Tag - spam

Google+ means email+

Google+ is the most interesting thing to come out of Google since … well, since search. Or maybe Android.

But it’s also a major generator of email:

To be fair, that’s not unlike Facebook. It’s just that on Facebook, we’ve had more time to adapt (and update our email preferences). On G+, it’s so new that I’ve wanted to stay engaged and stay updated.

Guess I’m gonna have to update my email preferences!

On another note, I think this marks my fourth straight post about Google. That says two things:

  1. Google is doing a lot of stuff!
  2. I need to focus on some different things!

Back to the salt mines …

Spam everywhere: now in FourSquare tips

Spam in your email, spam in your Twitter stream, spam in your Facebook friend requests … spam everywhere.

I guess it’s only a matter of time until we have spam in our bathroom reading material. Oh wait, that’s been done too.

As I checked in to YVR airport in Vancouver this morning, this tip came up:

Hmmm …. it’s 4:45 AM on a Wednesday morning, and I’m flying out of Vancouver, heading to Toronto. How likely is it that I’m interested in a Monday night meeting that sounds kind of get-rich-quickish?

You got it – not very.

Which means that this is spam to me. And very likely has been added by someone just to ensure that thousands of people who pass through YVR get spammed with their message.

More than slightly uncool …

Important notice from A Random Corporation™ with my personal data

Outsourcing is wonderful, because you don’t have to do the dirty work yourself.

Outsourcing sucks, because you’re at the mercy of the quality (or lack thereof) of your new bestest friend partner … who’s never quite as pretty as during the days you were dating.

I don’t know if you’ve gotten any of these Dear John letters from major hotel chains lately, but I’ve gotten three. Here’s the one from Marriott:

April 4, 2011

Dear Marriott Customer,

We were recently notified by Epsilon, a marketing vendor used by Marriott International, Inc. to manage customer emails, that an unauthorized third party gained access to a number of Epsilon’s accounts including Marriott’s email list.

In all likelihood, this will not impact you. However, we recommend that you continue to be on the alert for spam emails requesting personal or sensitive information. Please understand and be assured that Marriott does not send emails requesting customers to verify personal information.

We take your privacy very seriously. Marriott has a long-standing commitment to protecting the privacy of the personal information that our guests entrust to us. We regret this has taken place and apologize for any inconvenience.

Please visit our FAQ to learn more.


Marriott International, Inc.

The Epsilon mentioned is marketing-as-usual-not-a-chance … an email marketing firm that manages 2500 clients’ email campaigns and sends out 40 billion emails a year, according to this Fast Company story about the security breach.

Apparently the break affected only 2% of its clients, which is still more than 50 large companies … companies that most people would recognize (see the full list at SecurityWeek).

I’m guessing my name and email address is one of the breached ones, seeing as how I’ve received 3 emails from 3 different companies telling me that I may be affected … and that Marriott is among the listed companies at SecurityWeek.

Ahh well … I’m public enough with all my data to be a major spam target anyways.

The major downside of outsourcing critical customer intelligence like this? Creating super-delectable targets for spammers and hackers.

With data from many massive companies all housed in one place … it’s a big temptation. A big target.

And a single breach exposes a LOT of data.

How to fail fast on Twitter: an easy-to-follow one-step recipe!

At last … the information you’ve always wanted: how to get un-followed on Twitter.

If you use Twitter, you’re familiar with the following scenario: someone follows you, and you find out via email, or some other software you’re using for the purpose (unless you’re automating Twitter, which is usually a bad thing in itself, but we’ll deal with that another day).

You take a look at the user’s stats, and if he or she has a decent number of tweets in relation to following and following numbers, you consider following back. You also check to see if the user is following way more people than are following him or her … because that’s usually a sign of someone trying to game Twitter to develop a big megaphone without putting any significant energy into earning that megaphone.

Sometimes when you’ve done this step, and even noticed that the user’s tweets are potentially of interest to you, you notice something else. Like this, for example:


I followed this user, then read a few more of his tweets. Lo and behold … multiple repeat Tweets.

This is a sign of a user with one or more problems:

  • Boring
    This person does not have a lot to say … but like the boring person at the party that you can’t detach yourself from, insists on saying it over and over.

  • Lazy
    This person probably actually has a lot to say, but is too busy or otherwise occupied to put appropriate attention on Twitter. So she is putting her account on autopilot and just repeating the same thing over and over again without the bother of having to think up (or experience) new things to communicate. This is the broken record (remember those round spinning black things) that keeps on keeps on keeps on keeps on …

  • Forgetful
    This person just says the same thing over and over again … like the old sales guy who has chatted up (sorry, networked) so promiscuously and with so little emotional investment that he forgets who he has told his stories to, and keeps repeating the sames ones to you every time you meet.

  • Rude
    This person doesn’t care about the signal to noise ratio, and doesn’t care what any one individual might think of his or her behavior. It’s all about the mass to this person, and to get to mass attention, they’re repeating everything twice or a hundred times, like old-fashioned advertising spewing out mindlessly and repetitively to an essentially unknown audience.

As soon as I saw all the repeat tweets, I un-followed this user. The funny thing here is that I’m actually interested in some of the topics he’s covering. But his behavior smells like spam.

Moral of the story? Old methods may not work in new media.

Uh oh, my "online" is about to be deleted

Sometimes it’s fun to read through your email spam. Some poor clueless spammer sent me this gem today:

This is your official notification from eBay. Your online has expired.
If you want to continue using our service you have to renew your online.
If not, your online will be limited and deleted.

I am shaking in my boots … from laughter.

My adjectives are in danger. My nouns, however, are all just fine.

Hopefully, the same is true of you.

Twitter Spamability Quotient: 39%

A truly wonderful part of any user-generated social community is the Jupiter-sized amount of spam that kamikazes towards the site like John Daly to the pro club bar.

Twitter, a social messaging site, is not immune. That won’t shock anyone in the social media know, but I gained a new appreciation for the spam-friendliness of Twitter when nerkaszs followed me.

This is a person with 27 updates, each of which follows the exact same format: “I just updated my Squidoo page: [ link to page ].”


This is obviously a borderline spam account, with no real personal info or valuable knowledge transfer on any particularly discernible topic. This is purely and simply an SEO play on Squidoo lenses that nerkaszs has built and presumably collects some PPC income on.

So why would anyone follow this account? Anyone who takes 5 seconds to actually look at it will drop it faster than a bar of soap on a string in a prison shower.

The answer is the secret to Twitter’s Spamability Quotient: 39%. Many Twitter users automatically follow anyone who follows them. There are a variety of ways, including this one that Dave Taylor explains.

I’m guessing the TSQ is about 39% … based simply on nerkaszs‘s stats. Whoever Nerk is, she/he/it follows (yeah right) 918 people and has suckered 360 people into following (repeat yeah right) him/her/it. Do the math and you’ve got 39% of all people who are followed who will automatically reciprocate.

And that number says interesting things about spammers’ ability to use Twitter as a reproducible loudspeaker.

Craigslist Spam: "Financially relieving"

You gotta love Craigslist spam.

I just posted a position – looking for a Delphi developer, anyone interested please get in touch – and the next morning found some business solicitation spam.

I kind of enjoyed the pitch though:

I wanted to introduce our services to you, perhaps you may find us financially relieving. We are running a website and graphic design company with very little overhead so our prices are very competitive.

Who doesn’t like “financially relieving” services?

Smart comment spam is still spam

Now this is a smart comment spam:

I am not sure that I can completely understand your comments. Would you be so kind as to expand on your reasoning a little more before I comment.

I’m not going to link to the site where this originates (or, more accurately, where it points) because I don’t want to encourage or support spam in any way. But you can see who’s doing this here:

It’s smart, of course, because you have to think for a moment before being sure that it’s actually spam. But it’s still spam, as you can see when you go to the site being promoted, and realize it’s a shell site with nothing there but Google AdWords.


Link exchanges are so 1997

UPDATE Feb 21: pls note Trisha’s gracious reply below …

I can’t believe believe people are still sending out link exchange requests:


Recently I contacted you regarding a link exchange request. I was hoping that you’ve had the time to review this request and consider my proposal. We are developing a reciprocal link area on our website and would be happy to trade text links with your website. You links will be on the PsPrint.com website, although we are not entirely sure where at this point in the project.

Please let me know if you are interested in discussing this further. You can contact me at trisha@psprint.com or 510.224.2106. If you are not interested in a link exchange, please let me know and I will discontinue contacting you regarding this matter. Thank you for your time.

Trisha Fawver
Marketing Manager
Create. Print. Mail. Faster.

This is now the third email I’ve gotten from Trisha, which is starting to approach spammishness. Note the veiled threat in this statement:

If you are not interested in a link exchange, please let me know and I will discontinue contacting you regarding this matter.

In other words, I’ll continue to receive unsolicited emails until I say yes or until I waste my time composing an email saying no.

Hate facebook hate facebook hate facebook

I am so over Facebook.

Essentially, I’ve put my Facebook profile on autopilot using applications that suck in all my data from around the web. But I hardly ever go there myself.


Well, first of all, my employer blocks Facebook. While I certainly wouldn’t spend a long time there anyways during the work day, it’s annoying to get little email notifications during the day about something a friend did on Facebook, and then having to think about that later if I want to check it out.

Secondly, and much more importantly, while the application infrastructure of Facebook is amazing, it’s also fingernails-on-blackboard perky-happy-chirpy-people-on-Monday-mornings annoying.

Let me say that again: ANNOYING.

Everytime anyone does anything, Facebook feels like it needs to notify me. So-and-so is playing Scrabulous, someone else took a picture of a cup of coffee, someone else is super-poking me, and his dog is joining some stupid corporate fan club because they happen to like Tim Hortons coffee.

I love to know when someone has posted a new blog entry.

But I don’t need the minutiae of their every footstep on Facebook. There’s a massive annoyance factor in being sent some kind of message that actually isn’t a message. It’s not a real message … not a note, or email, or IM, or actual communication … but a piece of digital flotsam, tossed off randomly from some interaction with a Facebook application, sent easily and spammishly and automatably to tens or hundreds of “friends.”

timmysBut that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that half the time, when you get this piece of digital flotsam, if you actually care to see the picture of the cup of coffee, you have to install the application that the “friend” used when adding it to Facebook. And then you have to sell your soul to the devil and allow the application to know the most intimate details of your online life.


The social utility doesn’t have any.

Verisign is hounding me …

Verisign is driving me nuts emailing me and phoning me. Just to make it perfectly clear:

  • I don’t want your PDF white papers on internet security.
  • I don’t want your SSL certificates.
  • I don’t want your emails.
  • I especially don’t want your phone calls from “sales executives.”

Hrm … now that’s off my chest I feel marginally better. Until the next call starting off with “Hello, this is $salesguy calling from Verisign. How are you?”Worse than I was before you called.

Aksimet down?

Aksimet must have gone down last night … I woke up to 40 emails from my blog.

(I set my blog to hold comments in moderation from people who do not have have prior approved comments … and email me when it does that.)

Seems to be back up this morning. Blogging without Akismet is almost impossible – at least if you want to allow comments.

Most ridiculous opt-out page ever

This has got to be the most ridiculous opt-out page in the history of permission marketing:

netapp opt-out form

First name, last name, job role, department, industry, company name, address, city, state/province, zip/postal code, country, phone, fax, email, and comments.

Unbelievable. Email address and UNSUBSCRIBE is the max expected.

Better yet is a link in the email that includes your email address and automatically takes you to a page that processes the unsubscription and lets you know.

Is Akismet down?

I’m getting a wack-load of comment spam today. Hopefully none is slipping through to the site because i moderate, but this is annoying.

Usually the Akismet service deletes almost all comment spam before I even see it, but today it appears to be taking a long coffee break.

The Akismet website says nothing about being down, and the spam zeitgeist is still up and claiming that 14,326,525 spams have been viciously murdered so far today … but I’m getting way more spam.

Any clues?