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Yahoo Gets Ready To Spam You 2 April 2002 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Yahoo really wants to send you interesting, useful and informative advertising emails.

How much does Yahoo want to send you these emails?

So much that they've created a new page of opt-in email marketing options and automatically set them all to "Yes" for the tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of those who use any of its online services such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Groups, etc, etc.

For those who don't know, Yahoo plays the same games as Microsoft in getting you to sign up for a Yahoo ID that then makes it easy to get into the growing number of services it provides. Part of the procedure for getting one of these IDs is a page full of "marketing options" that let you opt-in to receive various emailed marketing messages from Yahoo's advertisers.

Aardvark's Web-site Survey Service
If you're launching a new website, upgrading an existing one, or just frustrated that your web-presence isn't performing as it should then maybe you need an Aardvark Site Survey. Read more...

As you'd expect, the vast majority of users responded by saying "thanks but no thanks" to having a "spam me" sign taped to their backside -- so Yahoo decided to add a new page of "marketing categories" and instead of asking you to sign up to receive messages, it expects you to opt-out instead.

In one fell swoop, Yahoo seems to have done an about-face from prefering opt-in email marketing into an opt-out.

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The move has been widely criticised by many Net users who claim that it's underhanded and unethical -- but hey, Yahoo reserved the right to change the terms and conditions of service and users accepted that such changes might be made when they signed up.

"If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen" as they say.

And, to be fair, Yahoo is giving people 60 days to reset their preferences before launching the first wave of spam (sorry -- "marketing messages") at them. If you have a Yahoo ID then you really ought to visit this page and click all those "No" boxes now!

One thing's for sure though -- the "inertia" of tens of millions of inattentive and "too busy to notice" users will guarantee that most users won't even bother to reset those options.

However, this isn't as bad as it might sound. Yahoo says that the preferences involved don't allow it to send you spam from advertisers -- just messages about the services Yahoo itself offers. Unfortunately, a lot of people haven't realised this and have assumed that the changes meant they'd be getting a raft of email from third-parties.

The real "spam me" page remains opt-out and the preferences are unchanged. No big deal.

However, this move by Yahoo is just the start of what will, I predict, soon become an overwhelming tide of "craftiness" on the part of dot-coms looking to spin a profit. No more Mr Nice Guy eh?

Another example of corporate-craftiness I noticed last month was this page (screendump) on the USA Today site. All those links under the "TechnoScout Technology Updates" banner on the right are actually advertisements. This blurring of the line between editorial and advertising content would have once been considered very bad form -- but these days it seems as if anything goes in the quest for online profits.

And speaking of online advertising -- how come banner ads are exempt from the advertising ban that brought us two delightful days of ad-free TV viewing over Easter?

What's more, are online shopping sites breaking the law by remaining open for business during the same period I wonder?

Have your say.

Aardvark's Garage Sale
It's time to clear out the closet here at Aardvark's country residence so I'm having a bit of a garage sale. I need to spend a whole lot more time and money on my jet engine R&D activities (now that the defense industry has shown a very real interest) -- so I'm trying to scrape up some more cash.

I'm selling my pulsejet manufacturing business. This would be perfect for either a semi-retired engineer/machinist who wants to earn some pretty good money building these things and exporting them to the world -- or an established engineering shop who want to break into a new (very export oriented) market. I can provide an ongoing stream of orders through my website and since I've run out of time to meet the demand, the sale will include a growing "waiting list" of new customers ready to place their orders.

Anyone interested in any of these things should drop me a line.

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Security Alerts
Two new "critical" bugs patched in IE (ZDNet - 01/04/2002)

Second Java hole poses Windows risk (CNet - 20/03/2002)

Microsoft offers patch for Java software (CNet - 06/03/2002)

CERT Warns of Flaws In RADIUS Implementations (InternetNews - 6/03/2002)

Webmasters Urged To Plug PHP Security Hole NewsBytes - 27/02/2002)

Virus Alerts
'Bill Clinton' Worm Gets Around (NewsBytes - 22/03/2002)

Gibe worm poses as a Microsoft update (ZDNet - 6/03/2002)

German worm makes PCs kaput (The Reg - 20/02/2002)

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