How to Survive a Spam Attack

Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

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Every once in a while I publish an e-mail newsletter, to people I’ve had contact with and folks in the eventing industry. And every month, 1 individual takes exception.

IT gurus tell me that we send 2 billion e-mails per second globally, and 1 guy throws a hissy fit over 1 e-mail. Instead of simply clicking the “unsubscribe” link, this becomes an e-mail to-and-fro that wastes both my time and theirs.

So now I’m publishing this post by my friend and Advertising Guru Sid Peimer. Here’s how not to die from a Spam Attack….

How not to die young from a spam attack: The eight habits

PLEASE NOTE: This article is not a debate on spam. It offers suggestions on how to minimise the impact of a phenomenon that has been with us for hundreds of years – the unsolicited message.

When you reply in a tirade to unsolicited email to show YOUR INDIGNATION AT HAVING YOUR PRIVACY INVADED, be very, very careful. Especially if you’re in retail.

In the early days of, many people had never heard of us, so if we mailed them, the chances were it was unsolicited – spam if you like. We targeted our email to people whom we could help (marketing and advertising), but once in a while we would stray too wide and we’d get the usual expletives in uppercase telling us how bad we were. Make no mistake these replies hurt.

However, it was when I received an uppercase anti-spam attack from a designer in a retail agency that the hypocracy of the situation arose. Let me explain.
I am fortunate enough to have a postman who delivers mail to our home. I also have copious amounts of knock & drop material of all shapes and sizes accompanying my ‘legitimate’ mail. There is no lock on my postbox, an omission that the majority of my neighbours have also chosen to do. When we empty our mailbox, we accept that our mail needs to be divided into two piles; ‘personal’ and ‘other’ (or junk). We have to scan all the mail to decide which pile it goes on, and sometimes we even act on the information in the junk pile, which is why the practice continues.

We do not choose to have junk mail clutter our mailbox, but we have learnt to adapt by scanning quickly and identifying that which may be relevant. However, if the postman did have a key, allowing only legitimate mail, that would mean the advertiser would have to place that information in the newspaper, which would then improve the quality of the news. Or if it went on TV or radio, then I’d get a better quality programme. The fact that I allow anyone to put anything in my postbox negatively influences the quality of the media I consume.

So, if you’re in retail advertising, be very careful of having a spam attack. We’ve gladly accepted your knock & drops for most of our lives.

If we have empowered ourselves to deal with paper mail, surely we can do it with electronic?

I love spam – it takes me a second to glance at the mail and then either delete it or move it into a folder (which I call spam). I have about 10 email addresses, so I’m not sure why spam is not a problem for me. Maybe it’s attitude?

Whether the difference is due to attitude or not, I can’t be sure, but I certainly seem to have a better time of spam. I’ll share the approach I’ve cultivated, and maybe it could work for you too:

1. There are no tangible ownership rights in cyberspace. I don’t own my email address the same way I own my home. It’s what makes the internet possible and wonderful. Celebrate it.

2. Junk mail is an opportunity that I was not considering at the time. It has helped me stretch my Rand at month-end, and forced me to dream of exotic locations when they were the furthest thing on my mind. I am grateful for all the unsolicited things that have come into my life.

3. ‘Send this to 10 people for good fortune’ is a manipulative form of communication. If you are a superstitious person, and can’t delete these, then talk to someone. Perhaps you may hint to your friend that you feel it is unfair that he/she passed this burden your way. Don’t kill the friendship because of it.

4. I’m on a Telkom phoneline with about 10 email accounts, and I have not noticed excessive bandwidth from spam. So if you’re on anything faster, perhaps you’re making a mountain out of a kilobyte?

5. I have opened a folder called ‘spam’ – this saves me having to decide whether it has value or not. This serves the function of the ‘other pile’, as I do with my paper post.

6. I don’t open any attachments from mail I don’t recognise. But even if I do, we are getting used to viruses, just as when we get real flu the result’s the same – we can’t work for a while.

7. Having to unsubscribe to unsolicited email is like life – unfair. Now decide whether you want to be right or you want to be happy.

8. Be grateful that you are least connected to cyberspace.

About the author
Sid does not like uppercase and will only use it in special cases, such as if his nephews are being naughty.
He lives, writes and teaches in Cape Town with his girlfriend and an invisible, dog called lowercase.

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