Monday, September 10, 2007


Complaints have been circulating about the slimy spamming tactics of date service Quechup.

As often happens there is much debate of the question 'is this spam'. In particular focussing on the particular tactic of asking visitors to share their address book 'so they can see who else is signed up' and sing the list to spam everyone in the address book.

Quechup has since added a notice to tell people that this is what is going to happen. Does this stop the messages being spam?

The Quechup messages are indiscriminate and almost certain to be unwanted by the recipient. According to my definition that makes them spam.

Framing the definition of spam in terms of permission leads to the same conclusion but only after it is pointed out that Alice cannot give Mallet permission to spam Bob. I don't like using permission as the basis for a definition precisely because it allows this type of slippery tactic.

More importantly we have to act quickly to establish a better framework for online identity and sharing contact information in an intelligent fashion. If every Web 2.0 startup tries to create its own social network we are going to quickly become swamped with the signup requests.

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