Spam = Boycott
It's that simple.

Carl Bussjaeger

Since I took up the editorial reins at DF!, I've been hit with a lot of spam. Considering that I'm actually maintaining four websites... Well, yeah; I'm going to get targeted. Spam is a fact of life.

But why exactly is spam a fact of life?

Recently, I've been targeted by a spam service called Constant Contact, which has entered me into their database as an Austin, Texas resident; they've been sending me plenty of useless garbage advertising restaurants, gas stations, and other such real world businesses. All of which are in the Austin area.

I live 1700 miles from Austin. I couldn't patronize those places if I wanted to.

The real kicker for me was spam on behalf of the Austin restaurant, Demi Epicurious¹. These weasels were trying to sell me a post-Thanksgiving Saturday brunch for $30.00 a plate. I'm a cheap SOB; brunch plates at that price better be gilded.

Yeah, right.

A little thing, I admit; but it was the camel's (okay, "bear" <grin>) final straw. Since their spam actually included some physical contact data, and an email address other than that for the spam provider company, I decided to contact them to explain my position.

Another notable abuser of email is STORAHTELLING², in New York City, 2700 miles away. They dumped a 62KB JPEG ad into my mailbox, with no other explanation whatsover. Again, I tracked them down and told them they were now on my boycott list.

These weasels had the audacity to claim that the ad wasn't spam because it was a press release. When I pointed out that press releases normally contain certain basic contact and event data, they claimed it wasn't spam because I could have opted out of their mailings.

They neglected to tell me how I was to supposed to opt out before I knew I was on their list, or without the opt out info they likewise neglected to provide.

Taking Action

Given that spam (telemarketing, too) is so intrusive and annoying that an entire industry (SpamCop, SpamAssassin, spam filters built in to most of the better email clients, et cetera) has sprung up to allow people to minimize it, that individuals and companies are filing - and winning - multi-million dollar lawsuits against spammers, that jurisdictions have large enough majorities opposed to spam to pass anti-spam laws, that spam obviously generates a huge amount of ill-will towards the advertiser... Why in the world would anyone choose to continue advertising this way?

My best guess is that most spammers never see any reaction to their harassment.

Spamming is not a a behavior which I wish to reward. Aside from the personal nuisance value of such crap, there's the sheer volume of data packets flooding the Internet, congesting everything for everyone. And the sheer effrontery of using the network resources which I am paying for myself to send me unwanted, poorly targeted advertising galls the heck out of me.

My answer is this: An automatic boycott of spammers. Sending me spam won't earn you a sale; it guarantees you lost any hope of ever doing business with me.

I do the same to any company which annoys me with telemarketer calls.

My new policy regarding spam is to respond directly to the company represented - when possible - to let them know they screwed up. I encourage everyone else to do the same; let them know just how counter-productive - for them - spam is.


You don't want to casually hit the "reply" button for any ol' spam, of course. Nor do you want to blindly click embedded "unsubscribe me" links in the email. Both are commonly used as ruses to validate your address, and can lead to more spam yet.

  • Outfits like this CC are simple remailers on others' behalf; their spam will often include contact data for the actual advertiser. Use that, rather than replies.
  • Canned complaint letters, including the boycott explanation can be sent to or To find the appropriate domain to use in those addresses, check the header on the spam to where it came from: the SMTP, not necessarily the return address.
      Look for a line like this:
        Received: from ( []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 436D4C40F4 for <>
      Your complaint should go to:
  • Be very clear and explicit in explaining that their spam has guaranteed exactly the opposite marketing result they wanted.
  • Don't feel obligated to be polite to a spammer; they started the rudeness.

"...So long as they spell my name right."

There is, though, the old saw that any publicity is good publicity. This is a basic axiom for marketing weasels. This was well illustrated by an incident a few years ago involving a middlin' large telecommunications company operating in the US midwest: An article appeared in the state capital's largest newspaper which described some serious problems with the quality and general reliability of the company's service, along with the inflated prices, and that the company was charging customers thousands of dollars for services it wasn't even equipped to render. The company's regional sales manager brought that article to me to brag on the great publicity. I pointed out that the entire piece was warning potential customers to avoid them. His reply (as best memory serves), "Yeah, but they'll know who we are."

Pissing off potential customers as a marketing tool. Cool. The point is, some of these idiots will simply assume that having pissed you off, you'll remember them and patronize the business eventually. But the telecomm outfit in question ended up caught in the WorldCom fiasco. Bummer for them.

So you need to be proactive in addressing the problem. Make it known that spamming will automatically get them boycotted before they even send you anything. Post the notice on your website. Put it in your email sig line. Write letters to the editor of your paper. Call in to talk radio shows to spread the word.

Make it clear to business that utilizing a spam service is going to hurt.

Demi Epicurious
Obnoxious, and over-priced.
Don S. Rhode
311 W. 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512.478.2200

111 Eighth Avenue
11th Floor
NYC NY 10011
Amichai Lau-Lavie, Director
David Loewy

Let them know you don't like spam.


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