Net Organizing Without Spam


The issue of net organizing and spam is an important one.

Over a year ago, in December of 1996 I wrote on this after the issue came up on a discussion list. The article, with the names of the "guilty" deleted, is included below. In it I outlined my views on how one could responsibly organize without spamming.

I thought some areas might be controversial so I sent copies to some of the people jocularly known as the "anti-spam police" to see if they had any difficulties with my views. None did.

I hope you will find it helpful in your own organizing.
27 Dec 97

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At [deleted] wrote about the arrest of [deleted] and how best to prepare an on-going defense for him.

I am in substantial agreement with most of the points that she raised.

However, I disagree with one point. (Perhaps she was writing rapidly, as we all do from time-to-time on the net, and could have better formulated her point. In other words, I do not want to criticize her directly, but rather to comment on the political character of the issue about wide posting.)

She wrote "Thanks for the post--I hope you have posted this thing all over usenet ..."

One interpretation of her sentence is that is an invitation to spam the information on the arrest. This will not particularly help [deleted], will disturb a great many people, and will make other defense campaigns less efficient by alienating many readers.

Might I suggest the following method to publicize [deleted]'s case:

1) Post the information to friends with whom you normally communicate via e-mail;

2) Post the information to relevant discussions lists (like [deleted] where I read [deleted]'s post) to which you regularly post;

3) Post the information to relevant news groups on Usenet. These could include groups dealing with [deleted]'s politics, groups critical of acts committed by the existing political system, and groups dealing with legal and particularly civil-liberties issues;

4) Post the information -- via private e-mail -- to other groups of people who you know have an interest in cases like [deleted]'s. (Even this is risky for all but the first poster. It is possible for people who hear of [deleted]'s arrest to flood other people's mail boxes if the list to whom they post is excessively broad. One way to avoid the risk is for the first person who posts to indicate roughly where the posts have gone.)

However, I do not think it wise to:

1) Post it "all over Usenet";

2) Post it to irrelevant discussion lists (e.g. the CHOCOLATE-LOVERS-L);

3) Post the information to news groups where it has only marginal significance. By "marginal" I mean those groups where you have to strain the definition of the group in order to argue that the post is topical. For example, I am reminded of corresponding with some libertarians about their irrelevant cross-posts. They announced that their posts about the demonic quality of H. Clinton were relevant because she was attacking "freedom" and you could not cook or buy used cars without freedom. They therefore claimed that their anti-Clinton posts were directly relevant to the cooking and automotive news groups. Obviously, the posts were not.

4) Post the information -- via private e-mail -- to other groups of people who might have some interest in it but where that interest in the topic is not crystal clear.

As I wrote earlier, please do not take this post as a criticism of [deleted] directly. Rather treat it as an expansion of and critique of the phrase "post this thing all over Usenet."

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