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llama drama

spam trends

Periodically, I (like all the rest of you, probably), get annoying forwards (a "lesser-evil" kind of spam?) in my email inbox. I've noticed that it's usually the same small handful of acquaintances who generate about 80% of it, but aside from that, I got to wondering about the demographics of forwarding.

Most forwards are annoying because they take time to delete, and they tend to be recycled over and over and over. I generally only go to the trouble of responding to those Dire! Warning! forwards. You know the ones: they tell you not to do some obscure thing because some horrible fate will befall you if you do. (I'm not counting the "forward this message on to 10 people or you'll have bad luck for a year" rubbish. I mean the scams about the fake cops who will shoot and rob you if you pull over, or the kidney-stealing ring, or some offshore area code that will charge you $12,000 per minute if you call into it, etc.)

I think that most people who forward these messages around to their friends and family mean well, but they just haven't learned to be skeptical yet and they either don't know about Snopes and Hoaxbusters, or they don't know how to use them.

Early on, I used to send scathing replies to the sender (and copy everyone on the of-course-completely-exposed list of people who were sent the message) with a link to a correction from Snopes. That made some ruffled feathers and bad blood happen between me and the sender, which I had to apologize for. I have at this point learned that if I just post a non-accusatory info blurb update on the scare message, people aren't usually offended and they tend to appreciate not having to be scared about yet another random warning of oncoming doom.

Returning to the demographics issue, I got to thinking recently about who I get the forwards from. Interestingly, I estimate that over 90% of the chain letters and dire warnings and saccharine "Christian/inspirational" forwards that I get come from people who are in my parents' generation or older. I wonder if the younger generation online just isn't taken in quite as easily because they're accustomed to having their email inboxes filled with spam and they know to mostly ignore it. Or is it that I don't have enough teenage friends?

What's everybody else's experience regarding this?

Comments

Hmmm. I very rarely get that kind of "spam". I have a few times, but I've then sent a polite email to the person (a) pointing out their error and (b) requesting that they not do it again. And they generally haven't done it again. Mind you, I don't think I have anyone in my circle of email acquaintance of my parents generation -- no, I tell a lie, I think there are a couple. And yes, I can think of at least one of them that sent me forwards like that.

The 'saccharine "Christian/inspirational" forwards' I do get more of, but not personally -- they tend to turn up on one of the mailing lists I'm on, which, while dedicated to a particular fandom, also tends to be a more free-form chatty kind of list. Those don't annoy me so much, because I have a filter which filters out all my different mailing lists into different mail folders, which means I read the different lists as and when I have time for them, and if I don't feel like reading sacharrine stuff from that list, I just delete it unread. Wheras personal mail from people you know, you have to read it, even if it's a waste of time.
Thinking a bit more on this, the saccharine forwards don't seem to be split on demographics, it seems like there are well-meaning folks in any generation.