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AOL Won't Budge on Email Tax 277

Posted by Zonk
from the stubborn-coots dept.
deman1985 writes "InformationWeek reports that AOL has no intentions to budge on its use of certified email. The company today released a statement apparently in response to the vast amounts of criticism over the past week from consumers and various organizations. From the article: 'We believe more choices, and more alternatives, for safety and e-mail authentication is a good thing for the Internet, not bad,' said an AOL spokesman. 'Everything that AOL has in place today free for e-mail senders remains -- and will only improve.' The programs critics aren't so optimistic, but that doesn't seem to be hampering the company's plans. In a quote that could only be labeled short and sweet, AOL announced, 'Implementation of this timely and necessary safety and security measure for our members takes place in the next 30 days. Mark it on your calendars.'"
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AOL Won't Budge on Email Tax

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  • Swaths (Score:5, Funny)

    by Krach42 (227798) on Friday March 03, 2006 @12:58PM (#14843230) Homepage Journal
    'Implementation of this timely and necessary safety and security measure for our members takes place in the next 30 days. Mark it on your calendars.'

    That's a pretty large swath of my calender... someone got another highlighter? Mine wore out around March 14th.
  • by RootsLINUX (854452) <rootslinux@3.14gmail.com minus pi> on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:00PM (#14843249) Homepage
    You can sign it here: http://www.dearaol.com/ [dearaol.com]. MoveOn.org [moveon.org] (political action group) is renouncing this absurb proposal by AOL as well. So it's not just strictly tech companies that are opposed to this.
    • by jfengel (409917) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:20PM (#14843436) Homepage Journal
      Of course MoveOn opposes it. MoveOn is exactly the sort of organization who gets hit by this. They send out large quantities of email, presumably to people who have signed up for it. If they send out a work-daily email to 100,000 AOL customers, at a $.001 non-profit rate (I'm making these numbers up, but they're on the rough order of magnitude) that's $100 a day, perhaps $20,000 a year. That's real money to a nonprofit, even if it's half the cost of a single stamp per person for an entire year.

      The question would be whether AOL plays nicely. If they have a non-profit rate, does that mean that they WILL absolutely demand their inch of green? Or will they note that MoveOn plays by the spam rules and not block their emails? Will AOL extort that $20k a year even if MoveOn obviously isn't spamming?

      I'm a little ticked that MoveOn is trying to pretend that they're fighting for the general freedom of Internet, lest AOL start extorting your grandmother to send baby pictures. In reality they're just interested in themselves. Rightly so, perhaps, but the cloak of hysteria bugs me.
      • by Confused (34234) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:46PM (#14843640) Homepage

        The question would be whether AOL plays nicely. If they have a non-profit rate, does that mean that they WILL absolutely demand their inch of green?


        I really hope, AOL will charge those non-profit organisations the same as other businesses. Why should televangelists, corrupt political parties or other assorted whiny do-gooder have it easier to get to me? If a company tries to sell used condoms or recycled viagra, at least it tries to be productive.
      • I don't get what the problem is, though. They can still send email the exact same way they have in the past without paying the fee. Do they want to get paid for sending email, or something? I could understand opposition if you had to pay a fee to send email to AOL users, but last I knew no one was being cut off.
    • I don't think a petition is going to impress them, but a boycott might. If they want to isolate themselves from the rest of the email world, let them. We should all configure our MTAs (Sendmail, Postfix, etc.) to refuse to deliver ANY email to AOL hosts. When AOL customers can't get email from outside AOL, they will switch to a more enlightened ISP.

      I'm actually in favor of using micropayments [brouhaha.com] to solve the spam problem, but the micropayments should go to the actual email recipient, not the ISP or some o

      • We should all configure our MTAs (Sendmail, Postfix, etc.) to refuse to deliver ANY email to AOL hosts. When AOL customers can't get email from outside AOL, they will switch to a more enlightened ISP.
        What you need to add is a block FROM the aol.com domain. When the AOL members see that all mail they send to anyone outside of AOL is returned 'undeliverable', they are more likely to complain.
      • Oh God, not the micropayments crap again. Please, not a system that requires an enormously bloated bureaucracy to work, tying *every single email address* to a bank account. This effectively kills what's great about the internet, namely that it Just Works.

        Talk about the cure being worse than the disease.

    • As long as MoveOn and other organizations practice responsible mailing list management, their delivery will be unchanged from the way it is today. So they're not fighting what they think they're fighting.

      This is a whitelist that bypasses filters, not a whitelist that is the only way to get through. Bulk mailers who don't pay up will still be able to send to AOL, and can still participate in AOL's other whitelists.

      And Goodmail's service isn't a matter of "pay and we'll let you in" so much as it's "pay and w
    • Why is everyone reacting so negatively to this. It's the first step in what is fundmantelly a great idea to elimate spam. namely:
      Step1: anything that is not whitelisted by the receiver, and otherwise does not bear a stamp is by definition SPAM.

      step2: (Not implemented yet) a universal postage system not an AOL only postage system.

      What makes this great is that it can be done very seemlessly and nails the problem. If someone is willing to send you something unsolicited and pay for it then it may turn out t
      • I've been wondering the same -- sender pays seems like a great way to reduce junk mail to easily managable levels. Of all the horrors, the thought that AOL would have a sender pays email system makes me entertain the possibility of getting an AOL account again. Mind you, I ditched AOL probably around 1991 -- Delphi had a 20/20 package: $20 for 20 hours of online time which was much more affordable than AOL's $10 for 3 hrs and $3/hr thereafter. Delphi was text based and AOL had a gui (through GeoWorks) bu
      • Slippery Slope (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iamlucky13 (795185)
        What bugs me about the email tax, and I'm sorry to fall back on a cliche debate term, there's some definite slippery slope potential. For now those who pay bypass the filter. A lot of spam still gets through these filters, however, so the next obvious step is to add more rules to the filters. Pretty soon, as you proposed, the only way to send email is to pay your 0.1 cent, but since spam filters are generally pretty good about filtering out bot spam, paying to pass the filters actually could increase their
  • Yawn. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033)
    Since I don't have a single family member, friend or business contact with an AOL address--and can't remember the last time I did, must be at least five years ago--I really couldn't care less.
    • Re:Yawn. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JustNiz (692889)
      This sets a precedent. If they actually get away with this it will be a clear indicator to other providers (i.e. yours) to charge for emails and probably other net-based services too.
      • That would be ME.
      • This sets a precedent. If they actually get away with this

        "Get away with this"?!?! That's absurd. AOL owns the servers. If AOL wanted to configure their servers to only accept mail from MSN that would be their right... Or deny e-mail from China, or declare all e-mail from hotmail as spam, or turn them off all together and stop providing e-mail. AOL is not obligated (morally or legally) to do ANYTHING with their mail servers.

        AOL is not charging anyone to accept their mail - they are ONLY charging i

        • "Get away with this"?!?! That's absurd. AOL owns the servers.

          And their email is only useful if other people are willing to go along with AOL's scheme. Sure they can be anti-social, but that makes their stuff worth less. I'd like to see AOL get smacked down hard for this.

  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:01PM (#14843266) Journal
    this might seem a little aloof...but why do we, as Slashdot, care if people who mass-mail AOL users are going to be charged a really, really idiotic e-mail tax? AOL has never been known for cutting-edge technology and innovation (unless you want to count free CDs being used as frisbees/mirrors/coasters). Let the AOL spammers pay more to spam their gullible victims...I'm sure no one who reads /. uses AOL, and fewer probably care...
    • OSS groups have a lot of mailing lists. Are they going to have the funding to pay AOL? Probably not. Should anyone recieving the e-mail be an AOL subscriber anyway? Definately not, but there are some and the OSS group will want to reach their audience.
      • There's a simple solution to all of this. Don't use AOL. If you have to use AOL, then don't use their email addresses. So far as I understand it, this really only effects mass mailings and mailing lists, so surely you can migrate over to GMail or something like that.
    • If you have a mailing list, and your output to AOL addresses exceeds some unknown number, your subscribers at AOL will not be getting them. So "why does this matter" is relevent, I guess, only if your mailing list subscribers include a lot of AOLers...
    • It's the principle of the thing - e-mail is free, virtually instant communication to anyone and everyone within the network. Monkeying about with this is just muddying the waters and letting someone toss a jar full of leeches in. Not good.
      • The leeches are in; they're called "spammers". They're able to function because they can send a billion emails a day at zero cost to them. Even if the hit rate is trivial, it's enough as long as the costs are practically zero.

        So the situation is already "not good". I can't say if this is the right solution or not, but the present situation doesn't thrill me either.
        • With today's spam filtering techniques, a little spam is a small price to pay for free e-mail. I get 300-400 a day on one account, and I do not complain. I filter it, I see maybe 10 a day. Spam is not the problem it once was, it just requires vigilance to keep it that way.
      • Somebody is paying for the computing and network resources that go into processing email. Unfortunately, those who are paying for it (AOL, Yahoo, and anyone running a email server) are not the ones who are benefiting from it ( Spammer's, political and non-profit orgs, etc. )

        It doesn't seem at all odd to me that the organizations who ARE paying want to shift some of the cost to the people who are benefiting from it. And I'm 100% behind their effort to do so.

    • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:20PM (#14843430) Homepage
      Because some of us run legitimate lists with several AOL members on, and AOL *already* makes things miserable for us. This makes it worse to the point where I may have to tell my AOL users that I cannot support them. Considering the president of the club I do this for is an AOL user, it likely means I won't be the one providing the service any longer. And I refuse to sign up on any Yahoo! groups, so I'll end up being the one excluded.
      • why don't you send those people gmail invites? If you've got gmail, you've probably got a couple of hundred of 'em :)
      • Web hosting takes a hit as well. Hosting customers set their business up somewhere, and have all of their mail (apam and all) forwarded to their AOL account. AOL, apparently not bothering to check headers (to see that while the mail IS spam, the last hop happened at their user's request) just chunks the whole class C into their badguy list without comment.

        Of course the customers are SHOCKED at the suggestion that AOL is a bad ISP! something MUST be wrong on our end!!!

        Solution?: Any support request invol

      • But you're not being excluded. The people paying are the ones excluded. You don't have to pay it, and you just put up with the same headaches as before. It's not adding any more to you, it's adding a way, if someone wishes to pay, to get around those headaches. If you do not want to pay, don't, and just continue sending your e-mails.
        • Thats just not true. The status quo of having to jump through hoops to get on their 'white list' has been discontinued and will be replaced with this certified sendor bullshit. I run a web site and AOL is the main provider that causes us problems. We've been put on the whitelist, but occasionally some threshold of people click the 'this is spam' button instead of the delete button. My site started as a mailing list in 1996. Last year, I terminated the mailing list because of problems with AOL users. (We sti
          • Hey, don't worry. All those headaches are still going to be there. Or you can pay. It's that simple. You can complain about it until you're red in the face, and it's not going to do you any good. Their customers do not care, therefore spending money on the problem is wasting money. You may run it different if you ran it, but you don't.

            And what's wrong with SPF? Is it THE solution for spam? No. But can it be another metric used to guage wether an e-mail is spam or not? Yup. It works well as this too.

            AOL Suck
      • You know, I almost made an anonymous post to the effect of, "Who cares if the president of the Gay Club for Queers can't get his AOL mail," but upon reflection it occurred to me that no self-respecting gay man would be caught dead using something as tacky and unfashionable as AOL.
      • This makes it worse to the point where I may have to tell my AOL users that I cannot support them.

        This presents an obvious solution to the problem. Tell them you can't support them, if they care, they'll get another ISP. If enough users leave, they'll stop filtering. If not many people leave, then it's obviously not a big problem for them.

        If AOL wants to shoot themselves in the foot that's their business.
    • AOL has never been known for cutting-edge technology and innovation (unless you want to count free CDs being used as frisbees/mirrors/coasters).

      Yeah and their CDs suck as frisbees! Definitely not cutting edge!


    • The other day I was cleaning out junk and came across an old AOL disk I had kept. I should mention I am into retro-computers, and, THIS AOL coaster was a 5.25 floppy in ProDOS format. It is for AOL on the Apple II.
      I was considering slapping my Micromodem ][ back in the //e, stuffing this beauty into the DuoDisk drive, and at a blazing 300baud dial up my local AOL access number and start spewing my email tax's worth of SPAM at all the other members..
      I would probably generate them ab
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just the sort of carry on regardless my experience with AOL product managers leads me to expect.
  • Cha-ching. (Score:4, Funny)

    by glass_window (207262) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:02PM (#14843273)
    What do you expect from a company that can't figure out how else to make money besides raising dialup costs?
  • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jridley (9305) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:02PM (#14843281)
    You know how most places with rebates and such won't accept a PO box as a valid email address?

    I'd be sorely tempted to say "no aol.com addresses" when people sign up for stuff. Just put a note on the signup page that says "due to AOL's policies, we can't guarantee that you will receive the email that we send to you, therefore an AOL.COM email address is not a reliable means of communication.
    • You cannot guarantee that any e-mail you send will be received. Period.
    • You do realize that they're adding a whitelist to bypass filters, not blocking mail that isn't on the list, right?

      This is the equivalent of opening a VIP lane and leaving the other lanes unchanged -- not requiring people to sign up for the VIP list to get in in the first place.
  • by repetty (260322) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:02PM (#14843282) Homepage
    >> "Mark it on your calendars."

    Wow. That a classic example of manager-spreak. Lord, help them, they're being managed. You can bet the farm on that.
  • Not a "tax" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by massysett (910130) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:03PM (#14843283) Homepage
    I know it's just a headline, but "tax" is putting this much too strongly. Taxes are levied by governments. Governments have a monopoly on the "legitimate" use of force--thus, if you don't pay your tax, the government has the authority to knock you upside the head, confiscate your property, put you in jail, etc. AOL will have no such authority to collect this fee. Mass mailers will be perfectly free not to pay the fee, and to encourage AOL users to dump that awful walled gate of an "online service." This is no tax.
    • Some hyperbolic use of the word tax are defesible. Like the MS tax is defensible because it is something that is added to the cost of nearly every PC, even though a finite number of PCs either already have a site license or use a non MS solution. Such a 'tax' would not exist without deals cut with manufactureres and MS effort to catagorize every naked white box buidler as a pirate. The v-chip is a tax because everyone must pay for this even though many will not need it, and it would not exist without fed
  • Opt in, or die! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:03PM (#14843290) Homepage Journal
    FTA: "Certified Email prevents and blocks spammers from sending e-mails to online users," said the AOL spokesman. Goodmail's program is 100-percent opt-in;

    So in other words, Opt-ing and pay, or your email will be blocked. Spam kings willing to chip in would appear to be uneffected. Average joe mailing lists, kiss it good bye. Which beggs the question, why does anyone use AOL anymore?

    -Rick
    • You misread the article. Quote from the article: "Goodmail's program is 100-percent opt-in; Goodmail strictly disallows those who have not previously secured the expressed consent of consumers from signing up for Goodmail tokens."

      In other words, Goodmail requires the mailers to have optained "opt-in" from the recipients. The usual "opt-out" link at the bottom of most spam is not acceptable. What's not clear to me, if how they can enforce that the recipient has indeed opted-in the mass mailing. But it
    • Re:Opt in, or die! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917)
      Goodmail is also supposed to block abuse, even from people who pay. When you sign up with Goodmail you have to sign a contract. I don't know the details of that contract, so perhaps I'm wrong, but I suspect that they will enforce the CAN-SPAM rules (not that I'm thrilled about them, but they do make spam easier to filter).

      Remember, Goodmail's sole reason for existence is to limit spam, while allowing legitimate mail. If they block personal emails, or allow through v1@gra ads, they're going to lose custome
      • They might block C14L1S adds, but you're probably going to see a lot more WalMart mailers if you're an AOL user...

        Personally, I almost prefer the penis enlargement adds.
    • No, it means they only certify mailers who practice opt-in list management.

      Spam kings who chip in won't get certified because they aren't using opt-in lists.

      Average joe mailing lists get the same treatment they receive today.
  • by defile (1059) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:03PM (#14843294) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who pays AOL to send me a certified email has just got to be someone I don't want to talk to.

    • Anyone who pays AOL to send me a certified email has just got to be someone I don't want to talk to.

      I heard the same arguments two years ago when Hotmail started using Bonded Sender. Of course, given that sites like Ebay were signed up with Bonded Sender, that would mean not getting your outbid notices. And with some of the names I've seen attached this time around, blocking certified email could be a good way to filter out any real messages from your bank so that you only get the phish.

      Actually, the e
  • by Puls4r (724907) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:03PM (#14843295)
    They're trying to make a buck. Are you surprised? We are well our on way to paying for email. First comes the "premium" packages. You know, if you want a virus and spam free inbox with the ability to send mass mails. Later you have to pay for intermediate mail as well - if you send over a certain amount. The last step is to announce that because of the many security threats due to viruses and becuase of spam abuse and the high volume of email, EVERYONE will have to pay. It's an enterprise. It will start with the big companies, and once they force it on the market, the smaller companies will follow.
    • not necessarily true. i, for one, am just waiting for ALL the companies to start charging for e-mail. Then WHAM! I'll come up with a new-age Hotmail.com to offer free e-mail accounts to everyone and make a killing. Y'know, before Hotmail, there really were very few "free e-mail" options. This is back in the day, when half of /. was probably still in diapers....
      • I'm still in a diaper, you insensitive clod!

    • Someone will market a plug-and-play email server appliance a-la the Vonage phone box. Sure, you don't _need_ a separate doo-dad to do it, but if someone came up with a whiz-bang, minimal configuration, DynDns-using, WebMail serving "think GMail is good, this has 2 HUNDRED gigabytes and unlimited accounts" box for $99.95, if this stuff became widespread, they'd sell like hotcakes on Sunday morning. ...or Jobs will just load it up as standard software on the Mini, et voila.
    • by garcia (6573) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:20PM (#14843425) Homepage
      They're trying to make a buck. Are you surprised? We are well our on way to paying for email.

      Yeah ok, sure. Wake me up when SMTP is taxed by the government. Until then my mail server will happily send and receive mail.
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:04PM (#14843305)
    Isn't it funny how businesses think were stupid enough to believe statements like the following:

    >>> Implementation of this timely and necessary safety and security measure for our members

    Of course their motiviation is all about concern for the end-user. The fact that they will make money on every fricking email has no bearing on their decision to implement this.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:07PM (#14843324) Homepage Journal
    "In a quote that could only be labeled short and sweet"

    "GO FUCK YOURSELF AOL" is also short and to the point, but far from sweet.
  • There was a time when the only access to the internet for most people was a paid dial-up service where everything was nice and controlled. AOL made a stinking lot of money during the golden age. I think they want to enforce a new revenue stream. Sure, right now the old services are still free, but what happens when the bugs are worked out of the new system? You certainly have to respect the "My server, my rules" attitude, but with all the free email clients and the improved spam filtering, I think that AOL
  • User whitelist (Score:5, Informative)

    by kindbud (90044) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:12PM (#14843371) Homepage
    If an AOL user has you in their whitelist, you bypass all spam filters. No fees, no forms to fill out, no feedback loop to maintain, nothing. So all these charities just need to tell their users to put them in their whitelist before signing up for mailing lists or whatever. Lots of sites do this already, because they are aware of spam filters.

    • The problem is that Moveon has such a lousy reputation that they can't get on AOL's whitelist. They don't process unsubscribes reliably, they cross permission boundaries, they don't handle bounces properly.
    • And what about mailing lists where the reply-to address is different for each mailing that goes out? Should the AOL users whitelist every member on the mailing list? Great idea.
    • Re:User whitelist (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dtumd (958732)
      aol users' whitelists will have very little effect on this. A lot of email to aol is blocked before it actually reaches a user's email account (and all the settings associated with it). an example is stated earlier in these posts, which is that AOL has a certain unannounced threshold, that if a particular domain sends a certain number of emails to them within a certain amount of time, they automatically get blocked for a certain amount of time. No user whitelist will have any effect on this as the emails
  • As I understand it this is to block incoming messages to @aol.com addresses and that's fine. Who cares if someone@aol.com didn't get your email? Suppose you have an online store and someone makes a purchase using an @aol.com, I'd simply warn the purchaseer that "we don't send mail to @aol.com, use another email address." I imagine this will become the standard practice for treating aol.com users and they will complain or start using gmail or yahoo mail or whatever and so on.
  • 'We believe more choices, and more alternatives, for safety and e-mail authentication is a good thing for the Internet, not bad,' said an AOL spokesman. 'Everything that AOL has in place today free for e-mail senders remains -- and will only improve.'

    uh huh. How about you fix this crap then, AOL? (tos warning for a legitimate user of a legitimate list...notice how AOL forges the #!$@# to line, and likely breaks some RFCs (I don't feel like checking). And where does AOL get off thinking they can call thi

  • by slashkitty (21637) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:17PM (#14843408) Homepage
    You will start seeing that more and more on webpage signup forms. If you have an AOL email account, expect your internet world to get smaller.

    I have already started adding it to signup forms on my site (forums that require email activation for example). There is no way I'm paying to send emails to new users.

    Of course, this could end up with AOL users having to PAY for signups on things like email lists and other subscriptions, that would otherwise be free.

    • I have already started adding it to signup forms on my site (forums that require email activation for example). There is no way I'm paying to send emails to new users.

      What are you? Some kind of moron? Did AOL tell you that you had to pay to send email? Of course they didn't. I run several mailing lists, and AOL has never blocked the recipients of those lists. Even if they did, my mailing list manager would notice that their email is bouncing, and would take them off the list. No need for me to do anyt
  • by Ossifer (703813) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:20PM (#14843427)
    I for one will be blocking all @aol.com addresses from my email servers until AOL agrees to pay me 10 per email.

    What goes around, comes around. As I previously suggested [slashdot.org], internet extortionists risk everything...

    How many fools will remain with AOL when other ISPs start blocking their email?
  • Balderdash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dekortage (697532) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:22PM (#14843447) Homepage

    "Balderdash and piffle," replies Jennings. "Nothing's really changed."

    First: piffle [google.com] means balderdash, doesn't it? What a bunch of tomfoolery and flimflam.

    Second: sorry Jennings, something has changed. The FTC's CAN-SPAM law [ftc.gov], debated though they may be, allow that unsolicited e-mail can be sent LEGITIMATELY under certain strict guidelines. AOL's e-mail "tax" will potentially damage the ability of legitimate law-abiding businesses to legally market their products.

    Third: what is AOL's definition of spam? What does this mean for nonprofits who legitimately send mass e-mails? What about politicians who spam [slashdot.org] -- will AOL let that through, or not?

  • This might be a great time for an open community solution to the next evolution of e-mail. After all, will we still be writing messages through the same data standards in five or ten years? Perhaps there's a better message solution that will authenticate the sender and recipients... and in fact, maybe there are some out there already, in testing, or that haven't gained widespread attention, but are good ideas based upon open, readily-adoptable standards?
  • This is just an optional feature no one will use, not a tax [messagingpipeline.com].

    a) Free mail will still get through to AOL users.
    b) AOL users can still whitelist and blacklist senders, even certified senders.

    So certified mail allows senders to pay for what privilege, again?

    There's nothing to buy, there's no added value, this program will be DOA.

    But it's just a stupid business idea, AOL doesn't have any authority to challenge the sanctity of email, no matter what some critics [moveon.org] would have you believe.
    • So certified mail allows senders to pay for what privilege, again?

      As I understand it, AOL's mail client will display images in certified mail by default (rather than hiding them by default) and will add some sort of icon to the UI to indicate that it's been "certified."
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday March 03, 2006 @01:27PM (#14843484) Homepage
    They should be charging 2 cents and refunding 1/2 the money collected to subscribers.

    You want to send me spam email, pay me.

    Also, EVERYONE complaining about this is a spammer. They don't think they are spammers, but they are. If the recepients want you on their email, they will put you in their address book and you won't be charged a thing.

    • Also, EVERYONE complaining about this is a spammer. They don't think they are spammers, but they are. If the recepients want you on their email, they will put you in their address book and you won't be charged a thing.

      You overestimate the typical AOL user. They probably won't think to add the shop they just bought from to their address book - but they sure as hell want to receive their order confirmation.

    • Also, EVERYONE complaining about this is a spammer. They don't think they are spammers, but they are. If the recepients want you on their email, they will put you in their address book and you won't be charged a thing.

      You have the typical Slashdot myopic viewpoint, "if I'm not doing something, no one does it." You have clearly never had to send large amounts of legitimate email that people actually want.

      The first problem is sometimes it's not technically possible for the AOL user to whitelist all sending a
  • Here's a thought...and I'm surprised I didn't see this in the comments. There are scores of free and advertiser-support e-mail streams out there--gmail, yahoo, etc. Why not work to direct AOL folks to use one of these services. Even if AOL is their ISP, they can, presently, hit these sites. I may even have some invites to gmail I can contribute to the cause.

    Best case scenario is that NO e-mail traffic goes to AOL anymore. Their list revenue would be minimal at best. Having migrated off AOL for e-mail, the b
  • And in other news AOL announced a new subscription service for it's members, for an additional $5.95 a month members can enable the AOL goodmail filter service on their mailboxes which will block out all emails from senders that have signed up for AOLs "certified sender" list. :)
  • ""Certified Email prevents and blocks spammers from sending e-mails to online users," said the AOL spokesman. Goodmail's program is 100-percent opt-in; Goodmail strictly disallows those who have not previously secured the expressed consent of consumers from signing up for Goodmail tokens. Given AOL's phenomenal public track record on spam, no one can credibly assert that AOL would sign up for a pay-to-spam program. Get real.""

    Well I'm confused then. I mean if mass-emailers (spammers) are not, in fact, g
    • First spammers will fake/spoof the goodmail system - that's what made habeas an unmitigated disaster (it became a near 100% spam sign very quickly.. of course it's just as useful for that - I automatically bounce anything with a habeas haiku in it).

      Secondly, spammers are *always* claiming their lists are 'opt in' when they clearly aren't.
    • I mean if mass-emailers (spammers) are not, in fact, going to be able to pay to insure that their targets get their emails, then why are mass-emailers going to pay for this privelege?

      You're confusing mass-mailers with spammers. All spammers are mass-mailers, but not all mass-mailers are spammers.

      A mass-mailer who practices responsible list management -- i.e. only sends mail to people who opt in, and verifies that in some way (so you can't sign up someone else), and responds to unsubscribe requests in a tim
  • Why does everybody here think that AOL implementing this policy is the first step on a slippery slope to the end of email? It's not, nowhere near it.

    What AOL is saying is that if you cover the costs to certify your email, they will ensure that it gets through and not stuck in a spam filter. AOL exists for one reason, to provide a service to their customers. If you feel that they charge to much or provide poor service and don't use them, guess what? You are not their customer.

    AOL was the first succ
    • If it doesn't work, they will lose customers, if it works, I doubt I'll ever see a story about its success on Slashdot.

      Absolutely correct. Hotmail's deal with Bonded Sender seems to have worked fine, despite all the fuss when it was announced. It's been almost two years, and I don't think I've seen a single mention on Slashdot since the "Hotmail will allow pay-to-spam!!!!11111one" stories.
  • "Let Me Esplain" (Score:5, Informative)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Friday March 03, 2006 @02:13PM (#14843880)
    "No, is too much, let me sum up."

    AOL has made a series of poor choices with their email program/system, for years on end. Some highlights:

    - They only display the email address of the person sending you email. You have to open the email to find out the name of the sender! (Shouldn't this have been fixed 15 or so years ago when AOL first started letting outsiders send email to their members?)

    - If an AOL user wants to include part of your email in their reply to you, they have to copy and paste it themselves, there is no notion of inserting quoted text as with every other email program on earth.

    - They put the "Report Spam" button right next to the delete button, and from the user's perspective it does the same thing: email disappears when you click it, with no warning. But on the back-end, AOL counts these against the sender, even if the person did it by mistake (since it is right next to the Delete button, this is very common).

    - And the best of them all: plaintext emails to AOL members do not have URLs hyperlinked! They have to copy and paste the URL into the web browser in AOL, or the sender has to format the plaintext as a link, using A HREF, even though everyone ELSE that receives the email in this fashion will see this tag surrounding the URL. If you want everyone to have a nice view of your email and be able to click on the links, you have to format it as HTML.

    Now here is where this email tax comes in. Right now, if an AOL member clicks on a link in your HTML email to them, they will get a warning that links are disabled, unless you are in their address book, or you are in the AOL Enhanced Whitelist. You get on this whitelist by having a clean record of sending a lot of email to AOL members, and not being reported too often as "spam." I.e. you're a company sending a lot of legitimate email.

    In this case, they click on your links and they just work. If you're not on the enhanced whitelist, and you're not in their address book, they have to click on a "enable links for this email" button for EVERY EMAIL.

    Now AOL wants to replace this enhanced whitelist system with the email tax system run by GoodMail.

    The problem here is not safety or spammers, it's:

    1. AOL's spam detection sucks.
    2. AOL's email program sucks.

    If they fixed those two problems, there would be no need for an enhanced whitelist or goodmail!

    As for their line, "We believe more choices, and more alternatives, for safety and e-mail authentication is a good thing for the Internet, not bad..." Let me ask them, "So why are you dropping the enhanced whitelist?" That's not more choices, that's dropping one in favor of another... another that will provide you with some much needed profit.

    I'm sure their motives are pure.
  • For regular spam: no change
    For companies on the system's good list: allowed past spam filters

    So that's a net gain of spam.

    GENIUSES
  • The fact of the matter is that dealing with SPAM mail costs the large mail providers, and costs them a lot. They may have a majority of their mail infrastructure in place just to deal with the extra capacity issues that SPAM creates.

    You might not see all that much spam in your box these days, but the big guys do. It costs them millions.

    This may be a despiration move on AOL's part, but it is one way to nip at the problem.

  • by Otto (17870) on Friday March 03, 2006 @03:29PM (#14844764) Homepage Journal
    Here's the thing... for most people that this will actually impact, it will simply make it harder for AOL users to use whatever your service is.

    AND THAT'S THE GOAL.

    AOL has fallen on hard times recently. The "walled garden" isn't holding the users in like it used to. AOL users have come to consider that AOL = the internet, for the most part, and lots of them are using AOL as a more normal, but particularly expensive and annoying, ISP.

    But that's not retaining existing customers. Once an AOL user finds out that signing up with a more traditional ISP is not only cheaper, but actually provides a far better service, then they tend to switch. AOL subscriber numbers have been dropping for ages now.

    AOL wants to stop, or at least slow, that. And that's why they are going to this service. By degrading the rest of the internet to their users, they hope to make their walled garden seem better by comparison. If AOLers have problems with the internet services delivering email to them, then they will tend to blame the service itself, not AOL.

    People complaining that this will make things harder for them are missing the point. It's supposed to make things harder for you. Hard enough to make you give up on supporting AOL users. This gives AOLers a bad impression of the rest of the network and keeps them in their walled garden.

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