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Selling your Inbox Instead of Chocolates?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the what-in-the-world dept.

Education 55

Qxz86 asks: "I, am an 8th grader at a Tennessee middle school, and on the 21st of February, I was asked to provide names and e-mails and/or street addresses to a company called Schoolmall. The company then distributes them among companies like AT&T and Toshiba. Needless to say, they then spam you legally on account of these solicitations. For every nine that I turn in my school gets $2.25. How do you feel about this?" SchoolMall, a virtual "shopping mall", allows students to purchase items from several large retail chains, and a portion of that purchase (depending on the vendor) goes back to the school. This sounds innocent enough, but I am definitely bothered by the insinuation that they are asking children for email addresses with which someone can Spam unsuspecting targets. Does anyone else have more information on this program?

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Spam law (3, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532120)

Spam has no place in public school. Do they need a no spam law in 500 feet so the dare office can go wrestle them to the ground like the stoners behind the gym?

Answer to Original Poster (Qxz86) (4, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532499)

Hmmm ... for each email address you give to this 'company', presumably from willing recipients of their SPAM (the theory that this SPAM becomes legal because the email owner has granted you their approval) you get a quarter.

You are getting closer and closer to what I envision as the perfect fund-raiser. In fact you only need to go one more step and you are there.

What is the problem with current fund raisers, I suggest? The cost to benefit ratio. Those church catalogs that are full of popcorn, stained glass ornaments, chocolate covered nuts, even World's Finest Chocolate Covered Almonds (which I LOVE, btw) ... the school only gets about 5% or 10% ... maybe 25% of the total amount spent. The local citizens need to spend $30,000 for the school to gather up $3,000 to send the kids to camp or whatever.

I always wish when the fundys come to my cube there was simply a 'Donate $3 to the cause' box, maybe I could get a nice laser printed black and white certificate of 'Good Person' or something instead of buying a 10 pound box of popcorn or a $38 glass trinket with a candle in it. If 100% of that $3 went to the cause it would be a LOT easier than convincing me to spend $30 - $60 on stuff I don't want or need.

Maybe if you explained to the adults that you had some company that will give you 25 cents for each email address and the company gets to spam them, or the adult can give you whatever change he has in his pocket and you will gleefully go away and apply whatever he donates to your cause ... odds are you will make a LOT more money and he gets no more spam out of the deal.

Summer is coming. Want to make a TRUCKLOAD of cash for your cause? Tell the manager at WalMart you want to hold a fund raiser car wash in their parking lot. A lot of them will donate all the supplies and space in their parking lot, and some will actually match whatever you guys earn in the course of the car wash. Don't price it, accept 'donations' and be sure people know what the fund raiser is for (be specific.) You would have to sell a bunch of email addresses to match the $5 I will give you to wash my car.

No joke.

Another cash raiser (2, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532614)

(BTW - I checked out SchoolMall, seems that 2.5% is about the average. 40% is for 'some magazines' which means Vibe or something nobody you know is going to buy.)

Go to WalMart. Buy or shoplift a half dozen of those door peep hole things ( ) for like $2 apiece, get a measuring tape or some string so you can find the center of some random doors, get some adult to go with you door to door and offer to install them in the door, say that if they had one they would have known you were coming and not answered the door. Sell them for $5 to $7 with 100% of the proceeds (profits, which is like $5 apiece if you paid $2 for them, or $7 apiece if you shoplifted them in the first place.) Do a good job so they will refer you to their friends.

This is called 'Value Added Reselling' and it is something people actually appreciate, understand, and respect. It is way different than 'charity' in that people are getting value for their money, much like the car wash mentioned above.

Don't beg, don't scam, don't steal (well except for the five finger discount on the door peepholes from WalMart, consider it their donation to the cause) - earn what you need in an honorable fashion and everybody wins.

Re:Another cash raiser (1)

nicedream (4923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5547273)

Your idea is as bad as Anti-spam software companies using spam to sell their product.

Re:Answer to Original Poster (Qxz86) (1)

schmink182 (540768) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533865)

I entirely agree that school fund-raisers have gotten out of hand. My friend went around "selling pizzas to" (forcing pizzas upon) her friend's parents and her relatives for about $15 each. I'd be surprised if the school saw $3 of that. We can get much better pizza delivered to the house for less than that, with enough left over to pay the school some money as well.

If people are doing fund-raisers to provide products, then find reasonably-priced ones. Otherwise, just let me give your school $5 or $10 and be happy about it. Just be sure you don't pocket the money.

Re:Answer to Original Poster (Qxz86) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5540278)

I always wish when the fundys come to my cube there was simply a 'Donate $3 to the cause' box

From that statement, I assume you never actually tried it, despite your stated "wish".

All the fundraisers I ever worked on were perfectly happy to accept straight donations instead of a purchase. And the donations will go 100% to the cause -- absent dishonest schoolkids taking cash (which is why you write a check) -- since it bypasses the sales system altogether.

I feel that it sucks (3, Interesting)

eXtro (258933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532122)

I don't live in that area, but in the past I've determined that one of the charities I donated to sold my name to other charities. That ended my donations to them. If I were in the area I'd make sure that no further nickels or dimes would be forthcoming from me.

"legal"?? (4, Insightful)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532139)

I'm not sure what was being asked or what the poster means by "legal". Sure, it lots of places spam is legal (for now). In those where it is illegal I don't believe that somehow getting an email from a third party without any agreement tracable back to the owner of the email makes it legal.

If the company is asking for people to voluntarily submit their own email address then it's a different story.

Of course as the owner of a few domains I can create email addresses at will and could scam the hell out of this on behalf of my local school.

Note, the privacy policy mentions special rules for children under 13 which is about the age of the typical 8th grader. Coincidence?

Re:"legal"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5532253)

To be fair, the poster has an 8th grade education, and from TN to boot.

Re:"legal"?? (1)

zarqman (64555) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532535)

"Of course as the owner of a few domains I can create email addresses at will and could scam the hell out of this on behalf of my local school."

maybe that's the key. if a ton of domain holders all did this, we can effectively make this program too expensive and can shut it down. yet another form of slashdotting!

Re:"legal"?? (1)

Papineau (527159) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532859)

What you'll do is drive down the price of a single e-mail address, so kids will try to get more addresses. Also, since they (as per the original poster) ask for street addresses, it's easier for them to determine if it's a real person or not (hint: 500 people don't live in my basement).

Re:"legal"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5536328)

500 people don't live in my basement

Lucky Bastard!

Re:"legal"?? (1)

mjpaci (33725) | more than 11 years ago | (#5535609)

Let's assume for a second that all of the kids being solicited are under the age of 18. Would these "SPAM" contracts be binding?

There was a case here in MA where Fleet sent one of those "instant $10,000 loans" to a 14 year-old. He signed it and put it in his bank account. Since the kid was 18yo, Fleet couldn't get it's money back and the kid got a $10k grant from fleet. Sorry for being short on details, but it's early. It had something to do with age requirements for binding contracts.

PLEASE! (3, Funny)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532148)

Please, somebody think of the children!

Re:PLEASE! (1)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532571)

i am, infact, this is perfect for schools.

when i was a kid we had to sell chocolate and the likes of other stuff, not email. my message to kids is pull out the pen and be creative. if they give money for email addys turned in non-verified, as in they dont know if they wont bounce or not this is a potential cash cow. if they do judge by wether or not it will bounce turn in your school's email addy's and every other local email addy. along with whomever elses you can find. including the white house ;)

this program can be abused both ways.

Wow! (4, Funny)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532200)

25 cents apiece? Wow! That's a lot!

I figure I could make a jillion email addresses on one of the domains I'm squatt^H^H^H^H^H^H reserving, give 'em all to this company, make some quick cash, and then null-route the emails a few days later.

Re:Wow! (2, Funny)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532236)

I figure I could make a jillion email addresses on one of the domains I'm squatt^H^H^H^H^H^H reserving, give 'em all to this company, make some quick cash, and then null-route the emails a few days later.

There's the way to solve school funding woes!

Re:Wow! (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532301)

(from your .sig):
naked women, lingerie
Huh? Choose, damn you!!!

Re:Wow! (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533390)

Who said that the pillars were mutually exclusive?

Naked women: GOOD!

Women in lingerie: GOOD!

Re:Wow! (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533589)

Hm. Well, I certainly will concede both of those points, but it seems to me that it should be possible to appreciate all four pillars at the same time. Then again, I suppose you could have a naked lesbian and a lesbian in lingerie macking on each other or something, that would work. Ah well. I'll withdraw my nitpick. :P

Re:Wow! (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532858)

And ironically enough, there was an ad under the article for hosting domains and unlimited email addresses for 6.95 per month.

