NOTE: This is an archived copy of the Dragonfire Internet Services website. Dragonfire is no longer in operation; please do not attempt to contact any of the addresses listed on this site.

Dragonfire's Position on Spam

"Spam" is a term commonly used to refer to unsolicited mass mailings--electronic messages sent to large numbers of users whose addresses are typically gleaned from Usenet (news) postings, Web pages, and the like. There is an entire spectrum of positions which people take: from lawyers Canter and Siegel, who encourage and assist businesses in sending mass mailings to Internet users, to creators of Internet "blacklists" of people and organizations who send spam, and more or less everything in between. Likewise, the policies of Internet service providers vary from acceptance to tacit tolerance to prohibition.

At Dragonfire, we take the latter position. There are two major categories of spam, E-mail and Usenet, and we have separate reasoning for each.

For E-mail: Unlike some proponents of this stance, we do not argue broadly that E-mail spam is "not appropriate" on the Internet; indeed, we find no basis for such an argument except a desire by those used to not seeing spam to keep things that way. However, while mass mailings sent via the postal service put the burden of materials and money on the sender, mass E-mail messages place that burden on the recipient. Some online services charge a user per message received, while others charge by the amount of time spent online; in either case, the user is being charged for receiving a message they did not request and may well not want. This is definitely not an acceptable situation.

For Usenet: Unlike E-mail, there is little burden necessarily imposed on a user for spam sent to a Usenet newsgroup, as most newsreaders will give a user a list of article subjects and allow the user to select only those he/she wishes to view without downloading the rest. However, Usenet is a substantially different forum from E-mail, even if it uses a very similar protocol. There are already acceptable places for virtually any type of message; but spammers find it necessary to post their articles to other newsgroups as well, many of which may have no relevance whatsoever to the article. The closest real-world analogy that can be drawn is to bulletin boards used, for example, by a university department to post announcements relevant to the department. Unrelated posts, such as generic advertisements, are well known to be unwelcome on such boards. Likewise, advertisement posts in Usenet groups other than those created for advertising or for general use--or any posts which are irrelevant to the groups to which they are posted or are unduly crossposted (it should rarely be necessary to crosspost a message to more than four or five groups)--are generally unwelcome, and thus we stand against them.

Any Dragonfire user who sends spam (whether using Dragonfire or not) will be warned and/or have their account terminated. Moreover, any Internet user who attempts to use Dragonfire's services to send spam should expect to have prompt action taken against them.

Dragonfire, of course, does not utilize any sort of mass mailings. If you receive any mass mailings claiming to originate from a Dragonfire administrative address, they are forgeries; please send them with all headers to so that we may take proper action against the forger.

As an additional note: Although we do not condone spam, neither do we condone retaliatory attacks on spammers. Not only are such responses childish, they can easily deny service to other, innocent Internet users. Moreover, many of the tactics used (such as mail-bombing and ping-flooding) are illegal as well as immoral; in particular, denial of service is a felony in the United States.

Andy Church
Last update: 12 December 1997