moderated Re: Language Definition of Spam

Sharon Villines

Off topic is off topic. Some topics are broad and whether something is off topic may be in the eye of the beholder.

Spam is a much more specifically defined kind of email that attempts, usually, to produce financial gain. An off topic post sent to one list, no matter the size of the list, it isn’t SPAM. It’s just unwanted email.

From the University of Indiana knowledge base:

The term "spam" is internet slang that refers to unsolicited commercial email (UCE) or unsolicited bulk email (UBE). Some people refer to this kind of communication as junk email to equate it with the paper junk mail that comes through the US Mail. Unsolicited email most often contains advertisements for services or products, but very few reputable marketers use UCE to advertise. The most commonly seen spam includes the following:

• Phishing scams, a very popular and dangerous form of email fraud
• Foreign bank scams or advance fee fraud schemes
• Pyramid schemes, including multilevel marketing (MLM)
• Other "Get Rich Quick" or "Make Money Fast" (MMF) schemes
• Quack health products and remedies
• Ads for pornographic websites
• Offers of software for collecting email addresses and sending UCE
• Offers of bulk emailing services for sending UCE
• Chain letters (see About chain mail)
• Illegally pirated software ("Warez”)
Calling off topic posts SPAM muddles the meanings of both SPAM and off topic. Labelling an innocent list member a junk mail scammer can’t be an advantage that merits changing the definition of SPAM.

Wikipedia expands the definition to also include infected emails spreading viruses. worms, etc.

Some off-topic posters may be just bugging the moderator and other members — but it still isn’t spam by any definition I can find.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC

"It is harder to be kind than clever. KIndness is a choice and hard. Cleverness is a gift and seductive.” — Jeff Bezos' Grandfather

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