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Selling your Inbox Instead of Chocolates? 55

Qxz86 asks: "I, am an 8th grader at a Tennessee middle school, and on the 21st of February, I was asked to provide names and e-mails and/or street addresses to a company called Schoolmall. The company then distributes them among companies like AT&T and Toshiba. Needless to say, they then spam you legally on account of these solicitations. For every nine that I turn in my school gets $2.25. How do you feel about this?" SchoolMall, a virtual "shopping mall", allows students to purchase items from several large retail chains, and a portion of that purchase (depending on the vendor) goes back to the school. This sounds innocent enough, but I am definitely bothered by the insinuation that they are asking children for email addresses with which someone can Spam unsuspecting targets. Does anyone else have more information on this program?
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Selling your Inbox Instead of Chocolates?

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  • Spam law (Score:3, Funny)

    by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:53PM (#5532120) Homepage Journal
    Spam has no place in public school. Do they need a no spam law in 500 feet so the dare office can go wrestle them to the ground like the stoners behind the gym?
    • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:37PM (#5532499) Journal
      Hmmm ... for each email address you give to this 'company', presumably from willing recipients of their SPAM (the theory that this SPAM becomes legal because the email owner has granted you their approval) you get a quarter.

      You are getting closer and closer to what I envision as the perfect fund-raiser. In fact you only need to go one more step and you are there.

      What is the problem with current fund raisers, I suggest? The cost to benefit ratio. Those church catalogs that are full of popcorn, stained glass ornaments, chocolate covered nuts, even World's Finest Chocolate Covered Almonds (which I LOVE, btw) ... the school only gets about 5% or 10% ... maybe 25% of the total amount spent. The local citizens need to spend $30,000 for the school to gather up $3,000 to send the kids to camp or whatever.

      I always wish when the fundys come to my cube there was simply a 'Donate $3 to the cause' box, maybe I could get a nice laser printed black and white certificate of 'Good Person' or something instead of buying a 10 pound box of popcorn or a $38 glass trinket with a candle in it. If 100% of that $3 went to the cause it would be a LOT easier than convincing me to spend $30 - $60 on stuff I don't want or need.

      Maybe if you explained to the adults that you had some company that will give you 25 cents for each email address and the company gets to spam them, or the adult can give you whatever change he has in his pocket and you will gleefully go away and apply whatever he donates to your cause ... odds are you will make a LOT more money and he gets no more spam out of the deal.

      Summer is coming. Want to make a TRUCKLOAD of cash for your cause? Tell the manager at WalMart you want to hold a fund raiser car wash in their parking lot. A lot of them will donate all the supplies and space in their parking lot, and some will actually match whatever you guys earn in the course of the car wash. Don't price it, accept 'donations' and be sure people know what the fund raiser is for (be specific.) You would have to sell a bunch of email addresses to match the $5 I will give you to wash my car.

      No joke.
      • by Glonoinha ( 587375 )
        (BTW - I checked out SchoolMall, seems that 2.5% is about the average. 40% is for 'some magazines' which means Vibe or something nobody you know is going to buy.)

        Go to WalMart. Buy or shoplift a half dozen of those door peep hole things ( ) for like $2 apiece, get a measuring tape or some string so you can find the center of some random doors, get some adult to go with you door to door and offer to install them in the door, say that if they had one they woul
      • I entirely agree that school fund-raisers have gotten out of hand. My friend went around "selling pizzas to" (forcing pizzas upon) her friend's parents and her relatives for about $15 each. I'd be surprised if the school saw $3 of that. We can get much better pizza delivered to the house for less than that, with enough left over to pay the school some money as well.

        If people are doing fund-raisers to provide products, then find reasonably-priced ones. Otherwise, just let me give your school $5 or $10 and be

  • I feel that it sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eXtro ( 258933 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:53PM (#5532122) Homepage
    I don't live in that area, but in the past I've determined that one of the charities I donated to sold my name to other charities. That ended my donations to them. If I were in the area I'd make sure that no further nickels or dimes would be forthcoming from me.
  • "legal"?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:54PM (#5532139)
    I'm not sure what was being asked or what the poster means by "legal". Sure, it lots of places spam is legal (for now). In those where it is illegal I don't believe that somehow getting an email from a third party without any agreement tracable back to the owner of the email makes it legal.

