One of the most significant commercial uses of the Internet is for marketing purposes. Marketing and other commercial activities are one of the main reasons the Internet offers as much as it does today as inexpensively. As the Internet has evolved many marketing ideas have been implemented in the form of mass mailings - called SPAMMING by Internet purists. This form of marketing is causing an enormous amount of hostility throughout the Internet today. Much of that hostility is being directed at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides service to the sender of these mass emails.
Personally, I am not terribly irritated by mass emails - after all that is what the delete button is for. However, it is becoming clear that this problem is increasing and may someday annoy even the most tolerant. Almost weekly†, we receive hostile emails from throughout the country asking us to terminate the access rights of one of our subscribers as they have trampled their right to privacy. Legally this concept is a bit muddy, but several current court cases will likely define the ISPs responsibility in this matter further.
OWT has never denied service to one of our subscribers for spamming. We have simply asked the subscriber to limit this activity to those who have shown some interest. Subscribers have indicated that they have a very finely tuned "targeted" mailing yet in one such case we received hundreds of complaints anyway. I have had calls from 3 lawyers this week alone and in the past month we have received well over 500 email complaints - many are quite hostile. While the legal position is not terribly well defined at this moment it is now officially a major problem at OWT in that it is taking far too much of our time to deal with. For this reason OWT will be adopting a "three strikes you're out" rule. Three such mass mailings resulting in complaints (not three complaints but three separate mass mailings) and we will be forced to suspend or possibly delete the offenders account.
I would like to address another concern we have regarding mass emails: the impact this can have on our mail server. When thousands of emails hit our server the server, while working very hard, will be able to handle the load (we handle several million messages each month!). However, when a large number of these addresses are bogus or use the wrong format the server will struggle and possibly shut down to protect itself from total destruction. While no mail is lost from this type of problem it is delayed in delivery. Our server software will detect this and automatically suspend the account from which these emails were sent. Regardless of the complaint level, this type of problem will be subject to the same "three strikes you're out" rule. It is very important that bulk mailings have accurate email addresses.
The simple rule to live by is to email only those who wish to be emailed. Simply offering to remove the user from this list if they wish is no longer enough. If you have marketing ideas that you feel can only be implemented by mass emails call us and discuss the situation. We can offer some alternatives, such as list servers and web marketing that should accomplish the same thing without irritating any unsuspecting Internet email customers. I am sorry we have had to take drastic measures but please understand that this problem is currently costing OWT hundreds of dollars each month in wasted labor and is getting worse each week. If you have any further questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.