Spammer loses in the court of public opinion


Columnist Mike Cassidy of the SJ Mercury News dedicates his column today to explaining how horribly a spammer named Michael Luckman is being treated by Spamhaus.
The gist of the story is that Mr. Luckman thinks that because it is legal to purchase lists and send mail that there is nothing anyone can do to stop him from doing so. Unfortunately for Mr. Luckman, this isn’t actually true. Simply complying with the law does not mean that spamming behaviour has to be tolerated by ISPs. What’s more, ISPs have a lot of power to stop him.
His recipients’ ISPs can stop him. Filtering companies can stop him. And his upstream can stop him. In fact, Mr. Luckman’s upstream is GoDaddy, a company that has an abuse desk that is one of the toughest on the Internet. They do not tolerate spamming at all and will disconnect customers that are spamming whether or not there is a SBL listing involved.
Sure, Mr. Luckman is complying, or says he’s complying, with CAN SPAM. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is violating his contract with GoDaddy. Given that admission, I am extremely surprised that the reporter focused so exclusively on Spamhaus’ role in this, without mentioning GoDaddy’s abuse enforcement or that Mr. Luckman has to comply with contracts he signed.
Most reputable marketers agree that sending mail to purchased email addresses is spam. Most recipients agree that mail they didn’t ask to receive is spam. Even the reporter agrees that Mr. Luckman is a spammer. Compliance with CAN SPAM doesn’t mean anyone is required to accept his mail, nor provide him with a connection to the rest of the internet.
This is a lesson Mr. Luckman is having problems learning. Instead of fixing his process so he isn’t sending spam, he contacts a reporter to plead his case in the court of public opinion. Sadly for him, most people hate spam and won’t defend a self admitted spammer against a blocking group. In fact, over 80% of the people who have voted in the “has Spamhaus gone too far” poll have said no. What’s your vote?

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  • Laura – great post as always…and you of course got it right – the Merc gets it wrong.
    I actually love this situation – it brings light to what all of the #emailsnob (s) et al have been saying for a long time – that just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is right.
    The email inbox is a bit like the airwaves – they are owned by the public…

  • Great post, Laura!
    Luckman “doesn’t have to follow the rules beyond what the law requires”. That’s his choice and consequence.
    I don’t know what’s more ironic; his name or that he thinks playing the victim card will get him anywhere with the public that he thinks so little of.
    “Luckman sees [Spamhaus] as a bully who makes life tougher for small businesses like his.”
    I’m sure that every “undocumented pharmacist” feels the same way about their local neighborhood watch….

  • Some of the comments on the poll sound suspiciously like people you may have heard from before. I’m pretty sure I recognize the talking points from one particular greasy-haired Vegas resident…

  • Well put Laura!
    The poll put even more weight behind it.
    The People have spoken – with their spam button – they want more than the law and are blatantly happy that the ISPs and organisations like Spamhaus do what they do so well.
    It’s down to the rest of us on t’internet and in the industry to help senders do it right and show the merits – and profits – that come of it.

  • Thanks, Laura. Right on as usual. I think the key is not that the ISPs block Luckman or anyone, but that SUBSCRIBERS block him. It’s the vote of public opinion that the ISPs respond to, not some random judgement call on their own.
    Abuse the trust and you will generate a lot of consumer complaints. That is how the email marketing world works. It’s still amazing to me how people are suprised by this. Maybe people like Luckman just have a lot of optimism or wishful thinking?!

  • Yeah, this guy sure seems to be a spammer, based on his own statements and what was reported in this news article. If he doesn’t want to be compared to the pill spammers, maybe he should stop acting like one. The distinction is less subtle than he wishes it was.

  • Laura, great post and it hits the mark. Someday people will realize that buying/selling lists is not only wrong but damaging to your reputation. Of course Luckman’s reputation is already dead. ISPs and blocklists will help but the subscribers “mark as Spam” is really the icing on the cake.
    Cheers, Chris

  • Legality vs morality vs technicality, a beautiful blend.
    Legal? Sure. Moral? Doubtful but who are we to judge? Technically capable? Apparently he is not.
    Even with a SpamHaus block I’ve seen roughly 85% general delivery (assuming your list isn’t crap and recipients WANT your mail, you were just unfortunate enough to somehow get a spamtrap of theirs into your system); SpamHaus isn’t impossible to work with if you are a legitimate mailer that understands how to “play nice” in the neighborhood.

  • “But Luckman doesn’t believe he should have to follow rules beyond what the law requires. How, he asks, can he land new accounts if he can market only to those who already know him?”
    He is apparently a sales genius, I’m sure he’ll work it out.
    Sympathy from a business columnist is not surprising but that article is some very weak journalism.

  • “How, he asks, can he land new accounts if he can market only to those who already know him?”
    You’d think that he would have picked up some ideas to achieve this in his 40 years “…in sales, marketing and product development.”. Like Al says, if you don’t want to look like a spammer, don’t do the sorts of things that a spammer would do (…hmm, didn’t someone do a series of blogs posts on that topic?:)

  • Yeah, John Caldwell is a douche-bag antagonist and this article is not about the owner of because I am the owner of that site (which has moved to a new URL, but is not down) until we finish the litigation with GoDaddy on the .com site.
    As far as John is concerned, let’s face it…he has his beliefs and American law has theirs…let’s see who wins in the “Court of Law” because the “Court of Public Opinion” doesn’t think kindly of most marketing mediums, why would bulk email be any different.

  • Stevie, I am more than happy to let you post your opinions here, but please keep them civil.

By laura

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