In the film, "Cool Hand Luke," the vicious, sadistic prison
warden was fond of saying, "What we have here is a failure to
communicate." In the end, prisoner Paul Newman came to
"understand" the true meaning of this comment.
A while back, a friend of mine copied a message to me that
had been sent to a list of SpamCops and others. I was the
object of the exercise to come. The subject line was, "We have
another list owner here that [sic] needs to be educated."
Not much difference in the two statements, actually, for
"educated" in this context means "business destroyed."
The Source Of This "Complaint"
I had distributed a brief article advising against requiring
confirmation of subscription requests. In it, I described the
results of two attempts at using them. In the first trial, 40%
of new subscribers did not confirm. In the second, a longer
trial, 37% failed to confirm.
I can't be certain this article triggered action, for I was
never informed. But it was appended to the message received as
mentioned above. It appears I was added to the "get-him" list
because I recommend against requesting confirmation.
Radicalism Is Rising In Popularity
Sure, we've had some bad times in this country. When
Senator Joe McCarthy got you up to the stand, you were guilty
before you sat down. Since the early 80s, there has been an
awesome increase in small, organized, targeted extremist groups
which cram their views right down your throat.
Never mind they ignore your rights in doing so. Never mind
you may be seriously hurt, even destroyed, by their unilateral
actions. Never mind they make the judgement of your guilt in
a manner you can not contest. You are guilty. Period.
In "True Believer," Eric Hoffer years back clearly pointed
out the dangers of such groups to democracy as we know it. His
concerns have proved to be justified, as have his predictions
about such groups significantly reducing individual freedom
SpamCops In Perspective
To put SpamCops into this category is absurd. They are
trivial. They hide behind false names, as others have done for
centuries behind masks and robes. They violate the very rules
they claim to espouse. Compared to other forces at work in this
country, SpamCops and like minded people offer only a gnat sized
threat in a hawk-filled sky.
With one real exception. On a single unjustified and
unsupported claim, a webmaster can find his ISP and website shut
down without prior notice. And without recourse. For a small
business just making it, this can amount to the "straw" that
brings total collapse.
Small business people are the target. And SpamCops have
been effective at doing vicious damage to many. The nature
of the vicarious thrill they get in doing so escapes me.
This is real power. And it appears to be used for its
own sake. In all else, SpamCops are utter failures.
They are powerless to prevent real spam. The junk overflows
our mailboxes, and we stand helpless before it. So do SpamCops.
They can't shut down an ISP or a host owned by spammers. Or
those they sell their lists and services to.
So they've taken a giant step and essentially redefined spam
as anything received you did not request. A target-rich
environment. Requests made, then forgotten, bring messages
I was pounded by SpamCops regards an article sent with my
name on it. I pointed out the only way to get that article was
to send an email to an autoresponder address. I was ignored,
of course. Their continuing innuendos and implied threats were
Two Giant Leaps
They took a giant step by taking advantage of specialized
software now available. It scans any document and automatically
sends their "spam" to every URL and email address found.
Fascinating. I'm now a spammer because my work appears in an
ezine they have defined as spam. Nuts. This usually amounts
to someone forgetting they subscribed.
Their latest step is even more absurd. You are now
with a 100% opt-in list if no confirmation is required. What
in the world does confirmation have to do with unsolicited
My thanks-for-subscribing message includes URLs to the
goodies. And a URL that can be clicked to automatically
When you open your front door to a knock, do you close
it and require another?
Facts About Subscriber Counts.
You're bound to lose a few list members along the way.
Some choose to unsubscribe. More make a change in their email
address and do not think to subscribe again. Thus you will
inevitably lose membership each month. Possibly 2% of your
So long as the number of new subscribers exceeds the number
lost each month, your list will continue to grow. But try a
confirmation request, and you may find the number of new members
does not replace those lost.
Now explain to me how I'm going to grow a business in such
fashion. And further, explain how SpamCops can decide that a
list that doesn't require confirmation is sending spam. Then
go on and make it clear just what SpamCops intends to accomplish
with this demand. I don't think they know. They simply delight
in hurting people.
So What's Next On The Agenda
Right. You guessed it. Content. If SpamCops can make
confirmation indirectly the "law," what's to prevent them from
judging the content of a given newsletter as unsuitable, and
thus spam? Maybe a piece such as this one directed at the evil
done by such a rag-tag bunch of low-lifes.
A scary thought to me. This would open a whole new world
of opportunity to destroy helpless individuals.
Don't even think about it. If you are attacked by SpamCops,
respond minimally and politely as required, and get on with your
These people absolutely thrive on conflict. They glow with
inner "strength" in the heat of battle. They can amass an array
of other right-thinkers against you.
Forget it, for it's a battle you can not win. It is
impossible to reason with irrationality.
Hitting Where It Hurts
However, you can now hit back. And in the right place.
Their pocket book.
In a recent issue of her ezine, "The iCop Whistle Blower,"
jl scott offered a neat piece about the
absurdities of SpamCops. She wrapped with a positive and
powerful suggestion. I want to do the same here.
Serious minded people are joining in a class action suit
against these people. You can contribute information or choose
to participate. Here are some key links.
Victim Form - Explain How You've Been Hurt
Notes about how this all got started
Keep up on what is happening
In Closing ...
Here's a comment from jl scott. "I salute the people who
are determined to organize this class action suit. Clearly, if
we don't do it ourselves, these wild-eyed lunatics will continue
to hurt decent and ethical businesses."
I applaud her stand. Come join in; the water's fine.
About the Author
Bob McElwain, author of "Your Path To Success."
How to build ANY business you want, just the
way you want it, with only pocket money.