I can’t believe that it took over a year for the tired old canard of “appending” (a pretty word for “buying”) email addresses to subscriber data to come back around. 

Why do I say “subscriber” rather that “customer”@f0  I think it’s pretty safe to say that if someone makes an online purchase they’ll be submitting their email address along with their purchase order.  And just to get it out of the way now, submitting an email address when placing an online order is not a default subscription to receive promotional (or if we want to get all “legal” about it, “commercial”) messaging.

Before I get distracted by a host of tangential nuances, let me get back on topic….  consequences. 

This post is actually a consequence of deleting comments contrary to a recent post over at BtoBOnline entitled, “Establishing an effective email append strategy.”  While the post might serve those that sell email addresses under the pretty label of “appending”, the potential damage it can bring to someone “appending” email addresses where they had none before might be an unexpected surprise.

I would expect those in the business of selling appending email addresses to put a happy face on it, especially in light of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), an international coalition of ISPs, ESPs, mobile network operators, infrastructure and telecommunications companies, and other interested parties, coming out against the practice (PDF) this past September.  I can even understand an industry publication giving voice to an opposing view.  What I can’t understand – well, yes, really I can – deleting comments both for and against (mostly against) the practice.  To what end?  Being ridiculed for deleting comments as though they and the principles behind them don’t exist?  Once upon a time that kind of heavy-handed editing might have worked, but it’s a brave new world….

Fortunately for us I had the post with comments in an open window and was able to grab this screenshot, so, and perhaps much to the chagrin of BtoBOnline, those comments will remain for posterity.  And on the off-chance that BtoBOnline restores those comments like this never took place, I went ahead and posted a new comment just to have a second screenshot with datestamp so as not to be accused of photoshop or editing tricks.  After all, this isn’t my first rodeo…. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me it really damages the credibility of a publication that tries to control the conversation by deleting or editing legitimate points of view that they may disagree with.  If they don’t want the discussion, then maybe they should think of disabling comments.  Just a thought….  And why would a publication delete opposing commentary?  After all, controversy pulls traffic; but hey, they’re an online publisher so I’m not saying anything that they don’t already know.  So what’s the deal?

Now that we’ve gotten the consequences of deleting commentary that a publication disagrees with out of the way, let’s take a look (again) at the consequences of buying appending email addresses where none previously existed….

From my (deleted) comments,

Email is a permission-based medium. It doesn’t matter what the law says, it matters what the recipient says.


A universal truth is that one cannot legitimately buy or sell someone else’s permission. Nobody “opts in” to having their email address sold.

Oops! Did I say “buy” and “sell”? I meant “append”; different words, same practice (albeit nuanced) so I got confused for a minute…. 

In my (deleted) comments I went on to explain some of the deliverability differences between B2C and B2B buying/selling appending of email addresses to existing data and the consequences thereof.

In B2C, ISPs use a mixture of complaints, IP and domain reputation, bounces, and maybe even some spam traps to decide where your email will be deposited if it’s even delivered or accepted at all – not just the addresses you bought, but all of them.


B2B isn’t that complicated. There aren’t any complex algorithms; they use C-Level, V-Level, Director complaints; and anyone in IT that doesn’t like you, your email, or the way you part your hair. And B2B doesn’t have a 30-day roll where you might get back in if you wait. The only way back in is through IT. Good luck!

Quoting myself again, this time from a post from September 2010, “The Value of Email Appending“,

It doesn’t matter if your sales records show that Betty Smith spends $1,000 every other week on your Web site or your retail location. It doesn’t matter that she’s on a first name basis with any of your staff, remembers your kid’s birthdays, sends you a fruit basket on your anniversary, or plays canasta at your house on Thursday nights; Betty didn’t give you permission to send her promotional email messages.


The value of email appending doesn’t come from adding email addresses to data that you have, it comes from adding data to email addresses that you have.

And again from the (deleted) comments,

You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality….

So what do you think?  About buying/selling appending email addresses to existing data and/or an industry publication deleting commentary that doesn’t agree with (and makes a pretty good case against) the original post?