Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I wonder, however, if the “polite” approach is best for businesses. True, we are sending emails to our users more frequently than I would want others to send me, however we have tested frequency and concluded that this is the most effective way to reach our goals, and there is not significant negative feedback to suggest that we are losing on any count. So while I appreciate where you are coming from, and certainly agree that this should be *one of* the factors to take into account, I think it’s dangerous to use “don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you” as a guiding force in making business decisions.
Another important point here is that people are not always aware of what they really want, and their actions (data) are a better measure than what they might say. A good example of this is Facebook’s news feed algorithm. Facebook could have simply allowed people to decide on their own what they do and do not want to see in their feeds (Google plus tried to do this at one point). However, based on user behavior, Facebook actually knows better what content people will enjoy seeing and therefore use their own algorithm.