Thursday, January 15, 2009

spam, SPAM, spAM, and Damien

There has been considerable talk about spam in the last week on foot of a mail from the Green Party about a competition they are running or trying to run. What is surprising is the rather superior attitude of some of those commenting, especially Damien Mulley when you consider that he did the same thing himself when it suited him. While much of the comment was quite considered, though some was perhaps a little less so, the commentary of Mr Tubbs stands out as it verges on the hysterical, swerves into the lunatic before careening back up the road into plain rudeness. Indeed such is the virtual rending of hair, that one almost expects talk of personal violation. Below is a self admitted bulk mail I got from Damien. It reads

As you may or may not know I'm organising a training day in UCC
next Saturday (March 24th). The training will cover the basics for an
IT company or IT person that's just setting out in business. Details
are available here:

If you are interested in coming along, please do come along or if you
think someone you know in the Cork/Munster area would benefit from the
training, send the details on to them. All training is provided free.
After Cork it is hoped there'll be on in Dublin around April 28th.
Yes. this has been a mass email but I'm sure you'll forgive me.

-- blog:
Mobile: +353 86 xxx xxxx
LinkedIn: "

At the time (a bit under 2 years back) the only contact I'd had with Damien was via the blog awards for which I had been nominated shortly before receiving the above mail. So harvesting email addresses from the blog awards and then bulk emailing people to advise them of a training event he was running was par for the course for Damien back in the day. Since it would seem that training courses are now a significant earner for Damien it would be reasonable to think of this now as an email was for an event that provided him with a grounding in what is a commercial activity. I can't really say I was especially put out by getting it but it would seem if I was to follow the lead that Damien sets for those who send mai lto him, I should have contacted the Data Protection Commissioner and scweamed and scweamed the blogophere blue with how someone had contacted me about something I wasn't interested in using an address they had garnered purportedly for other purposes.

The rather dull fact is that there is spam and there is SPAM, and if you can't tell the difference then I'm not sure what I can say to help you see it. To top all this for all the talk of the need for the personal there is the notion put forward that you can bulk email people but if you make sure to use the bcc field so that it appears to be just to them as individuals and then use some automated process to include their first name at the top then that's all fine and dandy. That this might signify to anyone with half a brain that the intent was somehow significantly less impersonal than doing the same but without their name shows that for at least some of the offended it's all about the perception not the reality. It's still a bulk email, but you put their name on it - oh - that's so much better. On a scale of one to SPAM this was probably a two.

1 comment:

Keith Martin said...

Well said!