[Mailman-Users] Goodmail spells doom for mailing lists?

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Thu Mar 2 11:41:43 CET 2006

At 3:07 PM +0900 2006-03-02, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

>  *sigh*  I see lots of explanation of why this is going to hurt
>  "legitimate" bulk emailers there, but ... isn't that obvious?  OTOH,
>  very little about how it hurts the typical AOL customer.

	It hurts them because the current whitelist system will be 
dismantled, and any AOL user wanting to communicate with anyone in 
the outside world via mailing lists will be much less likely to be 
able to do so.

	If you were suddenly told that you could no longer communicate 
with any kind of reliability with most of the people in the world, 
would you not be hurt?

>                                                            In fact,
>  it's not crystal clear to me that it does, on average.  Remember, this
>  is the same class of user that you denigrate as "if you think that's
>  stupid AOL customer behavior, let me tell you it get MUCH worse than
>  that".  Maybe it's worth it to such users to lose a few mailings from
>  non-profits in order to instill more discipline in the less
>  professional half of bulk-emailing businesses.

	Yes, AOL users can be extraordinarily dumb.  But does that mean 
that we have to hurt all of them, just because of the stupidity of 

>  From the point of view of the professional economist (that's me), "pay
>  per mail" (even pay-per-byte) is a concept that should be seriously
>  considered.  It's obvious that there are problems with managing the
>  payments, that it will be expensive---but both the monopoly USPS and
>  the fairly competitive courier services manage such businesses.

	Internet e-mail is a fundamentally different kind of beast.  You 
can't make comparisons with the USPS, UPS, FedEx, or any other 
carriers of physical mail.

	This isn't to say that we should not be exploring any kind of 
pay-to-play schemes, but whatever pay-to-play schemes we should be 
investigating should be under the complete control of the user in 
question, and not imposed on them by a service provider.

	If you want to charge me $50 per e-mail I send you, you should 
have that right.  Of course, I would have the right to prohibit you 
from sending any e-mail to me or any mailing list I control or have 
influence over, so that they would not be required to make that 

	But you should not be forced by your provider to charge certain 
people extra money in order to have guaranteed access to your mail 

>  That said, I'm perfectly willing to believe that the move to
>  pay-per-mail is bad for everybody (even for AOL and Goodmail in the
>  long run).  In fact, I do believe that.  And I believe it's clearly
>  socially detrimental as implemented by Goodmail.  But I would like to
>  see the case made more strongly, because I know a lot of business
>  people and economists who _won't_.

	Then help us make the case more strongly.  Contact the EFF and 
the other supporters of the website I mentioned above, and get them 
to try to explain things better -- to you, and to the rest of the 
world.  If you can come up with anything more yourself, please 
contribute that work back to the effort.

>      Brad> 	While I definitely believe that they are right, and I
>      Brad> do have personal experience with how the AOL marketing
>      Brad> department works, I believe that these efforts are unlikely
>      Brad> to be successful -- at best, I fear that they may only
>      Brad> slightly delay things.
>  "Imminent death of the 'net predicted!  Film at 11."

	No, not imminent death.  Just one more step down the road towards 
making George Orwell's greatest fears come to life.

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

  LOPSA member since December 2005.  See <http://www.lopsa.org/>.

More information about the Mailman-Users mailing list