Spam Journal



One of the challenges of the modern age is dealing with the ceaseless drivel in our e-mail.  Even the most energized Millenial will eventually sit and reflect, "Why all this stuff?"


For an old man like me, I have spent decades dealing with unwanted e-mail traffic, commonly referred to as "spam."  Technically, spam is e-mail traffic that is unsolicited and in many cases illegal.  But there is a subset of what most people call spam is actually legitimate messages.  The problem is volume and control.  You begin to notice that even though you thought you needed weekly updates from your favorite sport store, you realized that nine times out of ten, then 99 times out of a hundred, you deleted the messages.


This journal covers all the bases.  It will reveal, eventually, the perfectly legitimate and ordinary traffic that we need to remove, to the somewhat sleazy, to the downright uncontrollable.  This journal will show what things worked and what things did not work.  It will show who is on top of their game, and those who are asleep at the wheel.


View data on dealing with Spam.



The Ordinary Stuff


I move about the Internet a quite a bit with the use of two computers, a smartphone and a tablet.  Each of those devices are not only physically different, but contextually different.  I have observed that in my travels I have a propensity of subscribing to services that are either necessary or convenient at the time.  Uber, for example, is something I desperately need when traveling to a major city.  But for the other 360 days of the year, it takes up space on my smartphone.  I am a bird watcher and my tablet is usually the source of accounts for bird-watching organizations like Audobon, Cornell University or iBird. 


It is because of this diverse use of technology under an array of circumstances that I tend to accumulate a lot of unnecessary e-mail traffic.


The First Line of Defense


Since this type of traffic is generated from decisions I made, I generally trust the messages I receive.  Organizations that send out "bulk mail" are required to have an Unsubscribe option at the base of their message.



When everyone follows the rules, removing unwanted messages should be as simple as that.


Second Line of Defense -- Direct Appeal


Appealing directly to the sender may an option worth exploring.  One such case is that of the US Mint.  The Unsubscribe component of their messages seems to not work.  So I appealed directly.  You can follow this example at this link.


One word of caution.  Don't meddle with untrusted senders.  I can trust the US Mint.  But there will be other examples in this journal that can be a bit untrustworthy, if not outright criminal.  Investigate the sender.  Do they have a web site?  Who are the "owners" of the site?  Are their identifiable assets they may possess such as an address, phone numbers, Dunn and Bradstreet listings, etc. 


If the owner of the message and the website are verifiable, then make a direct appeal.  Only a few senders provide an alternative support link in their messages.  In most cases, you will have to contact their customer support through the website.




"It’s the law: 7 email marketing rules you should know.", Vertical Response

"When the E-mail is Not Quite Spam, But Not Quite Desired," by Abby Ellin, New York Times

Register of Known Spam Operations


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