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Re: orion internet notes: SPAM, monopolization

On Fri, 25 Jul 1997, Avital Pinnick wrote:

> I have been asked to make some clarifications about internet usage.
> Most of you Orion subscribers know that a former member of this list is

Let's be specific.  His name is Ian Hutchinson, a long-time member of the
list, and a frequent contributor (his name isn't taboo, is it?).

> using the subscriber list to send out his own e-mails. This is a common
> tactic to establish rival or splinter lists, by the way, but it usually
> begins with the consent of the members. I hope that the following info
> is of some use.
> 1. What is SPAM? 
> 	Spam is, strictly speaking, a posting which is sent out in identical
> form an unacceptably high number of times. It is the e-mail equivalent
> of junk mail, usually involving advertising and often sent to news
> groups (these don't apply in this case). At best, it's mildly annoying;
> at worst, it can clog your mailbox and freeze your account. For more
> information, see http://www.vix.com/spam/

SPAM is unsolicited, unwanted "information," typically of a commercial
nature.  I don't think of one's opinions on a scholarly subject as SPAM,
especially since there is no question of financial gain in the present

> 2. Is it illegal?
> 	Probably not, in this case. But it is harassment, which is against most
> ISP's (internet service provider) Terms of Agreement with the client.

Not "probably not"--definitely not.  And it is not harassment, since in
his initial post, Ian specifically said that he would remove anyone's
e-mail address from his distribution list who requested it.  It may be
unwanted, but I can say the same about 90% of the messages I get in my
mailbox, even from some of the mailing lists I'm on ;-).

> 3. What can I do about it?
> 	Don't mailbomb (send junk mail in retaliation) or threaten. Ask
> politely first to be taken off an unwanted mailing list. If that doesn't
> work, forward a copy to the sender's ISP, to postmaster@mclink.it or
> whichever is relevant, with a short note stating that you are receiving
> junk mail from this individual. They should take it from there,
> depending on how responsive they are to complaints.

Unless someone has reason to believe that Ian will not be true to his
promise to remove his or her name from his distribution list, the tone of
this post seems to blow this whole issue way out of proportion.  Now I'll
admit that I don't like getting e-mail messages with huge numbers of
e-mail addresses in the header--there are better ways to send mail to a
large number of people.  But I don't think of people who send such
messages as _necessarily_ having bad intentions.  And again, one may not
agree with Ian's opinions on Qumran, but they hardly qualify as junk mail!


I don't know the exact circumstances that led the listowner to remove Ian
from this list (other than the posts that we've all read) and not remove
any of the other participants in what was admittedly a sometimes heated
(as in too much heat, not enough light) and nasty discussion, but he has
every right to do so as listowner.  After all, a discussion list is not a
democracy.  I must say, though, that, apart from his too-frequent snide
remarks, I found his posts to be stimulating and almost always
interesting.  I hope that others who voice non-standard opinions on DSS
topics will not face similar exile from the list. 

Jimmy Adair
Manager of Information Technology Services, Scholars Press
Managing Editor of TELA, the Scholars Press World Wide Web Site
---------------> http://scholar.cc.emory.edu <-----------------