Friday, December 05, 2003

How To Spam Your Friends

Yesterday, I was feeling good about finally having enough material in this blog to make it worth sharing. Damn, I've managed to publish articles going back to 1997! Unfortunately, the software will only let me backdate to 1999, so I am faking it for now.

Sharing a blog is awkward. "Come look at me," is about all you can say when you invite people to come and read. "See how interesting I am! See how witty and verbose! Aren't I cool? Don't you wish you were like me?"

Of course, that is never what we intend, but isn't that how it comes off?

Anyway . . . In my efforts to get an email out to the fifty or 100 or so people I wanted to invite to read my blog, I got lazy. I opened Outlook and created a new Distribution List (that is the sensible part, not the lazy part). I wrote a short (but interesting and dynamic) email and sent it to myself with the new Distribution List as a BCC so the header would not include everyone's address (also sensible, not lazy). I sent it off and began reading other mail.

Then it happened! Damn, an email from the System Administrator announcing "Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients." A long list of those who had not received the very important notification that my blog was available for their entertainment was included. (I guess there is a limit on BCCs to prevent spamming!)

This is the lazy part! I left the list opened, found the original message in my Sent folder, selected Actions | Resend This Message, pasted the first recipient's address in the To field and clicked Send. Repeat until complete. Simple! There were fifty-odd names on the list and it took me no time at all to take this lazy-man's approach. In fact, thirty-four individual emails were sent in less than six minutes.

Then I noticed it! My Inbox was filling up with the same message from my System Administrator. Although it wasn't appearing in each message, I was BCC'ing the message to everyone in the Distribution List! The BCC field wasn't displayed, but it was populated.

One hundred and twenty-two emails (including one from a former boss), and three phone calls (one from my current boss) later, things had calmed down. What a mess I made. I received thirty-five "Out Of Office" notices from my friend Donna (which is how I know how many times I sent the message).

Some people were scolded by their IT Departments. Most snickered and laughed at me. Some contacts have put me on their spam list, so all of my messages will now be treated as junk mail and I am sad that this might be appropriate.

One man's blog is another man's spam; and when it comes to Spam, I sometimes get a hankering!