Re: gudielines for communication
From: Pablo Halpern (
Date: Wed, 25 May 94 09:36 CDT
> From: david sucher <dsucher [at]>
> On Tue, 24 May 1994, Joel Spector wrote:
> david sucher wrote:
> > >Suppose one wanted to take part in starting a cohousing group because i
> > >would be very personally gratifying, fulfilling and beneficial....
> > >Would it be appropriate to make an overture to others on this list 
> > >and invite them to join in?
> > 
> > Fine by me.  Where?
> > 
> > Joel
> My point was 'What's the difference between personal benefit and profit?'

Personal benefit is when you are involved in something and you want others 
to work on it with you or otherwise support you. You are not in it for money 
or any other reason other than to get a community built (or whatever).  
Since supporting cohousing a the primary objective of this mailing list, 
posting such an appeal here would be totally appropriate.

Profit is money.  Some people make profits doing very worthwhile things.  
Other people make profits by exploitation.  The problem is that if the most 
obvious purpose is to make a profit, then the underlying ethics can be hard 
to read.  I draw the line when the primary (or at least a major) purpose of 
a promotion is to make a profit for the person doing the promotion.  You can 
tell me about a great toy for my kids and I will take that at face value if 
you do not work for the toy manafacturer.  The toy would be just as good 
even if you *do* work for the manafacturer but I don't have the time or 
inclination to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to potentially 
profit-motivated promotions.  In the latter case, I would probably consider 
the promotion to be an ad and would not consider it appropriate for 
unsolicited EMAIL.  If, on the other hand, you made toys for no profit 
because you believed in it, I would expect you to say so and I would treat 
the communication differently.

Again, its not that making a profit is bad (I work for money and promote 
myself), it's just that I expect commercial advertisements to be labled as 
such and kept away from my EMAIL box.

Specifically, the Mt. Shasta ad was an ad, pure and simple.  We all know it. 
People try to make ads sound like "in your interest" all the time.  I'm 
tired of giving such people the benefit of the doubt.  The ad might be sent 
to someone who appreciates it and I might be interested in what any given ad 
has to say, but that does not change the fact that it is an ad.  The NSF 
rules for use of their internet backbone discourage (prohibit?) comercial 
advertising. The Mt. Shasta ad is a violation of this principle.  If we 
permit this kind of thing, the next ad may be more offensive, and they may 
start coming more frequently. Even if I liked the Mt. Shasta ad, I don't 
want to set the precident of conding electronc junk mail.

- Pablo

Pablo Halpern              (508) 435-5274         phalpern [at]

New View Neighborhood Development, Acton, MA

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