Lotusphere Spam

Wednesday 18th January, 2006
Looks like Volker has beaten me to the topic just by a few minutes but I too have received quite a few 'spam' emails that are Lotus related.

As well as receiving the 'Lotusphere 2006 Test Drive' email that Vowe mentioned, I've also received other 'junk' emails including:
  • An email from the 'Notes Tool Network' who are apparently giving away a load of prizes at Lotusphere. Firstly, I'm not going. Secondly, I don't like unsolicited marketing spam
  • Another email from 'Notes Tool Network, the same as the first. - I know who passed on my address and I'm expecting them to apologise via an IM shortly before I name and shame. They may wish to apologise to their other customer too
  • A large collection of emails inviting me to add my name to a variety of different Frappr areas - These appear to have originated from the blogosphere, the Frappr Team were kind enough to tell me who from, but why did they end up in my email box. And why were the senders kind enough to put my address on the To: line along with all the other contacts. My personal, private address for 30 or so other people to share. Thankfully nobody has done a reply to all...just yet. PLEASE - If it's a blog related activity, then write about it on your blog. If I'm interested I will respond. To be honest, I expected better from the senders of these invites.

So, the shameful people above, repeat after me...'Sorry Ben!'

  1. 1) Carl Tyler Said: (18/01/2006 18:34:39 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    I had had a few of the Frappr emails I hope people don't think I'm responsible because I created the original place.

  2. 2) Ben Poole Said: (18/01/2006 19:22:38 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Frappr's a crappr. I got a few mails, but despite being logged-in etc., I couldn't respond in any way. Pants.

  3. 3) Richard Schwartz Said: (18/01/2006 20:43:00 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    I hate spam as much as anyone, but I'm going to disagree with you. One man's spam is another man's treasure.

    You have a business relationship with one or more of the NTN members, or you voluntarily gave your email address to one of them in a context where there was an expectation that you were willing to receive business-related emails from them. I know all the members of NTN well enough to be completely assured that if they say this is true, it is.

    You may not have had the same expectations as they did when you gave your email address -- but where have you been living these past ten years? If there isn't a great big Opt Out option staring you in the face and you do not make it explicitly clear to someone you're doing business with that you do not want to receive any marketing email from them, then you have de facto opted in. If they sell your contact information, that's another story, but that's not what happened here.

    You can indeed claim the right to opt out of receiving marketing emails from them, but you actually have to do that before you can say that something they sent you is spam. The NTN mail has an opt-out link. Click it.

    Frappr is also not spam. The messages are coming from people you know because they think you're likely to be interested in something they've decided to try out. They apparently don't know you as well as they think they do. If you're not interested, let them know and they'll undoubtedly make a valiant effort to try and remember not to bother you with such things again.

  4. 4) Paul Ryan Said: (18/01/2006 20:56:19 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Well put, Richard. Agree.

  5. 5) Ben Poole Said: (18/01/2006 21:42:58 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Richard's right, and this has been discussed on Matt's site. However, I will ask the same question I asked there: why am * I * receiving these mailshots?

    I've had at least six mails relating to next week's events... yet I've not been before.

    Well, OK, I attended LS Europe in 2000. But I had a different email address then, and I didn't receive mail from anyone there, yet suddenly am getting mail in the run-up to LS 2006. Smells fishy to me.

    Re Frappr, obviously I don't mind getting the mails. It's the fact I can do nothing *with* those mails that bugs me: why ask me to join someone's map, and then not give me the option to, er, join it??

  6. 6) Richard Schwartz Said: (18/01/2006 22:19:15 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Why you? Because Lotus doesn't give out a list of email addresses of attendees that the NTN folks can cross-check against their own lists. Or if they do give it out, the NTN folks didn't pay whatever ransom is required to get it. You'll have to ask them.

  7. 7) Ben Rose Said: (18/01/2006 23:45:54 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    @3 - I do NOT have a business relationship with NTN, in fact I'd never heard of NTN until I got not one, but TWO IDENTICAL emails.

    NTN do however seem to have a relationship of some form with one of my suppliers who happened to short-sightedly pass on my details.

    Thankfully, unlike you, they appreciated my concerns and have not only dropped me an IM to apologise they even phoned me to ensure I was happy with their explanation. I'm satisfied that my invasion of privacy was unintentional on this occasion.

    We have this thing about spam in the UK you see and we don't like it. In fact, ALL email marketing in Europe (not just the UK) is now opt-in NOT opt-out. Just last month the first victim to sue under this legislation received £300 compensation for just ONE unsolicited email. { Link }

    { Link }

    So, to put is clearly, an unsubscribe link at the bottom of an email I never wanted in the first place just doesn't cut it with me; but the associated vendor has indeed apologised, thank you to them.

