[thelist] Sending Bulk Email

Jason Handby jason.handby at corestar.co.uk
Tue Oct 13 17:19:56 CDT 2009

> > No. Spam is defined as "unsolicited bulk email":
> >
> > They didn't give express consent so it's unsolicited.
> > You're not emailing each recipient separately so it's bulk.
> > It's email, so it's email.
> Hmmm, what if it was sent individually? I am hearing that this is
> clearly spam, but the client of course is still pushing to do it
> because HE thinks he will get some responses. What if we paid the
> Indian guy another $10 to send the emails manually?

I think Symeon's choice of words created some unintended wriggle-room
there. Your mailshot is still "bulk" even if the emails are individually
sent; that's just a technical detail. I can send a paper mailout to
20,000 households, and the fact that I put each letter in a separate
envelope and it is posted through a separate letterbox doesn't mean it
isn't "bulk".

> Well this situation isn't about building a list. It's a one time
> thing, as in "John bought from me this great T-shirt and he suggested
> that I should email other employees of Acme, Inc and ask if perhaps
> you want to also buy a T-Shirt for the Winter 2009 company picnic?"
> Don't reply that we should make a list to then sell T-shirt's for the
> next picnic, because it's not T-shirts--it's really a one time thing.
> The list wasn't purchased, it was scraped from acme.com. Not that that
> makes any difference I suppose.

Not really. You still have a list of email addresses that you don't have
permission to send commercial email to. I understand that the client is
putting you under pressure to do this, and I do sympathise, but I don't
think that any amount of semantic gyration is going to change the nature
of what he's suggesting.

Ultimately this is a question of ethics. From the technical point of
view, if you want to do it then I'm sure there are ways. The question
for you is, do you want to help your client do something that is
unethical, probably illegal, could harm his reputation and might harm

There could be other ways for him to achieve what he wants. Using your
analogy, perhaps he can work through Acme, Inc to have an ad for his
T-shirts placed in their staff newsletter, or on a noticeboard in the
staff break room. Or he could work with the picnic organizers and get
the information out that way, e.g. on the booking form. Or, if he
already has a satisfied customer (John) in Acme, why not give him some
discount vouchers / a free T-shirt / some other incentive in exchange
for referring some colleagues?

If his business idea can only work if he spams people, by today's
standards it's a bad business idea.


More information about the thelist mailing list