And why this ruins things for the rest of us.
This morning, I got a junk e-mail message from a blogger I’d met on Twitter. And I’m pissed off about it.
How I Was Violated and What I Did about It
I followed this guy on Twitter for a short time and wound up on his blog, where I posted a comment. As anyone who comments on blogs knows, an e-mail address is required to comment, so I entered mine, as I’ve been doing without problems (or spam) for the past five or so years.
This blogger, however, was different. He evidently harvests the e-mail addresses from blog comments and uses it to feed his self-promotional e-mail list. The spam e-mail message from him arrived this morning when I collected my e-mail.
To say I was furious is an understatement. In my opinion, this blogger has violated my trust — and likely the trust of all other commenters on his blog. He’s used my e-mail address without my permission in a way that’s unacceptable. He’s a spammer, pure and simple, and should be subject to the same penalties as any other spammer.
(As if anyone’s actually enforcing the new anti-spam laws.)
Here’s the message he sent; I XXXed out the identifying information so I don’t send any customers his way:
Did you enjoy the free video on the 6 ways to make money on the internet?
How would you like to win the entire XXX System absolutely free?
All you have to do is recommend the system to a friend via a twitter to enter.
We will be giving away 20 full XXX system accounts between now and January 20th.
Click here to enter!
XXX Media Group | XXX | Lincoln, NE 68516 | US
Unsubscribe from future marketing messages from XXX Media Group
Call me an idiot, but I clicked the unsubscribe link. (They say that doing that often just confirms your address and spreads it.) The link sent me to the Bronto Web site, which is evidently the software this jerk uses to send his spam. It supposedly unsubscribed me. But it went a step further — it offered a complaint link. So I clicked that and filled out the form.
I also forwarded the message to firstname.lastname@example.org, which is something I’ll be doing with ALL spam I receive from now on.
Then I went to Twitter and reported the jerk as a spammer there.
Why This Hurts Legitimate Bloggers
I’ve been blogging since October 2003. That’s six years now. My blog has accumulated thousands of comments from readers. All of them entered what looks like legitimate e-mail addresses. Are they? I don’t know. Other than a few notable exceptions when I wanted to network with a specific person — Miraz Jordan, who wound up co-authoring a book with me, comes to mind — I haven’t tried using them.
I don’t spam my commenters. I appreciate their input; they make my blog better. Why would I violate their trust and start spamming them via e-mail? Why would I make them less likely to contribute their comments to my blog?
So you can get an idea of how annoyed I am about this asshole.
Imagine a first-time commenter who happens to comment on this jerk’s blog. He feels good about adding to the conversation and is ready to do it again elsewhere. But then he gets spam from this jerk. He realizes that putting his e-mail address out there on the Internet can get him all kinds of spam. So he doesn’t do it. Maybe he starts putting fake e-mail addresses in his comments — making him impossible to contact if the blogger wants to for a legitimate, non-spam reason. Or maybe he simply stops commenting at all.
All because one jerk is harvesting commenter e-mail for spam purposes.
What You Can Do about It
The best thing anyone can do about spam is to report it to the authorities.
If you receive spam on Twitter, use the Report For Spam link on the user’s profile page. Do it every time you receive Twitter spam.
If you receive e-mail spam, forward it to email@example.com. You can also visit the FTC’s Spam Site to learn more about how you can reduce the amount of spam you get. And while you’re surfing out on Government sites, visit OnGuard Online for real information about how to protect yourself and your computer from Internet fraud.
But whatever you do, don’t stop commenting on blogs. Most bloggers appreciate your contributions and won’t betray your trust.