I’ve mused in the past about whether spam is really a problem or not. I find it a minor annoyance that I can easily ignore, like ads, but I can see how it would be both annoying in some situations and in others, a major problem.
Spam in my work inbox is limited mostly to mail sent to distribution lists to which I subscribe. Again, a minor annoyance for me, since I can usually tell by the subject if I need to read or not.
So, today, my inbox was choked with about 30 messages all in the same thread. It was one of those ironic spam threads where at least 75% of the replies were unsubs or stern reminders not to reply to all, some of them in all caps, sent of course, to the whole list.
Let’s pause for a protip. In Intertubes speak, when you use all caps, it’s assumed you are yelling. As obvious as this may sound, I think most people use all caps for emphasis, like bolding, or maybe they like to yell. I don’t think most of these people would actually shout if the exchange were in person.
Next, the obvious protip: Replying to all to admonish others for replying to all, results in an infinite loop of spam and irony. And it’s really funny.
This thread actually went on so long, it caved in on itself. One message called out the “don’t reply to all” repliers to all as potentially failing an IQ test. Then, a few others ran with the IQ piece and made it into a pretty funny diversion. I’m still waiting for the final-final reply from someone on the list.
Anyway, aside from enjoyment, this thread did get me wondering how many people zombie reply to all. By this I mean, replying to all, without looking at the full to and cc list.
I’m guilty of sending too much mail, but I try to take people out of the loop when necessary and add them if necessary.
This is a CYA problem. Email is official business. It can be used as evidence to assess guilt or innocence. So, people, myself included, are conditioned to make sure all bases are covered (and are belong to us).
Therefore, we reply to all without even looking and frequently include new people in the thread, just in case.
With real business content, this causes inbox swelling, a necessary evil and probably not avoidable. We all get way too much email, which makes a lot of people cranky.
So, when someone zombie replies to some spam sent to a distribution list, people tend to go ballistic.
This creates spam wars. It usually goes like this:
- Someone spams a list.
- People reply to all with unsub verbiage.
- Someone replies to all with the proper process on how to unsub.
- People reply to all with all caps messages about not replying to all.
- The sender replies to all with an apology or explanation, bonus points for claiming not to spam.
- I laugh.
- Rinse and repeat a few times.
- Optionally, someone makes a funny about the irony of the whole thing.
- I laugh some more.
People get really touchy about unwanted email, and I don’t get it. But, I still try to avoid spamming because I’m that kind of guy.
The cause of today’s spam was a seemingly innocent list created to share some content. The poor person who created it got pummeled with unsubscribes and do not wants. Then s/he made the mistake of promising not to spam the list. People are rough.
Note to self, suggest Connect V2 groups to poor distribution list creator.
Anyway, no real point here, just food for thought. In case you’ve been following, all this post needs is a Rick Roll for the meme trifecta.