Deadly Sin #2: Unsolicited Bulk Email
This is more of a hypothetical sin than something online activists actually do, but there are good reasons why it isn't being done and good reasons why you shouldn't try it.
If you've ever watched South Park, you probably know the hilariously inept school counselor, Mr. Mackey, from his catchphrase: "Drugs are bad, mmkay?" This is not a "spam is bad, mmkay?" section. There are specific reasons why bulk-mailing total strangers to promote your cause is a really bad idea, potentially relevant issues of criminal and civil law aside:
- It makes you look desperate—Spamming is to community organizing what proposing marriage on a first date is to your love life. it sends the message that you have nothing to offer (or something to hide).
- It annoys people—'Nuff said.
- People don't read it—Over 100 billion spam messages are sent each day, but only 12% of Internet users have ever clicked on a spam URL with the intention of possibly taking advantage of the spammer's offer.
If you find yourself eyeing an ad from a general bulk emailing service and wondering if this might be a useful approach to try...no. It isn't. Use targeted email distribution lists, which I describe in Chapter 8, instead—and send messages that focus on your target group, that don't annoy people (or that at least annoy people less), and stand a much better chance of actually getting read.