubscribing from the DCCC list several times. No luck.

#4 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 07:28 PM:

Spam is spam, regardless of content. Flag it and dump it.

(This was particularly hard during the period a year or so ago, when people in the UK were sending out emails trying to locate a girl who'd gone missing. The same rule still applies, though - it's not the content which matters.)

#5 ::: Gollum ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 07:32 PM:

We hates it, we hates it, my precious! Evil spams! It tricks us!

#6 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 07:40 PM:

I got spammed by Pike Place Market, of all organizations! We subscribe to their Community Supported Agriculture program to get a basket of organic veggies each week, and they signed all the CSA subscribers up for another Pike Place email without asking first...

Grrr... Some people just don't get it.

#7 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:01 PM:

Ugh. Well, given that they're probably motivated by misguided zeal rather than greed, you could always try writing to them to get taken off their list.

I get a lot of newsletters (such as MoveOn's) that I don't particularly want, but I've only ever gotten a couple of outright spam, all election-related. Those got deleted in a hurry, whether I intended to vote for their guy or not.

#8 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:22 PM:

What I don't understand is how I keep getting Republican political spam. I've never contributed to any Republican cause or candidate, signed up for any mailing lists, or even posted on a political Web site of any stripe.

In my more cynical moments, it's almost enough to make me think someone clever in the Democratic Party is sending out Republican spam to annoy people into voting against them. (Clearly, it didn't work if so.)

#9 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:27 PM:

I'm with Paul. If it's spam, it's spam, regardless of whether it's pimping a cause I support or a product I'd like to buy.

#10 ::: Madeleine Reardon Dimond ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:34 PM:

When John Kerry was my senator, I sent him many a letter and never received a response. Now I get several emails from him every week. Moveon, Act for Change, Progressives Anonymous, and all other vaguely liberal organizations swamp my inbox too.

In the advice department of Barn Door, Shutting Belatedly, I have given all these folks a spamgourmet.com address. Their mail is handled differently than pure spam, and if my outrageometer is overloaded this week, I can safely ignore them until I'm ready to go to political war again. It's hard to support everything that needs supporting.

#11 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:38 PM:

Stef, do you have a bounce address? I had to unsubscribe from a couple of lists at all three of my addresses before they stopped coming.

#12 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 08:39 PM:

On a related note: is there a way to tell mail from real candidates, party committees, etc. apart from phishing schemes. For example a website to go back to to authenticate it? I think I have seen one phishing scheme posing as democratic fund raising. I am surprised I have not seen more.

#13 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 09:05 PM:

On Election Day, I got twenty-three phone calls from MoveOn.org. And that was just between lunch at noon and when I went to work at three.

In a masterstroke of random irony, I got all the phone calls after I had already voted.

Politics in the 21st century: automated, mindless spambots spewing forth innumerable legions of unread and deleted spam, while the spambots' mad masters rave and froth at each on cable television, shouting mindless slogans in an endless droning litany.

Of course, the person really controlling things lives in a shack on a small world reachable only with an Infinite Improbability Drive.

#14 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 09:18 PM:

I believe there are Bayesian spam filters that sort mail into more than just two categories. Instead of just "spam" and "ham", you could create a third category called "politics", consisting of emails that contain an unusual number of suspicious political words while being otherwise ham-like.

I don't know the actual names of any user-friendly tools that do this, but someone else might...


#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 09:25 PM:

Popfile http://popfile.sourceforge.net/ is a friendly, multiplatform, Bayesian spam filter that can sort stuff into multiple boxes.

I personally find Gmail to be maddening-to-unusable.

#16 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 09:59 PM:

If you had all the time in the world, would you spend any of it reading emails from those particular sources? Or would you, on your own initiative, check their websites when you want to know what they're up to?

There's a whole lot of people whose causes I support who seem to be driven to yank my chain at least as often as commercial salespeople. At this point, I will gladly give them money if they promise not to write my name down.

Spam is spam is spam. Who was it said, "Just because you're on their side..." mmm?

#17 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 10:14 PM:

On a related note: is there a way to tell mail from real candidates, party committees, etc. apart from phishing schemes. For example a website to go back to to authenticate it?

As I noted on the other recent spam thread, in Mozilla and Firefox, mousing over a link reveals the URL it goes to. This is not foolproof, but none of the usual phishing suspects bother to spoof it (let alone spellcheck their messages), and it's a minimum-effort screen.

