I’m sure many of you have heard the old joke about what the initials of the “potted meat product” SPAM stand for: Stuff Posing As Meat. I still giggle whenever I hear that.
But today I’m talking about a different type of SPAM: unwanted, unsolicited emails. Email SPAM is a huge problem, because it’s not only annoying and dealing with it uses up precious time and resources, but it’s also the preferred vehicle for many malware attacks. It seems like there’s a new SPAM scam every other day. Most email providers and many ISPs have safeguards in place to manage SPAM. And many of them are “intelligent” which means they accept user input about which emails are SPAM and not, and then apply those rules to similar SPAM received by other users.
Which brings me to the point of this post: people marking emails as SPAM that really aren’t.
Let me define again for you what a SPAM email is: it is an unwanted, UNSOLICITED email. Did you catch that? The key word is “unsolicited”. If you signed up for a newsletter, or special offers from a company or organization, and you decide you no longer want to receive them, fine. Use the unsubscribe link or visit the organization’s website to update your preferences. But if you signed up for it, its not SPAM.
If you mark as SPAM an email that you asked for, not only are you lying, but you are hurting that company’s legitimate marketing efforts because other users may not receive that email message because you told your email provider or ISP that its SPAM.
As someone who makes my living from the Internet, I know first-hand how frustrating this is. I send out monthly email newsletters for which my customers have to opt-in (they have to physically give me their email address and tell me it’s OK). It really burns me when I get a message that someone marked it as SPAM, rather than simply being a mature adult and telling me they no longer wish to receive the newsletter. Because of this, many of my customers have missed newsletters, and have missed out on special offers and I have missed out on business. This is the digital equivalent of character assassination, because someone who marks a legitimate message as SPAM basically tells the world that I am a SPAMmer rather than an honest businessperson.
So please, if you signed up for something and you no longer wish to receive it, do the right thing and unsubscribe properly. This helps those who develop SPAM filters to ensure accurate filtering, and helps legitimate mail get where its supposed to go.