ADMIN: False Terms of Service Complaints

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Tue Nov 11 2003 - 12:50:58 EST

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    This message arises out of an issue relating to AOL (America On-Line), but I ask
    that all subscribers read it because it could also apply to other ISPs (Internet
    Service Providers).
    Version 9.0 of AOL's web software includes a button that enables AOL members to
    send a complaint to AOL about e-nails that they believe violate AOL's terms of
    service. In principle, this is a useful tool to help fight SPAM and other forms
    of abuse of the e-mail system.
    Unfortunately, AOL's complaint button is located next to the button used to
    delete messages, and some folks are accidentally hitting the complaint button,
    instead of the delete button.
    If AOL receives a large number of complaints against messages delivered via a
    specific ISP, then it will refuse to deliver any messages from that ISP to AOL's
    A few weeks ago, the company that hosts SeeSat-L fell victim to this rule, even
    though they have never allowed SPAM to be delivered via their servers. AOL soon
    restored normal service, but the interruption greatly inconvenienced many
    A few days ago, it came to my attention that an AOL member who subscribes to
    SeeSat-L complained to AOL about a message sent via SeeSat-L.
    I contacted the person who made the complaint, and he informed me that it had
    been a mistake - he had meant to hit the delete button, but accidentally hit the
    Complaint button. It was an honest mistake, that any one of us could have made.
    Clearly, care must be taken to use AOL's Complaint button properly. We all want
    to fight SPAM and other e-mail abuses, hut we must recognize the harm from
    sending false complaints.
    At the very least, AOL users should take care to hit the correct button. 
    If AOL's software has the capability to filter messages and route them to
    specific folders, then that would be a practical way to segregate SeeSat-L
    messages. It is highly unlikely that anyone will receive SPAM via SeeSat-L.
    If AOL's software enables its buttons to be moved to other locations, then I
    suggest moving the Complaint button far away from the Delete button.
    In the event of further false complaints, I reserve the right to suspend or ban
    the guilty party from subscribing to SeeSat-L via AOL.
    As I stated at the outset, the problem of false complaints may not be exclusive
    to AOL, so this e-mail applies to all SeeSat-L subscribers, regardless of their
    Discussion of this message is off-topic for SeeSat-L, but is on-topic for
    UseSat-L, our sister list, intended to discuss matters of SeeSat-L policy.
    To subscribe to UseSat-L, please send a message with 'subscribe' in the SUBJECT
    Ted Molczan
    Admin, SeeSat-L
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    in the SUBJECT to
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