From: horner,andrew w (
Date: Wed, 25 May 94 10:35 CDT
Pablo Halpern wrote:

> 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.

I agree that the Mt. Shasta message was an ad and should not be permitted
on cohousing-l. But it is not clear from Pablo's message exactly what
constitutes an ad, or what it was about this message in particular that
crosses the line of acceptability. Another factor in this discussion is
that there has been some liberalization of the rules on advertising on 
Internet (or so I've been told). To begin the discussion of what is and is
not appropriate, I humbly offer the following:

Advertising, defined broadly, takes many forms. In one sense, every
message from a person or institution that seeks to influence the behavior
of another person or institution can be called advertising. Consider the
entreaties to wear your seatbelts or stop smoking. These are clearly
advertising even though they are not commercial.

The little red "Levis" tag on the back of my blue jeans can be called
advertising. An equivalent message on the net might have been, "I was
reading such and such a book, and it said . . ." I would not object to this.

To take another step, the placement of products in movies (for which the
manufacturers pay a fee) must certainly be called advertising. Perhaps an
equivalent message on the net would be "I was reading such and such a book,
and you should read it too." I would not object to this.

A next step might be "I think such and such a book applies to this subject.
It's a good read. It's available from xyz bookstore for 24.95." I
would not object to this.

I call each of the above a "mention" because they exist in the context of
a larger discussion.

Even if two members of the list exchange messages that contain listings of
their favorite books, where to get them, and how much they cost, and nothing
else, those messages still exist in the context of our discussion and I
would see them as acceptable, even though they are commercial messages.

In this case however, it was clear (to me, anyway) that the sole intent of
the message was to interest people in buying the offered property. It could
not be considered a "mention" because it didn't have any context. It was not
a part of any previous discussion. It was a free-standing commercial message.
For that reason, I object to it. To summarize, I think messages that conform
to the context of the larger discussion are okay. Those that simply exist
without reference to the rest of the discussion are out of bounds.

I am interested to know how the rest of you define advertising (especially as
contrasted with other forms of communication), and what messages are 
appropriate (or not) for this list.

Thanks for your interest,


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