LETTER: MAPS Lacks Formal Due Process

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Though Paul Vixie makes some good arguments for MAPS' point of view, he is disingenuous on some points. For example, he creates the impression that MAPS has a formal due process. As someone who has dealt with MAPS and who knows others who have, I know this is not the case. MAPS can be arbitrary in its decision-making process. Even some participants in anti-spam discussion boards think this -- anti-spam activists, not marketers. (That's why I asked that this letter be kept anonymous. I fear retaliation.)

MAPS once blacklisted ORBS, a similar blacklisting service whose methods Vixie didn't agree with, creating a great controversy in the anti-spam community. Though he removed the listing, Vixie subsequently used his position at Above.net (where he is an executive) to limit ORBS' connectivity, again creating controversy, which continues to the present. This occurs even as Above.net does not limit connectivity for clients that have been accused of spamming. MAPS' own executive director is leaving MAPS because he was expected to create the appearance of due process when no such due process exists.

Don't take my word for it. Look at Vixie's own words at http://x68.deja.com/

[ST_rn=ps]/getdoc.xp?AN=605903253. There he tacitly endorses the tactics of Amazon.com, even though the company did not use opt in or verify his address.

So can marketers rely on Amazon as a model? No, because MAPS has imposed stiffer restrictions on other companies even as it allows Amazon to continue its practices.

Yes, mail administrators subscribe to the RBL voluntarily. But are they all truly aware of how undisciplined MAPS is? Or did they just flip the RBL switch ("Cool, this parameter stops spam") on the latest release of Sendmail? (Ironically, Sendmail was recently accused of spamming.) More importantly, are these ISPs' customers aware of these mail administrators' decisions (not necessarily with authority from their bosses) to set such draconian policy? I think not. Vixie said, "Why do these people ignore the obvious dangers and subscribe anyway?" For the same reason people break the speed limit: They know it is unlikely they will get caught.

Having said all this, I believe the anti-spam fight is an important one. The presence of so much pornography and get-rich-quick spam inevitably hurts response rates for legitimate marketers. But I also believe there are shades of gray. There is obviously a qualitative difference between unsolicited e-mail sent to people who have absolutely no relationship with the sender vs. e-mail sent to someone with an existing business relationship.

•Name Withheld By Request

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