Political Spam on the MainSleaze Blog

Before Charles blogged about the spam he had received from Herman Cain’s campaign this morning, he emailed me and asked if political spam qualified for mention on the blog. The answer was “yes”, qualified only by the requirement that the spam be from the sender’s own IPs or sent via a legitimate ESP. On thinking about this, I realized that a public policy statement might be in order.

Although most spam advertises goods or services for sale, not all spam does. Spam also can advertise a candidate for political office, promote a particular position on a political or social issue, promote a church or religion, or promote and solicit contributions for a non-profit group. It doesn’t matter who is sending it or what is being promoted, just that the email was not solicited by its recipients. To quote a common slogan in the anti-spam world, “Spam is not about content, but consent.”

To reiterate, spam is unsolicited bulk email, not just unsolicited commercial email, as much respect as I have for our friends over at the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE). <G> Mainsleaze spam is distinguished from other spam by the methods used to send it, not the content of the spam. The vast majority of mainsleaze spam is sent by or on behalf of companies who want your business, of course, but a significant amount is sent by political, religious, or other not-for-profit organizations. This blog is also intended to highlight that spam.

This blog also has a strict policy of non-partisanship. Naturally the bloggers have political opinions. However, ANY political campaign or politician that spams is subject to mention here, not just Mr. Cain, not just Republicans, and not just political candidates in the United States. (You didn’t think we’d forget the rest of the world, did you?) A mention of spam here does not constitute any sort of comment on the candidate or campaign itself; we are not interested in promoting or (conversely) harming any candidate or organization. We are interested in publicizing spam and making it clear just what a bad idea it is.

We hope that political campaigns will listen as well as many ESPs appear to be listening.

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