When is spam spam? If someone drops us a line and says “Hey Derek, you mentioned Chavez v lefties, I totally disagree, check out this thing I wrote on our A’s blog…” that’s cool.. and I’m likely to check it out. If someone emails us and wants to involve us in what would appear to be a complicated but lucrative money-laundering scam but which is, in fact, just a scam, that’s spam. Spam’s unsolicited email, generally (but not necc.) commercial in nature.
I ask this because I’m totally pissed that Football Outsiders took to spamming this week:
“Howdy baseball bloggers and objective analysts!
With the World Series over, and more attention turned to the
NFL, I wanted to introduce you to our website […]”
This is spam. It’s bulk, unsolicited email intended to get readers. So it goes on and then ends
“P.S. This is a onetime only email, don’t worry, I don’t plan
on spamming you!”
Which means, I guess, that the email sent to “baseball bloggers and objective analysts” was totally unplanned.
I hate spammers. They’re theives, stealing bandwith and passing on the costs to you. Now, because this dude isn’t forging headers or running off an open proxy, there’s an argument to be made that the cost is minimal and it’s no big deal. I don’t really buy this: email as we know it is dying because of abuse, and it’s entirely reasonable to be sensitive about this. I know someone who, in the midst of a career change, spammed everyone he had an email address for trying to drum up business as he left the nest, and as much as I understand his need, I have never entirely forgiven him (and he, for his part, has never apologized).
Outsiders probably feels like their mass-maililng was justified because it was for them, just as this guy I know thinks it was cool for him to mass-mail people because he was trying to start a new career. Or that it was good because they thought we’d be interested, in the same way the Nigerian scammers think I want them to take my money.
The inability to see the larger consequences of one’s actions, the cumulative effect if everyone acted as you might, and particularly to see your actions from the point of view of those who are affected by them is a defining hallmark of selfishness and stupidity. If for no other reason than that, I wouldn’t load Outsiders. And when it comes to spam, there’s a larger issue: by patronizing those who spam, spam as a method is encouraged. Roger Ebert came up with a solution, the Boulder Pledge, in which you agree that
“Under no circumstances will I ever purchase anything offered to me as the result of an unsolicited e-mail message. Nor will I forward chain letters, petitions, mass mailings, or virus warnings to large numbers of others. This is my contribution to the survival of the online community.”
Already, email servers have restrictions that make it difficult to set up things like our Feed: no more than 20 people on a CC or BCC. No more than three attachments. No messages longer than X lines. All of these restrictions are to stop the flow of spam, much of it from people, like this guy, who sincerely believe that I, and 100 other people, want what he’s selling. When you can’t email me because every email server in the world’s gone to white lists, and you have to go through challenge-response systems to get a letter through to your friends if you’re not at your regular computer with an IP address on their safe list, feel free to direct your frustration at everyone who thinks that it’s okay to spam people if they’re the ones doing it.
I don’t believe anything that comes out of the NY sports press. Seriously: if you thought Blaine Newham was a tool of the Mariners (which he is), he’s got nothing on these guys. As a group, they’re managed like the White House press corps: stories are floated, spun, counter-spun, entire careers are won and destroyed in the pages of the NY dailies every season. You only have to think back to the Lou Piniella-Mets-Mariners media war for a great example of how different people with connections there can wage war against their opponents in black-and-white newsprint.
And I’ll say this, too: if the first batch of interviews were underwhelming, this goes right back to my complaint that they don’t know what they’re doing. If you interview a set of people based on their connection to Gillick, rather than their ability to add something to the organization (as if, the M’s knew what they needed, even), of course there’s a good chance that none of them are going to seem like good fits. I’ll bring up my example again: if you need a stove, and you go into your local consumer appliance MegaStore without a clue about what you’re looking for, spend a couple hours looking at fridges, wireless keyboards, new CDs, washer/dryer combos, it’s no shock that at the end of your shopping, you might have something in your cart you’re not excited about and be disappointed there’s really nothing out there that you can cook food on.
Several recent stories, from the New York Post and New Jersey Star-Ledger, suggest that the M’s were waiting around to see if the Yankees were going to fire Brian Cashman before deciding on a new GM. One article even went so far as to say the candidates interviewed were simply a smokescreen, and that Cashman was their #1 guy all along. Now that Cashman appears to be safe for at least another season, perhaps they’ll get down to business.