Spam: are we becoming too precious about it?

medium_155554663It fascinates me to see how so many people regard their inboxes as if they are as private as vaginas. The intrusion of spam into their email nether regions incurs not only wrath, but also spiteful, spewing hatred almost as vicious as if someone were physically trying to stuff it down their throats.

Prior to this people were and still are ranting and raving about “junk mail,” to the extent that many households now post signs up by their home mailboxes telling “junk mailers” to dump leaflets etc. in there at their peril. “No circulars,” you see writ large. Or “no unsolicited mail.”

And for those who transgress? Who knows. Possibly a bite from a snarling terrier or, in other climates, a chomping by a pet alligator.

Whatever happened to the garbage can or the delete button?

This is what I really don’t get. Why are people so defensive and possessive about their online or offline personas that they will spit fur and feathers out over anyone invading their “privacy?”

Especially when they are perfectly happy to share their home addresses and email addresses openly? If they don’t like what comes through their mail boxes or their email inboxes, is it so hard to just throw unwanted information away?

Are so-called spammers expected to be clairvoyant and guess whether people who openly share all their details and information might not happen to want to receive a sales message about product A or B, as it’s not on their list of priorities that week, but may possibly be interested in service D or E … so bitch and moan about the first spammy junk mail but then take a keen interest in the second round?

Spamming or sharing?

Once I received a note from someone online in response to a message of mine, saying they found an article of mine useful. However when they shared it publicly, they actually said “I recommend this article which was spammed to me by Suzan St Maur.” (They weren’t trying to be witty, either.) Is that appropriate, or utter paranoid lunacy?

Another time I was told off for spamming articles in groups on social media platforms. Despite the fact that a) I make no financial gain from running this site and b) the vast majority of my articles are appreciated and shared on by the dozen, I have been told that it is not correct “etiquette” for me to share my own content – only other people’s.

One critic said, “your content is good – but you should let people discover it for themselves, not spam it.” That sounds great in theory. But if these people don’t know that the content exists, how can they discover it? OK, it will show up on Google eventually, but …

When I asked this same critic whether I would be spamming if I recommended someone else’s article or blog post, they said, “oh no. That’s sharing, not spamming.”

Spamming needs to be clarified and pronto

Not for one moment do I condone true spamming – which to me is businesses and individuals who are purely trying to sell stuff with no regard to readers’ own interests, and who provide no information that is practically useful – only sales bullsh*t.

But for people like me who share vast amounts of information for free, with no obligation to buy anything – e.g. this site with over 500 free-to-view articles and tutorials – for me and my fellow writers here on HTWB I feel that for anyone to suggest that we’re spamming, by sharing, is outrageous and unfair.

What do you think?

Please share your thoughts.

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photo credit: freezelight via photopin cc




  1. The problem with spam is that
    1) it wastes my time sorting through it to find stuff that I judge to be important
    2) it is badly targetted. how often do I get lots of emails about “X” when I’ve looked at something remotely like “X” on the web ?
    3) the sales techniques belong in the 60’s. time limited false discounts and FUD. watch some early moring US informercials on Sky – so bad that they are funny, and how many people know who Barry Scott is but have no idea what his product does ?
    4) a recommendation of someone else’s content is more valuable that promoting your own, because of the recommendation, not the content.
    5) all too often user groups are filled with self promoted pieces that sound like quotes from US self help books. hence traffic is low.

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