Just the FAQ

THE SPAM FAQ

Defining the boundaries of topic pertinence

 

  ALERT! Is any email address of mine being spoofed (given in false headers) by SPAMMERS (or just by viri)? Or, worse, is the form mail, and not only of my webhost but actually of this domain in specific, being hijacked by malicious SPAMMING scripts? -And to the point of a veritable Denial of Service Attack? -That is to say, with the effect of overloading the server and crashing this website? And as a result, am I getting somehow framed and SPAMCOPPED?

 

 
Q. What isSPAM?

A. Not everything that is commercial, in any sense promotional, or however unsolicited should be condemned as SPAM. Indeed, if all unsolicited contacts where ever forbidden, how would strangers ever become acquainted?

Rather, SPAM is sheer pollution. And pollution is defined as anything that accumulates at any point in the cycle or system, beyond the ability of the system to readily process. And SPAM has become even perhaps more annoying than the old singing TV cigarette advertisements that where finally outlawed at the point of sheer audience exasperation. SPAM is calculated and deceptive automated mass scale sales promotion.

A SPAM is essentially a memo, the intended recipient of which are unknown, and so the message is disseminated as widely as possible to everyone in hopes of eventually reaching it's target. Hence, SPAM is typically irrelevant to all but a tiny fraction of recipients, the shot gun approach to promotion, or in terms of of proselytizing, the metaphorical scattered seed falling on barren or fallow ground as the wind, the proverbial breath of God, carries it, an outreach intended for those scattered amongst the populace, already sympathetic, ripe and susceptible, without regard for anyone else. Hence SPAM radically lowers the ratio of signal to noise.

SPAMMERS typically harvest email addressee willy-nilly, or even resort to "alphabet attacks", trying every possible combination of letters for email addresses to any give domain. By contrast, an attribute of what is called responsible electronic marketing, are clean lists of at all even remotely interested parties, to whom whatever offer in particular may at all possibly be pertinent or appealing.

Indeed, even the good metadata of any message clearly labeled for subject content, already thereby improves signal to noise. After all, any truly competitive offer, goods, services or opportunity, will naturally come right to the point and lead with it's advantages to the end user, prices and terms of the deal, actually as the prime selling points. But in reliance upon marketing even of the mediocre if not ersatz and inferior, there is typically much beating about the bush if not outright misrepresentation, manipulation and exploitation. Indeed, much SPAM , rather than actually striving in any way for whatever possible uniqueness, creativity, inventiveness, to rise from the clutter, instead makes itself of particular nuisance while foraging amid the deluge for legitimate messages or content, either misleadingly designed to actually trick the recipient into opening it, or else ambiguously labeled or ever more cunningly disguised, "personalized", to force the recipient to double check whatever it might be for fear of overlooking any legitimate communications!

Indeed, while ordinary advertising often and typically relies upon periodic repetition to keep an offer in mind until a decision is reached by the marketing target, which may conceivably even be useful, SPAM is typically characterized by an overwhelming redundancy and repetition that threatens to drown out and obscure all else, even to the point of the bad driving out the good. Because SPAM, usually automated and generated in bulk, at it's very worst may be characterized by flooding, even such volume as to actually clog a forum and impair all utility! SPAM is often constituted of deceitful come-ons that waste the mark's time. Apart from whatever promotional or marketing nature, SPAM is unwanted by it's intrusion out of place, posted off topic, indeed, distinctly characterized by sheer irrelevancy. Otherwise, it simply cannot be SPAM.

Volume on topic is no vice, but prolificacy. And what is even the very most intrusive SPAM when out of place, is not amiss where ever it belongs by topic. Indeed, not all that is commercial or otherwise promotional qualifies as SPAM automatically.  Regardless, also, of format, of whether any post or message is comprised of a text block, a schedule listing in some other media, a file attachment, a hyperlink anywhere elsewhere on the Net, or any or all in any combination. 

Over zealous and heavy handed moderators, as may turn up every so often, are quite irritating enough! As are typical flamer wanna-be SPAMCOPS One would hope that not everyone, for example, who posts invitations to their Yahoo Groups in forums of similar or related interest, or who likewise, one way or another, promotes their obscure Garage Bands or even just a yard sale, becomes a moving target of internet bullying.

SPAM, no doubt, is a costly nuisance. But have you ever tried to flame a genuine professional SPAMMER? So, what happens? Nothing! It will be ignored or even bounce back automatically, unreceived and unread. SPAMERS detach and protect themselves, expertly. You might as well take a deep breath and try to blow the toxic smoke back towards polluters from whence it came! If they can even be flamed, then they're just not much of a SPAMMER!

