We could all do without this kind of spam

Last week there appeared in my inbox, marketing junk mail from someone who wanted 'to make [my] job easier.' Aha, I thought, a ghostwriter! Sadly, no. Turns out the person wanted to help me with my 'IT responsibilities'.

Last week there appeared in my inbox, in 256 lovely colours, a piece of HTML marketing junk mail from someone who wanted "to make [my] job easier." Aha, I thought, a ghostwriter! Sadly, no. Turns out the person wanted to help me with my "IT responsibilities, [my] daily network challenges and all [my] enterprise desires." Too bad I don't have any IT responsibilities anymore, and my only enterprise desire is to be bigger than Microsoft.

How did my name get on the list? According to my correspondent, "I noticed you've looked into eSecurity or cross-platform Network Management before." Quite possible, because those are two areas I write about. I actually got this rather large missive because I attended Novell's BrainShare conference last month.

Turns out just about everyone who went got it - whether you were an IT manager, consultant, analyst or member of the press. And, unlike those spams that say you'll only get one mailing, this one promises "a monthly email individualised to your networking interests." Too bad they've no way of determining my network interests, but that never stopped a marketing executive before.

Novell did use a real name when sending the spam: "My name is Sandi Terry, and my job at Novell is to find ways to make your job easier." There is a Sandi Terry at Novell, the "Manager, North America Demand Creation." The only demand this note should create, though, is a demand to remove my name from the list.

According to the distribution house that created and sent the spam (Invision Consulting Services), it only uses so-called "opt-in" addresses - people who have actively indicated they wish to receive marketing email. Unfortunately, the BrainShare registration didn't involve an "opt-in" option, nor was there an "opt-out" option.

I didn't mind when the (text-based) messages I kept getting were simply hyping BrainShare activities. I knew they'd stop once the show was over. I didn't expect, though, to be subjected to monthly marketing hype done up in virus-susceptible HTML email from a company like Novell. Even Microsoft never stooped so low as to spam me.

Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. Send email to Dave Kearns.

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