Barney's Rubble

My Dad the Spam King

The elder Mr. Barney gets caught in a mailing list pickle.

My father is one of those honest, no-nonsense, do-good types of fellows. Not a bad role model, eh?

He lives on a beautiful lake in New Hampshire and often spends hours a day trying to keep it pure, taking water samples, lobbying to protect it and telling the neighbors what's going on.

He does an absolutely superb newsletter about the pond, which he sends, along with other messages, to a mailing list he carefully compiled.

So it was a total shock when he found the password to his e-mail account blocked. He was told by his ISP that some AOL users complained anonymously about being spammed. OK, but who were these folks, he asked, so he could take them off the list. He was told: "Nothing doing; they're anonymous."

He was also told that in order to gain access to his account he had to stop list mail to all AOL users. He could send mail singly to them. As there were 23 of them, this was unreasonable, so he sent them a one-time message explaining the situation, copying AOL and his ISP. My dad was cut off again-and told by the same clown that wouldn't help him clean up his list that revealing ISP and AOL addresses was another violation.

Serving the country.

A number of the AOL users have provided non-AOL addresses and asked to be kept on the list. Not one of them (or any others) has complained about the operation of the list.

The messages in question were warning boat owners about heavy rains and offering to bail their boats so they wouldn't sink.

Dad on his way to Germany.

As someone who gets more than a hundred spams a day, I'm all for cutting spam down. But to punish a guy for sending vital information to people who signed up for a mailing list? Makes no sense!

Any advice for Mr. Barney the elder? He and I would be much obliged if you would send your thoughts to We promise not to report you!

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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