In this scarce attention economy, anyone who actually participates, even for the sake of promotion, including artistes playing to an audience, deserves some credit, consideration and due civility

Indeed, in actuality, of course, targets of bullying are singled out, and whatever thin excuses concocted afterward. And this is intolerable! Alas and alack, it's always a nuisance being singled out by bullies and often a grave liability in business and social connection. Worse, still, Online as Offline, bullies often resentfully target that which they cannot or do not trouble to understand or imagine, let alone threatening new ideas. Hence it cannot be surprising that flamers all too often may virulently malign asirrelevant SPAM much that is, indeed, even crucially germane.  But we can't all be connected with the in crowd, after all! Loners and unique thinkers also reach out. Geeks need love too! When publicity itself, that is to say, all attention seeking communication or behavior whatsoever, all outreach effort whatsoever unsanctioned by consensus manipulation of the self appointed gatekeepers, is deemed a culpable imposition, in and of itself, not only free speech but social access and freedom of association at all is brutally repressed.

And so, with all care and diligence, let the definitions for any and all such prohibitions what so ever always remain precise and limited in order to preserve free speech, in that SPAM must be clearly shown to be irrelevant, or worse, deceptive, with all opportunity for defense by the accused. Especially considering that actual anonymous automated bulk posting operations, when contacted, will never trouble to consider how they inconvenience others or value good customer relations, much less bother to respond in their own defense!  

Wild accusations of SPAMMING as often any regarding other fault or transgression tend only to be damaging only to the innocent vulnerable by operating normally out in the open. Actual SPAMMING is already disreputable to begin with. Indeed, while true SPAMMERS easily stay one step ahead of the arrogant self appointed SPAMCOPS, the falsely accused face high tech isolation and shunning with little recourse. And this is often the result of hacking and identity theft by the most devious and unscrupulous SPAMMERS, effectively framing the innocent.

And alas, it is scarcely any more difficult or less destructive to distort content than it is to misattribute authorship, so long as no one cares to be fair or to double check for themselves. And that is precisely why we must all take more care: 

Just so long as the content, posted, attached or hyperlinked, is genuinely pertinent at all to topic, the very question of ulterior promotional purpose must remain inadmissible, because any impugnationof in motive or intent constitutes Ad Hominem (or, more specifically, Ad SPAManim, personal attack which must remain strictly out of bounds. Grudge collecting and sulking to begin with, no less than devious soft flame, should there for be strictly discouraged by others or by the moderator

Again, SPAM is characterized not solely by it's promotional content, but, in addition, by it's complete lack of topic pertinence or utility. Because whatever is on topic legitimately remains open to discussion. Indeed, the very intention of discussion goes beyond the impersonal disregard characteristic of SPAM.

Hence, paradoxically, there may also be a kind of SPAM that may even be entirely and precisely on topic, to wit, typically political propaganda, broadly disseminated in bulk or not, which is posted onto whatever forum or forums with no intention of discussion or engaging response, which is even deceptive. On a website, such would be no transgression. What is deceptive is raising the expectation of discussion by dissemination in whatever is ostensibly a forum for discussion. And this is engagement by raising a deceptive expectation. The SPAM-like irrelevancy, then, is non discussion in a forum of discussion. The deliberate and for all intents and purposes premeditated abrogation of whatever expectations of follow up. Of traditional one way advertisement disguised as interactive public relations. And the simple remedy is for forum participants to discuss such posts amongst themselves, regardless. Unless, of course, one finds oneself having been drawn onto a heavily censored forum where cross-talk and dissent are actually suppressed and prevented. But such levels of deception and coercion go well beyond even the nature of SPAM alone.

SPAM is not just any promotion at all whatsoever, but, rather, SPAM, specifically, is impersonal, non responsive and usually topic irrelevant intrusion. The intrusive "noise" characteristic of SPAM  is a function of it's information content so non responsively out of place, of meta-disinformation, and not simply in the exercise of free expression.

 

 The fallacy AdSPAManim

Indeed, one particularly irrational and mendaciously irrelevant and ubiquitous appeal to or impugnation of motive or circumstance is Ad SPAManim, the virulent accusation of ulterior promotional intent! (As in, for a blatant if hypothetical example of the Ad SPAManim fallacy, simply posting a perfectly topic pertinent link to this very page on my website, in reply into a discussion upon pertinence even in self promotion or the precise nature of Ad Hominem, only to get flamed for my trouble! )  By the illogic of Ad SPAManim, you or I may post frequently citing the works of Aristotle, but not Aristotle himself. After all: For should even Aristotle himself ever dare persist in the utter temerity to flout mod warnings to desist, he'd be banned for life, the arrogant poser! 

