7.0432 More on Advertising and Humanist (4/124)

Fri, 21 Jan 1994 15:48:41 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0432. Friday, 21 Jan 1994.

(1) Date: Tue, 18 Jan 94 14:21:17 -0500 (24 lines)
From: rand@ERE.UMontreal.CA (Rand David)
Subject: Advertising

(2) Date: Fri, 20 Jan 94 3:25:45 (37 lines)
From: Elaine Brennan <Elaine_Brennan@Brown.edu>
Subject: Humanist and Advertising

(3) Date: Tue, 18 Jan 94 17:03:57 -0500 (40 lines)
From: cedwards@acs.bu.edu (Christopher Edwards)
Subject: Re: 7.0419 Humanist & Advertising: Question & Comments

(4) Date: 18 Jan 1994 20:34:19 -0500 (CDT) (23 lines)
From: MCSWAIN@Acd.Tusk.Edu
Subject: advertising

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 94 14:21:17 -0500
From: rand@ERE.UMontreal.CA (Rand David)
Subject: Advertising

I have mixed feelings about commercial use of the Internet. Basically
I favour more rather than less control of such use. I don't want to
receive tons of junk mail. Yet I also have a foot on the other side of
the debate. About a year ago I submitted to HUMANIST a brief posting (a
few sentences) announcing a for-sale software product of which I am
co-author. My posting never appeared, and I concluded that it must have
been censored because it constituted advertising. HUMANIST probably has
a policy of excluding advertising, thought I (am I right?), so I chalked
this incident up to an error on my part.

Now it would appear that that policy (if it exists) is being
questioned. I hope that the current discussion will lead to the
elaboration of clear guidelines. I would suggest that product
announcements, if allowed, should be kept brief and concise. Anyone
desiring more detailed information could request it privately. If such
announcements are not allowed, then this restriction should be clearly
David Rand, CRM, U. de Montreal, CP-6128-A Montreal Quebec H3C 3J7
Telephone: 514-343-6111:4726 --|-- Internet: rand@ere.umontreal.ca
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 94 3:25:45
From: Elaine Brennan <Elaine_Brennan@Brown.edu>

I hope that this note will serve primarily as an extraordinarily
belated apology to David Rand, whose notice about his software progrm
(dated 10 May 1992) should have been posted to Humanist at the time
we received it. I suspect that while one of the then editors intended
to post it, it may have gotten caught in a transition between us, and
was inadvertently ignored. (I still have the note, and if it's still
valid, Prof. Rand, please let me know -- I *will* post it.)

Advertising seems to me to be a rather large puzzle on the net; I am
myself more frustrated by advertising that pretends to be substantive
than by a more obviously identifiable "buy me! buy me!" notice. But
sometimes, I don't find it an easy call.

On the one hand, much of the information that we deal with on
Humanist is necessarily related to products -- be it font packages,
CD-ROM products, computer systems -- and just the mention of some
of those products could easily be construed as (at least) tacit
advertisments. And there are tools, developed in many instances
by our colleagues, which can be very helpful in our work, and which
simply are not available through other channels.

On the other hand, I don't want to be any more overwhelmed than I
am already with notices of products or cries of the end of the
world, or internet dating services for that matter. I put up with
them because, at the moment, the signal as a whole is still
better than the noise. But some days I wonder.

Is there any easy answer here? I doubt it; I assume that while
wearing my editorial hat (as opposed to my bad hair day hat) I will
continue to make some decisions that members of the Humanist
community disagree with. My editorial biases and mistakes are
just that -- mine -- and I try to be clear about them, and to share
with the members of Humanist many of those comments that call me
to task for my lapses.

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 94 17:03:57 -0500
From: cedwards@acs.bu.edu (Christopher Edwards)
Subject: Re: 7.0419 Humanist & Advertising: Question & Comments (4/129)

The problem with advertising on the Internet:

First of all, it is not clear that what is promised in an advertisement
(or as they say in the magazine business, an advertorial) is what is
delivered. I have no objection to commercial channels of the Internet
somehow devoted to advertising -- as long as everyone knows it and the
advertisers are clearly labelled as advertisers. The ads should support
Internet with ad rates in this case, instead of draining taxpayers' and
university money.

Several other problems: people on Internet are often very busy, too
busy to answer all the relevant mail or even read relevant mail. When
Internet is seen as cheap advertising, the volume of junk e-mail will
probably dwarf problems encountered with junk faxes. I come to the
Internet to learn other peoples's positions. I don't have the time or
investigative ability to sort out whether speaking truthfully is a
conflict of interest for an advertiser -- as it often is in industries
where all of your competitors are fudging in big and small ways.

Internet advertorials cannot be tested. Unlike a scientific experiment which
can be duplicated, a statement of fact or opinion by an owner/academic about
a product cannot be easily challenged (without buying the product). People
will therefore tend to buy products based upon the reputations of the
advertorial sponsers. This tendency will further tempt scholars to
compromise their "academic agendas" for their "commercial agendas." I
have seen this happen repeatedly in other areas, especially biotechnology,
and I have talked with the scholars caught between the two agendas.

Everybody on the Internet has agendas, people are honest or dishonest
in academia and industry, depending upon who they are. But let's not
be forced to be suspicious of Internet opinions when sifting through
the messages. And advertisers: don't junk my mailbox! I won't buy your

Chris Edwards
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------37----
Date: 18 Jan 1994 20:34:19 -0500 (CDT)
From: MCSWAIN@Acd.Tusk.Edu
Subject: advertising

That material of whatever nature is available on gophers or other computer
sources is irrelevant to whether or not commercial material should appear on
HUMANIST. If one wishes to search out information at some location, that
obviously is a private decision. The question as I understood it for debate
here is whether or not commercial material should appear on HUMANIST, not the
INTERNET in general. I think the point has been well stated that strictly
speaking a ban on all commercial material is unwise, since various products
are relevant and useful for humanists/computing/teaching. Further, I am sure
no one wishes to cast doubt on the ability of the moderators/editors of
HUMANIST to screen out obviously inappropriate material. The parallel here is
a book advertisement in the back pages of scholarly journals. My concern is
that I do not want to be showered with commercial messages without someone
screening out much that might be thrown my way. I currently receive 30-40
new messages per day, and many more would make the situation unmanageable not
to mention the possibility of exceeding my disk space allowance. Perhaps,
the solution is to have listservers dedicated to commcials ends and divided by
product type, so that one could voluntarily send in one's address and receive
vast quantities of 'for hire' 'for sale' messages. Regards, James McSwain