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March 9, 2006

Kintera, Cuban, and Common Cause

Mark CubanMichael over at Spamroll noticed that dot-com celeb Mark Cuban is complaining about being spammed by Common Cause, the nonpartisan public interest group.

Michael suspects that Cuban's been joe-jobbed because of his stand on the AOL "email tax" issue, which Common Cause has staunchly opposed.

To test this thesis, I decided to sign up for CauseNet, the group's email newsletter. I discovered that Kintera, the company that's managing the CauseNet newsletter, does a horrible job of handling confirmation.

When you sign up for CauseNet, you get a confirmation email from Kintera thanking you. (Here's what mine looked llike.) But it's not exactly closed-loop opt in (aka double opt-in), which is what any responsible list manager should provide. Instead, the confirmation message simply includes this text:

If you have technical questions, please submit them to http://customersupport.kintera.org.

Visit that URL, and you'll see a "Customer Support Help Request Form." It's totally generic. There's nothing on the form about unsubscribing from mailings managed by Kintera.

I went ahead and used to form to ask how to remove myself from the CauseNet list. I soon recieved an email from Kintera confirming my request for information. The first line of the message stated, "PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL, AS IT CANNOT BE ANSWERED FROM THIS ADDRESS."

Maybe the folks at Kintera should read their own whitepaper about dealing with spam. The company's CTO gives this advice to people who send mass emails: "Include a prominent return email address and a convenient option to opt-out from receiving further emails."

I'll update this posting if and when I hear anything useful from Kintera about my unsubscribe request. In the meantime, I think it's pretty safe to say that the CauseNet list is poorly managed, and it's completely plausiible some Cuban-antagonist signed him up out of spite.

[UPDATE: Just 33 minutes after I sent my question via the Kintera web form, I got back a terse message stating:

The following has been updated for your Communication Preferences:

Do not direct mail
Do not phone
Do not email

Not exactly "leading edge technology," but I guess it's the best Kintera can do. After all, they use the same system for their own Kintera Connect eNewsletter.]

Posted by brian at March 9, 2006 10:15 AM


Am I imagining things, or is the Common Cause form linked to above allowing anyone to email the people on that list (Cohen, Smith, Cuban, Whitacre, Seidenberg)?

Posted by: michael at March 9, 2006 11:20 AM

Michael, excellent point. Kintera is providing a form at the Common Cause site that's apparently responsible for all the "spam" Cuban's receiving.

Posted by: Brian at March 9, 2006 11:37 AM

At first I thought it was actually CommonCause that was suffering from the joe job (meaning someone was impersonating them to piss Mark Cuban off). Now it looks like something else entirely.

Posted by: michael at March 9, 2006 12:57 PM


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