What we're about
First and foremost, Clueless Mailers is about education, not punishment.
Even though there are plenty of companies out there that are knowingly
spamming, some mailers and marketers honestly don't know they are. Some
don't fully understand what it takes to ensure that their lists truly
are permission-based. Some list brokerage/list management companies offer
legitimate confirmed opt-in mailing lists, even as they offer unconfirmed
lists. And some marketers and advertisers don't realize that some lists
they're buying may contain addresses that were added to those lists without
the address owner's knowledge or permission. If you have a relationship
with or just happen to have contact with a mailer, marketer
or other entity that's mentioned on this website as having sent unsolicited
commercial email (UCE), please make a good-faith effort to explain to
that entity the importance of and the practical reasons for
the decades-old Internet standard prohibiting the sending of UCE. And
take the time to explain the tenets and simplicity of using a closed-loop
confirmed opt-in subscription system.
We want the information on this site to be 100% factual and complete.
In this website's short history, several marketers and mailers have already
contacted the owner of the site, and have provided important information
about their own mailing operations. Because of this, some of the info
here has been corrected or clarified. In particular, some marketers have
explained that they have left their previous host due to the host's spamming
activities; some hosts have notified us that they have terminated clients
for spamming; and some marketers have learned of the potential hazards
of participating in some co-registration networks, due to those networks'
acceptance of unconfirmed address submissions from a variety of unvetted
Clueless Mailers wants to hear from you if you're an entity mentioned
on this site, and there's information here that you think should be corrected
or clarified. Just drop us a note via the contact
Email marketing works... when your recipients really do want your
email. And it's easy to be positive they do... just follow the best
practices for mailing list mangement , and you'll save yourself
and your recipients time and money... and you'll save your reputation.
Here's to better business, and less unwanted email!
The last few months of 2001 saw a dramatic increase in unsolicited
commercial email ("UCE" or "spam") that is transmitted
by mailers and/or "network marketers" using unconfirmed address
lists supplied by themselves or their customers. These mailers do nothing
about the abuse, or demand that spam victims surrender their address in
order to be "unsubscribed." This practice might be seen as a
kind of extortion, and leaves the spam victim open to spammer retaliation
and the sale of the spammed address to even more spammers.
Atqui, inquit, e lotio est!
is really no need for a spam victim to unsubscribe from something to which
they never subscribed (it's also semantically impossible). But if the
mailer just removes all addresses from their database for which they have
no closed-loop confirmed opt-in records, then the recipient's address
will be removed, and the abuse will stop. That is, if the ISP and the
list owner understand what it takes to assure all their addresses are
permission-based; if not, they'll simply keep demanding that the recipient
give up their email address.
Unfortunately, in this sluggish economy, many ISPs and hosts are now
allowing their customers to send this sort of "opt-out spam"...
or these services are simply turning a blind eye to the activity. ISPs
or mailers/marketers that allow opt-out spam and demand that you "unsubscribe"
are performing a spam support service, called "list washing."
In this new environment, the spammers aren't doing their own transmission
anymore, the mailers are protecting the spammers by demanding opt-out,
the ISPs are protecting their mailer/marketer customers and no
one is protecting the spam victim any longer.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
On the other hand, some mailers and marketers don't know that the lists
they've bought contain addresses that were added without the address owners'
permission. With the new popularity of "co-registration" networks,
and the unfortunate abuse of some of those networks by opportunists, well-meaning
network members are unwittingly sending email to recipients who never
asked for it.
This mixture of clean lists with dirty ones, plus a mixture of deliberate
spammers and unwitting senders of UCE, it's now harder than ever to tell
the "white hats" from the "black hats."
So, unless the spam victim is willing to leave their email address open
to mail bombing and/or additional spam after surrendering it to the sender,
the only other option is automatic detection and deletion of UCE.
Wheat: In Box. Chaff: /dev/null
Because of these problems, the owner of this site now receives an average
120 pieces of unsolicited commercial email at his email accounts every
day. This forced the creation of a private blocking list to use on his
mail server. All mail from the companies listed is now being sent straight
to /dev/null (oblivion), or it's being catalogued for tracking purposes.
Either way, it never reaches an In Box. There's no other way to safely
deal with it.
After creating this private blocking list, your CM webmaster realized
that many of the mailers and marketers he was receiving UCE from were
doing business with each other, and sharing their address lists. At the
same time, ISPs and hosts began giving these purportedly legitimate companies
new freedom to send unsolicited email. Knowing that this rapidly developing
trend needed to be reported to email users, mailers and marketers alike,
the CM webmaster created this site.
The standards that define "permission" are, to some, varied
and complex, while to others, either permission exists for a given address,
or it doesn't. And methods of documenting the existence of any flavor
of permission vary from company to company, and from community to community.
But when all is said and done, either a recipient asked for a sender's
email, or someone other than the recipient added the address to the list,
If an unauthorized person added an address to a list, that makes email
sent to that address unsolicited. And since unsolicited commercial email
has always created problems for users, admins and networks, UCE has always
been a violation of Internet community standards. In turn, virtually all
ISPs and hosts have contractual policies prohibiting UCE.
And there's the rub: many list managers say their lists are "opt-in".
Unfortunately, because many don't adhere to the best
practices for mailing list mangement, they have no real proof of permission.
Even so, ISPs and hosts are accepting clients' claims that lists tagged
"opt-in" are permission based, even though that's not always
Plus, with the popularity of many co-reg networks' acceptance of unconfirmed
address submissions, unauthorized address propagation is exploding.
We'll keep the light on for you
Hopefully, this site will illustrate some of these dangerous trends and
policies, and will help educate and encourage mailers, marketers and ISPs
to adopt and enforce the best
practices for mailing list mangement.
The info on this site is compiled by the site owner, and represents the
experience of just one spam recipient, so the data is anything but exhaustive.
Your mileage may vary. In the future, the data here may be broadened to
include user-provided info, but the foremost concern is that all of the
information on the site is 100% accurate and complete. Doing our own collation
and research helps assure that.
Speaking of which... If you and/or your company are mentioned on the
CM site and there's some information here that you think should be corrected
or clarified, please get in touch with us via the contact
form. Only fair, accurate reportage will build and maintain the credibility
of the Clueless Mailers website.
Spam is a financial draw for some, a financial liability for others,
and an emotional issue for many. It's hoped that the facts can clarify,
illuminate, and help to solve the difficulties arising from the rapid
growth of the email marketing industry. We're working to help repair the
unenlightened practices of many, and the unethical abuses of a few.
So, enough blabbage for now. Let's dig into the complex world of email