The other day, we here at Irregular Times got a very special e-mail message from a very special company, Extreme Internet Marketing Tools. It went like this:
To Whom It May Concern: We saw your ezine listing on John Labovitz's E-Zine List (located at http://www.meer.net/~johnl/e-zine-list/). We are interested in increasing the exposure of our website (http://www.x-treme2000.com) and wonder if you could review our site and let us know if it would be OK for your E-Zine publication. We would also like to know your current rates for your publication. Our website has to do with Extreme Internet Marketing Tools and we need to get some feedback from you before we go any further with this ezine marketing project of ours. Please advise. - Lee Marketing
Good ol' Lee from Marketing seems like a nice enough fellow, doesn't
he? Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving.
This e-mail is a request for Irregular Times to become a green zine. Here's how it works. Irregular Times would promise to place an advertisement for and link to Extreme Internet Marketing on the top of each page. In exchange, Irregular Times would get a hefty check in the mail every now and then.
Unfortunately, it can. In the world of traditional publishing, advertisers can and do dictate the content of reporting. As Gloria Steinem documents in her essay, Sex, Lies and Advertising, cosmetics companies regularly demand that articles which compliment their products be placed on the pages opposite advertisements.
As publishing has moved online, this trend has accelerated. Marketers pony up more and more cash, and more and more zines buy into the system. It is now common to hear the call of new zine publishers over e-mail: "I've got a web page for my zine, and I've got advertisers. Now all I need is some content. Can anyone provide some content?" Some savy marketers have even designed their own zines, complete with perfunctory articles, to draw readers in. This is optimal for marketers, since they don't even have to pay a fee to authors for the service.
We call all the various zines that participate in this system green zines because the focus of their activity has
shifted from the presentation of information, opinion or creativity to the
making of money. As the focus of activity shifts in green zines, so shifts the content of their articles, from critical to co-opted. We here at Irregular Times are more interested in maintaining
our independence than pocketing marketers' payoffs. For that reason, we
will never be a green zine.
In the case of marketers like the folks that sent us an e-mail, there
are more reasons not to participate. We did as Lee asked and checked out
Extreme Internet Marketing's web site. We weren't too happy with what we
found. You see, the main focus of Extreme Internet Marketing's business
is the perpetuation of something called spam.
Spamming can be succinctly defined as the sending of business-related e-mail in large quantities to folks who didn't ask for it. Spam is the junk we all get every time we log in. Don't you hate it when you get told you have 10 new mail messages, and you have to wade through ads for electric socks and pyramid schemes to find a greeting from your friends or family? Blame the spammers, companies like Extreme Internet Marketing.
The sleaze doesn't stop there. You see, spamming is not only tacky - it's considered highly unethical. If you tried to send out 4,000 advertisements over e-mail, you'd probably get your account canceled for it.
What's a poor marketer to do? Visit Extreme Internet Marketing, of course! They'll not only provide you with a list of names and addresses to use in your marketing, they'll give you a free shadow account that you can use to spew spam. Worried about complaints from angry recipients? Don't worry, they'll be directed elsewhere; Extreme Internet Marketing hides the mailing information in your account so no one can write you an angry letter and get away with it. That's right, marketers, you can have your cake, eat it, then stuff it down the face of your unwilling customers to boot!
What can you do about this despicable situation? Why, turn the tactics of those internet extremists against themselves! If the tactics of greedheads like Extreme Internet Marketing turn your stomach as green as it turns ours, then send them an e-mail and give them what for! Here are a couple of handy-dandy addresses you can complain to:
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