Opt In Matters (sigh)

So there it is, in the fine print at the bottom of the Cnet article about Yahoo’s new privacy policy:

Yahoo users will now automatically have their marketing preferences set to accept updates from a smattering of Yahoo’s businesses. Previously, users were offered one option to either accept or reject product notices when first registering on the site.

Users will have to click “no” to opt out of receiving e-mails from a selection of 13 Yahoo products, ranging from job listings to new media products to inclusion in Yahoo’s user surveys, among other things. The page also has an option for users to opt in to the Yahoo Delivers service, which sends product pitches from third parties.

I’ve fought this battle so many times, I’m a little weary of it, but hey, here goes:

Opt out = spam. Opt out takes advantage of laziness, inertia and infoglut to inundate people with stuff they don’t want. Opt out is no way to build a great company. If you advertise, you should never buy opt out ads. They don’t work so well… and more important, you’re going to annoy people.

I’m ashamed of this. Most online businesses have news and offers that people will willingly read. That’s the path to go down. That’s the way to build sustainable, profitable businesses. This is a mistake. It’s too bad, really.