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Q. The E-mail we send is NOT Spam. Our members agreed to (or paid money) get these.  Why are these people crying "Spam"?

A: Because your E-mails are unclear. Your recipient glanced and they looked like Spam, so they reported it. Make sure your E-mails are identified clearly. Make this information the first line of every E-mail.  Use unambiguous language that they get used to seeing from you. In the end, it is the perception, rather than the reality, that leads to any given E-mail being reported.

Q. I send Unsolicited Bulk E-mail so I can sell my Gizmos, but it complies with the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act.

A. The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act in no way legalizes the sending of Unsolicited Commercial Email. Nor does the CAN-SPAM Act override anti-spam filter policies. CAN-SPAM specifically permits Service Providers to prohibit (block) incoming E-mail per our own policies. No amount of Unsolicited Bulk E-mail is acceptable. If you send to members of your site who provided E-mail addresses in order to get your E-mails (that is Opt-In), you're not Spamming. If you're sending to any other list of E-mail addresses, you probably are Spamming.

Q. My mailing list is Opt-in. Why am I still getting all these complaints?

A. Your subscription system should be "Closed-loop, Confirmed Opt-in".  To clarify, a "Closed-loop, Confirmed Opt-in" system first receives a request for a certain E-mail address to be added to the mailing list. The system then sends a confirmation E-mail which requires action on the part of the subscriber to confirm they desire your E-mail traffic. Absent a confirmation, the E-mail address would not be approved.  Even if someone pays money to join a web site that sends E-mail, you should still send a confirmation E-mail that they must reply and confirm.

Q. No, really. In layman's terms, why am I getting TOS complaints? Isn't it just AOL and aren't they basically confusing their members into reporting Spam instead of just deleting an unwanted E-mail?

A. The E-mail you're sending looks like Spam or it is easier for the recipient to just delete it as "junk" than to go through your unsubscribe process.  Put a "Closed-loop, Confirmed Opt-in" system in place. Reword E-mails to be clearer as to their purpose. The best mailing-lists include a link that will automatically and instantly unsubscribe anyone who clicks it. Follow AOL's rules. Do these things and we will defend any "accidental" complaints (if any come in).

Q. There are no E-mail addresses in the abuse complaint you forwarded to me! How can I unsubscribe people without an E-mail address? AOL strips any member-identifying information – e.g., E-mail addresses – from the headers of the notifications they send us!

A. TOS notifications are NOT to be used as a substitute for a robust unsubscription process. If you're receiving abuse complaints, and using the complaints to unsubscribe E-mail addresses, then you are not addressing the root causes which are that your E-mails are insufficiently identified or that you actually are Spamming.  That said, we can look at the header and figure out who complained.

Q. Do you want me to respond to every abuse complaint or TOS notification?

A. You have to take action to prevent future complaints. We wouldn't mind hearing from you so we know what you're doing.