1994 revisited by MSNBC.com list server?

By Steve Outing

I got the e-mail below this morning, apparently from MSNBC.com, asking me to renew the e-mail breaking news alerts I receive from them. Is this for real? I checked the header, thinking maybe it was a crude spammer’s attempt to harvest e-mail addresses, but it sure looks like it is from MSNBC.com. Here’s the text of the e-mail:

Your subscription to the BREAKINGNEWS list is due for renewal. If you wish to remain subscribed to BREAKINGNEWS, please issue the following command to LISTSERV@LISTS.MSNBC.COM at your earliest convenience:


You will be automatically removed from the list if you do not send a CONFIRM command within the next 14 days.

PS: In order to facilitate the task, this message has been specially formatted so that you only need to forward it back to
LISTSERV@LISTS.MSNBC.COM to have the command executed. Note that while the formats produced by the forwarding function of most mail packages are supported, replying will seldom work, so make sure to forward and not reply.

If this is for real, I’m shocked that in 2007 a major news organization is using e-mail publishing techniques that hark back to the mid 1990s. I used to run e-mail lists and fondly recall this sort of clunky e-mail admin interface. But it’s antiquated now, replaced by better systems where the user only has to click a customized URL to confirm a subscription like this.

The part about having to forward the message because reply probably won’t work is crazy! … Unless you’re still living in 1995.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!