    Moving on to Frappr, I'm sure you're aware that one of those invitations did indeed come from yourself. It didn't go to my work mailbox, nor to my personal mailbox but did indeed go to a test gmail box I have...for testing. I can only assume you extracted that address from the top of somebody else's bulk emails as it's never been published by me...anywhere.

    In fact the only people who've ever emailed me at the gmail address concerned are 1) the person who invited me to join email and 2) the person you likely extracted my address from and 3) yourself - to invite me to join google talk.

    Clearly you don't know me as well as you think you do because, if you did, you might even know what my email address is. Incidentally, my contact details are on the 'about' page.

    Either way, I've received about 10 emails from people, directly or indirectly, ethat all seem to be related to my trip to Lotusphere...I'M NOT GOING.

    @5 Ben - Who's Matt? Where is this discussion I've missed.

  8. 8) Ben Poole Said: (19/01/2006 00:16:48 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Haven't had mails from NTN, just from a few other vendors. Either way, must be via IBM. Oh well, not going to sweat it.

    I still think Frappr have to iron out a lot more kinks with their offering: I could accept invites from Andrew P and Rocky, but a few others just wouldn't work. Silly site!

  9. 9) Ben Poole Said: (19/01/2006 00:17:38 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Doh! Forgot: Matt is Matt White:

    { Link }

  10. 10) Bob Balaban Said: (19/01/2006 00:22:41 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    So, you're not going to Lotusphere? Did I read that right? Are you *sure* you're not going? I heard somewhere that you're going.

    If you're not going, you should just come out and say so, y'know? Stop leading us on like that, it's not fair.

    Do reconsider, ok?


  11. 11) Richard Schwartz Said: (19/01/2006 04:01:45 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Did I say you have a relationship with NTN?

    No, I did not.

    I said you have a relationship with "one or more of the NTN members".

    Speaking based only on my independent understanding of what NTN is, it is not a company in and of itself. It is not doing marketing for its own benefit. It is just a name chosen by a bunch of separate companies who are doing a joint giveaway promotion at Lotusphere and using their individual legitimately collected mailing lists to spread the word with amongst likely Lotusphere attendees. They used a reputable email marketing organization (something that you may consider a contradiction in terms) to do this, and my understanding was that this was a deliberate choice in order that they would (a) avoid duplication, while (b) not be sharing their customer lists with each other. Apparently they failed on the first part, as I, too, received more than one of those messages.

    I don't know the exact mechanics of how the messages were actually sent, but the message you received was sent on behalf of someone you do have a business relationship. I think it would have been better if they had arranged to have their own names set as the return address to make it clear, and I'm glad that the member in question apologized to you. It's appropriate that he do so, and it's appropriate that he listen to your concerns.

    My own opinion is that while you are within rights to take offense, this is a bunch of companies that are trying to do it right. Apart from the fact that the from address did not indicate the actual company you have the business relationship with, I think they did a good job of meeting the test of reasonableness.

    If the NTN member you do business is under EU jurisdiction, I will grant that he possibly should have known better than to participate in this. That's based on my understanding of the EU law, which is incomplete. I know, on the other hand, that they didn't violate US law, and I believe that the emails originated in the US. I'm no expert on matters of international jurisdiction (international law was, in fact, the class that I had absolutely the worst experience in when I was in college), but since there's no international treaty in effect to define uniform anti-spam laws, for all practical purposes applying EU law to messages that originate in the US is a difficult cause.

    BTW: I'd willingly work to change that, as I think there should be uniformity, and I think the EU model is closer to being correct, but not quite perfect. My understanding is that even a personal message from a business associate that casually mentions a product or service for sale by that business associate or by someone else, could be a violation under EU law. That's goes far beyond reasonable, IMHO. It is out of step with accepted business practices.

    When it comes to parties where a business relationship exists or an email address has been given in exchange for some consideration, the law with respect to email should be no different than the law with respect to other forms of communication. E.g., if I am a vendor, visiting you in your office, and I hand you a magazine that contain advertisements, I have not violated any law in any jurisdiction that I am aware of. If you've swiped your card at my booth at a trade show, I send you snail mail containing said magazine, I have not violated any law in any jurisdiction that I am aware of.

    The law should be directed at the real problem: the multiple thousands of untargeted messages that my server (with just five user mailboxes, only two of which are heavily used) rejects or quarantines every day. The ones that are actually targeted to me, from people I have engaged in business with , and which are conveying information that there is a high probability I could be intersted in, are a flea on the back of the real monster. By adopting a law that targets the flea, the EU is actually doing harm to the potential for international cooperation against the monster.

    Regarding frappr. I suspected, but wasn't sure, that I was one of the offenders. I don't know exactly who I sent invites to.

