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This post is about Spam. You may have gotten that from the ingeniously clever and subtle subject I worked very hard to craft.

Not too long ago—back in January, I believe—I was upset by the SOPA and PIPA thing. Enough so that I decided it was time to contact my congresscritters to give them a piece of my mind. Because I have so many to spare. (Pieces, that is. Of my mind.)

I used one of my several email accounts (myfullname@myisp.net) and wrote carefully worded emails to Senators Isakson (R - GA) and Chambliss (R - GA) and Representative Rob Woodall (R - GA).

Isakson and Chambliss ('s respective staffs) responded almost immediately with emails that actually addressed the subject of SOPA and PIPA. And that was the end of it. No more correspondences have been received from either of them since the responses to my original emails.

And then there's Representative Rob Woodall. Oh, Rob, Rob, Rob.

It took two extra weeks to get a response from Representative Rob Woodall (RRW for short). I guess his staff are less efficient, or perhaps they have more to do. I don't know and don't really care. The response I got back was . . . let's say, "only vaguely related to SOPA and PIPA."

And then, a week later, I got another one, that had nothing to do with SOPA/PIPA. And the day after that, another one. And two days after that, another one. And another one a week later.

In all, I've gotten one or two emails per week from RRW's office.

There was no "unsubscribe" link in any of them. It said at the bottom
If you have received this message in error, please disregard. Thank you.
I find it reprehensible that United States Code (Title 15, Chapter 303, Section 7704) requires unsolicited commercial emailers (That's Spammers to you and me, kids!) to include an opt-out or unsubscribe link right in the body of their Spam, but when I get email from a government official ('s staff), they're not. And the way they determine "unsolicited" is asinine. Apparently, since I contacted RRW, that makes it perfectly all right for him to automatically put my email onto some stupid Spam list.

So I visited his website and found an 'unsubscribe' link. Yay! I clicked it, gleefully. It had me fill out some information, and then I pressed a button and it was on its way! And now I would be—

<ding> You've got mail!

Hmm. It would appear that the 'unsubscribe' didn't work.
You are not subscribed to the NEWSLETTER-GA07 list under the address your message came from (myfullname@myisp.net). You are being mailed some additional information with a few hints on getting your subscription cancelled [sic]. Please read these instructions before trying anything else.
Well, those instructions were unhelpful and basically said, "You're on your own."

After another round of emails in the last couple of days, I finally called RRW's local office. I dutifully pressed 0 to talk to a real person, and waited on hold for a few seconds while my call was being routed to the correct department.

The man who answered sounded very friendly and helpful. I told him that I seem to have gotten myself onto some mailing list from which I could not easily unsubscribe, and asked if he could help.

Him: <sigh> "You're on the LISTSERV, correct?" [I could practically hear him rolling his eyes. I got the distinct impression—and this is just my interpretation, mind you—that I'm by no means the first person who has called to complain about this.]

Me: Yes.

Him: <sigh> "I'll need your full name and your email."

Me: <gives this information>

Him: <repeats the information correctly>

Me: "That's correct."

He told me he would get the information to the right people and asked if there was anything else he could help me with. There wasn't, so I hung up after thanking him and wishing him a nice day.

So, why was the process so easy for the senators and so stupidly, nonsensically complicated for the representative? Is this why it took two extra weeks to get a response? Because his staff is busy taking phone calls from the last few hundred people stupid enough to email him?

So here's a helpful tip: When emailing a government official, do what I should have done and create a throw-away email so that you can do just that: throw it away. It's easier than jumping through the hoops. I recommend Sneakemail, by the way. I've been using them for many, many years, and I can't recommend them highly enough.

This experience demonstrates why you should never, ever give out your real email. Give them a Sneakemail address and have that forward to your real one. And if you get spam on the Sneakemail address, delete it and create another one. Easy!

Why didn't I? Because like an idiot, I thought elected officials had to abide by certain rules of ethics. Yeah, I know. I'll never make that mistake again.

And now to try to figure out why the Spam on another of my accounts has increased by about 500% over the last month or two.

It's a never-ending battle.

Atheists Are People, Too  Antispam  


( 5 hisses — Hiss at me! )
Mar. 24th, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
Elected officials abiding by a rule of ethic. You make me giggle.
Mar. 24th, 2012 11:49 am (UTC)
I try. :)
Mar. 26th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Does this mean a Sneakemail for each and every registration? Or do you give out the same Sneakemail for people until a spam hits (and then what)? How does one keep up with all of that? Interesting...

Mar. 26th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I use a different sneakemail address for EACH and EVERY site that requires registration. This way, I am not trackable from one site to another, nor am I tied down to one email. If I start getting spam on the email address I created and gave to, say, Kickstarter, I can easily destroy that email, create another one, and edit my profile on Kickstarter to the new email address.

This is why if you know me on LiveJournal, you won't find me by that email on Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+ or Pinterest or whatever. I use different emails for each one.

I do have a couple of addresses I created as "throw-away" emails to give to places I don't intend to use more than once, just so I can give them an email when they demand it. I forward those to my yahoo account and they go directly into trash.

I also store a cryptic-to-anyone-but-me clue to the password for the account--and the userid/username I used--in the notes to each account.
Mar. 26th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Y'know, with that explanation, it sounds like a very doable and realistic thing that I could apply to my own situation. Thank you. I've been considering something like this for a while now.
( 5 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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