You opted in
One thing I get in some of the comments here and in some of the discussions I have with email senders is that no commercial emailer ever sends unsolicited email. That, clearly, at some point the recipient opted in to receive mail and if that person doesn’t want mail they shouldn’t ever give out their email address.
I have an old yahoo address that’s used primarily as my Flickr account login. I don’t believe I’ve ever given out the address to anyone or opted in to anything. Anything’s possible, this address was created sometime in 2006 or 2007 and I may have tossed it into a form to test something. It’s certainly not an address I ever actually use.
Earlier this week I checked mail on the account. There were almost 700 messages in there. It was pretty amazing how much garbage this unused, unshared address collected. Notice the “clever” use of foreign alphabets and the number of legitimate companies who have acquired this address or hired people to mail me on their behalf. I’m sure some of it is phishing, too.
All in all, though, this is a prime example of how many companies are not following best practices and are actively sending spam.