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Spam - Why is it so annoying?

There is a good reason why spam (unsolicited bulk e-mail) is so annoying! I'll explain this, but first the mystery outlined:

Why should spam be so annoying? Surely someone sending you a mostly harmless e-mail is not doing much wrong? And besides, you receive all sorts of junk-mail in the post, and that doesn't get you annoyed, does it?

Now consider this: Supposing you were much taller than normal, or much shorter, or had an amusing name, then you'd notice various people making various harmless witty comments. This would not be particularly annoying, to start with. But after a while it would become increasingly irksome. After many people had all told the same joke as if they were the wittiest person in the world to have thought it up, then it would start to become annoying out of all proportion! In fact, at some point a fairly harmless-seeming comment could result in your wrath being vented upon the hapless joker!

This is what happens with spam. It doesn't matter if someone sends you an unsolicited message. But after a while it becomes a terrible thing, because you can't do anything about it, and the senders are somehow one up on you. It doesn't cost them anything, but (unless you've got an unmetered access Internet connection) it costs you to receive the messages. As time goes on and more and more messages arrive on the offchance you'll buy something or visit a site or in some other way gratify the sender, it becomes a problem of a perceived feeling of powerlessness.

The other thing about spam is that each additional offence is compounded. For example, it's quite annoying that spam-senders tell lies; things such as "you are receiving this because you have opted in", or "this message is never sent unsolicited" or "this is not spam" or "this message is the result of your feedback form" or "we respect al unsubscriptions" or "e-mail bogus.address@yarbooandshuckstoyou.com with remove in the subject-line to be removed from the list", but this becomes increasingly more annoying with repeated tellings of the same old joke. It wasn't that funny to start with, but now it's becoming a cause for contemplation of murder! It's so bad in fact that even senders who actually do respect remove instructions get accused and abused in a bizarrely over-the-top style by disgruntled recipients who are venting their accumulated rage upon the sender.

I've talked to spam-senders, and some of them are quite bemused by the venomousness of some of the replies they get! In contrast, the correct thing to do is to write a polite reply and see what happens. (Is that wise?). Offer some advantage to the originator of the spam if they are reading your comment. Then, (and this is the cunning bit), if they ignore you or bounce the reply, it is they who are missing out!

This, the Reply method, is further explored in incoming spam policy