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Too Much Information - Take back your attention span

Too Much Information? Opt out of email listsWe all suffer from TMI (Too Much Information). This week, I've made it my duty to opt-out of lists that once sounded good but are now simply an annoyance. It takes a little work but I'm definitely seeing results. With more than 150 average daily emails deleted (not counting the spam that is blocked before I see it), less email previewing time saves us time. Here's the how-to skinny on opting out of email, phone calls and postal mail.

Opt-out of phone calls
Most businesses and individuals are on the national Do Not Call List which prevents telemarketers from bothering you at work or at home with sales pitches and too-good-to-be-true offers. The big news is that your registration on the list is going to expire soon. Registration done in June, 2003, when the list was started will expire 5 years from that date, that is, by June, 2008. Your number(s) drop off automatically if you do not enroll again.

Those telemarketing calls are such a nuisance that some are encouraging making the list permanent but the director of the FTC, Lydia Parnes, reminds us that, "It is incredibly quick and easy to do." Our suggestion: go to the Do-Not-Call List and re-up all your numbers.

Use Safe Unsubscribe Make this the time you sign off those other useless email lists you thought you wanted but now have no time to use. Stores that you don't shop? Online e-lists that are from professional organizations you no longer belong to? Get rid of them if they offer Safe Unsubscribe features. One of the most frequently used mass email tools is Constant Contact and they offer a safe unsubscribe mechanism in addition to a rigid anti-spam policy. Newsletters sent via reputable firms have opt-out (unsubscribe) features. Isn't this a good time to get rid of the lists you no longer want?

Multi-List Removal The Center for Democracy and Technology offers a 3-way method to opt-out of several lists at a time. Some required printed letters, others will work with online tools and still others have singular opt-out solutions.

Advertising Cookies
The granddaddy of advertising technology is certainly DoubleClick, purchased earlier this year by Google for a reported $3.1 billion. Their opt-out process is a little more complicated but nonetheless doable. To get rid of DART cookies, go here. The Consumer Reporting Credit Companies also offer an opt-out page that enables you to reduce your inbox flow for their offers.

Multiple Email Lists Opt-out of email lists using this form from DMA.

Opt-out of postal mail
To get rid of postal mail sent by the Direct Marketing Association, go here to be removed from their lists. Don't forget to include all your street addresses.

Opt-out of viewing online ads
Really, PC users, why aren't you using Firefox? When you visit a Web site and are bombarded by ads and worse, animated ads that take over the sites you're trying to view, Firefox has an extension that will block the most annoying of them. If it's blocking too much, go to the adblockplus site and remove a couple of options.

Send Marketing Email Guilt Free
Make sure that your company is obeying the rules of the CAN-SPAM act. Check out the CAN-SPAM Act's requirements for commercial emailers that controls non-solicited marketing email (among other things) and be certain that your company is in compliance with any email it sends to potential customers. The main rules:
  1. You must not falsify or mislead with header information.
  2. You cannot use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Every email you send for marketing must include an opt-out method that works.
  4. You must identify commercial email as an advertisement and include your valid physical and postal address.
Each violation is subject to an $11,000 fine but there are more fines for other now-illegal acts including
  • Harvesting email address from Web sites with published privacy notices
  • Using dictionary attacks to spam
  • Using scripts to register for multiple user accounts on Web sites to send commercial email
  • Relaying email without permission.
There's more. Be sure you are familiar with all of it. Because we host multiple servers' worth of commercial Web sites and email, we enforce these rules on our web-hosting clients.

Email Opt-Out Tools
Spybot Search and Destroy is a free program that enables you to display email opt-out addresses and use them to remove your email address from lists. It does a whole lot more and is available in several languages.

Clean up your inbox. Opt-out.

Tags: optout, opt-out, do not call list, unsubscribe, Optout,Opt-out,DoNotCallList,Unsubscribe