That's 36 addresses (since you get 2.25 for 9) per month and you're covered. I can just see the child labor now where the class of the student who turns in the script to execute above plot first wins a fabulous pizza party.

Re:Wow! (1)

Quixotic137 (26461) | more than 11 years ago | (#5535432)

There's the way to solve school funding woes!

Right up until the VC for this stupid scheme runs out...

What next? (3, Interesting)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532233)

How about the teachers at the beginning of class saying "today's math class is brought to you by Coca Cola."?

Seriously...what more can we do to pollute young minds? Don't some schools still make kids watch that propoganda TV?


Re:What next? (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532289)

You mean you didn't watch those shows that were sponsored by the power and oil companies when you were in elementary school? There was a big advertisment at the beginning and end of each that mentioned the company and the "grant".

In fact, one of my teachers would ask us questions such as "What interest would company A have in sponsoring this program?"

Re:What next? (1)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532303)

I went to school in Singapore and England...we *did*, however, get to watch educational videos with John Cleese in them!! :-)


Re:What next? (1)

WuWarrior (628294) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532419)

I would pay to see an educational video with John Cleese!

Re:What next? (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532428)

That would have rocked! (I should have included elementary "equivalent". sorry. You'd think a girl who'd been dating a guy from Ireland for three years would have learned by now.)

We once had the govenor speak at a school I attended. I wonder now if the school got kick backs as it seemed to be a re-election speech as opposed to a "preparing young minds for the future" speech.

Re:What next? (1)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532576)

Yes...shame on you! Go to the back of the class! ;-)


P.S: If you're dating an Irish guy, shouldn't you be drunk right now?

Re:What next? (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532755)

I'd rather have a holiday rather than be drunk as my Irish inheritance :) As it stands, we're both in work for the day and then stuck in class until 9. Damn those work continuing education courses! ;)

Call ObligSimpQuote() (0, Redundant)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532698)

'Hi, I'm Troy MacLure. You may remember me from such films as...'

Re:Call ObligSimpQuote() (1)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532762)

...made all the funnier as I'm watching the Simpsons! ;-)


Re:Call ObligSimpQuote() (1)

Chrontius (654879) | more than 11 years ago | (#5596352)

Actually, that was pretty funny...

Re:What next? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 11 years ago | (#5538769)

This is what happens when:

1. Senior citizens vote down any new school spending proposals and parents of school children do nothing.

2. Public education is handled on the local level, instead of the county level, creating a $$$$hitload of expensive redundancy that wouldn't be there if people would just get over their fear/bigotry towards people of different socioeconomic groups. This keeps property taxes super high, resulting in item #1.

propaganda TV: Chanel one? (1)

jasonrocks (634868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5540634)

When I went to high school, we still watched that propoganda TV. It was a "news" program with commercials that lasted 15 minutes. It was aired once per day. The deal was kids watch the advertisements and in return the school gets one free TV and VCR per room. It's a decent deal for the school, but the news program really sucked. The reporters had huge hand motions and explained things at a low level. It was so obnoxious that they treated high school and junior high kids as being so incoherent and mindlesss that they don't understand news unlesss you jumped around and talked as if they were third graders.

UCE is still UCE (4, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532263)

Unsolicited Commercial Email is still Unsolicited if I didn't solicit the company to send it to me .

If someone who knows my email address gives it to a company without my knowledge or consent, it is still unsolicited business email.

This is called a referral in the business world. It is probably an attempt to get around spam legislation in certian states, since a referral is the beginning of a business relationship.

The problem now is that *any* business could claim that my address was 'referred' to them, and then say that to protection the privacy of their clients they won't tell me who or when I was referred.

Since we live in an 'innocent until proven guilty' country the burden would be on me to prove that no one referred me.

So existing spam legislation should be changed assumiong that referrals are valid business relationships:

If a third party provides a referral to a business to be contacted via email, with whom the business does not have a prior relationship, the business is allowed to send not more than 1 email to the target, and that email must contain the verified name and email address, and claimed relationship of the person that referred the target. In addition, no person shall refer more than 10 people in one day. The business must obtain and verify the referrer's full name, address and phone number, and keep these on file, providing them to law enforcement officers on warrant or subpeona. The target may also request this information, which must be provided within 3 business days without warrant.

If the referrer indeed has a pre-existing relationship with the target, then he can have no reason to keep his identity, address and phone numbers secret. Furthermore, personal referrals generally don't result in millions of email addresses at a time. 10 a day is a safe limit.

