I often speculate about why people spam — regular well-meaning people like you and me, not the offshore criminal type. What are they thinking? Why do they spam?
Ignorance a Big Factor
While there are many possible reasons, an eye opening experience last week convinced me that ignorance is definitely a factor.
A newcomer to the Internet is repeatedly exposed to the much too prevalent practice of spamming and easily concludes that it’s the way business is transacted. From then on, it’s monkey see, monkey do.
It matters little whether or not they’ve heard that spam is bad, since they don’t know what spam is anyway. Therefore, they don’t realize that sending unsolicited commercial messages or advertising on other people’s pages is spam. To them it’s just advertising, and advertising is good, not bad.
Now let me tell you about what happened last week.
SPAM on My Ning Site
I received spam from a member of my Beyond Business Coaching Ning network, a private message sent to me and other “friends” on the site:
Tool for any business that will put money into your pocket. Lead generation software which automatically extracts leads and traffic from other targeted websites and systematically does the selling for you: http://www.—-.com/?ID=—-
Not only is this message spammy, it’s hypey and a little scary too.
I replied to the sender and to the other message recipients:
The message you sent is a violation of the terms of service you agreed upon when joining, which prohibits spam. Please refer to these two articles about spam:
I request that you use a more compliant marketing approach.
This should have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.
I Can’t Believe It’s SPAM
I received a call from a woman I had once-upon-a-time banned from my site and had later reinstated. She had received a copy of my reply quoted above, and she was angry enough to pick up the phone and ring me.
She felt that my rules were too restrictive and unfair. Here her friend was trying to help by sending out useful information, and I was accusing her of spamming. How could I?
I asked her what she considered spam. She said that spam was a message with banner ads or images. She wouldn’t believe that her friend’s message was in fact spam.
There was a difference of opinion, but I tried to be as nice as possible. I didn’t ban anybody, but I did take the liberty of deleting some spammy profile comments that my caller had recently made on several members’ pages.
I naively assumed that this would be the end of the story, but again of course, it wasn’t.
Spillover onto Facebook
Here’s how it started:
Do not join this group unless you like being restricted to what and how you say things. The rules and restrictions are irrational and don’t allow freedom of speech.
Freedom of expression and ideas are not the same as spam!
The comments went back and forth, but this was the essence of my reply:
I’m sorry to say that while there is freedom of expression and ideas in the US, that freedom DOES have limitations.
For example, what would happen if you planted election campaign signs on all the lawns in your neighborhood or painted your ideas on the walls of the Empire State Building?
Fortunately, several people came and supported me.
Stacey Chadwell wrote:
This is an impressive professional site with superb information about social media and marketing. I have been a member for some time and highly recommend it.
I am sorry you feel this way. I’ve written on a few of Larry’s sites without issue. He has always been fair and professional even when dealing with members who spam the rest of us. I applaud him for doing his best to protect his members from spammers.
Jim Canto, creator of mexXcentral Community wrote:
The best part about the Internet these days is the number of free services out there including at least one where you can create your own social network for anything… AND.. you get to make the rules. So, if you feel “slighted” by someone’s rules.. just remember, it’s their house and their rules, same as it will be when we join a community created by you. You make the rules and we the members see if we can live with them.
I have a community of my own, and I can assure you, it has its restrictions. Why? Because it has a direction and a purpose. To keep it on track, I must make sure I’ve laid the track down, i.e.the rules.
If you want to build your own community, Ning.com is free.
Luc Despres wrote:
I’m a member of Larry’s social network and I REALLY appreciate his rules on spamming.
What next? This can’t be the end of the story.
See my article, 8 Great Choices for SPAM Free Promotion, which identifies methods of promotion on Ning and other social networking sites that work without resorting to spam.
To the extent that ignorance contributes to spam, better education might provide some relief.
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