Simply because SPAM tends to include links or reference to content howsoever of the senders', is not sufficient definition of SPAM. Nevertheless, a common question begging semantic ruse of sophistry is to forbid promotion rather than SPAM specifically. -By which is meant, howsoever reference of one's own webcontent other than within the post itself. In the expected civility of academic forums, where reference to one's own works, both finished and in progress, personal online notebooks and more, is both common and essential, there is of course, no such inane taboo! Inattention as the case may be, is taken no license to actually lash out. So what's all the fuss from heavy-handed mods and half-witted soft-flamers elsewhere? After all, how is the recommendation of anyone else' content, or the advocacy of any one opinion or another to begin with, actually any less promotional? It's just basic memetics and semiotics: One way or another, we are all shamelessly promoting only all the time! Why, even the perhaps exasperated vow of silence in practice, serves as a promotion of silence as any sort of a virtue. And if not SPAM,  then what harm? In complete abrogation of critical thinking, there is no answer, except that rules are rules (and so are customs, it would seem), regardless that they are arbitrary and oppressive, lower the quality of discourse, and make no fucking sense. But perhaps lowering the quality of discourse is actually the entire point: Why raise the bar!

 

Q. Why cite hyperlinks instead of howsoever otherwise conveying much the same content?

A. The entire point of a FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions, in the very first place, is only reference to spare reiteration, to best summarize and express points that frequently arise or return, available for reference and citation as ever needed. Indeed, in any adult discussion, this applies equally for the sharing and exchange of any whatever articles, resources or reference material, however copied, linked or attached, etc., including, yes, also, whatever available, needed or convenient summaries or introductions.

In other words: I maintain FoolQuest.com, among other things, as my personal notebook both upon the oft reoccurring burning issues, and also of anything at all the less shopworn.

But more than this, one crucial benefit for any sort of writer in whatever conversation or correspondence, even as may ever tend to return to any of much the same issues and questions, is as input, the proverbial "grist for the mill", a vehicle for self editing and rewriting on those very topics. Hence, it is only natural and sensible promote the to sharing of sources, materials and ongoing work product as ever content topic arises, as any serious thinkers are wont. 

Indeed, why not actually afford knowledgeable and creative people the privilege of referencing whatever available information repositories and even from their own bodies of work in whatever discourse, as ever topic pertinent and appropriate? Why the overbearing cult of the amateur, all the forced congeniality and pretense of spontaneity, the disguise of ego and self promotion by covertly cutting and pasting from much the same texts anyhow, instead of being able to rely upon real interest and good will, at least the idle curiosity to click a damn hyperlink? In truth, such petty and picayune bogus Netiquette-Nazi soft-flame outcry comes in preference of socially validating vapid small talk over honest candor and conversational substance of ideas. After all, how is hyperlinking or attaching files online, any different from any adult conversation, offline, wherein, say, photocopied reference materials are shared? Clearly, by all rights, such should always be admissible.

 

 

Q. What is the place forSPAM?

A. Let us simply designate off topic areas as ever needed. And even make allowance for mercifully brief signatures and footers to promote just about anything as ever desired, even completely off topic. 

 

 

Q. What is notSPAM?

A. Again, volume on topic is no vice, but prolificacy. And what is even the very most intrusive SPAM when out of place, is not amiss where ever it belongs by topic. Indeed, not all that is commercial or otherwise promotional qualifies as SPAM automatically.  Regardless, also, of format, of weather any post or message is comprised of a text block, a schedule listing in some other media, a file attachment, a hyperlink anywhere elsewhere on the Net, or any or all in any combination. 

Posts, text, file attachments or links on the message boards only need be somehow pertinent. As long as posts, text, files or links are one way or another actually on topic, other causes, agendas, the posterís own projects, self promotion and shameless plugs must not be forbidden. By all means, self promotion should, if anything, be encouraged, just as long as this is accomplished in a way which is actually pertinent and relevant

(Indeed, to exchange best targeted quality links from within this very website, read all about participation in the the FoolQuest.com link strategy!)

After all, creativity is about relating one thing to another. Which is why brainstorming collaboration is so fertile, being the synthesis of different input and/or perspective by different people. 

Nor should creative people be forbidden from bringing all they have to the table and even bragging about it, including ideas they have already been developing in the past for us all to tinker with, brainstorm, and reapply to whatever undertaking at hand (indeed, just the way that the members of Monty Python used to collaborate), nor denied well deserved promotional exchange. Who the Hell wants an author, critic, philosopher, inventor, entrepreneur, activist or sheer wanna-be of any stripe, without a healthy and robust ego?  The simple imperative of topic pertinence must never be perverited into a mean-spirited assault upon individuality.

