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social spamming

Social Spamming 101: How not to...

Social Spamming is a topic coming up more and more often.
I would like to try a definition, suggest a 'best practise' how not to be regarded a spammer and point to some examples.


The effect of SPAM sent though electronic channels is usually an overflow of a communication channel with the ensuing comsumption of time to separate 'real' messages from the 'noise'.

In e-mail there are two technical terms used for what we have come to call SPAM: 'unsolicited bulk e-mail' and 'unsolicited commercial e-mail' (UBE and UCE).

These terms imply
- a message sent to me
- that may or may not be sent to others in the same wording
- that has no "precedent", meaning, that it is neither an answer to a message of mine, that I did not subscribe to get it or that I have not met the person or done business with her or him or the respective company - so in short: no prior contact has happened (subscribing somone to a newsletter, just because they have sent you mail or because you are in contact with them in any way is not really acceptable)
- that the message tries to sell me something, be it a 'cause' I am meant to support or something for cash or it just wants to drive traffic to a page that gets cash for page impressions ( -- malware aside here.)


I'd call messages 'social spamming' if they use 'social networks' (or the 'social' components of web services) as their channel in order to
- get messages out
- increase the number of contacts or page views for the sender or an affiliated business
- without there having been an introduction though a mutual friend
- without there haveing been communication either directly or through e-mail
- and if the communication is non-individual

What to do:

- you have a reason to ;) -
- Give the reason in the message asking the person to introduce you. You might want to write it in a way so that it can be forwarded without editing or even rephrasing it.

- you are interested in a field of business or hobby of the person and have a "real" reson to contact them, like:
"Hi, I see you do underwater golf and lie in my area. I am wondering if you could point me to underwater golf courses around town." (So mainly if you have somethiung in common AND if there is some 'actual' issue you have. OK, messaging to meet somone who is n your area and in a similar business for coffe might also be OK. Main thing is: there should be a reason.)
- the person was on your profile and you feel that they either have met you or that there is possibly a talking topic:
"Hi; I see that you have visited my profile. I will be in your area and give a talk about [possible common interest] there and then. If you are interested in meeting there I'd be glad." or
"I see you have visited my profile and also have meen at [event]. Have we met? Can I help you?"

- you met the person, introduced youself and spoke more than half a sentence. ("Hi, I am Bob - oh, wait a sec." (Leave and never talk to the person again) is not enough ;))
- you have been in contact though another channel (E-mail, chat etc. that was not spam ;) (So someone answered a comment in your blog, you had a longer discussion there - then IMed for some time etc.)
- you have a reason to. (Growing your hand the other persons network is not yet a reason ;) (It's a little like: "Buy this car because I need your money.")

Generally & in short
* communicate via social networks (or the social components of online-services) giving and having REASONS for the communication. Usuqally that is common contact or issue)
* Keep the message individual. (How have you met? Why are you contacting the person now?)
* That the other person visited my profile might be an acceptable reason to send a msg but maybe not one for a contact request
* Sending contact requests or messages to all participants of an event you just attended but did not organize might also be a bad idea

- Decline the contact, explaining, who you usually add as a contact. You can keep a channel open if you feel it is just a premature contact request and should have been a message only. (Many accept and thus the spammer says: It can't have been spam, the people where happy about my messages)
- Complain about the user (if it was not only a premature contact request)
- maybe: Blog about the user (using an acceptable description of what he/she did)

There is a special form of spamming that 'just' involves entering bookmarks into bookmark services. No messages are involved (if you don't subscribe to the feed). As this is also 'polluting the channel' and making the channel less useful. Spam blogs (splogs) and Spam Wikis are also forms of spamming, but I wanted to concentrate on social networks per se. You will find some of those mentioned un the 'social spam' search at Google below.

EXAMPLES/ other blog entries:
* http://typo.twoday.net/stories/3145068/ (Spam via Mybloglog)
* http://socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com/2004/04/15/social-spamming/ - A SoSp 'accident' (so the sender(s) spammed involutarily and even spammed their own blogs via Mail2Post! ZeroDegrees
* http://heuer.sajonara.de/2007/01/23/social-spamming-die-zweite/ - A Chat conversation with a social spammer
* http://netzstimmen.de/eintrag.php?id=36 - another chat conversation w/ someone who claims not to have spammed
* http://www.toprankblog.com/2006/12/dos-and-donts-of-spamming-social-media/ - (mainly) about abusing Digg and similar voting systems

* http://www.google.de/search?&q=social%20spamming
* http://www.google.de/search?&q=social%20spam

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