Yahoo Spamstakes Uses the J-Word

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Yahoo is running a sweepstakes encouraging users of its e-mail service to report spam.


Moreover, the promotion takes a tongue-in-cheek potshot at direct mail.


The sweepstakes appears as a link near the bottom of the Web page that Yahoo Mail users log onto to check their inboxes. "This Is Spam Sweepstakes. Get your chance to win a free year of Yahoo! Mail Plus! Click for more info," the link says.


Clicking on it takes the user to a Web page promoting the sweepstakes at http://mail.promotions.yahoo.com/ymail_spamguard.


"Help us rid the world of spam!" the ad copy says. "Just use Yahoo! Mail's 'This is Spam' link when you receive spam and you could WIN!"


One hundred winners get a year of extra storage, and 50 receive a year of Yahoo Mail Plus.


Ten winners will receive one year of Yahoo Mail Plus, and "an indestructible Steel Mailbox & A Paper Shredder for your fight against Spam's evil cousin, Junk Mail."


Many direct mailers take offense at the word junk, or the "J-word" as they refer to it, when used to describe their craft. Also, most direct mailers do not appreciate it when their business is linked to the porn, pyramid schemes and other offensive material prevalent in spam.


Meanwhile, one e-mail newsletter publisher, who requested anonymity, said he worries about how Yahoo's promotion may affect e-mail sent to Yahoo Mail users.


"False positives are the industry's No. 1 problem," the publisher said, referring to the increasing amount of permission-based e-mail that many marketers contend is being unfairly blocked as spam by overzealous e-mail administrators. "All this does is make the problem worse by encouraging people to report spam. If they're going to run a promotion like this, they should also educate people as to what spam is and what it isn't."


A Yahoo representative said Yahoo is encouraging users to report spam because the company uses the feedback to evolve its spam-fighting technology. She also said she did not believe the promotion has resulted in an increase of false positives.


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