Though, as a "problem not symptom" answer, I'd suggest that if you get a solicitation claiming to be from someone you actually want to donate to/assist, print it out and send it to an adddress for that entity that you've acquired from some other source; this should be very easy for major organizations, and not all that hard for minor ones. (Such organizations ought to want mail, right?) Enclose a letter saying that you'd like to help, but you really don't want to see this sort of thing in your inbox, and would they please send you some physical literature? Note politely that if they did not send the enclosed e-mail, they should be aware that somebody did.

Now, I'm aware this opens you up to getting physical junk mail, but physical junk mail doesn't load [bleep]ware into your computer. And I doubt that very many scammers would be bothered to print fake brochures, let alone pay for postage -- especially since a "Vote for Phil Progressive" letter from the Turks & Caicos Islands would look a tad bit fishy.

#18 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 10:23 PM:

Well, I maintain that one man's spam is another man's valuable opportunity. You should be able to opt out, although I don't think CAN-SPAM applies to political organizations. Hence the ever-disappointing DCCC's failure to honor opt-outs. They got my email when they stole^h^h^h^h were given the DNC's mailing list.

Part of what I do for a living is send commercial emails, although only to people who have explicitly opted-in, and every mail piece provides an opt-out option which is always honored. Email and Direct Mail can be used ethically and legally - if you don't want to hear from me, I won't contact you.

#19 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 10:52 PM:

Unsolicited? I wonder how you got on the lists? (That's answered by Larry above in the case of the DCCC, but what about other groups?)

Just for a different perspective, I actively signed up for a bunch of political/social justice mailing lists (off the top of my head: MoveOn, ACLU, Amnesty, SpeakSpeak, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, DCCC, Barbara Boxer's PAC, NARAL, Architecture for Humanity). When they ask for money, I respond to things that really grab me and ignore the rest. Other than that, they send me news on issues that are important to me and opportunities to send letters/sign petitions about those issues. (I know it ain't much, but it helps me feel I'm at least engaged in the process.) Once you have the hang of them, those letters/petitions are really quick and easy.

That said, I'm going to unsub from the DCCC and if it doesn't work they're going to get several earsful.


It's hard to support everything that needs supporting.

Hoo boy, is it ever.

#20 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 10:53 PM:

Oops, I signed up for DNC not DCCC, I just didn't bother unsubbing until now.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2005, 10:54 PM:

"If it's spam, it's spam, regardless of whether it's pimping a cause I support or a product I'd like to buy"

Notwithstanding the merit of this position, I would like to put in a small word for a moratorium on the use of the term "pimping" for activities which are not, in fact, pimping.

#22 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 05:27 AM:

"Refit your motor car" doesn't have the same ring to it.

#23 ::: Simstim ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 05:48 AM:

PNH: no pimping that moratorium via spam then!

#24 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 07:19 AM:

Larry: because CAN-SPAM is such a big success with those organisations it does apply to, obviously. Imagine if it hadn't been passed - an ever-increasing tide of spam!

Oh, wait.

#25 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 09:58 AM:

Anyone know whether active Republicans are getting spammed?

#26 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 10:24 AM:

I recently saw "The Sting", for the first time in twenty years. And every time I see the word "pimp" I remember the line: "You're a con man, and you blew your money like a pimp!"

#27 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 10:55 AM:

since a "Vote for Phil Progressive" letter from the Turks & Caicos Islands would look a tad bit fishy.

And at least it would probably come with some nice stamps.

#28 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 12:29 PM:

Anyone know whether active Republicans are getting spammed?

I'm not an active Republican myself but perhaps a fellow traveler. My own experience is much more direct mail and less spam. I'm confident that will tend fairly quickly to more spam but perhaps not less direct mail.

Locally the Democratic Party machinery uses automated phone calls with meeting time place and agenda information to mobilize the faithful - I think the calls are aimed at answering machines to make a note of the meeting.

#29 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Ha. All mine goes to various hotmail accounts that I can afford to kill off if they annoy me badly enough. Make sure to use those kinds of addresses when you make donations! Cuts down on the wear & tear.

