Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
As I've highlighted on numerous occasions in this colum, when it comes to
making proper use of the internet our politicians have shown themselves
not to be the sharpest knives in the drawer.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
It was this thought, and reports that the
ACT party are
beginning to spam people, that I undertook a quick check
of what these dull blades are up to.
I should now state that I'm not a member of any political party and
quite frankly consider that the coming election will be a case
of choosing the lesser of many evils. My comments are apolitical
insomuch as I have no idea who I'm going to vote for and my comments
are based solely on my observations as to how the parties are
running their mailing lists.
Before I continue, here are some basic terms often used to describe email
mailing lists for the benefit of those who are perhaps not familiar
with the terminlology I'm about to use:
- Single Opt-In -- allows any email address
to be subscribed without any attempt to confirm that the true owner of
the address is the one who actually subscribed. This lack of confirmation
makes single-opt-in lists vulnerable to abuse by evil sods who sign up
others without their knowledge or permission. These lists are unethical
and are frequently (ab)used to annoy innocent parties.
- Double Opt-In -- checks the authenticity
of a subscription request by sending a confirmation email to the subscribed
address and not activating the subscription until the recipient responds
in the affirmative. This is the only ethical way to operate a mailing list.
- Opt-Out -- provides simple instructions to allow people to unsubscribe
themselves -- all email lists should have this facility. Also refers to lists
where your email address has been arbitrarily added by the list operator on the
presumption that if you don't want to receive emailings you'll take yourself off.
Checking the ACT website
I found that they have a large number of lists
that can be subscribed to.
Unfortunately, ACT are displaying their stupidity by running these lists as
single-opt in. Perhaps they have chosen this approach, instead of the more
ethical double-opt-in method as a way of defending themselves against spamming
No doubt those who complain that they're being spammed will be told "well
someone must have signed you up -- it's not our fault." This is even
worse than blatant spamming!
Who's going to be first to sign up the entire Labour party
But wait, it gets worse! Within minutes of subscribing, I received an email
that welcomed me to the list -- but it offered no automated way of unsubscribing.
This is attrocious! Not only can someone subscribe you to ACT's 30 or so lists
with just a few clicks of their mouse -- any victim unfortunate to be the
target of such abuse will likely have to engage in goodness knows what type
of hassle just to get themselves taken off.
Sorry ACT -- you claim you won't be spamming but I have
documented instances of people who did not request your material, being sent
it by email -- and that's spam! You also run a list that seemingly breaks all
the rules of good mailing list practice -- and you expect us to believe that
you could run a country?
Through the front page of
their website, National
encourages people to "register for free weekly updates" simply by typing
in their name and email address.
Unfortunately, since this is another single-opt-in list, it could be
anyone's email address (time to sign up all of the labour
And, just like their peers over at ACT, the emails that start coming from
National are devoid of any opt-out facility. They're even cheeky enough
to suggest that you forward copies of their mailings to your friends and
encourage them to sign up too.
But what else could we expect from a party that continues to offer Maurice
Williamson as their IT spokesman and presumably, if they were elected to
government, their IT Minister?
I signed up for the GreenWeek email newsletter using
found on the Greens website.
Unfortunately I've not yet received anything from them so I don't know if they
have an automated opt-out facility but, given the fact that I haven't received
a "please confirm" email, I can only assume that this is yet another single
opt-in list -- or perhaps the person responsible for typing up the list on
a recycled Commodore 64 has died. After all, the
they offer is nearly a year old.
Although I've criticised Labour in the past for their general internet
dullardry, I have to admit that they've seemingly done a wonderful job
in setting up their mailing list.
Although it was a little harder to find,
"Beehive Bulletin" email list is double-opt in and also includes a password system
for added authentication along with details of their automated opt-out facility.
In short, they've done everything right and left no room for complaints at all
The sign-up for the "Red & Green eNews is on the front page of
the Alliance website
but it doesn't ask for your name -- just your email address.
So far I've received no response from my subscription request which generally
indicates that this is going to be a single opt-in list (tsk, tsk). And,
since I've yet to receive anything for my efforts, I can't say whether
or not there's an opt-out facility, although once again, if the sign-up isn't
automated there's little reason to believe that the opt-out would be either.
The signup form
NZ First website
won't let you sign up without also providing a phone number and
postal address. It also assumes that you want to make a donation.
As with Alliance, no confirmation email was received so it's probably
a single opt-in list with limited opt-out facilities.
Any website that requests information from its visitors should have a
Of all the parties surveyed here, only National and NZ First either didn't
I have to wonder however, whether the dates assigned to the policies on
Labour's Legal page
are intentionally post-dated? (screendump) --
there, I knew I'd be able to poke some borax at Labour eventually :-)
Cultural Sensitivity -- What Cultural Sensitivity?
Given all the attention being given to the nation's obligation to preserve
and foster Maori culture, plus the fact that Maori is an "official language,"
I was surprised to see that none of the parties were offering anything other
than an English version of their emailed lists.
What a shocking report card for most of our political parties. Labour
is the only one to get top marks and ACT, the party that continues
to deny its intentions to spam has already done so -- either by intent
Let's hope those parties running single opt-in lists come to their senses
in double-quick time and start acting responsibly.
However, I would not hold your breath that the rogue parties will
have a sudden fit of netiquette -- after all, what's in it for them?
a discussion running on NewsBox
about today's column. Feel free to join in and express your views.
(Note: Newsbox.co.nz is a separate site not owned or operated by Aardvark.)
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