Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
It's time again for Aardvark's "Lighten Up" section -- a piece devoted to
the crazy, funny and just downright wierd people who put up websites on the
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Handspinning Dog Hair
How often have you wondered what could be done with all the excess fluff you've been
combing out of your dog?
Hands Free Phone Adapter
Yet more proof that there are still some freebies on the Web. This generic
hands-free phone adapter is said to fit all makes and models.
Need Cutting-Edge Copy?|
As NZ's longest-running online commentator, I'm looking for
extra syndication opportunities for this daily publication -- or I'm happy
to write casual or regular material specifically to order for print or
Net-based publications. If you're
interested, drop me a line
Can Spam Go Legit?
Spam, unsolicited commercial email, junk email -- call it what you like but
it's the bane of everyone who has an email address.
Not only is it an irritating waste of time, bandwidth and money, but it's
also the cornerstone of many scams and deceptions.
Of course, depending on who you talk to, spam means different things to different
To you and I it's probably any sales-pitch or chain letter that turns up in
our mailbox without our permission.
To a spammer -- it's anything other than the email they have sent you promoting
their new super diet, male member-extender, co-ed dorm covert cameras or whatever.
Most people now use some form of spam filtering -- either by subscribing to
a service or ISP that weeds out much of the garbage, or by setting up their
own email client to dump easily recognised junk email.
Some time ago there was even a move to force spammers to use the abbreviation
'ADVT' in the subject line of their emails -- but of course the few who
bothered to follow this suggestion found their messages became even easier
to filter out automatically.
I suspect the very same thing will happen with the latest initiative from
groups that would call themselves legitimate email marketers (as opposed
another group known as ePrivacy are promoting a concept that would see
"legitimate" email marketing communications identified by way of a special electronic
This endorsement would, according to its proponents, allow email filters to
"identify the good (e-mails) so they can be elevated."
Excuse me for chuckling to myself at this point -- but I know for sure that
any unsolicited commercial emails I received with this stamp would be automatically
And what's TRUSTe's track record like? Is it perhaps yet another organisation
designed to make money by providing endorsements of dubious value?
These usenet postings
seem to indicate that not everyone holds them in high regard and
this CNN story
suggests that they're not the sharpest knife in the draw either.
Need more proof that these specially endorsed marketing emails might deserve
automatic deletion? Well guess who have already agreed to get behind the
programme? Yes -- Microsoft and DoubleClick -- two companies that have
already been dragged over the coals for poor privacy practices and bad
online marketing tactics.
So will this attempt to legitimise junk email work?
Hell no -- those of us who are already sagging under the weight of spam-laden
mailboxes will find these easy-to-filter messages easiest to filter out and
delete. As a result, those who would send you unsolicited marketing messages
using email will find the whole thing counterproductive.
And, of course, 99% of spammers who really don't give a stuff about the
problems, costs and annoyance they create are never going to sign up anyway.
Much as I hate the idea of legislative control over the Net, I think the
only way to deal with spam is to introduce an international treaty that gives
the recipients of spam a right to sue and claim massive punitive damages
across international borders. This would create a great industry for
the small percentage of lawyers who presently specialise in chasing
ambulances -- they could take on these cases for a share of the rewards.
Those spammed might get some money, the lawyers would be kept off the streets,
and those who would spam us might think again before they waste our resources.
It's Still Free -- So Pay Up!
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