I got a spammer to apologize to me!

I work at a newspaper. I am the guy who assembles the editorial page, so I get to go through the hundreds of e-mails sent our way every day to pluck out the few ACTUAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR from the reams of Viagra offers, ads for porn sites, requests from shady Nigerian businessmen and all the other various crap.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to delete it.

I’ve been getting TONS of e-mail recently from people trying to get the word out about Terri Schiavo, that comatose woman in Florida whose husband wants to pull the plug on her, but her parents are against it and now the governor of Florida is involved … I’m to the point where I wish she was DEAD so I could stop getting all of these messages! I wrote a filter to spare me the chore of deleting them, but I can’t stop all of the messages – some people misspell her last name or simply refer to “Terri,” and I can’t filter out every e-mail with that word in it!

Several “Save Terri” e-mails made it to me tonight, and I just got fed up, so I began issuing stern replies. I didn’t use any foul language, because no doubt a great number of these people are merely well-meaning boobs who don’t realize that a lot of other well-meaning boobs out there have the same notion to send out all this garbage, and all of that boobery adds up to a lot of wasted time for recipients like me.

What I basically told people was, “I don’t appreciate receiving this spam. I have real work to do, and plowing through the endless stream of e-mail like yours only slows me down. Please quit.” I was a little sterner with people who sent what I could recognize were form letters, because that is brainless conformity; if you send me an ORIGINAL piece of Terri Schiavo spam, I can at least respect your initiative!

Wasn’t sure what to expect in the way of replies, but just before I went home, one of the spammers dispatched a simple “Sorry.” I was quite touched. I would have thanked the person, but God knows I don’t want to encourage him or her.

Spam, spam eggs and spam

spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, SPAM!

When I first got a computer, I used to hang out in chat rooms a lot, which is like hanging a sign on your neck that says “Please spam me”. After a while I got fed up and started responding (dumb, I know, but I didn’t know any better at the time). And I was not nice.

One time, I got a response from someone saying “I’m really sorry you had to get this, some jerks stole my password and they’ve been using my account to spam people.” Well, okay then. I felt a little bad, and I stopped responding to spammers after that. Not that it made a difference one way or the other.

One time I got a spam from a Russian guy selling bulk grain. For some reason, I decided to fire off a scathing response and he actually responded. Apparently I hurt his feeling. Ooooh, poor widdle spammer, I feel sooo baaad for you…

Great that the spammer apologised… but the important part is: did the spammer stop spamming?

The problem with responding to spammers is that they use fake return addresses, so just answering the mail will get you nowhere. Nigerian scam mailers, however, have to use a working address, so it always gives me a pleasure sending them insulting answers with frequent use of the n-word. When I first did this I got an angry answer to which I replied something like “By answering my mail you have just proven that you are even stupider than I imagined”. I never heard from him since.

I’d say that 99.9999% of alla spam I get is directed to Americans, but lately idiots here in Sweden have started spamming in which case I go to their home page and collect all email@adress I can and return their junk with some insulting remark (from an anonymous address of course, with my own adress removed).

Um, if I’ve missed something I apologize, but how is that spam, exactly? If you work in a paper and your job is to collect letters to the editor, is it fair to assume then that these people are expressing their opinion in letter form in hopes of having it printed?

AFAIK, spam is generally considered to be non-solicited commercial email, and I don’t see how anything relating to the Schiavo case would be commercial unless they were trying to sell commemorative feeding tubes or somesuch (yes, horrible joke, I know)


Indeed, I had the same thought you did. So before I labeled the person a spammer, I looked up the definition of spam on www.m-w.com. And it said spam was usually commercial, so I figured I was on solid enough ground.

Thankfully, no commemorative feeding tubes were for sale.

Email spam is “unsolicited commercial or bulk email”. If you’re getting stuff repeatedly that you haven’t asked for, it doesn’t matter whether it’s commercial or not.