Is there room for a good Samaritan in the face of the spam deluge

03 August 2006

We all love the spluge (spam deluge), don't we? Usually spam is so abnoxiously and obviously stupid it is easy to ignore. And, gmail does a wonderful job of ensuring I deal with very little of it. However, once in a while something comes through. A trend I've noticed recently are emails that begin with "This is an advertisement..." I've never read one careful but it's possible, but unlikely, that I somehow asked to receive it.

Today, I got an odd email. I first thought to dismiss it, but upon reading it I decided it was either the best crafted bit of spam, or an honest mistake. Then I was faced with a decision: round-file it, or be a good Samaritan and let the guy know. Here's the email:

Subject: travel to Missoula

Thanks for getting the reservation at Downtown Motel. The fellow I talked to said "no available rooms the entire weekend". I'll put >it on my credit card when I get there.

I've encountered another problem with scheduling. I ordered my airline tickets through Priceline.Com and now they tell me there is no record of my order. The airlines now want about $400 more because of the short notice. Consequently, I'm going to drive and will pick up Quincy and your mother. We will arrive sometime late Friday and stay through Sunday. See you then.

                                    Love,  Uncle John

Ultimately, I decided to reply:

Hi John,

I'm sorry, but you've reached the wrong email box.

Forgive my suspicion, but if you do happen to be a spammer and are using this as a ploy to get a response from this email address, rest assured a real person lives here and I'll haunt your sleep forever if you continue to spam me. However, also note that, if you are a spammer, all your future spam will flutter totally un-noticed by me into my big circular bit bucket to live out eternity in utter unacknowledgement.

Hope the trip goes well.


What do you think--was it spam? Would you have replied? The analogy is walking down the city street, only talking to our friends, eyeing with suspicion and from a distance any stranger we happen across. Do we need to recreate this dynamic on the tubes (pipes? I forget) as well, or can we allow for greater friendliness?