Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

Is unsolicited advertising permitted?

Answered by Michael Strangelove (

Unsolicited advertising does take place every day on the Net, and there even exists one company that sells access to over one million Internet addresses for direct e-mail advertising. Unsolicited advertising is a gray area of Internet culture and therefore requires careful planning and execution to avoid the wrath of an extremely vocal community.

Unsolicited advertising has been taking place on the Internet for quite some time, but it must be done with extreme caution. There is no one to force you not to send unsolicited commercial e-mail on the Internet, but if you send 10,000 annoying advertisements, be prepared to receive 10,000 complaints. Also, companies that disregard Internet users' wishes are likely to find that the Internet community has a long memory (as any "oral" culture does) and is quite capable of engaging in anti-advertising campaigns and boycotts.

In this new interactive, digital, wired-to-the-bellybutton world, bulk unsolicited advertising is unnecessary, bad netiquette, and simply lazy--particularly when there are so many creative alternatives. The author has no wish to support the rise of door-to-door salespeople in cyberspace and therefore is intentionally leaving out contact information for firms that sell Internet e-mail addresses and consult in bulk unsolicited e-mail advertising.

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