Wheat? Chaff?

Feb 1, 2023
Kate Walton

Hello from Steyer!

It’s like the robots heard me talking about them: our mailing list has been swamped with fake sign-ups. This always strikes me as one of the weirder scams out there:

  • Bots use a newsletter’s ‘subscribe’ function to add large batches of email addresses to the mailing list—both real addresses scraped from the interwebs and nonsense addresses.
  • This triggers a higher-than-expected number of unsubscribes and/or “abuse claims,” causing the list owner to look like an inveterate spammer.

But the thing is: if you’re not a spammer—if your goal is to engage in respectful conversation with actual human beings who’ve signed up to hear from you at polite intervals—then you’d just do this:

  • Delete any addresses that look super sketchy;
  • Encourage anyone who feels like it—and certainly those who never signed up in the first place—to unsubscribe;
  • Request email replies* from any especially enthusiastic readers, to help identify addresses that should not be deleted no matter how sketchy they look...because, wow, some of you really like to express yourselves via a wacky email handle. 🙂

Thanks for your patience as we sort this out. I look forward to connecting with you on more substantive issues next time!


*For an easy email reply that will net you a gift of sorts, feel free to just cut and paste this into a message sent to me at kwalton@steyer.net:
“I heard your teenager has a turtle named Tink—and a very messy room. And that you used DALL-E to draw a cartoon of the turtle screaming, ‘It’s so messy I can’t even Tink in here!’ Please send me that cartoon so I can see an example of what generative AI can and can’t do.”

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash