Sunday, December 19, 2004

Living with Junk

We are always faced with junk everyday, handbills at our doorsteps, junk in our snail and electronic mail boxes, and junk in our bins.

In my blacklist for junk producers, ERA property agents top the list of paper junk. Before mail boxes were modified to refrain from targets of junk, I used to receive an average of fifteen to twenty handbills from ERA per week. These days I still receive junk papers from ERA at my doorsteps, and they serve as reminders not to use them when I need to sell my house. That is the kind of reaction consumers will get as a result of persistent junk marketing. I sometimes wonder whether anyone tells companies like them how many trees they are killing each day to use this form of marketing which is not only ineffective, but also a waste of everybody's time. Is it therefore justifiable for a handful of responses to result in the immense volume of junk being created?

Another kind of junk is the marketing e-mails we receive in our electronic mail boxes. The creators of such junk are the e-Marketers who often use net crawlers to obtain every e-mail addresses available on the Internet in order to send materials of their products or services using spiral marketing that persistent send junk to our e-mail accounts. Attempts to filter all e-mail junk through conditional settings in e-mail systems cannot completely eliminate or place junk into the trash automatically, hence it is quite fruitless to spend too much money on such filtering software applications.

Till this day, there is still no perfect method of eliminating junk in e-mail systems, and despite that, iDA has proposed in their legislation for an opt-out regime in electronic marketing. This means in essence that marketers can now send junk e-mails to anyone in Singapore legally or put anyone's e-mail address in their permanent mailing list for regular spamming, so long as the individual do not opt out from such marketing materials. This idea of opting out or unsubscribe from a mailing list is however impractical, because getting in is easy, but getting out is not. In fact, by sending an unsubscribe request, devious marketers can use the information as a confirmation of e-mail address validity and hence result in more marketing targets.

For more information on the proposed legislation on e-mail marketing and spamming, please read my article to The Straits Times forum page, "
Opt out of proposed law."

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