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May 10, 2001

Just a Question

by Marc Green

I am one of those who uses 2 e-mail for personal, and one for industry, and other reasons. Amazingly enough, even though my Yahoo e-mail isn't posted in my questions/replies to forums, I have received "spam" from individuals/companies, that directly relate to things I have posted to While this really is no big deal to me, I am curious as to if provides sponsors/advertisers with this address?


Ted Mooney replies

We appreciate your asking, Marc, because we want people to clearly understand what we do.

We don't even have, let alone would we ever sell, any kind of e-mail list. But for a lot of reasons (why?) when someone asks for a vendor or source, we can't publicly post replies. Rather, via the mechanism you can see on each letter ("I want to reach the inquirer privately"), we provide one e-mail address at a time to one supplier at a time, with first dibs to our supporting advertisers. I researched your situation and on one letter you asked "Is anyone aware of a masking product (preferably a liquid paint maskant) that will adhere to an EN plated surface . . ." One supplier of masking products requested your e-mail address to respond to you, and we forwarded it; this was the only case.

But your answers to other people's shop problems, complete with your name and e-mail address, have been printed in the "Heard on the Hotline" column in Metal Finishing magazine, and some suppliers might be manually harvesting e-mail addresses from magazines.

My own belief is that if someone tries to answer a specific question you asked, it's not spam. But if they hang onto your e-mail address and send you additional communications, it is!

To me the essential nature of spam -- what makes it so repugnant -- is the intrinsic disrespect for the recipient's time. Thus, not all spam is from vendors. Sometimes a student will spend 15 seconds to write a general question, and then send it privately to 20 consultants, and sit back expecting them to each put in 20 minutes or so for the 'desperate' student. To ask for 400 minutes of other people's time for 15 seconds of your own is to insult them! Similarly, sometimes a hobbyist will ask 30 shops to quote them on tin plating a dish when they know they have no intention of spending more than $15 on it; to ask dozens of people to vest themselves in quoting on a $15 item is to disrespect them!

In the Hotline-Letters area we increasingly decline to print general, abstract, inquiries and vague student questions because nobody can thoughtfully answer a question in 15 seconds, so it is unfair to take only 15 seconds to post one. This is one reason we ask people who want to post a question to explain who they are and why they want to know: because if that's too much trouble to take, they have no right to ask for our readers' time. Just my opinion.

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