Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Enough with the Invite Spam!

I've had it.

In light of what seems like a universally held loathing of the typical spam that clutters up most inboxes, I find it almost unfathomable that my own acquaintances would knowingly donate their entire inbox to spammers like LinkedIn, Plaxo, and now Doostang.

Yeah, that's right, I said spammers. If it's email, it's unsolicited, and one can't stop it, it qualifies as spam. I have absolutely no interest in a social networking service that will keep my contacts up to date for me and send me clever reminders about birthdays and anniversaries and let me know who is looking for a job or an employee or an exotic pet or that perfect time-share opportunity. It's spam, so stop!

If I want to get in touch with you, I will do it the "old fashioned" way, and send you an email. In fact, for you my dear associates, I will even personally update your coordinates, manually, by pressing the keys on my laptop, should you choose to notify me of any changes. Thanks to the marvels of technology, I can update your phone numbers, address, name, email and everything else all at once, and I don't even have to spam you to make that happen.

Oh, I've heard all the excuses: some bloggers appear to be explaining that doostang extracts (without permission, apparently) and then spams the entire contact list of its hapless users who allow the invites to go out under the impression they're simply forging cyber connections with existing doostang users. Maybe, in this instance, the spamming was accidental.

Still, as the invites continue to roll in, I recognize the same offenders who first littered my inbox with Plaxo, then Linked-in, and now Doostang. Unlike traditional spam, these invites stretch the time-wasting trick a click further by presenting me with a recognizable name in the sender's field. Perhaps even more irritating than the initial invitation emails are the constant reminders when I don't respond. "Reminder: your Linked In invitation from George Cellick is about to expire!"

Cram it, Geore, really!

Frankly, I'm not really interested in giving these contact collectors permission to harvest and distribute my coordinates with their associates in turn. In real life, I probably wouldn't even spare a sentence at a cocktail party on most of these pests, let alone my email address and phone number.

Since the networks themselves have nothing to lose (except you as a potential member) by failing to allow for an opt-out mechanism, I've decided to go straight to the source by emailing my "friends" who bother me with these invites, letting them know in no uncertain terms that pestering is still BAD MANNERS, even when it happens over the internet:

Hi _____,

I notice I've received a number of invitations on your behalf from services like Linked In, Plaxo, and most recently, Doostang.

I appreciate your effort to keep in touch by all electronic means available, especially since the amount of spam I now receive in my inbox is not limited to these relentless social networking invitations sent at your behest. I can easily see a day in my near future where the spam in my inbox grows to such mammoth proportions that I will be forced to close up shop and start anew with a fresh email address, one not currently making the rounds with 16,000 spammers. You may be certain, if and when it comes to this, that you will not be among the lucky recipients of my new (and hopefully more private) coordinates.

Why is this? Because you've lost your privileges. Here I am trying to reduce the amount of senseless clutter in my inbox while you are making a pest of yourself with invitations I'm not interested in receiving to social networking groups I'm not interested in joining.

I'd like to punch you in the face, but since cyberspace is only capable of so much, I'll settle for asking you politely to kindly exclude my name when sharing your contacts with email spammers, much like I'd ask you kindly not to share my home telephone number with telemarketing corporations.

If, however, you continue to badger me with these emails, you can expect to find yourself signed up for all sorts of interesting things -- from Christian dating services to Ozzy Ozbourne's Ozzfest mailing list to Fredericks of Hollywood mailing lists to Canadian Pharmacies...you name it, you'll be registered to get emails from it. I don't care how busy I am, I will MAKE TIME to ensure you are spammed like the day is long.

The bottom line: when you're importing your life details to these annoying websites, think twice before you haphazardly invite your entire contact list to join you. You may think you're increasing your chances of landing a great job. Perhaps you feel you're contributing to an online community that streamlines difficult tasks like updating email addresses (the horror, the horror, of wasted keystrokes!) But chances are, the thing you're actually contributing to is your own growing unpopularity and what you're "sharing" is held in about as high regard as a herpes sore.

Thanks so much for understanding.

Regards,

Red Storm