    If the company is asking for people to voluntarily submit their own email address then it's a different story.

    Of course as the owner of a few domains I can create email addresses at will and could scam the hell out of this on behalf of my local school.

    Note, the privacy policy mentions special rules for children under 13 which is about the age of the typical 8th grader. Coincidence?
    • "Of course as the owner of a few domains I can create email addresses at will and could scam the hell out of this on behalf of my local school."

      maybe that's the key. if a ton of domain holders all did this, we can effectively make this program too expensive and can shut it down. yet another form of slashdotting!

      • What you'll do is drive down the price of a single e-mail address, so kids will try to get more addresses. Also, since they (as per the original poster) ask for street addresses, it's easier for them to determine if it's a real person or not (hint: 500 people don't live in my basement).

    • Let's assume for a second that all of the kids being solicited are under the age of 18. Would these "SPAM" contracts be binding?

      There was a case here in MA where Fleet sent one of those "instant $10,000 loans" to a 14 year-old. He signed it and put it in his bank account. Since the kid was 18yo, Fleet couldn't get it's money back and the kid got a $10k grant from fleet. Sorry for being short on details, but it's early. It had something to do with age requirements for binding contracts.
  • PLEASE! (Score:4, Funny)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:55PM (#5532148) Journal
    Please, somebody think of the children!
    • i am, infact, this is perfect for schools.

      when i was a kid we had to sell chocolate and the likes of other stuff, not email. my message to kids is pull out the pen and be creative. if they give money for email addys turned in non-verified, as in they dont know if they wont bounce or not this is a potential cash cow. if they do judge by wether or not it will bounce turn in your school's email addy's and every other local email addy. along with whomever elses you can find. including the white house ;)


  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:00PM (#5532200) Homepage
    25 cents apiece? Wow! That's a lot!

    I figure I could make a jillion email addresses on one of the domains I'm squatt^H^H^H^H^H^H reserving, give 'em all to this company, make some quick cash, and then null-route the emails a few days later.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

      by leviramsey ( 248057 )
      I figure I could make a jillion email addresses on one of the domains I'm squatt^H^H^H^H^H^H reserving, give 'em all to this company, make some quick cash, and then null-route the emails a few days later.

      There's the way to solve school funding woes!

      • (from your .sig):
        naked women, lingerie
        Huh? Choose, damn you!!!
        • Who said that the pillars were mutually exclusive?

          Naked women: GOOD!

          Women in lingerie: GOOD!

          • Hm. Well, I certainly will concede both of those points, but it seems to me that it should be possible to appreciate all four pillars at the same time. Then again, I suppose you could have a naked lesbian and a lesbian in lingerie macking on each other or something, that would work. Ah well. I'll withdraw my nitpick. :P
      • And ironically enough, there was an ad under the article for hosting domains and unlimited email addresses for 6.95 per month.

        That's 36 addresses (since you get 2.25 for 9) per month and you're covered. I can just see the child labor now where the class of the student who turns in the script to execute above plot first wins a fabulous pizza party.
      • There's the way to solve school funding woes!

        Right up until the VC for this stupid scheme runs out...
  • What next? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by psyconaut ( 228947 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:04PM (#5532233)
    How about the teachers at the beginning of class saying "today's math class is brought to you by Coca Cola."?

    Seriously...what more can we do to pollute young minds? Don't some schools still make kids watch that propoganda TV?

    • You mean you didn't watch those shows that were sponsored by the power and oil companies when you were in elementary school? There was a big advertisment at the beginning and end of each that mentioned the company and the "grant".

      In fact, one of my teachers would ask us questions such as "What interest would company A have in sponsoring this program?"
      • I went to school in Singapore and England...we *did*, however, get to watch educational videos with John Cleese in them!! :-)

        • I would pay to see an educational video with John Cleese!
        • That would have rocked! (I should have included elementary "equivalent". sorry. You'd think a girl who'd been dating a guy from Ireland for three years would have learned by now.)