In brief, the guide lines here suggested are simply to post messages and responses, consisting, as however they may, of text, document or other attachments, images and/or URL hyperlinks (prefaced or not, as need be, unless thought self explanatory) at all on topic including or following up with cogent details and pertinent explanation as ever called upon as needed or helpful, and without passive-hostile sulking, flaming, trolling or Ad Hominem. And never to take umbrage at anything other than flaming or Ad Hominem nor to impugn motive of statements as a diversion from any actual question of their own validity.

Because statements are both speaker and mode independent, and must stand or fall on their own merits. To object to the promotional purpose behind any however substantive communication, is to impugn motive, a form of Ad Hominem and, therefore, strictly out of bounds.

Thus it follows that preexisting ideas, even via URL hyperlinks, are not ipso facto SPAM, even when supplied by their own author. Indeed, a combination of sharing and exchanging whatever reference materials or writings for comment, together with personal attention and interaction is often the most efficacious.

And it is just the height of snooty hypocritical distortion, grandiosity and sycophancy, for those who have managed to promote themselves, one way or another, to then turn around and flaming or censor others perhaps less privileged striving to accomplish as much. Phonies who are all hail and fair thee well as they drive traffic their own way, but then reticent to see any of it routed anywhere else thence. The unserious pissing, moaning, and seek obstruct those with better talent or drive from the lime light. We should all strive to stay interested and try to be more helpful to one another than that, even at first blush and for no special reason. No less so, even by brutally candid reasoned and and detailed criticism or advice. But never by passive-hostile sulking, flaming, trolling or Ad Hominem.

The Netiquette standard to business forums also offers a most sensible bit of creative advice: 
Kraft (often cited as the standard example) publicizes highly successfully by giving away recipes at the Supermarket at the point of purchase for the various food main ingredients. Likewise, the best promotional tactic on a forum is to offer some lesson, to share knowledge, to make available something useful or of any possible interest, in whatever one seeks to advance, in such a way that is also at all pertinent and applicable on whichever working forum. And what could be better for brainstorming?
 
For an illustrative example, instead of the usual grating and relentless porno SPAM, imagine, instead, some day plugging some sort of an automated Sociometric dating service tailored to whatever common interest or experience of the forum in question? Indeed, if any such customization and tailoring to whatever needs where to be undertaken and evidenced, then this would even tend to stimulate substantive conversation. Or better still, suppose the entire plug where to be wrapped in the context of an informative and useful how-to on networking within whatever given field.

Indeed, there is no controlling "not invented here" exclusion or prohibition on this website or these forums. FoolQuest.com wants to join you! And, always, to continually upgrade by linking and integrating any useful resources available into these hypertexts. 

Likewise, find in the pages this site, a wealth of resources, free webcontent, for linking to that may augment and improve your own site. 

Or, for links to your site from anywhere on foolquest.com, participate in the Foolquest Link Strategy!

Again, SPAM is characterized not solely by it's promotional content, but, in addition, by it's complete lack of topic/activity pertinence or utility. 

A notorious practice on USENET and email lists are largely irrelevant and often fraudulently defamatory, inflammatory or downright kooky cross-posts, which have given even intelligent and legitimate genuinely cross-pertinent cross-posts an undeserved bad name with much concomitantly needless fuss and bother even to the point of becoming a pretext for flaming, in turn, and rightly so, a subject of parody and ridicule.

And another SPAM like characteristic of certain posts of varying degrees of topic relevance disseminated widely to various public forums even if not openly and honestly cross-posted or forwarded, is in their one way nature akin to that of traditional advertising, with little or no real interest or intention of engaging in any discussion. Hence, they are a fraudulently deceptive waste of time for anyone seeking or expecting discourse of whatever kind, as, indeed, one well might on a public electronic forum, after all.
What is onerous is the pretense of participation and communication, and the culture of such pretense.

Because, aside from pertinence to topic, generally, another question is pertinence to purpose of whatever forum. And often that legitimate expectation is of discussion, at the very least. -The opportunity to follow and even participation in whatever sort of ongoing discussion, if all goes well. Unlike on TV, which is generally still one way, and wherein it is difficult to talk back, to engage in any sort of public exchange. Cross posting the same message to different forums does not automatically in and of itself constitute SPAMING, but messages of an agenda with no intention or willingness to engage in discussion are indeed akin to the one way TV advertisements and hence, even somewhat SPAMlike.

Typically, there are two varieties of such that remains, for all intents and purposes, so SPAMlike, Obscurantist crackpot posts, challenges eliciting only curt and vague hostility, and political propaganda, replies to which typically go unanswered by the initial poster.

That is why on these forums, the prior commitment at least to kindly follow up is explicitly requested from all who post.

 

 

 

Q. What technological potential might one day
render all SPAMentirely obsolete? 

A. New business models for interaction on the frontiers of advanced automated Soviometry

 

 

 

 

        

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