Invoke CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

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  • Idea
  • Updated 3 months ago
  • (Edited)
"The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask mailers to stop spamming them."

Please vote for this idea if you do not want to receive the spam mails that we all get in the name of TechSmith via the getsatisfaction user forum platform.

By voting for this idea, you are formally requesting TechcSmith to stop sending spam mail that originates from bogus users and may contain malicious content.

The user forum platform TechSmith uses is NOT responsible for the spam, because other companies such as Adobe use it without propagating bogus posts.  The issue is TechSmith's failure to implement adequate internal controls despite repeated requests from customers.  A simple solution has been suggested to them several times but they have failed to implement it or any other adequate control


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Paul

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Posted 5 months ago

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dainis

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Spam would be ridiculously easy to stop. It comes down to: the biggest companies profit from spam the most, and spam laws are used to crush smaller companies. 
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Joe Morgan

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Actions speak louder than words.
TechSmiths actions speak for themselves.

Regards,Joe
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susannemistric

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All this spam is hurting the Tech Smith brand in my opinion. Doesn’t anyone recognize that at Tech Smith? I’m ready to give up on the Tech Smith forums if they don’t get a handle on this problem. Nine spam emails this morning. Much smaller sites do a much better job on this. Honestly, this long time Tech Smith user thinks this complacency reflects negatively on the company in general. It must really turn new users/members off. This is your very loyal customer base talking. Time to listen before it’s too late!
(Edited)
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davidlambert

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I don't get as many as you but any is too much in a user forum.
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SactoBob

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Once or twice a month, this forum sends me a email that is junk/spam/whatever. Just to make sure the admin knows, I click on the title. Just about every time, the item has already been deleted from the forum. As opposed to your all's experience, it appears from here that TechSmith is on top of things.

Like any other email, spam email has to travel through several servers. Anyone of those servers could be either blocking or allowing. The message is that the receiving ISP may be doing a crummy job with regard to spam or that your individual account might be likewise. 
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Paul

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The fact that by the time you look at the post, it has gone, is mainly down to the fact that people in time zones ahead of you are on top of things and have reported it.  The appearance that TechSmith is on top of things is an illusion created by our diligence, not theirs.  

"The message is that the receiving ISP may be doing a crummy job with regard to spam or that your individual account might be likewise. "

I'm sorry but that wrong on every level.  Spam filters, in the main look for mail emanating from suspicious IP addresses/domains that have been blacklisted by other mail servers.  The fact that TS's forum emails come from a reputable source (getsatisfaction) means that they pass muster as genuine. 

They carry valid DKIM and DMARC signatures and target server greylist functions do not filter them out either because the getsatisfaction mail servers will auto resend if they don't get a delivery acknowledgement from the target mail server. Legitimate sending gateways will realise that the silence from the target requires them to resend.  Spammers, on the other hand, do not do auto resends, because their aim is to probe for live email accounts that are not protected.  Spammers email servers often do not have valid SPF records either. whereas getsatisfaction's do, which again gives the spam mail a patina of authenticity.

The spammers have begun looking for new ways of promulgating their wares.  The cuckoo approach is one.  They use bots to find forums that have open registration and auto-register.  Once credentials are set up, they post messages containing their spam.  To anything but the human eye, these messages appear genuine.

So forum, blog, and website system managers everywhere carry out a simple but effective additional step.  They configure their system so that posts from new sources are queued for moderation by a human.  Only when the first post has been approved, are subsequent posts from the same source allowed to proceed unmoderated.

This simple step is becoming ubiquitous, and new recruits to forums have become accustomed to it because they know that it benefits everyone.

This simple step has been suggested to TechSmith on numerous occasions and all we get is weasel words.

Reputable companies are aware of the legislation that governs them and act responsibly to fulfil those obligations.

TechSmith has two choices.

1. Fulfil its legal obligations by moderating the forums in the way we have suggested (which will cost them a little.)
2. Prepare to defend themselves against regulatory action and pay the subsequent fine, which will cost them a lot, financially, and damage their brand.

