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Registration scam

Brian Ellis


Registration scam | 16 April, 1999


I shall not register. I consider that you are being too nosy, by half, with the questions you ask (even if some of them are not required). I shall mention this in a future Internet Commentary in Circuit World. If registration is deemed necessary (and many of your arguments are fallacious) it should be limited to name, address and e-mail. By what stretch of imagination would you require to know, for example, my hobbies or other personal interests, if not to sell the info so that I would be bugged by spam and junk e-mail?

No!, I'm sorry, but you are killing the goose for me.


PS I shall post this message on the forum

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You have a point but your tone is questionable | 16 April, 1999

Dear Brian,

You made two points we want to address. The first is that you are concerned about the amount of information we ask in the registration and how it is going to be used. This is a legitimate concern that we need to address, and have tried to address, but not sufficiently. We have been responding to registration questions and will continue to do so through better explanation during the registration process and discussions via the Forum and private emailing. It looks like it may take some time to reach a common understanding, therefore we are putting off the registration requirement for 30 days. We feel that if we do our job improving the registration and explaining ways registration data will be used to benefit the individual and the community, we will gain full acceptance from SMTneters.

The second point is that rather than choosing a dialog with us, your posting and email came across as personal, vitriolic, and threatening. We hope we misunderstood the tone of your posting, as it falls outside what we feel is acceptable form for our Forum. You mentioned your affiliation with a professional publication, and that you would use that position in what we think is a one sided manner since we have not actually had a dialog. We look forward to this opportunity to engage you, as this will further our community in a positive way. After all this is the purpose and intent of our forum.

Could you be more specific as to what fallacious comments I had made? While I appreciate your opinion, it needs to be supported with facts so that we can continue this communication.

Thank you.


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Brian Ellis


Mebbe the registration is, as well | 17 April, 1999


First of all, my message was intended to be forceful without intention of it being insulting or tonally "questionable". This is a problem with the Internet in that it is too easy to "flame" without the intention of doing so. Perhaps, your registration process appears to me that way, too: I read into it more than you intended. Whatever, if I have offended, I apologise for the way I expressed myself, without withdrawing the sense of my original message.

My objections to registration? First of all what purpose can it serve? My immediate reaction - and that of others - is that it is a way of creating a database for unsolicited e-mail. That alone is sufficient to shun the process, if it can be avoided. Even with filters that remove a goodly part of the spam that reaches me before it appears on my screen, about 1/4 of what is left is still unsolicited and frequently offensive. Of course, most of it is deleted as unread but occasionally I am fooled by a subject header which I think may be relevant to my activities. No amount of filtering from info supplied by your questionnaires can avoid this happening and the result is that I would probably put in a filter to trash anything coming in on the e-mail address I would register. It would therefore defeat its own purpose.

I don't believe I'm alone in this and I quote a message e-mailed to me today (I have removed the sender's identity to protect his privacy):

"Brian: I saw your posting on SMTnet, and I think you're absolutely right - it looks like a total scam: it smells like a total scam: plus I don't see Werner Engelmaier or Dave Hillman contributing!

"The only forum really worth its salt, of course, is the TechNet forum at IPC...I'm sure you know all about it, but just in case you don't: give me an e-mail."

Now, you argue that advertisers will not contribute to an open forum. This is fallacious because the forum will remain open to viewers, even if not to contributors. And, so what, anyway? If I have a product or service to sell, does it matter if my publicity is seen by persons with no interest in it? Of course not! What does matter is if it is seen by prospective customers. Now, how many persons who are not interested in SM technology are even going to look at your forum? Zilch. Therefore your advertisers have a captive AND interested audience, whether they are registered or not. To prove my point - and here I am assuming you are not a computer video fanatic (if you are, I'll find another example) - have you ever looked at the forum run by Avid Cinema? People don't just go from forum to newsgroup to forum just for the fun of it, do they?

Of course, you will get the occasional oddball. I admit that I may suffer from paranoia about this kind of thing but, as a professional technical journalist, as well as an engineer, I have to look at hundreds of web sites. The occasional one - and God forbid that there be more! - requires you to give personal details before even accessing it. When this happens, my name becomes Mickey Mouse, my address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC and my e-mail is (Just to make myself clear, this is not to imply that I think that the staff/incumbent of the White House are related to the said rodent!) This ensures that I am not plagued with solicitations. You may say "Aha! But the password will be sent only to the registered e-mail address." True, but there are such things as aliases. In my case, the address which I generally use for e-mail is an America alias which forwards e-mail to a Swiss server which is another alias for my Cypriot one, through which this message is sent. No doubt, this is traceable, but who would bother? I have another American alias which I use when I wish to hide my identity. In this case, there is no automatic forwarding, so it is not traceable. I mention this to show you that registration will not eliminate all the mavericks, many of whom are cleverer at Internet manipulation than you or I.

Another fallacy is demonstrated by your phrase "we will gain full acceptance from SMTneters.". The fact that you have crossed swords with me and others, such as Earl Moon, about this matter is proof enough that you are well aware that "full acceptance" is a utopian hope. BTW, I don't pretend I'll be missed, but Earl will be! Knowing the lethargy of many, for every protest you see, there are probably a dozen more persons who say "No way!" or, perhaps, even something more obscene. Imagine the case of a newbie who homes into your forum about a specific question: is he going to go through a lengthy registration just to make one intervention? Even if he does, by the time he has gone through the process, he may have forgotten what he was going to say or it may lose the natural spontaneity of his immediate reaction.

Now, I respectfully suggest that there could be a question in the offing here. Which is more important for you, at SMTnet, your users or your sponsors? Your immediate reaction will probably be the sponsors, without whom we cannot keep running. But if the quality of your site is going to drop because the Earls, Werners and Daves of this world will no longer contribute, you will probably start to lose users and without valid users, who is going to sponsor? It may be the start of a downward spiral into oblivion. OK, your spiral may be of a higher administrative quality, but...

Finally, I'll still make a mention in one of my future Internet Commentaries and I'll mention some of your arguments, as well as my own. It will be interesting to see if any readers react...

In summary, I entreat you to reconsider this whole affair of registration. My view is that registration is very undesirable for any forum or newsgroup. If, for any reason, you insist on it, keep it as discreet as possible with an absolute minimum of questions and NEVER use it as a database for mailings from yourselves or third parties.

I hope that I have answered you as cogently and flamelessly as possible.


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