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JENKINS: Some practical advice for e-mail spammers

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Normally I clean out my spam folder several times a day, to keep junk mail from piling up like broken campaign promises on the White House lawn.

But since I wanted to write about spam this week, I decided to let it accumulate. I received 93 spam messages in three days, and that doesn't count all the stupid jokes and bad cartoons forwarded to me by my brother-in-law that somehow make it through the spam filter. Perhaps what Yahoo really needs is a brother-in-law filter.

Anyway, I didn't open one of those 93 messages, except for research purposes. OK, there was the one where I thought I might have won 4.3 million euros, but other than that I didn't open any of them. Clearly, the spammers are doing something wrong.

Actually, they're doing a lot of things wrong, and I'd like to take this opportunity to offer some constructive criticism. I do so at the risk that they might actually take my advice and do a better job of spamming, but I'm not too worried about that. Frankly, I don't think they're very bright.

So, all you spammers out there, here's your first tip: When sending e-mails to people in this country, try using English. Actual English, I mean.

When you tell me you're an account executive from my bank or a barrister from London (who the heck knows what a barrister is?) and use phrases like "our loans are well insured for maximum security is our priority" or "to discover a win solution which is our Mission," I simply don't believe you.

Also, please understand that most Americans are a tad xenophobic, especially when it comes to Middle Easterners. This may have something to do with the fact that, over the last 30 years, most of the people who have attacked our country, other than Congressional Democrats, have been of Middle Eastern descent and had Arabic-sounding names.

So we're probably not going to open an e-mail from someone named Idrissi Ahmed or Abubaka Issah. We might, on the other hand, open one from someone named Bob Lewis or Mary Stewart or Tyrone Harris. Call us racist if you like, but that's something that, as a professional spammer, you need to take into account.

Finally, you should probably put a little more thought into your subject lines. When I see an e-mail that has "Dear Friend" in the subject line but I don't recognize the sender's name, I'm just going to delete it. My memory might not be what it used to be, but I still remember most of my friends' names, and Koso Bongo is not one of them.

So thanks for listening, and good luck with your spamming. And if you don't get a chance to read this in the newspaper, I'm hoping someone will forward it to you. Ninety-three times.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.