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A Dispatch

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June 11, 2005

Maybe I Expect Too Much Logic

Every now and then a spam Subject: line jumps out at me because it seems so idiotic. Here is one that was addressed to a domain registered and hosted in the U.S., to the user name of someone who got only as far as Singapore. The sender, however, seems to have a different notion:

Subject: This Message Actually Reaches 1mil Malaysians

The message comes from an email marketing service based in Malaysia that claims to help my company reach millions of Malaysians via email. But if they're mailing to my address, how does it help with their credibility that the addresses they mail to are really in Malaysia? Based on my having received this message, and giving the sender the full benefit of the doubt, the Subject: should read:

Subject: This Message Actually Reaches 999,999 Malaysians

Something tells me, however, that I'm not the only non-Malaysian to receive this peddle pitch.

But the idiocy doesn't stop there. This marketing service, based in Malaysia and purporting to mail to Malaysians, assures me that:

As professionals, we abide by all rules and regulations set by the Federal Trade Commision....

Maybe the Malaysian government has a "Federal Trade Commission." I don't know, and I don't feel like digging through their government Web sites to find out. My guess, however, is that this disclaimer is pointing to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (if someone knows otherwise, please let me know). Aside from the fact that this message, itself, does not have a postal mailing address (and is thus in violation of the U.S. CAN-SPAM law enforced by the FTC), I fail to comprehend the relevance of this claim. Even if a U.S.-based company hired this outfit to mail to Malaysians and the messages broke all the CAN-SPAM rules on the books, what would the consequences be? Is a spammed Malaysian going to complain to the FTC about a spam that originated in Malaysia? (And would the FTC give a rat's patoot?)

The whole thing is just too bizarre.

The company also has a lot of faith in the quality of its lists:

If there are less than 10 enquiries of your products/services, we will compensate you with another 1million for free!

Note that this count is for "enquiries," not orders. That's ten out of a million. In spamdom, that rate might be acceptable as a breakeven point for revenue-generating orders (assuming a net profit of $10-20 per order), but for leads, that seems like an embarrassingly small guarantee rate.

In Internet discussion groups, a "troll" is someone who posts an intentionally provocative statement with the sole purpose of starting flame wars among regular inhabitants. Although it's often difficult advice to follow, the best response to a troll is no response. Thus the frequent admonition: Don't Feed the Troll. In the case of our Malaysian email marketing service, they're not mailing this spam to inflame or be provocative. They want to get your business. Still, the corollary to the admonition applies here: Don't Feed the Spammer.

Posted on June 11, 2005 at 10:25 PM