Research or Spam?
Statement of Ann Golding:
|I am a MU alum, a technical consultant for the University, and a founding member of the local chapter of the Anti-Spam League.
Netiqutte--the online rules of the road--arises from the ethical considerations that are embedded in the technology and econnomics of today's internet. Chief among these is that it is possible to waste other people's resources, but it is not acceptible. Because of widespread flat-rate pricing, the using the Internet appears "free" to a naive first approximation. But, to a second approximation, the details of who's paying the bills become fairly important.
By basic principles of netiquette, unsolicited email or "spam" has no place online. Email is unlike postal mail, for the cost of the email is borne by the recipient.
How does the recipient have to pay? Most Internet users pay twice for connection time. They pay once at their ISP, and they pay again for the outbound telephone call. Even people who use flat-rate ISPs pay a higher flat rate than they might because of the ISP's investment in network connectivity, hardware and staff time required by unsolicited bulk email. The extra cost is not negligible--maybe one message does not cost much, but multiply this by the (no exaggeration) 100 spams I've received this week, or the tens of 1,000s an ISP receives each week, and it all adds up.
Even here at MU, while no one pays for net access, faculty and staff pay is lower and tuition is higher because of the CPU, memory, disk and staff time spent receiving, relaying, storing and taking care of spam
For the purpose of finding survey participants, there are other possibilities. One possibility is to use Usenet newsgroups. For example, in this case, while it wouldn't have offered a "randomized" sample, it would have been much more acceptable to local policies and USENET norms, to post a one-paragraph invitation and the URL of the survey, in a single message cross-posted to, say, a half-dozen newsgroups, than to do an unsolicted mass-mailing. Another possibility is to collectively advertise each others' web pages - a "web ring". Each member of the ring announces its membership in the ring, and provides links to "adjacent" pages in the ring.
As to the decision in the present case: Basically we've got experienced and intelligent people running the networks, and I am quite happy to abide by their judgement, biased as it may be with knowledge and experience, reserving indignation only for events actually worthy of it. Anything else borders on the absurd.
In sum, metaphorically speaking, spammers must die!
Copyright © 2002 Jean Goodwin|
Last updated 4 September 2002