The Cloud Institute: Marketing Sustainability Education Unsustainably

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, a non-profit organization that promotes “education for sustainability” in K-12 classrooms, has sent unsolicited bulk email to a third-party list. The email addresses on that list were originally scraped from other non-profit organization web sites of all kinds, including many whose focus was completely unrelated to what the Cloud Institute does and promotes. The ESP is Your Mailing List Provider (YMLP), a smaller mostly self-service ESP with very little tolerance for spam.

I see a great deal of spam to the specific spamtraps that the Cloud Institute hit. The U.S. CAN-SPAM law has much to answer for; having given unsophisticated non-profit groups the impression that they can send opt-out bulk email with impunity is one of them. 🙁 The Cloud Institute needs to learn what spam is and why it is bad, and change their email practices so that their marketing and outreach efforts are sustainable. (Sending bulk email to email addresses whose owners did not ask for it is not sustainable, as I suspect they are about to find out.)

YMLP is reliably anti-spam, but has two problematic features. First, email for a single customer is sent from IPs scattered across multiple allocations. This makes it extremely difficult to block a YMLP user who spams without blocking all of YMLP’s IPs. Second, YMLP uses a large number of domains rather than subdomains as their mailing domains. Their configuration at first glance looks like a snowshoe spam configuration. YMLP is NOT a snowshoe spammer or any kind of spammer, as many former customers of theirs who were foolish enough to spam found out. Why they persist in practices that can give the mistaken impression that they are spammers is beyond understanding. :/

Sending IP: and other IPs in entirely different locations

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from ( [])
        by <xxx> (Postfix) with SMTP id <xxx>
        for <xxx>; Fri,  1 Jun 2012 14:xx:xx -0000 (UT)
Received: (qmail 16212 invoked by uid 0); 1 Jun 2012 14:xx:xx -0000
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2012 16:xx:xx +0200
To: <xxx>
From: The Cloud Institute <>
Subject: EfS Summer Design Studio in New York
Message-ID: <<xxx>>
X-YMLPcode: <xxx>
List-Unsubscribe: <<xxx>.php>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Readable Email:

From: The Cloud Institute <>
To: <spamtrap>
Subject: EfS Summer Design Studio in New York



-EfS Summer Design Studio
– Camp Snowball in Tucson, AZ
– Project Blue Planet for Kids



Camp Snowball is about building our collective capacity to shape the future.

We live in an increasingly interconnected and complex world in which the ways we live in one place affect people and ecosystems elsewhere. Camp Snowball prepares us to face the challenges of our time by using two proven approaches: systems thinking and education for sustainability.

Join us July 9th-13th in Tucson, AZ to develop your capacity to teach systems thinking and sustainability, support students ability to become leaders in their schools and communities. MORE ( )


307 Seventh Avenue Suite 1201, New York, NY 10001
ph. 212.645.9930 fax 212.645.9931 ( )

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