I love SnagIt.  I have been a user for 17 years, but I am fed up with TS trading on my good will.  The law is the law and regulators are taking an increasingly robust stand against companies who break it.
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cbkr.team

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I only ever click on these spam posts to comment on them and tell them they are not welcome on a TechSmith forum, but they have nearly always been deleted already, so I actually only ever wrote a comment on one. What I don't get about people spamming forums, is that they are literally never going to get any business from their posts.

A spam email will be ignored 99.999% of the time, but there's that 0.001% chance that someone might be genuinely interested in a genuine product, and click to see if it's what they think it is.

However, the stuff that has been posted on here has always been of the kind that nobody would ever be interested in, and it is stupid to target this audience anyway, because we're all here for a specific reason, are never going to have the slightest chance of being interested, unless it's a video-related physical product, and they know that the post will be removed within hours, so I just don't get why they even bother, or why anyone would pay them to do it.

As for the irritation factor, it is relatively minor, the posts are relatively few, are removed pretty quickly, and I don't believe that TechSmith should have to police it in the manner suggested, when they are a target, not the source. It is the source - GetSatisfaction - that should be instructed to block the posts, and tighten up their own security. TechSmith could help by piling the pressure on them to do it, and reporting them to the regulator if they don't comply.

I don't personally want to have to wait ages for posts to be moderated. It happens on a lot of forums now, as has been said, but what was not said is that it is really annoying - far more so than a few spam posts a month. Just because people have become accustomed to it, doesn't mean they like it. I've never yet met anyone who likes it, and we only accept it because the forums give us no choice. Sledgehammers to crack nuts springs to mind. I therefore applaud TechSmith for not imposing this restriction on our forum, and instead I simply ask them to apply pressure on GetSatisfaction, and report them if they don't comply.

(Edited)
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davidlambert

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Just curious. What time zone are you in?
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SactoBob

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Second that motion --- as he said basically the same thing to me several days ago. Actually, he looked at our profiles as I just looked at yours and his. He is in the UK, you are in Canada and mine shows my actual city of Sacramento, California. So Paul is safe in saying he sees things first.
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Paul

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Yep.  In the UK, 5 hours ahead of Eastern, 8 hours head of Pacific
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Mal Reynolds

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There's also the question of where the spam is coming from. On a website that I run (where we vet the accounts before activating them; we have admins in Europe, the US, NZ and me in Australia so there's rarely much delay) the overwhelming majority of spammer accounts are coming from either the sub-continent, the middle east or to a lesser extent Russia. I'd be surprised if that's not true for Techsmith spam as well. The time zone gap between those regions and Paul is of course a lot less than between those regions and the US, which is why it gets to Paul first.
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davidlambert

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It never occurred to me to look at the profile(s.) DOH!
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Joe Morgan

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As I posted inaccurately, hastened, yesterday. Then deleted, here’s an updated version.

When TechSmith is deleting Spam at 8AM EST or so.

SPAM that appeared at 2AM EST. It doesn’t matter if Paul reports it/them at 4AM EST. Or if someone else reports it at 6AM EST.

The Spam would have showed up in Australia at 9,10 or 11PM local time. Depending on where in Australia you’re located.

Everyone east of TechSmith including those up late beyond Australia, like 2 time zones further, New Zealand. So I’m talking about the majority of the planet. Is subject to this Spam.

Or anyone else anywhere, that happens to be awake. Sees it as well.

Perhaps if you’re sleeping in California or Alaska, and wake up after TechSmith mops up the mess.  Then being oblivious to what’s happening overnight. Is understandable.

Once again, I’m a member of several forums. This is the only one afflicted with chronic problems. The only one that ever manages to send errant e-mails and spam to me. Proactive solutions don’t exist. If they did, this topic wouldn’t need to.  

Regards,Joe

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paulwilliamengle

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On a scale of 1-this idea would break the forum overnight to 10-let's implement this idea ASAP, how practical would it be to have all new posts...or perhaps just new posters....go through a moderator before they make it onto the board? 

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davidlambert

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Easily circumventable by registering and posting a legitimate question one or more times and then start posting spam. You don't have to actually have any product (supply registration key) to register.
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Paul

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David - I think that would require a level of effort by the bogus user that likely puts it into the too hard camp.  They are looking for easy targets and open registration sites are one such.  if indeed they are humans doing it.  I suspect that bots are doing it, in which case they won't have the skill (yet) to create a quasi-genuine post

All the WordPress sites I manage have commenting turned on and active contact forms.  But I use a combination of:

  • Invisible recaptcha and honeypot traps to deter bots and
  • User moderation to capture humans.  The rule is all comments have to be queued for moderation unless a previous post from that user has been approved. 
This effectively means I am moderating users not posts.
(Edited)
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Mal Reynolds

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In my experience, David, that's not a concern.

First, some of these are going to be bots, as Paul stated. Bots are not going to be able to come up with a legitimate question because it would involve actually understanding one or more of the products on the TechSmith site.  If you look at the spam postings to date they are usually just non-specific drivel like "Great information! I'm certainly going to follow your site! --->SpamLink<--- !!!."

Having someone formulate "real" questions for posting by the bots isn't going to happen either. The geniuses behind these posts really couldn't care less whether they specifically get the spam onto the Techsmith site (though it would not surprise me if Techsmith is on a "soft target" list somewhere), they just want to get the posts onto as many sites as possible. It's a numbers game.

The ones that aren't that kind of generic fluff usually contain technobabble which isn't connected to the thread in question.

On my site I know that some are actually humans, but they work in sweatshops and are paid fractions of a penny per spam. The only thing they have to sell is their time so they won't be spending the time to understand what my site is about, and they therefore answer certain registration questions with things like "none" or "asdf" or "----". It makes it easy to filter them out.

Like Paul said, the key is hitting the users. The forum can't be restricted to those with registration keys; the last two, maybe three that I gave answers to were on trial copies. Techsmith won't want to shut the gate on those just to keep the spammers out.
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Dubie

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I am bringing this thread backup because of what I was presented with a while ago.

While joining the Photoshop Elements community on Get Satisfaction before I could join I had to agree to some terms AND then i got this verification window that I had to get a code sent to my email to continue to signup/in.




 Question to Techsmith.
Why don't you implement this for this community?

The spam would be slashed considerable if not even stopped for the most part.

Dubie:)
(Edited)
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Dubie

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Forgot to mention, after that I got a follow up email to confirm my email address.
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cbkr.team

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Yes, that looks like a good idea.
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Paul

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It has been 4 weeks since I posted this issue and we have had zero response from TechSmith.

I believe 4 weeks is sufficient time to formulate a response so I am giving you notice, TechSmith that if you have not provided a response by 4th August 2019, or the response does not effectively address the key issues, I shall start the formal process of notifying the US regulatory authorities of your failure to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
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Jack Fruh, Champion

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Paul, while i understand the frustration, this isn't email spam covered by the Can-spam act.
We've all opted in to email from this forum and you can opt out at any time.

Plus from a legal standing, get satisfaction servers send the email so you'd need to file the claim against them not techsmith.

I 100% agree that it's annoying to the regular users of this forum that Spam posts get created, and then legitimate notification emails that you've subscribed to get sent out as a result of those posts.  

But I don't think this qualifies as spam, you can unsubscribe right now, and the 'spam' will 100% stop for you.

What is unfortunate about the situation is that ultimately a few good people who answer a lot of questions will get frustrated and unsubscribe and the community participation on the forum will drop. When that happens in big enough numbers, Techsmith users end up suffering as they can't get questions answered on the forums as quickly or at all.

While people and companies generally don't respond well to threats, In my experience the people who complain the most are often the ones who care very deeply about a subject and I suspect you care very deeply about Techsmith, it's products and helping fellow techsmith users. I hope Techsmith will see your request not as a threat, but as a sign of someone who cares deeply enough to raise an issue that is impacting them and others and ultimately will have a negative impact on techsmith if not addressed.


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Paul

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Thanks Jack.  You're right that I care deeply.

But when you provide a platform that's a vehicle for spam and don't take action to stop it, you're liable.  Adobe uses the same platform and has it set up so that I get zero spam.  I didn't sign up to be spammed and I simply require them to stop it.

I care enough that I help report the spam.  I care enough to suggest a solution (moderate new users).  I care enough to volunteer to moderate users.  I just want TechSmith to display the same level of care.   But we have been asking long and loud and the silence is deafening.
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Dubie

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paulwilliamengle

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Paul, it may be worth filing the complaint. The worse they can say is “we’re unable to help for [reason]”, in which case you’re no worse off than you were before.

It may get you some much needed clarity on what’s able to be done at this point.
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k.irwin, Employee

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All,

Thank you for participating in these forums.  The help and insights you provide are valuable to both TechSmith's customers and to TechSmith itself.

Regarding the complaints that you have for receiving marketing emails:

TechSmith is concerned and frustrated by these individuals that are posting non-relevant comments.   We take data privacy and security and your data rights seriously.  Please note that TechSmith does not sell your email addresses to 3rd parties nor do we scrape emails or other information from these forums.  We try to treat your information with respect.

For this community specifically, TechSmith does minimal pre-moderation of the postings since the tool we are using does not allow for any better moderation.  TechSmith uses this approach so that TechSmith and the community members can get and/or contribute unvarnished feedback, input, and insights.  Unfortunately, with this openness, individuals are abusing the system to post ads and other non-relevant comments on the board.  This results in non-relevant emails being received by you, our active, valuable contributors.

What TechSmith is doing:

·         TechSmith requires verification for new users to the forum.  This can be a Captcha and/or email verification. 

·         We moderate the content after a post.  This is a limit to the system that we are using for the community.  Unfortunately, the system does not allow for a pre-post moderating.   Since we can't moderate prior to posting, we also can not moderate a new users first post as suggested.  Since TechSmith values the Community’s presence, we don’t want to lose the voice of the community by putting in more barriers that slows the exchange of the members.

·         TechSmith continuously closes commenting on old threads.  The intent is to reduce the places a person can put in a non-relevant post.

·         TechSmith has reviewed the areas driving the most non-relevant postings vs. the quantity of the relevant posts.  Based on this review, we are testing turning off commenting to certain topics to see if that reduces the non-relevant emails.  We don't want to cut off relevant comments so we will be treading lightly.  

TechSmith understands that these are band-aids.  However, based on the current platform, this is the best we can do without having to stop all commenting.  As part of this exercise, I reviewed each recommendations/approach included in this thread with the technical team, challenging them if something could be implemented and if not, why not.  The items above are the outcome.   We will continue to discuss other options and approaches to see if there are other ways to handle this problem that we haven't considered.

You, as the users, are able to opt out of receiving emails.  This video:  https://www.screencast.com/t/5PDIfkim3K shows how to make the changes.  This creates a different burden for you since you will need to check back on topics instead of changes being pushed to you.  This is not an ideal situation for you.  However, it will reduce the unwanted emails if the steps TechSmith has taken above do not do enough for you.

TechSmith expects to implement better solutions and tools in the future to allow us to more effectively moderate these communities.  We do not have a timeline we can commit to at this time as we are evaluating the options and timing that is required to make a move.

Thanks again for your contributions.
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Paul

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Thanks for your response.  It's good to finally hear from someone at TechSmith.

Q1.  If TechSmith can't stop SPAM on the getsatisfaction platform because of a system limitation, how come Adobe can?

Q2. The law of the country in which you are domiciled states that you may not promulgate SPAM.  Why do you consider yourselves above the law?

Q3.  Have you heard of the maxim "No-one wins a fight with a customer?

Q4.  Why do you persist with this charade that you're doing all you can when you are clearly NOT?
(Edited)
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Mal Reynolds

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> Q2. The law of the country in which you are domiciled states that you may not promulgate SPAM. 

I know you're annoyed about this (and are not the only one) but really... it doesn't. Take a read through the Act itself. It's the usual turgid legalese but "spam" isn't even defined in it, despite forming part of the legislation's name. It appears only in section 1 (the short title), in another section as part of the act's name, and in section 4 which amends the United States Code about the motivation of Congress in passing the law.

It's not some sort of blanket ban on anyone anywhere sending any e-mail that has a link to a dodgy site on it. It applies to unsolicited commercial e-mail traffic... and it would be within Techsmith's rights to argue that postings from this forum which are not initiated by them are not "commercial" but rather peer to peer user support; this is a grey area.

More important is the concept of "Affirmative Consent" defined in section 3 which covers anyone who has actively subscribed to receive e-mails. Granted you're automatically subscribed to posts that you've commented on (though you can unfollow such threads), but for a general subscription... you have to agree to it.

The act imposes certain requirements like the ability to opt out (which you can) and for headers in the messages not to be faked (which they aren't).

But - and this is what Jack Fruh was saying above - the Act is not a blanket ban of any kind. It's a list of very specific prohibitions that apply in very specific situations.

If you believe that's wrong, take a read through it and see if you can nominate which specific sections would apply to this forum.

Actually, unless you've studied law - don't. Because I really, really don't want to do that to you.

While I rarely cite Wikipedia I think in this case it's instructive to take a look at its article on the law, and in particular the first couple of paragraphs of the History section.

Q3.  Have you heard of the maxim "No-one wins a fight with a customer?

On THAT one I think you're on far safer ground. And I'd be really interested to know the answer to question 1 too, but I don't think it would be easy to come by.
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Joe Morgan

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So Paul, are you a member of the Photoshop GetSatisfaction forum or one of its other Photoshop affiliated forums?

The only reason I ask is I got curious about your comment and realized the Adobe forums I visit don’t look anything like a TechSmith/GetSat forum. Turns out, I’ve never become a member or visited the GetSat Adobe forums.

I’ve never received any Spam from the Adobe sponsored forums as I have posted about on several occasions. I believe they host it themselves as you sign in with your Adobe membership account. I have “Zero” experience with the getsatisfaction websites and didn’t even realize they exist. So all my comments regarding receiving no Spam from Adobe over the years has nothing to do with this “Odd to me” spin off of Adobe forums.

The “I’ll call official” Adobe forums. Have a forum for all the topics/programs listed in my image above.

It was dubis post about joining the GetSat Elements forum that got me to thinking “What the H*** is that?”

In researching I visited the GetSat website. Adobe isn’t even listed as a customer? https://getsatisfaction.com/corp/customers/

So I looked up the ones listed. There’s 16 shown. Only 2 had a link on their website, aside from TechSmith. That took you to an actual GetSat forum. They had blogs, switched to another provider, or host their own forums now. Unless they have a hard to discover community like Adobe.

Under this Adobe forum a member asked...... Which forum should I post to? (Feedback vs Forums) https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2082581

That’s how I found the GetSat forums. Otherwise, I’d still be confused. So apparently the GetSat forum is considered a "Feedback" forum and not for general use.

Whew! It took a lot of browser tabs to nail this down and put things into perspective “For Me”

I darn sure won’t be joining the GetSat Photoshop forums. Apparently, the only Adobe related forums are in the Photoshop family.

 There’s some incredibly talented people that respond to the membership Adobe forums. That’s the place to go for Adobe answers. In my opinion.

I tried feedback.premierpro.com

And got this message.


Feedback.AfterEffects.com led me nowhere and I quit trying after that.

So I’m pretty sure there’s only this fringe group of Adobe forums through GetSat.

There advertised customers seem to be mostly Non-Customers these days?Here’s one I found listed proving they moved on.I could post other examples, but I have more important things to move on to.


In closing, if all these years of answered and asked questions in TechSmith’s GetSat forums are lost by switching to another provider.
I don’t think the issue is bad enough to warrant switching to another provider. Not yet anyway, I’ve seen improvements over the last couple of weeks. At least as far as I know, as there’s been far less Spam.

Now I have stop procrastinating and do whats ahead of me }:>)
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Jack Fruh, Champion

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Holy cow Joe, that was quite a 'welcome' you got over on the adobe forum!
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Rick Stone

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Indeed Adobe has their main forums hosted on a platform known as Jive. I'm aware of some forums that are hosted on Get Satisfaction as well as a few other platforms. It seems that in some cases, the development team or evangelists or something like that for each product will fragment and choose to create things that aren't "official" forum platforms. I'm not sure if the product manager pays for the access from their own budget or what.

As a very long time forum member, I've personally been critical of delving into other areas beyond their  official Jive platform. But it's always been met with the viewpoint of: We want our customers and users to have every conceivable avenue available. I believe there are even forums and threads that occur on LinkedIn as well as the facebook.
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Joe Morgan

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Yeah, that Steve was a real tool Jack Fruh,

The other members were great. I don't know what Steve's problem was?

They did confirm  that Spam is not a big problem for them. But I'm willing to bet they probably have "X number of" moderators removing any that shows up immediately.

Good luck Paul, I found your name in the Adobe's forums.Clicked your profile and it said you hadn't contributed to anything in 10 months. When I tried to click your main profile page, the website tells me your profile page doesn't exist. As if your not a current member or nonexistent.
Perhaps that's been helping you avoid any Spam from them?

It would seem they get some spam, when you didn't respond back I reluctantly decided to ask the all platforms if they received any Spam myself. This is how that went.

https://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/do-members-of-the-adobe-communities-here-see-...

Sorry you've decided to move on. }:>)
Thanks for letting us and TechSmith  know.

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Mal Reynolds

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I think you only have to look at some of The Great And Honest (Self-Proclaimed) Engineer Steve's other posts over on the Adobe forum. They're disjointed gibberish for the most part, much like his replies to you, in fact.

"We sign into this forum.  Spam can't do that. " This, from a supposed MCSE?

It's interesting that leaving aside all of Steve-I-Claim-To_be-An-MCSE's noise, the most relevant post was:
We do our best to monitor and remove spam.
Since that came from someone with the title of " Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging" I'm guessing that "we" means "Adobe staff", of which they have considerably more in considerably more timezones than Techsmith. But it does make me wonder why on Earth Adobe even bothers with GetSatisfaction at all given its blatantly obvious limitations. I read the page about the demarcation between the GetSatisfaction forums and the native Adobe forums but am still at a loss as to why these two completely disparate forums are used when there are a lot of topics that may not sit neatly into either one.





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Paul

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So, I have not replied to this thread for 3 days.

I decided to take some time out and decide how to proceed.

Having done so, it seems to me that the way forward is quite clear:

1. US companies have a markedly different attitude to privacy and spam than European ones, due to the different regulatory environment

2. So I ask myself what benefit do I get from a situation where my sensitivity to the latter is constantly aggravated.

3. The simple answer is, very little.  I used Snagit for 15 years without ever visiting the forums.  I have only been active the last couple.

4. My role here has mainly been supportive.  1636 posts with 1217 likes = 74% positive (sort of) which is pretty darn good by comparison to others, and nearly all of that has been in helping others with issues, suggesting workarounds and posting ideas, a fair few of which have made it into roundups

5. Spam can be fixed.  The issue is a lack of will, not a lack of capability because, yes Joe, I DO belong to Adobe's getsatisfaction forums and NO, I don't get any spam from there.

So I'm outa here.  Someone else can take over the unappreciated (by TechSmith) task of doing their job for them by doing the early morning Spam reporting shift. 

Maybe I will continue to use SnagIt, maybe not but as its position as market leader is being allowed to wither on the vine, perhaps there will come a time when it makes sense to switch.  For now it does the job.

Cheers everyone, and in the words of Douglas Adams, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."
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Jack Fruh, Champion

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Paul, thanks for your contributions here. No doubt you've helped hundreds of people get real work done using tools we all love and want to see succeed. Your assistance will be missed.
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davidlambert

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I agree Jack. Paul, you have helped me innumerable times and I suspect it is because of you and possibly others in your 'neck of the woods' that I don't see the spam you report.
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Mal Reynolds

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I'd click "Like" on this but I'm concerned that it would be sending the wrong message since I for one have no wish to see you go.

I unsubbed from the blanket notifications from Techsmith quite a long time ago now. (That's is one reason that my appearance here is very sporadic and lumpy; another is the fact that I've migrated most of my work away from Camtasia though I don't intend to dump it completely because it still does some things better and faster than other solutions. And on the other hand, I do want to ramp up my skills in Snagit, which I know that I'm not using as effectively as I could.)

I still get the kinda-sorta daily digest of new topics, and notices on threads that I'm subscribed to, but not the "all posts" notification any more.

The reason for doing that wasn't spam, though; it was the posts of "THIS PROGRAM SUX IT DOESN'T WORK I'LL NEVER BUY IT" without any detail of what doesn't work or why.

I just scan the first couple of pages when I feel inclined to. I do hope you'll continue to do that, at least, just to keep in touch.
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cbkr.team

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It's a shame you are leaving Paul. What I don't understand is why you don't just disable your email subscriptions, and stay in the forum anyway, like Mal has done. Anyway, sad to lose a fellow Briton, but best of luck anyway.