#30 ::: Jeff VanderMeer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 04:15 PM:

I guess I'm sick of being told the subject of each email is of the utmost importance. It's become a long shriek of no consequence as a result. And, oddly, I'm increasingly angry about getting emails from John Kerry telling me what to do. I voted for him, but even in this odd, impersonal, auto-generated one-way correspondence between him and me, he's beginning to get on my nerves. Everytime I see the subject line "John Kerry Thinks You Should Eat Your Wheaties" or whatever, I get angry, thinking, "You lost, you bastard. And it was partially your fault."

JeffV

#31 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Jennifer, I get snail and email from Republicans, apparently because I have a D&B number. I guess business owners are supposed to be Republican.

#32 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 05:51 PM:

Paul: because CAN-SPAM is such a big success with those organisations it does apply to, obviously. Imagine if it hadn't been passed - an ever-increasing tide of spam!

Oh, wait.

My company complies with CAN-SPAM, as do all companies that are ethical users of promotional email. The real problem are industrial-scale spammers who are busy selling faux V!@gr@ and Ci@1i$, oh, yes, and REAL teens with webcams.

Net net, CAN-SPAM added cost for legitimate email senders, but has done little to curb the activities of the criminals. Obviously our national priorities are in order. Ignore scofflaw spammers, check! Persecute medical marijuana users, check! Ban nail clippers on airplanes, check!

#33 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Well, I have you all beat. I keep getting email solicitations from Katherine Harris, for God's sake. Last one I returned and said I would vote for Satan before I would vote for her. I thought that would get me puilled from their list but it didn't seem to work.

Jane

#34 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Jane,

The old guy is probably working for her campaign, and culled your message for his own list . . .

#35 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Most of these guys respond to remove requests. The ones that don't may reasonably be reported to spamcop--that usually shuts them down--and blacklisted, if not.

#36 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 07:21 PM:

Tiny little detail:
Nail clippers are no longer banned on airplanes. If you're planning an air trip, go the TSA web-site, print their current "allowable" list and put it with your carry-on. That way there's no doubt about what's legal.

#37 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 07:40 PM:

Larry: The real problem are industrial-scale spammers who are busy selling faux V!@gr@ and Ci@1i$, oh, yes, and REAL teens with webcams.

The problem is that they vastly outnumber you, in output if nothing else.

Net net, CAN-SPAM added cost for legitimate email senders, but has done little to curb the activities of the criminals.

That's pretty much what I was driving at, just obviously not very well.

Still, I guess it could have been worse. At least it wasn't made opt-out - then they'd have had more of a fig-leaf of respectability to hide behind.

#38 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 08:11 PM:

Paul:

CAN-SPAM did make spam "opt-out", pre-empting existing state laws, at the insistence of the DMA lobbyists. I was there at the FTC "Spam Summit" forum prior to its passage, along with a lot of very well-known email and spam authorities. Heck, the FTC understood the situation very well, and wanted to see an opt-in policy similar to what Europe or Australia has established. Congress listened to the more rabid wing of the marketing lobbies instead, and voted for opt-out.

The requirements of CAN-SPAM boil down to this: 1) you must include a physical postal address; 2) you must have a working opt-out link or mechanism; 3) you must honor opt-out requests via the link or physical mail; and 4) if you're sending porn you must label it "SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:" and require some action to get to any graphically explicit content. How painful is that to comply with? (Of course, Congress carved out exceptions even to these, for political spam.)

Note well that any marketer who uses CAN-SPAM's very minimal standard as their basis for compliance will find him- or herself on a half dozen blacklists and having their mail bounced from most ISPs before you can say "Miriam Abacha!" This has made CAN-SPAM virtually irrelevant to all legitimate senders.

I don't mean to belittle the efforts of responsible marketers, or diminish the difficulty of doing commercial email these days - but you can't blame the restrictions of CAN-SPAM for that. (That can be a rant for another day.)

#39 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 08:18 PM:

Notwithstanding the merit of this position, I would like to put in a small word for a moratorium on the use of the term "pimping" for activities which are not, in fact, pimping.

As we learn from the works of "the Berg" (aka Robert H. Beck/Iceberg Slim), pimping is a far-reaching way of life. Being a pimp is akin to being a Zen master, a yogi, a sufi...in the sense that the inner mack guides one's every move. Thus, it's not so easy to separate the actual pimpin' of the bitches from the rest of one's life. Thus, it is a more far-reaching metaphor for all manner of exploitative action than might be assumed. That's why, I think, so many middle class boys who read the Berg become fascinated by his work and fall into unfortunate fantasies of themselves with a Duesenberg pimpmobile and a pet leopard on a chain as they toil away in middle management.