          We once had the govenor speak at a school I attended. I wonder now if the school got kick backs as it seemed to be a re-election speech as opposed to a "preparing young minds for the future" speech.
          • Yes...shame on you! Go to the back of the class! ;-)


            P.S: If you're dating an Irish guy, shouldn't you be drunk right now?
            • I'd rather have a holiday rather than be drunk as my Irish inheritance :) As it stands, we're both in work for the day and then stuck in class until 9. Damn those work continuing education courses! ;)
    • 'Hi, I'm Troy MacLure. You may remember me from such films as...'
    • This is what happens when:

      1. Senior citizens vote down any new school spending proposals and parents of school children do nothing.

      2. Public education is handled on the local level, instead of the county level, creating a $$$$hitload of expensive redundancy that wouldn't be there if people would just get over their fear/bigotry towards people of different socioeconomic groups. This keeps property taxes super high, resulting in item #1.
    • When I went to high school, we still watched that propoganda TV. It was a "news" program with commercials that lasted 15 minutes. It was aired once per day. The deal was kids watch the advertisements and in return the school gets one free TV and VCR per room. It's a decent deal for the school, but the news program really sucked. The reporters had huge hand motions and explained things at a low level. It was so obnoxious that they treated high school and junior high kids as being so incoherent and mindlesss
  • UCE is still UCE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stienman ( 51024 ) <<adavis> <at> <>> on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:06PM (#5532263) Homepage Journal
    Unsolicited Commercial Email is still Unsolicited if I didn't solicit the company to send it to me .

    If someone who knows my email address gives it to a company without my knowledge or consent, it is still unsolicited business email.

    This is called a referral in the business world. It is probably an attempt to get around spam legislation in certian states, since a referral is the beginning of a business relationship.

    The problem now is that *any* business could claim that my address was 'referred' to them, and then say that to protection the privacy of their clients they won't tell me who or when I was referred.

    Since we live in an 'innocent until proven guilty' country the burden would be on me to prove that no one referred me.

    So existing spam legislation should be changed assumiong that referrals are valid business relationships:

    If a third party provides a referral to a business to be contacted via email, with whom the business does not have a prior relationship, the business is allowed to send not more than 1 email to the target, and that email must contain the verified name and email address, and claimed relationship of the person that referred the target. In addition, no person shall refer more than 10 people in one day. The business must obtain and verify the referrer's full name, address and phone number, and keep these on file, providing them to law enforcement officers on warrant or subpeona. The target may also request this information, which must be provided within 3 business days without warrant.

    If the referrer indeed has a pre-existing relationship with the target, then he can have no reason to keep his identity, address and phone numbers secret. Furthermore, personal referrals generally don't result in millions of email addresses at a time. 10 a day is a safe limit.

    Sure, there are loopholes, but I believe that in a capitalist society referrals are a valid source of business, and while I'd rather hear about the business from a friend, who gets the reward when I tell the company who referred me, I can see valid situations where the friend has the business contact me. Just not many of them.

    There isn't much of a difference between a friend selling my email address, and referring me with a bonus if I buy something. Since email addresses aren't considered property then we'd have a hard time pushing that as the case.

  • Run (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nocomment ( 239368 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:07PM (#5532271) Homepage Journal
    Run from schoolmall, run hard run fast run far.
    I don't like this one little bit. People I know turning in my address for $$$? That's sneaky and underhanded. I think spam has gone far enough. I do beleive it is the #1 threat on the internet right now. Marketing people need to find another way to solicit me.
    • Like maybe get a giant size board and put it next to freeways and such. People providing such services could bill to have people put up their ads. We can call it the "billboard".

    • -or-

    • purchase time on television sets in between shows or during a break time. During these breaks, commercial advertisers could show their wares. We could call these "commercial breaks".
    There's lots of ways to target me. But cramming 45+messages a day in my inbox is dammed annoying! If people checked their postal mailboxes everyday and got 45 junk emails there'd certainly be a lot more done about it at the governemnt level do'nt ya think? Maybe if the governement charged $0.10 tax per commercial email that went out spammers wouldn't be so happy to have their "45 million email opt-in lists". That would come out to $4.5 million. I'm sure that would get the spammers to trim the fat out of their lists.
    • You mean we don't open our postal mailboxes and find 45 junk emails...?

