Will you be violating anyone’s privacy?
You might think that if someone visits your web site, they wouldn’t mind getting a little email from you. So, you use the little script that harvests email addresses from web browsers, and you start sending out email. Guess what happens? Yep, your mail gets black-holed, your server gets hacked, and your house burns down.
If someone posts a message to a newsgroup, and you email them a personal response that isn’t just an advertisement, you’re probably okay ? after all, people send “unsolicited” email all the time. If you send email to everyone who posts to a newsgroup, to announce your new line of gerbil-fur handbags, you are asking for trouble, and we hope you get it.
Does your marketing or advertising really belong there?
Newsgroups and other forums (such as web-based discussion groups) have long tolerated advertising, if it’s attached to an otherwise useful message, in the form of a 4 to 5 line “signature.” Most of them will even tolerate posting links to your site, if it’s a useful response to someone’s question. If your site has instructions on replacing the clutch cable in a 1961 Corvette, and someone asks for help with their ’61 ‘Vette, it’s perfectly appropriate to post a response with a link to the instructions. It’s not appropriate to try to sell them the 1961 Corvette that’s sitting on your used car lot.
If you have any doubt about whether what you’re planning is appropriate, it’s probably not. Internet users are extremely sensitive about privacy, and nobody wants to be bothered with advertising. There’s so much unwanted advertising, useless email, harassing chat messages, and so on, that anything that comes close to the gray area is liable to offend someone. Play it safe – there are plenty of legitimate ways to market your web site.
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