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Cleaning Up Your Act

Yesterday I had a brief exchange of emails with Dean Scontras, a political candidate here in Maine, one of whose campaign advisors (Bob Emrich) is spamming people with information about his campaign. Yes, even politicians can get lost in the quagmire of spam.


In hopes that he would respond well to the email exchange, I thought "Maybe they'll ask me what to do about their mailing list that contains email addresses that shouldn't be there."

One can always hope.

Then I thought: This is actually a very important question for a lot of people, because there are plenty of businessmen who have email mailing lists that - for one reason or another - contain addresses of people who never signed up for their mailing list.

Maybe it was back in your early days, when you didn't realize how inappropriate it was to add people to your mailing list without their permission. Or maybe you have a web form where people can sign up for your newsletter, and you had no verification process in place to verify that the person who signed up really is the owner of the email address!

So the question is: what to do now? You know that, for whatever reason, you are sending emails to people who never signed up for your mailing list. Whether you like it or not, this makes you a spammer.

Which, tragically, puts you about on the same social footing as a leech.

I know, you didn't intend to be a leech.

So what to do now?

The answer is going to be painful to hear. Are you ready for this?

You need to send out one more mailing to your mailing list. And it should look something like this:

Dear friend,

It has come to my attention that my mailing list has become corrupted by email addresses of people who never signed up for my mailing list.

This is unacceptable to me, and I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.

As a result, I am using this email as a way of confirming valid addresses in my mailing list.

If you would like to continue receiving my newsletters, please send a reply to: [your email address], or click here: [some link on your website where you're going to handle the mailing list]

If you do not want to be on my mailing list, you do NOT need to do anything. If you simply ignore this email, your address will be dropped from the list.

Regards,
Joe Doe
A Former Spammer


Please note that you are asking people to take action in order to STAY on your list, not to be REMOVED from your list. This means that you will lose a lot of people off your list who can't be bothered with returning the email, or clicking the link.

But this is the only appropriate way of handling your past sin.

Good luck to you!

Note: In the original version of this post, I avoided mentioning the politician by name, but in his final email to me Dean Scontras assured me that he had "given permission" for Bob Emrich to spam people about his campaign. I really can't imagine what Scontras is thinking; I don't know why he thinks he has the authority to approve spam being sent to ME! His exact words were: "Pastor Emrich has been an advisor to the campaign since day 1, and has forwarded this e-mail with our permission." So, since Scontras doesn't seem to be bothered by the whole spamming thing, I thought I'd put his name in there. If you're a Scontras fan, you might want to drop him a note encouraging him to reconsider his stance on spam.