The Solution to Corporate Spam

"Welcome to the Magic Cat Toys Emporium! As a member we will send you offers every week, and other tidbits of information in between that! You can unsubscribe to this list, but then we'll add you to another list because we don't want you to miss out! And we know how you're super interested in each and every one of our products and offers!"

Yeah, you know the feeling. This rant is partially inspired by a discussion in geminispace about how broken email is, but this is a thought I've had for a long time and it only addresses a small part of the problem.

It'll also never be implemented. Because it works on the consumer's terms, not the corporations. And it also depends on technology that most people below 30 are clueless about.

But humour me for a minute. See, this is how it goes today:

Imagine this for a minute:

This wouldn't work for a mailing list where you are an active member (or would it?). It definitely wouldn't work in the corporation's favour. And young people don't know what feeds are.

I think it's a decent compromise. You give the company your info and allow them to sign you up as member. They give you a unique URL, which allows them to see how often you check their offers. Together with your purchase history they may tailor offers that are more relevant to you, and hopefully you'll check the feed more regularly because of that. But your inbox is not in their control. You don't have to trust them with honouring your wishes and respect how much or little contact you want with them. Don't want anything more to do with them? Just remove the feed from your listing completely.

Right now it's all battles on many fronts. The IT department keeps fighting the Marketing department because the latter wants to send out emails in a fashion that is considered spam, potentially causing them to be blocked by large providers (or even the partners they use as a mailing list service!). The Marketing department is fighting the costumers for their attention, often thinking that more mailing leads to more engagement (which is at least partly true). The consumers fight legitimate spam and desperately try to figure out what is an actual offer, what is a phishing scam, and how to rate limit corporate mailing lists or unsubscribe from them.

It's a pretty big mess.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal