SFWA Creates Anti-Email-Harvesting Policy for
Membership List

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have notified members that they will be subject to discipline if they violate a new policy against abuse of the SFWA Member Directory.

Last month, one of our members used the membership directory to send all members of SFWA a promotional email. This was done without SFWA’s consent or prior knowledge. As a result, the Board decided to prioritize an email harvesting policy already in development for the organization.

No one is named in the announcement, however, the timeframe is right for this alert tweeted in June by Natalie Luhrs which many writers remarked on and SFWA responded to. Thread starts here.

Marc Zicree subsequently issued a video “Apology to the Science Fiction Writers of America” expressing regret for using their membership list to publicize Space Command.

SFWA’s policy statement reads:

The SFWA Member Directory exists as a courtesy to facilitate communication between individual members of SFWA. It is not to be used for marketing or promotional purposes.

Using member contact information for marketing without explicit permission from the individual is considered a violation of our privacy policy. This includes all marketing-related activities such as emailing, mailing, or calling SFWA members.

Our privacy policy exists for our members’ safety and to comply with the laws governing the use of email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses for promotional purposes. Any individual or business using a SFWA member’s email or physical address must be able to demonstrate compliance with anti-spam laws. In most cases, this means the individual or business must be able to prove the SFWA member opted-in for email notices or physical pieces of information that the user consented to receive. Violations of this policy will result in a formal letter of censure. A second transgression will result in the member being removed from good standing. 

SFWA provides a number of opt-in opportunities for promotion, including our Featured Books and Authors Program and the New Release Newsletter page where you can promote new releases. The board encourages members to participate in these approved programs as both readers and writers.

7 thoughts on “SFWA Creates Anti-Email-Harvesting Policy for
Membership List

  1. Big f***ing deal. It might have been a minor breach of etiquette, but these messages were personalised, neither of the authorised options were appropriate to promoting a tv show and Marc’s initiative came from a good place. Get some perspective.

  2. Steve Green says Big f***ing deal. It might have been a minor breach of etiquette, but these messages were personalised, neither of the authorised options were appropriate to promoting a tv show and Marc’s initiative came from a good place. Get some perspective.

    It is a big frelling deal as no one should use a membership list without the express written consent of the organisation. No matter how good his intentions are, his actions were not. I as a Chair have had full access to membership databases and I didn’t need to be told that using it for my own own personal use no matter how justified I think that was.

    He should’ve asked if it was it OK to use it. He didn’t.

    Now playing: June Tabor’s “The Cruel Mother” though not a Child or Roud variant I recognise.

  3. Steve Green: Big f***ing deal. It might have been a minor breach of etiquette, but these messages were personalised, neither of the authorised options were appropriate to promoting a tv show and Marc’s initiative came from a good place. Get some perspective.

    It is a Big F***ing Deal.

    Members’ contact information is provided via the SFWA members portal as a professional courtesy for private professional use, not for spam marketing. Misuse of that information was an egregious breach of both protocol and courtesy.

    The fact that “neither of the authorised options were appropriate to promoting a tv show” did not justify an unauthorized use. And Zicree’s intentions weren’t “from a good place”, they were purely mercenary; he was trying to sell his own product.

    And I have no idea why you think that the fact that names were mail-merged (badly) into the spam e-mail mitigates the misuse of members’ e-mails in any way.

    The perspective problem here is yours.

  4. I wouldn’t call it a minor breach of etiquette to create a mailing list from an organization’s member directory so you can spam them. That’s an obviously obnoxious move and no one needed a policy to tell them that, including Zicree. The idea that self-promotion “comes from a good place” is silly. Opt-out marketing comes from the bad place.

  5. Marc Criley: Zicree’s so-called apology video was four minutes of self-promotion leading up to a non-apology.

    That is true.

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