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Old September 27, 2003, 07:28 PM
Dien Rice
 
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Default Sending out too much email could shut down your business!

Here's what can happen...

You set up an opt-in email list or ezine. Various people sign up, and get your regular email.

However, let's say that there's a malicious fellow named Harry. Harry happens to hate his co-worker, Lucy. So he decides to "get her" - by adding her name to a lot of email lists!

Harry goes to various web pages where you can sign up to an email list or ezine. Yours is one of those he goes to. When he gets there, he signs up his co-worker Lucy.

Suddenly - Lucy is getting your ezine. Without her consent! After constantly deleting it, she looks at it and thinks, "I never asked for this. This must be a spammer!"

Lucy complains to her anti-spammer friends, who track down your ISP and your web host. They tell your ISP and web host that you are a spammer, and that they should shut down your internet connection and your web pages.

Of course, Lucy may not be the only one complaining. Harry may have a grudge against several people - not only Lucy - and may have signed them up too!

So, in response - your web host shuts down your web pages. Your ISP disconnects you from the internet. They think - one more spammer down.

You complain you are innocent. But they won't listen.

If your business is mainly online - it's dead. You didn't spam - but several people THOUGHT you did. They didn't know it was Harry who added Lucy to your list without her consent. They thought you added her yourself.

But there's a solution...

The solution is to use a double opt-in method to subscribe people to your ezine. I believe this is the way of the future.

Double opt-in means that after they sign up for your ezine, they will get an email, asking them to confirm their subscription.

It has advantages and drawbacks.

The main drawback is that people will subscribe at a slower rate, because you have added an extra step. Some will forget to confirm their subscription. Some people will change their mind. This will make your subscription rate go down.

But the advantage is you survive. You don't have to be paranoid, wondering if your web site will be shut down tomorrow due to false spam complaints!

Here's what happens if Harry tries to sign Lucy up to your ezine without her consent, if you use a double opt-in system.

Harry cruises the web, maliciously signing Lucy up to everything he can. He comes to your web site, and signs Lucy up to your ezine.

This means that Lucy will get an email asking her to confirm her subscription.

Lucy will see the email. Most likely, she will ignore it or delete it - since she doesn't remember signing up for anything.

And that's that. She won't be getting your unasked for email week after week, month after month - until she makes a spam complaint. You - and your business - are protected.

So while there's a downside - I think double opt-in is the way to go. It's what we use here on Sowpub. I use it to protect myself.

And even though we send out The Entrepreneur's Hotsheet twice a week - we've never had a single spam complaint.

- Dien Rice


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