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Spam, Loverly Spam

To anyone out there who is considering sending adverts for their product via email, don't. It doesn't work.

For one thing, if you buy a set of email addresses, you can be guaranteed the following things:
90% of the people on the list won't have any interest or need for your product
80% of the remaining will live in the wrong region
Everyone else will likely not buy from you, because buying from people who send spam email is generally more risky than buying from online stores...

And don't think you can tell where someone lives by their email address. My current public email addresses are hotmail.com and yahoo.co.uk addresses, and I live in New Zealand...

The Experiment

Take one hotmail account, use it for a contact address on your web site and use it to post to Usenet for several years... then switch to a different email address, eventually discarding the original and leaving it to expire. By now, the original hotmail account should be on a bunch of spam mail lists.

Leaving the account inactive for a good six months causes any emails to it to bounce. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean any spammers will take it off their email lists, so they're basically emailing a brick wall. Lucky them.

Just for a laugh, I reactivated the account for three weeks to see what spam I'd get.

Spam types:
Weight loss: 8
Work at home/Make Money Fast: 27
Adverts for porn sites: 19
"Free" contests/give-aways: 14
Financial: 27
International Driver's license: 13
Come and spam with us: 11
Medication: 3
Cable Descrambler/satellite TV: 4
fake diplomas: 6
web hosting: 3
Miscellaneous other products: 28
Total: 163

One spam claimed to be selling a CD full of highly responsive email addresses. No doubt because the people at the other end send back flames. One spammer said "This is a one time mailing" and sent it to me twice. One was completely in Spanish. One asked my permission to send me further spam. The cheek.

One tried to sell me land in Florida. Goody.

Not one spam held any information that I was the least bit interested in: I don't need to lose weight, need medication, live in the US (so no cable...) and no desire to go looking at pictures of sexual acts.

Techniques

Claiming not to be spam: 11
One ploy is to claim under some US law that the email isn't spam if it includes removal instructions. Some claim your email address is listed on an opt-in list. They can all get bent.

Innocuous subject lines: 10
Some spams just say "Hi" or "Hello". One adventurous spam asked me out. Another for a porn site was headed up "Rebate!"... sneaky. One said "Happy Independent Day" (It was a Russian dating service...)
Most of these turn out to be porn sites. I usually delete any message with a non-specific subject line like this on sight...

Conclusion

Spam sucks.

(Yes, I have nothing better to do. Why do you ask?)

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