What is Forum Spam? - Steve
Subject: What is Forum Spam?
From: Steve
Date: October 30, 1999

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION: Would sending URLs for web sites be spamming?

ANSWER: There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes 
spam email.  The determination of whether or not a particular message is 
spam is left up to the management of the service provider.  So, whatever 
opinion one person might give may differ from the decision of a particular 
service provider in a particular case.

It is generally agreed that the essential characteristic of "spam" is that 
it is unsolicited.  It is also generally agreed that spam email is 
unsolicited email sent to many people.  There is no agreement on the 
specific number of people it has to go to before it is considered spam.

Now, what is "spam" in the context of messages sent to a subscriber based 
mailing list service (i.e. Forum)?  Firstly, messages sent to a mailing 
list are automatically distributed to many people.  So, half of the general 
definition of spam is already met.  But, are the messages unsolicited?

Everyone who subscribes to a subscriber based mailing list service has 
requested (i.e. solicited) email from that service.  Therefore, emails sent 
through subscriber based Forums are generally not spam because each 
subscriber has solicited the email from that service.

But, the subscribers solicited the Forum email based on the stated topic of 
the Forum.  They did not solicit email on other topics when they subscribed 
to the Forum.  So, off-topic email or messages which are not in compliance 
with the Forum Policy Statements might be considered spam.

If the message is on-topic and in compliance with the Forum Policy 
Statements then it is probably okay for sending to the Forum.  If it is 
off-topic, or contrary to the Forum Policy Statements, then it is probably 
not okay for sending to the Forum.

If the Forum Policy has no statement against sending URLs or such, and if 
the message sending them is otherwise in compliance with the Forum Policy, 
then such messages probably are okay.  Again, it is generally up to the 
management of the Forum to decide if any particular message constitutes 
spam in that particular Forum.  Consult the Forum Policy Statements for 
further information about what constitutes spam for a particular 
Forum.  Various Forums have a variety of policies on this question.

For the SCRoots-L, Coker-L, and DuBose-L Forums that I manage, sending 
information about URLs is usually okay, as long as the overall message is 
on-topic and otherwise in compliance with the Forum Policy 
Statements.  Sending URL announcements about off-topic subjects is not 
okay.  Sending URL announcements that are essentially advertisements is not 

/  _\                                    \
\ (_/____________________________________/
  \                                       \
   \  Words must be weighed, not counted.  \
    \                                       \
     \  Steven J. Coker, Webmaster           \
      \  Coker Forum, http://cokers.org/      \
     _ \  DuBose Forum, http://dubose.org/     \
    / )_\  SCRoots Forum, http://scroots.org/   \

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