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Downsize DC president Jim Babka replies to Politech: "valuable lessons learned"

Previous Politech messages:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Learning valuable lessons
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 14:50:12 -0500
From: Jim Babka <JimBabka@DownsizeDC.org>
To: 'Declan McCullagh' <declan@well.com>



Thanks so much for posting our account of difficulties with AOL to your
email audience. It appears to me that we have benefited in two important

First, for the first time someone from AOL called our programmer this
morning. This person was helpful and even friendly – so helpful and friendly
that they offered their direct, personal contact information to our
programmer in case there are any further complications.

And according to this person, our problem will be solved by this evening.

Did the widespread distribution, particularly by you, of our message lead to
this phone call? I think the likelihood that it mattered is quite high. And
so, we’re grateful.

Second, many people have written you and have since posted on our blog
telling us all kinds of things we’re doing wrong and need to address. We’re
reading and considering all the feedback we’re getting. Much of it is quite
good and helpful. And we appreciate the constructive criticism.

Where possible, I intend to make contact with some of those who have

Some of the commentary wasn’t helpful or specifically relevant. I want to
address it, just to make sure the record is clear. We had only two problems.
Both were spelled out in the material you distributed.

In addition, we just learned this morning that the “comprised script”
problem that led to our blacklisting was generated by specifically filed
complaints (plural). We did not have a “score” or other technical defect
that put us there. AOL has, apparently, concluded that we did address the
compromised script issue.

And despite what anyone can and did say, common sense would dictate that it
is easy to target any group you disagree with by filing a complaint with
your ISP or with some service like SpamCop. As a matter of fact we have
experience with someone successfully getting us blacklisted for political
reasons through SpamCop back in 2004 (or 2005, as I get older, dates are
harder to keep track of). A man from New Hampshire simply claimed that we
were A) spamming him – that he didn’t sign up for our list – and B) that we
refused his repeated requests to be removed. He had in fact signed up for
our list, which we were able to demonstrate, and he had never requested
additional assistance to unsubscribe (an easy thing to track because we had
only two employees at the time). On the other hand, he had written nasty
things about us on his website, including the fact that he wished we were
shut down and that someone ought to see to that. When we were targeted by
this individual back in 04 (or 05), and arrived on other ISP’s blacklists as
a result, SpamCop was very responsive and the problem was quickly remedied.
What was unusual here was that no one at AOL, until today, seemed ready to
work with us.

But I never said that AOL was acting in a political fashion in either of the
statements I released yesterday. I don’t have specific knowledge of such a
conspiracy and would never suggest such a thing without some evidence. Our
issue, as I clearly explained, was with AOL’s general method of doing
business and it had cost us a lot.

Yet I’m glad that I sent out that message to our list yesterday and
appreciative of the fact that you picked it up and reported it. We had
reached our wits end and didn’t know what else to do. Both quick response by
AOL and the technical feedback we’ve received are going to help us address
shortcomings and issues that, in some cases, we didn’t even know we had. And
that’s a real blessing.

Best wishes,

Jim Babka, President

HYPERLINK "http://www.downsizedc.com/"Downsize DC Foundation

& HYPERLINK "http://www.downsizedc.org/"DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Host... The Downsize DC Conference Call

Big Governmentcosts you, inconveniences you, and occasionally hurts people
you love. But it routinely injures a neighbor, damages your industry, and
destroys your community -- it even kills people. We must Downsize DC for
Human Progress.

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Feb 06, 2007 in category free-speech

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