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Ken Magill

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Dear Anti Spammer: Way to Make My Point


By Ken Magill

In an apparent attempt to make some sort of point, someone last week forge subscribed my email address to a bunch of newsletters—about a dozen or so.

The forged subscriptions came on the heels of a column in which I contended spam isn’t a problem for the average consumer and very likely not the problem some anti-spammers claim it is for them.

This isn’t the first time some vengeful, self-defeating jerkwad anti-spammer has forge subscribed my address to email lists. But the last guy—it’s gotta be a guy, right? What woman would do this?—was way more creative.

The last time my address was forge subscribed I received some 300 emails from gay men looking for dates. It was kind of flattering.

For several years my gym was located in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan—the gay male epicenter of the universe. As a result, I have been naked in a locker room with more gay men than most people will know in their lifetimes.

So the gay email overtures didn’t have their intended effect.

And neither did this latest attempt to pollute my inbox. It took me literally less than two minutes to unsubscribe from every newsletter I hadn’t signed up for. Two minutes.

How much time do we suppose our intrepid anti-spammer spent finding and subscribing to these newsletters?

My email address has 19 characters in it. As a result, this idiot had to hunt around the Internet, find these newsletters and enter 20 keystrokes for each one, compared to one, two or three mouse clicks per newsletter from me to unsubscribe.

Note to anti-spammer: Way to value your time. You do realize that the vast majority of the anti-spam community also thinks you’re an idiot, right? What you did was antithetical to the cause. I wish I were God. You know why? Because if I was God, I would bestow you with 20 I.Q. points for five minutes. Then I would laugh at the expression on your face as it dawned on you what a complete fool you are. Then after five minutes, I would take the I.Q. points back and let you muddle through the rest of your trivial life frothing at the mouth over trivial things.

And whatever point he thought he was making, all this particular anti-spammer did was underscore mine. Spam is not a problem for the average person, in this case, even when someone else tries to make it one.

All of these newsletters had working unsubscribe functions as required by U.S. law. U.S. law-abiding companies are not the problem.

The reason I single out U.S. law is it isn’t as restrictive as the spam laws of other countries, Australia’s for example.

But even email sent from companies that meet the admittedly low standards set by Can Spam isn’t where the primary ISP-vs.-spammers battle is being fought.

And people who blow their stacks over the occasional unwanted message should sit back, take a few deep breaths and contemplate how truly blessed they are that they can get so worked up over something so small.


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