What Shouldn't I Do?

There are a number of ways to avoid being inaccurately labelled a spammer. The golden rule when running a mailing list, is to never send emails to people who did not explicitly confirm their intention to receive them. Things can get a little complicated as you attempt to expand your mailing list membership, so here are some abuses and inappropriate practices that should be avoided:

  • Do not purchase email lists from companies claiming to have "Thousands of Opt-in email addresses." You are guarenteed to be disappointed. Most companies in this market do not bother to validate their lists of email addresses, nor do they confirm whether or not the people on the list have given permission to be distributed. You will end up sending your correspondance to people who did not request anything and who may already be getting annoyed with having their email addresses disclosed to other companies. If you do purchase a list from someone else, as soon as you begin to get spam reports, dispose of the ENTIRE list immediately. If a few users on this list are reporting spams, that means that there are probably many more addresses on this list that shouldn't be.
  • Do not attempt to legitimize sending your email to unconfirmed recipients by including "Opt-out" or "Unsubscribe" instructions. There are three reasons not to do this:
    1. People should not have to take the time to opt-out of a mailing list that they didn't sign up for in the first place.
    2. Many people will refuse to follow your opt-out instructions for fear of encouraging further unsolicited emails because spammers use these opt-out responses to confirm that an email address is valid.
    3. Some recipients may be using multiple email aliases which make it difficult for them to determine which address was involuntarily subscribed to your list.
  • Do not request a receipt of delivery for your mailing list. First of all, you are never going to go through all of your receipts to check and make sure that the emails were read. Second, many people are wary of delivery receipts and consider them an invasion of privacy. There is rarely a need to use these features.
  • Do not use ANY email harvesting software. Software that spiders webpages for "mailto:" links, or searches newsgroups for email addresses are never an acceptable means to develop your mailing list membership. Furthermore, the use of mass-emailing software, such as programs that guess at and attempt to verify email addresses should NEVER be used. These practices are universally attributed to spammers.