      I don't, but given that I only get 3-4 useful messages, and 15-20 spam mails, it's akin to the email spam percentage for most people (I get very minimal amounts of spam now)
  • Sell your own damn inbox, dont sell mine!
  • Figures (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 )
    I, am an 8th grader

    I noticed from your spelling.

    And I mean that in a good way.

  • by Ayanami Rei ( 621112 ) <rayanami@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday March 17, 2003 @06:37PM (#5532502) Journal
    Only do it if the email addresses you send to them are disposable. That means they aren't email addreses anyone uses for anything important. When you hit your friends up for one, don't use the main one. Ask them to register a new hotmail account and use THAT one.

    It may be that SchoolMall is smarter than they sound and they will disallow just email addresses, especially if they come from hotmail or yahoo where they can be created easily. In that case, I will donate to you as many fake email addresses as you desire. And if I'm lucky, maybe you'll give me a receipt when SchoolMall makes the donation, so I can deduct it on my taxes, right? ^_^
  • Kid, trust me. When people ask you to feed them email addresses other than your own, don't. I for one don't like spam, and you're probably reading identical sentiments from other posters.

    Regardless of the intention they have, what they are doing is not a good thing.

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @07:44PM (#5532979)
    1. Buy CD with 100,000,000 email addresses

    2. Hire geek to write bot to submit addresses 20 at a time to schoolmall

    3. Non-profit PROFIT!

  • step 1, get your own domain name.
    step 2, foreach address ('a' to 'zzzzzzzzzzzzzz') createMbox(
    step 3, make lots and lots and lots of money turning in the addresses you just made.
  • Asked By _Who_? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @08:06PM (#5533139) Homepage
    > ...on the 21st of February, I was asked to
    > provide names and e-mails and/or street addresses > to a company called Schoolmall.

    Asked by _who_? Your teacher? If so, tell your parents and tell them to raise holy hell with the school board. If you were approached directly by Schoolmall I suggest that you have your parents contact your state attorney general about taking legal action against them.
  • Would Schoolmall be held responsible if one of those companies they sold addresses to sent emails with explicit content to a minor?
  • Create the following addresses on hotmail: kidrip0000000 through kidrip9999999.

    That should be good for $2.5Million.
    Take your school on a field trip to Jamaica.

  • Hmmm, what I want to know is who asked you to do this?

    The PTA?
    A teacher or administrator at your school?
    Some of your classmates?

    This sounds sneaky and underhanded; and DOUBLY so if they approached your cash-strapped administrator with a make money fast scheme along the lines of collecting soup can labels.
  • And if this works the next fundraising idea will probably be the MPAA and the RIAA offering a bounty for kids to turn in other downloaders.

    Back to email, this past weekend's Cringely [] is about an email system where the recipient sets a price that the sender must pay in order for the message to get through. You can set Grannie's price to $0.00 and or whoever to $5.00 or $10.00 or however high you want to either turn a profit or turn them away. Unfortunately he suggests letting PayPal

  • How are they going to assure these addresses are actually being used...$2.25 is a lot to spend for each address...the business side doesn't work...

    I understand that they probably require you to fill out a form with name, mailing address, phone, etc...but if it's a good cause, I'd figure most ppl would be more willing to donate $3 to the school than to give out a good E-Mail address...

    Of course, there are a lot of con artists that falsely claim to be from a school...this is why the door-to-door fund raisin
  • For every nine that I turn in my school gets $2.25



  • Getting kids to sell whatever to support their school is just plain wrong. It seems the bulk of the profits go to the private companies organizing these scams^H^H^H^H^H benefit drives. My advice is to vocally boycott such things. I'd [as a parent] would much rather cut a check for $5 or $10 than see a school pimping out my kid for a 3% profit margin. Kids are in school to learn how to read, write, create and discover not to rip off their family via a sleazy MLM scam.

    If George II wasn't dumping $100 billio

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson