Friday, December 3, 2010

Confirm My Identity? Fuck You (12/31/07)

This was originally posted on a horrible site called Myspace. When Myspace underwent a redesign in Fall 2010, hundreds of insightful reader comments that had been left over the years were lost. I have since deleted my account there.

For years I've hated spammers worse than anyone else in the world. But I'm starting to wonder...I think I've found a type of person I hate even more: People who sign up for a "spam arresting" service, wherein when you send them an e-mail, the e-mail is rejected and you have to follow additional steps to confirm your identity -- specifically, click a link, read bullshit, and then type bullshit into a box.

I understand why some people would do this. Spam is a nightmare, and not everyone has the tools to fight it on their end. And it kind of makes sense when they're receiving an e-mail out of the blue and you've never communicated with them before. Except that I think every time I've seen this happen, it involved either someone who had contacted me first and asked for a reply, or someone I had recently exchanged e-mails with. When it happened today, I was delivering the manuscript for the second edition of my book to my contact at the publisher. Of course, I had to comply and follow the steps. But it was the first time -- in every other case, I've just figured, "Hey, guess what? For all you know, my spam filter just zapped your confirm-your-identity message. I guess you'll just never get that e-mail. Sorry! I tried!"

This "solution" to spam is rude, thoughtless, and arrogant. It puts the onus on the sender, who has acted in good faith, to take care of the receiver's problems, with no effort at all on the receiver's end. It tells the sender, "I'm too busy to look through my trash folder, enter your e-mail address on a safe list, or give you the time of day for that matter. Now, who the fuck are you again?"

I mean, imagine if you wrote on the envelopes of the Christmas cards you received this year, "Return to sender. Must confirm identity before I open." (If only I had gotten a Christmas card from someone who had blocked my e-mail in this way.)

Another reason why this annoys me: The "confirm your identity" message is, itself, spam. It is an unsolicited e-mail generated automatically, sent by a commercial business with an e-mail address I don't recognize. Worse, when I did confirm my identity, I received *another* automated e-mail from the spam blocker, this one announcing that webmasters can earn big buck$ by publicizing the service. Yep, folks, that is a real, true piece of spam -- no doubt about it. (My spam filter actually blocked that one, but I saw it in my trash folder. Which I do go through before emptying, by the way.) And now this company has acquired my e-mail address without my permission. Do you think they'd ever fatten their bottom line by selling it (along with the millions of other active addresses they're acquiring) to a mega-spammer in China or Russia? No......

I still hate spammers. But it would be highly gratifying if the people who signed up for these services started getting *more* spam in their inbox as a result. So, I guess if I had to root for either spammers or lazy, inconsiderate people who won't lift a finger to receive e-mails they actually want, then I guess I'd root for the spammers.

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