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Questioning standards

M3AAWG publishes documents summarizing and discussing current practices for stopping and preventing abuse. Some of these documents are focused on ISPs while others are focused on marketers. While M3AAWG is not directly nor officially a standards body, most of the documents have been written by members and reflect the best current practices for that document.
Members have been asked to leave the organization and some companies are denied membership because they are not in line with the organizational values. Some of these companies are ESPs or marketers, but some of these companies have been ISPs as well.
The standards written by M3AAWG are challenging for a lot of marketers to follow. These standards are written with the input of senders, but they all comply with the M3AAWG mission of stopping messaging abuse. Many ISPs believe that unsolicited email is abuse, thus M3AAWG standards say that all mail needs to be sent to recipients who request that mail. Purchasing lists, selling lists, and appending email addresses are all unacceptable activities for M3AAWG members.
I never really had much concern about the effectiveness of the M3AAWG process. Most of the big industry players are there and many of the ISPs have an aggressive anti-abuse attitude.
But last week I saw a blog post on a fairly major industry blog that listed a bunch of (made up, tasteless and sexist) things “overheard” at the recent M3AAWG conference (it’s been removed and I wouldn’t link to it anyway). The blog post made it look like no real work gets done at M3AAWG and that the attendees don’t work at the conference. I won’t claim that it’s a staid and quiet conference, but most attendees work very hard during the day.
The next day, the author tweeted:

One thing that I learned in my email career is to always question what a “governing” body says a “best practice” is #emailmarketing

Questioning a standards group is a totally legitimate and reasonable thing to do; I do it all the time. Sexist “humor” looks less like questioning and more like discrediting.

3 comments

  1. Neil says

    “One thing that I learned in my email career is to always question what a “governing” body says a “best practice” is ”
    One thing I learned being a punk rocker is to question authority at every turn.
    The bottom line is that blogpost (which i took an active role in having taken down) was not questioning MAAWG standards, it was sexist tripe doing nothing but discrediting the vast number of hours the 200 + MAAWG member companies and organizations put into these standards, and the outcome of that work. If there are specific community criticisms, I’m all for them. Trying to claim that post was a reaction to standards (sender standards one assumes, that haven’t changes in two years) is a feeble attempt to excuse for his loathsome post.

  2. John L says

    Cue that famous Upton Sinclair quote

  3. Al Iverson says

    Agreed on all counts. The post in question was sexist, and it insulted all of us who have spent a lot of hours and effort trying to improve the ecosystem through our participation in MAAWG.
    I blogged about it as well, though, like you, I didn’t name names. My take on that was that I wanted to give the individual a chance to learn from this without escalating this into a public, longer-lasting fight. (Which doesn’t mean I disagree with that woman who publicly outed those couple of sexist d-bags at PyCon.)

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