Sure, there are loopholes, but I believe that in a capitalist society referrals are a valid source of business, and while I'd rather hear about the business from a friend, who gets the reward when I tell the company who referred me, I can see valid situations where the friend has the business contact me. Just not many of them.

There isn't much of a difference between a friend selling my email address, and referring me with a bonus if I buy something. Since email addresses aren't considered property then we'd have a hard time pushing that as the case.


Run (4, Interesting)

nocomment (239368) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532271)

Run from schoolmall, run hard run fast run far.
I don't like this one little bit. People I know turning in my address for $$$? That's sneaky and underhanded. I think spam has gone far enough. I do beleive it is the #1 threat on the internet right now. Marketing people need to find another way to solicit me.
  • Like maybe get a giant size board and put it next to freeways and such. People providing such services could bill to have people put up their ads. We can call it the "billboard".

  • -or-

  • purchase time on television sets in between shows or during a break time. During these breaks, commercial advertisers could show their wares. We could call these "commercial breaks".
There's lots of ways to target me. But cramming 45+messages a day in my inbox is dammed annoying! If people checked their postal mailboxes everyday and got 45 junk emails there'd certainly be a lot more done about it at the governemnt level do'nt ya think? Maybe if the governement charged $0.10 tax per commercial email that went out spammers wouldn't be so happy to have their "45 million email opt-in lists". That would come out to $4.5 million. I'm sure that would get the spammers to trim the fat out of their lists.

Re:Run (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532732)

You mean we don't open our postal mailboxes and find 45 junk emails...?

I don't, but given that I only get 3-4 useful messages, and 15-20 spam mails, it's akin to the email spam percentage for most people (I get very minimal amounts of spam now) is even worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5541904)

I just graduated from a community college which has moved much of its IT curriculum to books published by "Course Technology," aka [] . This spawn of satan works thusly:

a) Books no longer come with CDs. If supplemental material is available for the course, like source code for the examples in the book, you have to download it from

b) Testing for these books is done online via a web-based testing system called "SAM." In order to take tests (thus, in order to pass the course) you have to create a SAM account at We weren't taken through the account creation procedure until the day of the first test, so I didn't exactly have time to read the 10 page user agreement and privacy policy. Naturally, this account registration requires an email address.

c) Some books, such as "New Perspectives on Microsoft Office XP" (ISBN: 0619185937) come with a unique serial number printed in each book. In order to access the required supplemental material for the book, you have to login to your account and "bind" the serial number to your account. Forget the fact that it's annoying, it kills all chance for reselling the textbook! The book and its unique serial number would be useless to anyone but me, so the bookstore refused to buy it back.

d) During the entire last semester, I got continuous spam from my college. The email address they spammed is the one I provided when registering for, and it's not one they could have obtained otherwise. Worse, they continue to send me email even though I've graduated. So far this year I've received notices about spring registration, holidays, etc.

If at all possible, stay far far away from It's a real pain in the ass.

ok (1)

Loosewire (628916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532393)

Sell your own damn inbox, dont sell mine!

Figures (0, Offtopic)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532481)

I, am an 8th grader

I noticed from your spelling.

And I mean that in a good way.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5537351)

That's punctuation, actually, cowboy.

Qxz86, my advice to you kid: (3, Informative)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532502)

Only do it if the email addresses you send to them are disposable. That means they aren't email addreses anyone uses for anything important. When you hit your friends up for one, don't use the main one. Ask them to register a new hotmail account and use THAT one.

It may be that SchoolMall is smarter than they sound and they will disallow just email addresses, especially if they come from hotmail or yahoo where they can be created easily. In that case, I will donate to you as many fake email addresses as you desire. And if I'm lucky, maybe you'll give me a receipt when SchoolMall makes the donation, so I can deduct it on my taxes, right? ^_^

Network owners can make money here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5532634)

1. Create a few domain names
2. Automatically create heaps of
usernames for each one (maybe
make them look like class groups)
3. Automatically sell random collections
of names & eMail addresses to the spam-king
referenced here
4. Start receiving spam
5. Collect $'s from the spam-king
6. Deactivate all the sold eMail addresses

The idea is that - if a -lot- of $'s go off
to such new enterprises, and -few- orders
ever arise from the -many- usernames / eMail
address sold to the spam-king (or is it a

Just maybe, the -price- of names / eMail adr's
will -drop- below the level that anybody
would bother to sell...

