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

Dave Crocker dhc2 at dcrocker.net
Sat Mar 4 16:58:23 CET 2006

Brad Knowles wrote:
>     This situation is rife with cost and revenue externalities. 
> Moreover, it is not even opt-out -- it is mandatory for all AOL users.  

All sorts of things are "mandatory for all AOL users".  For example, the entire 
AOL spam detection and filtering mechanism is mandatory.  If AOL users find any 
of the mandatory features unacceptable, they should take their business elsewhere.

If they don't do that, then who are we to be parental and tell them that a 
particular feature is unacceptable for them?

>     Your sole protection here is that AOL and Goodmail both promise that 
> they will play nice.  History teaches us that anyone in this kind of 
> situation who promises not to abuse their power is, well ... a fool.

That's why you should note the "constant community vigilance" requirement I 
stated in the other note I just sent.

It is also why I am a big fan of real competition, since it provides a form of 
community vigilance.

>     Let's look again at the general situation.  X will provide 
> guaranteed access to their members for the benefit of Y and the 
> customers of Y, and in return X is paid money by Y.
>     Substitute "AOL" for X and "Goodmail" for Y, and you get precisely 
> the situation they are moving forward with, regardless of all possible 
> complaints -- see 
> <http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=181500372>. 

The "regardless of all possible complaints" is exactly wrong, according to the 
published rules of operation.  A complaint rate from recipients determines 
continued participation in the program.

Oh.  You mean regardless of complaints from external lobbying groups who are not 
AOL customers and who have so far been showing a really excellent skill at 
invoking hyperbole and ignoring facts.

>     Now, substitute "families in Eastern Europe" for X, and "pimps" for 
> Y, and you get sex slaves who are forced to perform as prostitutes.  And 
> we all know what kind of promises are made to these people before they 
> are taken from their families.

You believe this substitution process represents the application of facts and 
logic?  For starters, note the deficiencies in the abstract model your are using.

>     If AOL wants to convince anyone that this is actually a real 
> benefit, they need to do at least two things:

You claim to know what everyone in the world requires for convincing?

I'd be interested in hearing your basis for making these claims on behalf of 
everyone in the world, or even everyone who is an AOL customer.

>     Now, if they really want to benefit their members (and indirectly, 
> benefit themselves), they need to give those members a way to charge 

And the nice thing about a free market is that you are free to build a business 
that does exactly whatever you are certain everyone requires.

>     Take a look at what the police in Kenya are doing, and what the 
> government in Darfur has turned a blind eye towards, if you need current 
> examples of what happens when there isn't anyone around to watch the 
> watchers.

Since the world is a large and diverse place, it is always possible to find an 
example of pretty much any behavior one wishes to describe.  Using that example 
as proof of the inevitability of the behavior is simply not valid, because it 
also means that there are always counter-examples.  Both cannot be inevitable to 

>     AOL hasn't quite gone that far

No kidding.


Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking

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