Nevertheless, I agree the term is somewhat overused these days. But I think we'd better learn to live with it.

#40 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Always keep the latest spam on hand. Then when another comes in, use the email address on the first one in the forwarding box of the newest one. After that, delete the first one. Rinse. Repeat as necessary so that the spammers can enjoy each others' efforts.

#41 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2005, 09:27 PM:

Dave Kuzminski: Always keep the latest spam on hand. Then when another comes in, use the email address on the first one in the forwarding box of the newest one.

All that does is prove that they had a valid address and will gen up more spam. You're best bet is to mark it as junk or flag it (depending on your email system), delete it and ignore it.

Unless, of course, it's from a real business you recognize and are sure it isn't a phishing attempt, in which case you should opt out and expect it to be honored.

#42 ::: Danny Yee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 02:44 AM:

I don't care how cute the furry animals are, or how much the cause pulls at my socialist heart-strings. If it's spam, it gets filed as spam and reported as spam, end of story.

#43 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 09:40 AM:

The good guys use "spam" for the same reason the bad guys do. It's an easy, low-cost method for reaching a lot of people at once. Most political organizations (especially more progressive ones) don't have the funds to do massive postal or ad campaigns. They do what they can with what they have, and unfortunately this means upsetting a lot of people who for some reason feel as though their inbox, unlike any other place on Earth, is some kind of sacred space in which the unbidden must not tread. In addition, unlike the junk snail mail many political organizations send out, these mailings produce no physical waste that needs to dealt with, making them even more progressive, in a way.

It's true that any reasonable place should provide clear means for opting out and abide by those wishes, and if they fail to do so, their misdeed should be reported. But at the end of the day, let's have some perspective. All that happened was, you got an email you didn't want.

#44 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 11:36 AM:

All that happened was, you got an email you didn't want.

Would that this were so! It's not, of course. What happens is that I get a dumptruck-load of email I do not want every day.

They do what they can with what they have,

Pity the poor spammers! Cut them slack in the using their native talents and good sense department, because they're progressives!

I don't think so. They can and should work out ways of contacting potential supporters that don't involve methods guaranteed to annoy a great number of them. Some of those ways involve initially asking, via snail mail, or a website form, if the supporter has email, if the supporter would like to receive updates via email, what sort of issues are of greatest interest, and then in each subsequent email, providing a simple opt-out.

And you for sure do not make the assumption that, because they want to get updates on one thing, that they'd welcome email about something else, especially from another group.

is some kind of sacred space in which the unbidden must not tread.

Punch the other button, that one's broken.

#45 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 12:48 PM:

I still can't work out who is sending people all this politispam, and how y'all got on their lists. As I said, I signed up for a shitload of it, and I don't get mail from anyone I didn't sign up with (except the DCCC, who have apparently honored my unsub request so I'll sign back on with them as well).

Somebody name names, please.

(Also: another plug for fastmail.fm, whose spam filters keep nearly all the v1a@ra and pr0n stuff at bay.)

#46 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 01:05 PM:

Both MoveOn and truthout are very good about managing their lists so that one can sub and unsub and resub at will. This makes them Not Spammers.

If they can do it, so can other legit orgs.

#47 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 01:10 PM:

Dave Lartigue --

Putting up false road signs wouldn't -- I hope -- be tolerated. Spam is the same sort of infrastructure abuse, because it's not a sender-pays system.

My take on it is the first piece of unsolicited email I get, or the first time the default on a web form is 'send me information about other opportunities', I do no further business with that organization.

(I have, for instance, never bought anything from Amazon because they spammed me many a year ago.)

If this practise were widespread, bulk commercial email would be regarded with horror by organizations of all types.

