Protecting Users From Spam is an Obligation not an Option

If you are planning on launching any form of web company, one of the first things you need to consider is how you are going to protect your users from all those who will want to use your site to barrage them with unwanted advertising messages. Failure to do this and you will lose your audience just as fast as you get them. If you offer comments then you better have a system to protect from comment spam. Ditto with trackbacks and so forth.

AOL never effectively did this with email and in the words of one observer they ruined email. Here’s how:

My kids grew up on AOL. It’s where they first went online. It’s where they learned how to dial up. It’s where they learned how to surf the web. It’s where they learned how to do email, instant messaging, download,  build a homepage, etc.

And it’s where they learned to stop usiemail.When

hen you are ten years old, you don’t get much email. Maybe a message or two per week. When you log in to check your email and you see this it’s basically a non starter.

Aol_inbox

(that is my current AOL inbox but I assure you my kid’s mailboxes look pretty much the same)

So they found other ways to communicate where the messages weren’t surrounded by spam. Primarily that was/is instant messaging. Then came text messaging. And site messaging. Basically any messaging paradigm where the signal to noise ratio was at least one one.

My kids check their email at best once a week. And it’s a chore. Because its mostly an exercise in deleting spam. Email is for old farts. And they wonder why we uit.

And I blame AOL for that. Not that I think it’s a big deal. They get by just fine with other messaging systems, maybe better than I do with email.

But I am sure that AOL is the reason they don’t use email and never will.

I’ve seen VC’s on panels asking companies “But how are you going to fight spam?” This is as important of a question as “What’s your business model”?

Be smart, have a solid answer before you go out for funding and certainly before your public launch.

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