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What Exactly is a Screamer? Spam Trap?

My name is James Carner and I’m the founder of Quickie Marketing, a list hygiene company. We remove spam traps, complainers, bounces, litigators and all perceivable threats from email marketing lists. Every day, we receive screamers/complainers and spam traps from our partners which we then study, interpret and use this data for our list hygiene program. I have noticed a trend in our industry that I’d like to point out. There are many forums that publicly post complainers and traps, which is a wonderful tool for publishers to suppress against, but the verbiage they use really needs to be changed.

Any publisher that sends advertisements will face resistance from consumers. The negative feedback coming from the recipient can come across as harsh. For example, some typical comments are, “Die you [blank] spammer!” or “Take me off your [blank] list or I will report you to the FCC!” Because of these graphic comments, our industry has labeled these consumers as “screamers” and/or “complainers”.

The terms “screamer” and/or “complainer” is an accusation that labels a consumer as a mean spirited or angry individual. Aren’t we being a little hypocritical? Let’s be honest. When you receive what you perceive as spam in your inbox, don’t you get irritated? The fact of the matter is, half of the world’s publishers are in our own complainers file because emailers are the worst responders when they receive spam. Obviously, the pot is calling the kettle black. Because of this, we decided to make a change. For the past year, we have been changing our collateral to define screamers/complainers as “protestors”. This term fits and doesn’t judge the character of the individual.

Another term that might be labeled incorrectly is “spam trap”. Spam advisories create blackholes in order to receive spam for study. A blackhole is a server that captures spam to study with the purpose of creating filters to suppress the number of spam that comes into an organization. Anyone can send an advertisement into these blackholes and lose their IP reputation.

If a spammer sends an advertisement into a blackhole, the term “spam trap” would be appropriate. However, if a publisher sends into a blackhole with opt-in information and gets listed or blocked, would this term “spam trap” apply to them? I think this is judging the publisher that they are spamming. It doesn’t seem like a good fit to me. I propose we change it to “advisory trap”. This way, the publisher who fell into the blackhole isn’t being judged as a spammer, but only being labeled as an advisory victim so they can make their case to be de-listed.

We really do need advisories to help stop unsolicited spam. 90% of all email is reported as spam, so it’s a real and legitimate problem. We also need consumers to trust publishers who follow the law. Consumers can easily research information about what category they fall into within the affiliate and publisher industry. Would they be happy if they knew we called them “screamers”? It’s time we pull the thumb out of our mouth and grow up. Consumers are our bread and butter. Let’s treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

If we stop judging consumers and label them appropriately as “protestors”, then advisories should stop judging publishers and label them fittingly as “advisory suspects”. If we change our attitude and verbiage, then perhaps the spam advisories will change theirs.

James Carner
James Carner
James Carner is an Entrepreneur and the Executive President for Verify Rocket LLC. James cut his teeth in the 90’s selling SQL CRM databases for Epicor Software and telephony switches for Lucent Technologies, and for fun, was a producer and publicist for AM 620 The Buzz - Talk Radio. In 2003, James founded Quickie Marketing, Inc. which spawned The Viral Spiral, an internet marketing newsletter with 120,000 subscribers, furthermore birthed eHygienics, an email list cleaning company that recently merged with Monster Clicks LLC. James is interested in private investigation and fluent in American Sign Language. He is the worship leader for Bend Faith Center and a Home Mentor for Habitat for Humanity.

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