    I received several frappr invites, figured there was a bandwagon effect going on, and sent out a bunch myself. The email address I used in the frappr invite -- I got it out of my gmail contacts list. You, or someone, used it in a message to me. My gmail account is not my primary account either. It is used almost exclusively used by people I have met throgh blogs, and many of those same people have joined LinkedIn, Orkut, OpenBC, etc., so I figured my gmail contacts was a source of likely participants in this latest variation on a theme.

    Yeah, I screwed up there, but innocently. You once even sent a mail asking that people not use that address. I just found it when I searched to try and figure out how that address got into my gmail contacts. (I didn't persist long enough to figure it out.) But gimme a break here: gmail builds contacts dynamicall, and I'm not going to delete someone else's message from my gmail account just to make sure that your non-preferred address won't pop up in my contacts. And I'm not going to remember everyone's preferred address, nor am I going to put every blogger's address into my Notes address book and ignore what's in gmail.

    Now I know not to use your gmail address. Now I know -- and I suspect many people will from reading this -- that you're not the least bit interested in any of these social networking things. I'll try to remember. I might forget. That's life.

  12. 12) Andrew Pollack Said: (19/01/2006 04:15:26 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Want to compare spam?

    I've had the same email address since 1993. Its been published on many hundreds of pages during that time. It is still published openly on many sites.

    The email is used as contact information in publically available domain name registry records which marks it as likely belonging to someone who (in point of fact) accurately reflects my own demographics.

    I use the email as a contact point for purchasing, registering shareware, signing up on public comment boards, and posting on blogs.

    I get more than 500 spam messages per day. About two make it through to my inbox. For those, I have a delete key.

  13. 13) Richard Schwartz Said: (19/01/2006 04:16:38 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    And, btw, Ben... You're in my LinkedIn contacts, and you have seven contacts listed there, and three of them are also in my list of LinkedIn contacts. That's reason enough, IMHO, for me to have believed that you might have also been interested in frappr.

    And another btw... The address you're listed by in LinkedIn is yet another address. Obviously it's specific to LinkedIn, as it is linkedin at jaffacake dot net, but clearly you do advertise more than one email address. Perhaps that one goes to the same mailbox as the one you advertise on your contact page. It's a pretty good bet that it does, but I don't know that.

    P.S. I drive an Avalon. So you should forgive me my transgressions. And if you were at Lotusphere, I'd buy you a drink for further atonement.

  14. 14) Bruce Elgort Said: (19/01/2006 04:39:37 GMT) Gravatar Image
    I am guilty

    Today I sent out a message to all OpenNTF members regarding our participation in Lotusphere 2006. It is rare that I send out announcments and when I do they are for a good cause.

    I apoligize to anybody who received the OpenNTF spam who didn't find any value in it.


  15. 15) Bruce Elgort Said: (19/01/2006 04:40:23 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Then again we do ask users if it is ok to send them messages from the site and only those who had the box ticked should have gotten the message.

  16. 16) Colman Carpenter Said: (19/01/2006 09:52:56 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Wow...what an emotive subject.

    Having met both Ben and Richard, can I say that you're both good guys who I would not expect to deliberately spam with no respect for the other's privacy. So come on, kiss and make up ! Virtually, of course, Rishard's a bit hairy for the real thing ;)

    Personally, being in the warm and cuddly Domino family, I kind of expect to receive a few email this time of year. I'd feel very left out otherwise :)

  17. 17) Ben Rose Said: (19/01/2006 11:31:46 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    Well, I think I've made my point and people fully understand where I was coming from on this one. My main points were that

    1) I don't like my email address to be passed on to other organisations without somebody explaining why first.

    2) I don't like to receive the same email from the same sender twice. This just stinks of bad mail management.

    3) I don't like my address to be used on a massive bulk email to about 100 recipients. This was the case for for first Frappr invitation. Incidentally, I got invited 3 times by the same person but the last of the 3 contained just my email address and not the rest of their address book like the first 2 did.

    4) I certainly wasn't complaining about Bruce. OpenNTF is certainly opt in.

    Anyway, big hugs all round. Certainly no love lost from this end, I think enough humble pie has been eaten.

  18. 18) Jamie Magee Said: (19/01/2006 20:00:12 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    To clarify, your email was not passed on to another organization for general use. It was given to a promotions company acting on behalf of an NTN member company, with permission to use it exactly one time for that mailing only. No other NTN members received each others' addresses from this transaction. Also, this arrangement means that instead of getting up to six emails (if you had shared your address with multiple NTN members), you are now getting only one email. The fact that they sent apparently TWO is unfortunate, but we tried to do this the right way.

    What did you think would happen when you swiped your badge and/or registered on one of the company's websites?

  19. 19) Ben Rose Said: (19/01/2006 20:27:08 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Lotusphere Spam

    @18 Jamie

    "What did you think would happen when you swiped your badge and/or registered on one of the company's websites?"

    I didn't, that's the point! But we're all friends again now, discussion closed.

Discussion for this entry is now closed.