Games People

Playful approaches to spam email

Spam email is the scourge of our modern communications infrastructure. We forget how much rubbish we receive because we have pretty good spam filters that hide it all from us. Still, it sits there in the background, accumulating until we take that immensely satisfying step of deleting all of it with a single click. Until next time.

James Veitch has a wonderful approach to spam. He turns dealing with it into a game that winds up tormenting the tormentors. In this first video, he tackles those annoyingly ineffective “unsubscribe” links:

In this next video he revealed what happened when he did that thing people say you should never do: he replied to spam email, with style. Brace yourself!

Awesome, right?

Image credit: Mathyas Kurmann

Business and work Mindsets Social Web

LinkedIn spam

Why is accepting a connection request on LinkedIn such an involved process? Every time I accept a connection request I have to go through 2-3 pages of people I know and may want to inundate with connection requests! So much for deliberate connections. It seems to be all about spamming people and artificially expanding connections.

I feel like I use LinkedIn begrudgingly these days. It is where business people tend to want to connect but groups and other fora seem to have become opportunities to spam everyone with some or other deal. It all seems to be a lot of LinkedIn spam. It reminds me of Benjamin Smith’s post on the Observer last week:

I’m sure there is still much value in LinkedIn but my experience of it is increasingly negative. I basically use it because I may trip over the value one day and unearth the sparkling opportunities concealed under the muck.

Business and work Mindsets

Unsubscribe CAPTCHA

I receive a fair amount of unsolicited marketing email (you probably do, too) that manages to evade Google Mail’s spam filters. I usually just scroll down, find the “unsubscribe” link and opt-out. One of the emails I received today had an interesting unsubscribe “protection”.

I’m accustomed to seeing a CAPTCHA mechanism to prevent automated email subscriptions (and logins, for that matter). It is an anti-spam protection and although CAPTCHA implementations can be problematic, it is a decent way of ensuring a human is interacting with you deliberately. That is a first step towards consent.

This particular implementation is odd because the CAPTCHA mechanism was presented to me when I clicked on the “unsubscribe” link in the email. Why would I need to prove I am a human to remove myself from a mailing list I didn’t ask to be included on (or even if I did request it, why require this verification if I decide to opt-out)?

To add to this peculiar configuration, I was presented with this screen after I typed in the number:

Again, pretty odd. After clicking on the link to unsubscribe and then going through the process of satisfying the CAPTCHA mechanism that I am a human, I am still prompted with a button offering me a chance to opt-in just in case I experience some sort of opt-out remorse?

This whole mechanism is pretty ironic considering I didn’t go through this process to receive the emails in the first place. It isn’t designed to prevent spam, it is designed to add friction to the process of unsubscribing and preventing automated means of unsubscribing from spam. That seems a bit backwards to me.

Blogs and blogging

What is going on with Disqus lately? So much spam.

​I don’t know what is going on with Disqus lately but I am being inundated with spam on this site across my blogs even though I set comments to close after a limited time period to try deal with the deluge. The spam comments coming in now are on old posts which go back a couple years.

What a pain in the butt. I’m turning Disqus off on this site and I’ll see if I have better filtering with Squarespace’s spam filtering.​