One of the many things that men learn when they're young is that there are three mothers we should be especially careful with: Mother Nature, Mother-in-Laws, and Mother $%&#ing Spammers. The first two I have always been respectful of, but the third is occasionally subjected to a verbal lashing. Unfortunately, this can often lead to terrible consequences.
Early this morning I received an email from someone who had gotten my contact info from a previous customer of mine. I'd created a website for a net cafe, and provided some extra software to help them with customer lists and advertising campaigns. Nothing spectacular, but they were happy. The person who sent the email wanted something a little bit different, though. Here's what they asked for:
Hello, I got your information from *********** who said you're the guy to talk to for ingenuity and out of the box thinking:The first thing that went through my mind was that this was going to be some sinister attempt to rip valid email addresses from websites in order to spam the crap out of unsuspecting netizens. After a quick follow up email, my fears were confirmed.
We are trying to acquire emails of users/ visitors of specific websites and have registered their email addresses for various reasons.
Most of these websites are small community websites and perhaps some are blogs etc.
What we require is a software tool that can acquire such details (Emails) from the websites. We interested in an out of the box thinking and methodologies as we require up to 1m email addresses.
So, not wanting to sully what little reputation I have left for writing software, I responded with this message:
Thank you for considering me. While I would usually jump at the opportunity to provide creative and powerful software tools to people around the world, I'm afraid that I must pass on your offer. The kind of tool that you're asking for does not line up with my core values regarding responsible use of the internet and personal information.Turning the job down was not a mistake, but I believe the last sentence was. Shortly after hitting "Send", my inbox was flooded with messages. Over a thousand of them ... all sent via the Contact Form on this website.
Here's a small sample of what the messages contained:
I've received so much spam in the last 6 hours that I actually had to temporarily disable the Contact Form (it's up and running again) to ensure that Google didn't mark every email from my domain as spam. They've since slowed down, but I don't think this will be the end. Shortly after replying to Jamaipanese on Twitter, I was hit with another 38 messages.
Alas, if the problem persists, I'll put a Capcha or some other form of protection on the Contact Form. However, one thing is for certain: don't piss off spammers by saying they're core beliefs run counter to your own.
Maybe I should just give in to the guys who wanted me to write some software and make an "application" that'll infect every computer on their network while "appearing" to work ... then perform a remote erase of every hard drive this coming Wednesday. That ought to keep them offline for a day or two :???: