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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, August 18, 2003


Dean for America is no spam-haus

posted by annatopia at Monday, August 18, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Over the weekend, a spamming charge was raised against Dean for America. Since this is the third time that such a charge has been associated with DFA, I'd like to try and set the record straight. This story was culled from various sources - both internal and external - and should be considered the "nutshell" version.
In mid-August, a company called "Email Results" was contracted to send a mailing on behalf of DFA. DFA was assured by the contractor that the list was made up of people who "opted in" to receive more information about DFA. Instead, Email Results spammed one of their mailing lists "on behalf" of DFA. When complaints arose and DFA was appraised of Email Results's reputation for spamming, DFA immediately terminated the contract on August 12. ** tech details here **
Two-three days after the contract was terminated, another round of spam was sent out. DFA did not in any way direct or order the second mailing, and they are currently conducting an internal investigation to try and determine who - if anyone - at Email Results authorised it. ** tech details are here **
In looking at the evidence, it appears as though someone is attempting to harvest addresses under the guise of a DFA mailing. For the non-tech, harvesting is a common technique that spammers use to determine whether an email address is valid. If it's valid, that address is later sold to marketing companies and people who create those annoying spam-list cds you see advertised online ("We have 5 million VALID addresses!!"). There are several ways to determine validity, and some sneaky spammers embed little bots in html-formatted emails that will report whether the email was opened or not. That is what happened with this latest mailing. If you receive a mailing with the return/FROM address of "", delete it immediately. Do not open it because your address could end up on another spam list.
Dean for America has a strict no-spam policy, and had they performed a bit more due diligence on Email Results, they probably would not have contracted them. However, mistakes are going to be made (especially if you're blazing new trails) and how they are handling this matter says quite a bit about that no-spam committment. As I mentioned a moment ago, the contracts with the email outsource agencies were terminated as soon as DFA learned of the spamming. DFA has learned the hard lesson that campaign email is best handled internally, where DFA people can exert control over both the mailings and the list data. I've also been assured that DFA has no plans to outsource any email in the future, and that they'll be handling all the mailings themselves. As it stands, the only legitimate way to receive email from DFA is to opt-in via DFA's website. If you receive email from an outside source, it is not authorised by DFA and should be treated as spam.
In addition, if you believe you have been spammed by a contractor, you may email If you have any questions or comments regarding this incident, feel free to leave a comment. Also, the two sites I've linked above have copies of the spam posted, and that might help you identify whether you've been spammed via ER's lists.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.