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The Woes Of Spam

Disclaimer: This article is somewhat tongue-in-cheek; generally speaking, responding directly to spammers is not advised.

If you have an email address which is published on the internet, you have undoubtedly faced the wasted time and frustration that comes from piles and piles of unsolicited email which have to be sifted through before deleting. Sometimes it's almost impossible to keep a sense of humor through the sifting process, but once in a while--if you're paying attention--you'll catch something that will strike your funnybone.

Outsource your software development

One day I got an email from a software company in India. "We found your listing in dmoz.org," they said. "We visited your site, and we believe you could benefit from outsourcing your software development needs to us."

I hit the 'delete' key. Half an hour later, I got another email: "We found your listing...". Hmmmm. I pulled the previous email out of the trash. Yup--the two were identical.

But it didn't stop there. Oh no. Over the course of the next few hours I received two more copies of this email. It didn't take me long to realize that these people had a directory sniffer that was just perusing the Open Directory Project (dmoz) and sucking email addresses from the associated sites. Did they really visit my site? Well, their spambot did--isn't that close enough?

Unfortunately, I have quite a few listings in the Open Directory Project, which meant I was going to be stuck receiving several more copies of this spam. What to do? Grin and bear it?

Dear sirs,

Thank you for your interest in my company. I notice that you forgot to program your email sniffer to avoid sending multiple identical messages to the same address. Obviously I am not going to outsource my software needs to a company which cannot even program an effective spam tool.

If I receive one more copy of this email, I will be contacting your ISP about your spamming activities.

Regards, etc.

Your friend John give me your address

This one came from a guy in Brazil. "Your friend John give me your email address. He tell me you like to receive my favorite links every weeks. If you don't want my links, click here."

I began with my standard policy of ignoring. Two days later I received my first 'links' email. It contained (in broken English) a recommendation to visit two or three websites. Two days later I received another email, with three more websites to visit.

"Wait a minute," I thought, "One of those links looks familiar." Sure enough; he'd repeated one of his links. Two days later...letter number three. What do you know--that same link was in there! But the really interesting thing was...the guy had used a different email address. This one had the same domain as the site he kept repeating! Talk about shameless self-promotion!

Dear sir,

My friend John just told me that he never gave you my email address, so I should report you for spamming. Especially since I clicked on your link, and it sent me to a Portuguese website which I couldn't read, so I couldn't unsubscribe from your list.

If you don't want my friend John to contact your ISP regarding your spamming activities, please send him a letter of apology.

Thanks, etc.

You didn't promote your website well enough

This one made me fall off my chair laughing. A website promotion company sent me an email saying that they had analyzed my site, and concluded I hadn't done enough website promotion, and needed their help in order to build traffic to my site. To prove that they had actually been to my site, they even included a small gif of my home page. This added a great deal of credibility to their email.

Especially since, like the India software company, they sent multiple, identical copies. Hmmm... Interesting, I thought, a web site promotion company which is so badly publicized that they need to spam people to get business. Just for kicks, I decided to do a search on my favorite search engine (Google.com).

I searched for "web site promotion" and "website promotion". Not in the first fifty. Not in the first one hundred. Not in the first two hundred...

Dear sir,

Thank you for your concern regarding the quality of my website. I thought it ironic that you had no trouble finding my site--multiple times, yet you need to spam me in order to help me find yours. In appreciation, I am writing an article describing your company. If you would like to read it, you can find it at Virtu Software News.

I apologize in advance for the fact that I did not provide a link to your company, but I felt it would be unfair if I provided a link to you, without providing a link to your competitors. But then, under the circumstances, you probably don't mind.

Regards, etc.

In conclusion

I realize that there are many many many automated email harvesters out there, which are constantly searching the internet for new suckers. To help out these harvesters, I would like to offer the following for their perusal. Email harvesters: please take your time, and choke on these.