My 2 centavos...

PS Yes, I know the spam would cut into band-
width... but for just a few weeks (ie
until the mass deactiviation occurs)

Evil! (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532794)

Kid, trust me. When people ask you to feed them email addresses other than your own, don't. I for one don't like spam, and you're probably reading identical sentiments from other posters.

Regardless of the intention they have, what they are doing is not a good thing.

How to make non-profit PROFIT (2, Interesting)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 11 years ago | (#5532979)

1. Buy CD with 100,000,000 email addresses

2. Hire geek to write bot to submit addresses 20 at a time to schoolmall

3. Non-profit PROFIT!

Make a mint (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533134)

step 1, get your own domain name.
step 2, foreach address ('a' to 'zzzzzzzzzzzzzz') createMbox(
step 3, make lots and lots and lots of money turning in the addresses you just made.

Asked By _Who_? (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533139)

> ...on the 21st of February, I was asked to
> provide names and e-mails and/or street addresses > to a company called Schoolmall.

Asked by _who_? Your teacher? If so, tell your parents and tell them to raise holy hell with the school board. If you were approached directly by Schoolmall I suggest that you have your parents contact your state attorney general about taking legal action against them.

What about the Child Protection Act? (2, Insightful)

g1zmo (315166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533200)

Would Schoolmall be held responsible if one of those companies they sold addresses to sent emails with explicit content to a minor?

Use these (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533263)

Create the following addresses on hotmail: kidrip0000000 through kidrip9999999.

That should be good for $2.5Million.
Take your school on a field trip to Jamaica.

Hmmm, what I want to know is..... (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533313)

Hmmm, what I want to know is who asked you to do this?

The PTA?
A teacher or administrator at your school?
Some of your classmates?

This sounds sneaky and underhanded; and DOUBLY so if they approached your cash-strapped administrator with a make money fast scheme along the lines of collecting soup can labels.

And if this works... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5533694)

And if this works the next fundraising idea will probably be the MPAA and the RIAA offering a bounty for kids to turn in other downloaders.

Back to email, this past weekend's Cringely [] is about an email system where the recipient sets a price that the sender must pay in order for the message to get through. You can set Grannie's price to $0.00 and or whoever to $5.00 or $10.00 or however high you want to either turn a profit or turn them away. Unfortunately he suggests letting PayPal handle the payment transfers.

Bad idea... (1)

OneFix (18661) | more than 11 years ago | (#5534528)

How are they going to assure these addresses are actually being used...$2.25 is a lot to spend for each address...the business side doesn't work...

I understand that they probably require you to fill out a form with name, mailing address, phone, etc...but if it's a good cause, I'd figure most ppl would be more willing to donate $3 to the school than to give out a good E-Mail address...

Of course, there are a lot of con artists that falsely claim to be from a school...this is why the door-to-door fund raising thing doesn't work anymore...this is hardly better...

What you might look into is local restaurants...some of them (like Baja Fresh [] ) will do a "boosters day" for your school...your boosters come in on a given day, present a ticket or in some cases simply mention the school name and the store donates a percentage (or all) of the profits for that sale to the school... The store will also give out coupons on that day which brings back customers and hopefully makes your boosters happy...And if I remember correctly, the stores generally take donations for that day, so if you want to just donate $5 to the school, you can...of course this requires a good store that you can trust, but that's probably not hard to find...

I've not seen figures on how much money is involved, but this is just one of the alternatives to having kids knock on doors selling candy/books/etc or in this case obtaining e-mail addresses...

Buy a domain and make $2.25 million for your schoo (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5535921)

For every nine that I turn in my school gets $2.25



Sounds like... (-1)

cybrpnk (94636) | more than 11 years ago | (#5536144)

...something Channel One [] would do...

This is so wrong (1)

pherris (314792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5536966)

Getting kids to sell whatever to support their school is just plain wrong. It seems the bulk of the profits go to the private companies organizing these scams^H^H^H^H^H benefit drives. My advice is to vocally boycott such things. I'd [as a parent] would much rather cut a check for $5 or $10 than see a school pimping out my kid for a 3% profit margin. Kids are in school to learn how to read, write, create and discover not to rip off their family via a sleazy MLM scam.

If George II wasn't dumping $100 billion into Iraq over the next two years maybe schools wouldn't have to resort to crap like this.

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