A deluge of (unwanted) notecards and updates

Some content creators in Second Life really don’t understand the basic notions of courtesy and respect for the customer, and I’m not talking about customer service here. Like many of you people, I shop around for things that catch my eye – whatever these things may be. And then, some of the content creators from whose shops (in-world or marketplace) I’ve shopped think I gave them permission to send me monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even daily updates about their new products, events, hunts, sales, etc.

This means that my SL-only email is inundated with notifications for these inventory offers, which I delete. And then, when I log in, I have to delete these notifications in-world as well, and discard the inventory offers as well. No, I can’t turn the “receive offline notifications in my email” off, because that way I’d lose the ability to receive notifications for communications I’m actually interested in, and I can’t report them as spam, because then my webmail provider’s spam filtering system would end up blocking offline IMs as spam too.

Exactly what gave these content creators the impression I wanted to receive updates for their products? I didn’t join their update groups; I didn’t fill out a form where I had to tick a box next to something like “Golly gee, your products rule so much I want you to send me updates forever!”. No. This is all unsolicited. It’s unsolicited commercial communications, which is (at least in the European Union) the legal definition of spam.

Leaving the legal bits out, this sort of thing speaks volumes of the content creator’s mentality. They think the buyer’s wishes don’t matter – and I’m not talking about taking customer input into consideration for developing new products. I’m talking about basic courtesy: It is my wish to have an uncluttered mailbox, and to not be hit in the face with a gazillion of notecards and inventory offers (about stuff I don’t even care about) when I log in. This wish, however, is not respected by some content creators. They think they have the right to litter my mailbox and my inventory with stuff I don’t want to receive, and that I have no right to decide if I want this stuff. So, they add me, you, and everyone else, to their recipient lists and start firing off notecards all over the place. All this because we once made the mistake of buying something from them. This has got to stop. It’s disrespectful. It’s rude. It’s unprofessional.

And now, let me give you four basic pointers regarding the sending of updates to your existing customers…

First of all, it doesn’t matter how much stuff I’ve already bought from you. I may have bought one item, I may have bought two, ten, a hundred thousand. However many of your products I may have bought from you, it’s not OK for you to start sending me notifications I never asked for.

Second, when you add me to a recipient list for your notecard sender without my explicit, certifiable and revocable consent… This pisses me off. So much so, that (a) I’ll never buy from you again, (b) I’ll tell others not to buy from you. EVER. Are you sure that’s what you want?

Third, if I wanted to be kept up-to-date with your product range, I’d have joined your update group or your mailing list, and I know how to do this myself – I don’t need you to do this for me, especially given that I never asked for it. But if you’re being so unprofessional with the notecards, why should I trust you to honour an “unsubscribe” request?

Fourth, familiarise yourselves with the notion of consent. It’s not exactly rocket science.

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3 thoughts on “A deluge of (unwanted) notecards and updates

  1. um, i get that too many is too many and even agree it’s a bit out of control and there is no way to filter junk mail from other mail in SL, which is a major drag. happens to me too, believe me, i am capped daily by incoming missives i could give a rats about. i block/mute the worst offenders and drop out of groups when i can etc.
    BUT
    i don’t yet, and likely won’t be persuaded to accept that the relationship between customer and shopper is a unilateral declaration of rules set by the customer in all situations. To spell that out, if it will never be ok that i contact someone who has purchased something from me, for whatever reason without them having given prior express consent that they are willing to receive a notecard or IM from me ever, then frankly, i’d prefer they not engage with me, my products or my store to start with. I mean come on, if 2 update notices a day is too many, are 2 a year also too many?

    What if it’s not an update notice at all, but a info card about the plight of the burrowing elephant nosed mole of Borneo. You are actually going to argue that I as mole lover can only can only send out notecards saying here is how you can help save these creeters to people who have already said, yes, Garvie i am willing to hear from you? Really?
    And should I not have had your express, prior, revocable consent (LOL) then you are gonna be so pissed off that since i happen to sell stuff as well as being a friend to small things with big noses, you are going to tell other people not to buy stuff from me anymore? Really? Couldn’t you just block/mute the sender of the notecard as i do?
    Anyway, just sayin. As it happens, I almost never send out notices or offers or updates or even pleas or whatever, so while i did quite noticeably piss off at least one person in the past, it is very doubtful that i have pissed you off in a similar manner by sending an ‘unsolicited’ notecard. But just in case, i am repeating to you the gist of what what i told her. Your perceived status of yourself as a member of the customer class, or the non content creators group or however you see it, does not give you some special set of privileges and rights distinct from the content creators class. Nor does it impose on me as a member of the creators group some special set of forbearances whereby I am to refrain from contacting or doing anything that might piss you off by appearing not to care about your wishes.

    it is not for one side to give express consent to be contacted, and for the other side to check to make sure that consent has been given before proceeding to send a notecard, or to say hello. Though really, consent first is the recommended procedure if someone offers on the spot dental care or perhaps a sponge bath.

    But just because some kinds of personal interactions are best governed by a legal notion of consent and rights and forbearances does not mean simple communication between residents must be or that you get to carve out a whole new area of claim rights by a loud unilateral declaration of don’t bother me.

    You don’t want anyone to call, write or send, there is not much you can do about it except say so, and hope that the world respects your wishes to be left alone. Threats and hissy fits won’t strengthen the claim that you had some prior unrecognized status.

    But just in case i am wrong, do not replay to this reply. I expressly do not grant you the right to reply. My having replied to your blog post in no way constitutes me granting explicit ior even tacit consent to hearing what you have to say for yourself in response. If you do not honor this demand of mine, I will not only not read your blog anymore, i will tell others not to read your blog as well. i mean it. i am stamping my foot.

    1. You’re conflating the person-to-person contact between merchant and customer (which is usually appreciated) with the automated bulk transmission of notecards to people who didn’t ask to be added to the recipient list in the first place.

      When I was writing this article, I was actually cammed on an automated system of a certain merchant, which kept churning out notecards to all sorts of people, every second, or every two seconds. It was insane.

      Second, you’re conflating a discussion on a blog (perhaps to drive your point home) with spam which in the EU and many other jurisdictions is defined as unsolicited commercial communication (email, SMS, phone call, fax, etc). The EU has – rightly – chosen to follow the opt-in route with the e-Privacy Directive 58/2002/EC.

      In a nutshell: Communicating personally with a customer is OK. Dumping their username/email in a recipient list without their knowledge and permission (that’s what “unsolicited” means) and flooding them with automated promotional (“commercial”) material is a no-no.

      So, you’re missing the point.

    2. Furthermore:

      When it comes to subscribing to a blog and/or its discussions, this is something that only you, the reader (the equivalent of a shop’s customer, if you’d like to make this analogy) can do. I cannot subscribe you to my blog, and I cannot subscribe you to the discussions of its posts. At most, I can invite you. But add you, regardless of what you want? No. Can’t be done. This is possible only on Facebook, and it used to be possible in Yahoo! groups (I think it still is), which have fallen in disarray, disrepair and irrelevance long ago.

      With the various vendor systems in SL, though, it’s different. Many such systems have the option to automatically subscribe anyone who bought something to the updates, without asking (as I explained in my previous comment, this is illegal in the EU). There are merchants who choose to use this option, which is terribly annoying.

      And again… The personal customer-merchant communication is completely different from spam.

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