#48 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 03:04 PM:

Well, as for physical spam -- evey credit card offer my family gets, the stuff with our name gets shredded, and every other piece of it, including the envelope it came in, gets shoved into the postage paid return envelope and sent back to the sender. Costs them money (they have to pay the postage, so the fatter the envelope the better), makes the US Postal Service money (not necessarily a bad thing, really), and gives me a cruel sense of satisfaction and some mild after-dinner therapeutic occupation. Would we could do something to e-spammers that would cost THEM money the same way. And would that everybody would do the same with THEIR credit card offers as well! That might slow them down! (Oh, and that scary little customer routing barcode on the back of the return envelope? Don't be intimidated -- as far as I can tell, they're all the same, no matter who in the family they are addressed to! We don't even bother to cross them out anymore.)

#49 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Well, as for physical spam -- evey credit card offer my family gets, the stuff with our name gets shredded, and every other piece of it, including the envelope it came in, gets shoved into the postage paid return envelope and sent back to the sender

I LIKE junk mail. I pull out the shiny stuff, shred everything else, and use it to light my wood stove. So they're helping me heat my house in the winter. Free fuel--what could be better?

#50 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 08:10 PM:

Graydon : (I have, for instance, never bought anything from Amazon because they spammed me many a year ago.)

I have never done business with Amazon because I've heard of people who got spammed by them many a year ago, and because everything I've read about their policy grants rights only to their customers, and because as far as I have seen they never officially said they aren't planning to start spamming everyone who is not their customer as soon as the frog boil warms up. But my wife thinks I'm crazy, so do you have a copy of that spam you could send me at haoyuep@aol.com, or is there an archive of big south american river pork product?

#51 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2005, 08:56 PM:

FWIW, I've bought several hundred dollars' worth of DVDs from amazon.ca, and have never been so much as pinged. I don't doubt they used to spam; but if my experience is any guide, they do not do so now. It's bad for business, after all.

#52 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2005, 02:41 AM:

Amazon definitely curbed their spamming, but there's plenty of other reasons to avoid them. Which doesn't stop me from using them if (and only if) I can't find something locally.

They're also the front end shopping cart for some relatively good stores, though. And their recommendations lists can get interesting. And they're a useful place to store a wish list. And a good place to check rough pricing.

#

Dave L: As pericat says, it would be one thing if it were "a" piece of mail I didn't want. What I actually get... well, it varies by which email account, but dozens per day, definitely. It takes time and effort for me to deal with this that I don't see why I should have to be investing.

#

If someone I chose to do some sort of business with sends me mail I did not specifically opt in for, I send them a note explaining that I highly disapprove of this practice, request removal, and wait and see. If they do it again, I consider it junk mail and cease doing business with them (and let them know). I have refused to sign up on some sites because they have a forced opt-in for some mailing list or another, and I have sent mail saying that. Unfortunately, while that tells them some people don't like the practice, if they're getting any kind of result out of it, it's worth it for them to keep spamming.

#53 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2005, 01:55 PM:

Tina: Amazon definitely curbed their spamming, but...

My question is and was whether they admitted ever doing it, or even said they wouldn't in the future. Shomi shoyu?

#54 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2005, 08:25 PM:

I don't think they ever made any kind of public statement amounting to "Whoops, our bad," no. But offering an easy way to change email preferences and sticking to those preferences is at least a tacit acknowledgement they needed such a system.

#55 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2005, 07:57 PM:

I still don't have any names. Who is doing all this for-a-good-cause spamming?

#56 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Tina: I don't think they ever made any kind of public statement amounting to "Whoops, our bad," no. But offering an easy way to change email preferences and sticking to those preferences is at least a tacit acknowledgement they needed such a system.

What email preferences? I've never expressed any preferences to Amazon, nor done any business with them, nor given them my e-mail address or name. I've avoided doing so based on reports of them sending spam some time ago. It sounded like Amazon acquired some e-mail addresses in some other way than by the addressees asking for e-mail from Amazon, and then sent spam to those addresses. I have not been able to confirm or refute such reports. As long as they don't acknowledge those reports or repudiate the practice, there's no reason to suppose they won't scrape my address of Making Light and send me spam tomorrow.

I've looked at their web site and seen their nice big link to a privacy policy. It says their customers have rights not to get unwanted e-mail from Amazon. They don't seem to acknowledge that I, a non-customer, have any rights at all. I'm not looking for them to deny that they f pigs, I just want them to say they don't send spam.

Do you think I should become a customer with spam houses in order to use their easy way to express my preference not to receive spam? How many spam houses should I go through this with? My impression is that any such attempt at expressing my preferences would get me more spam, not less.

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