Advertising and Spamming
As the lang-dang list became more and more popular, some vendors of dictionaries and (at least vaguely) related Web sites began to discover it as an advertising medium. They sent unsolicited messages about special offers and site updates.
These advertisements sparked hot discussion among the list members whether such promotional content was appropriate for the list. They concluded that ads were acceptable only if
- they were related to the subject of the list
- they potentially valuable to every list member
- they did not make up the message itself, i.e.
- the message was a valuable contribution to the list itself.
This limited promotional content to some lines in the signature and this is exactly where it belongs in messages sent to a mailing list.
There are exceptions: mailing lists dedicated to product announcements or ads in general, for example, or e-zines selling ad slots. Of course the members of a list can agree to accept ads (probably only those related to the subject); before you send such advertisements you should make sure that is ok by checking the FAQ (if available) or asking the list mom (Marina in our case).
Evidently, mailing lists are wonderful targets for sending unsolicited commercial email. The spammer is spared the effort to compile a list of addresses and the distribution of their message and can reach a potentially interested, targeted audience. This audience signed up to receive interesting articles from other list members and not to be flooded by commercials. This is not to say that the ads or the products they try to sell are not interesting. The members of a public discussion mailing list just did not ask for it.
Fortunately, lists where people specifically sign up to get advertisements for fields that interest them do exist. You can find some collections of such lists in the email marketing net links collection.