Coming Down with Contactitis

It’s a drag, but can be cured

Every website needs a way for visitors to send a message to its proprietors. Some sites provide an email address, but typically they have a form on a page that tends to be called Contact. That’s what I did when I set up a website for my publishing imprint, Perfidy Press. Having put together several sites already, I should have known better than to set up a contact page that wasn’t protected against robots, but gave it no thought. Naively, I presumed that only people who cared about my content would bother to contact me. That seems to have been the case for the first six months it was online, when one or two responses a week got dumped into my inbox, but in the last two months it’s been more like one or two a day, and they keep getting more bizarre.

They range from sales pitches about getting all the traffic my site deserves, like this one:

It sucks that now days Google charges so much for clicks, in fact some industries can pay up to $200 for just a click! Insane! Would you like to find out more about advertising that only charges a flat rate for qualified potential buyers sent directly to your website? Let me know in your reply and I'll send over some details.

… to illiterate phishing tackle like this: Hey What we suffer with here is , a fineprovide 
Just click on the component below to prepare [URL deleted]

… or this. Like the above response, it seems to be auto-translated from some Asian language:

Hy there, Righteous bulletin ! a goodoffers To be eligible click on the tie-up below 
Hey Complimentary news ! an stimulatingoffer 
Right-minded click on the component under to mitigate [URL deleted]

… and on to bogus criminality like this:

Hi, I wanted to let you know that your site has a lot of porn and gambling spam. Please get in touch to me to have removed. If you dont contact, there will be more porn spam and your site will be dead. So no waste time and order my gig now [URL deleted]

It took longer than it should have for me to react. But I finally did, and now my contact page has a new address and protection from bots. All I need now is for real people to make my day by getting in touch. Know any?

And in case you didn’t know, spamming web contact forms has become an industry. Here’s how it works, according to a helpful message from a company in Europe I received via my contact form:

We propose 
Sending your message through the feedback form which can be found on the sites in the contact partition. Feedback forms are filled in by our program and the captcha is solved. The profit of this method is that messages sent through feedback forms are whitelisted. This method raise the odds that your message will be read. Mailing is done in the same way as you received this message. 
Your commercial proposal will be seen by millions of site administrators and those who have access to the sites! 

The cost of sending 1 million messages is $ 49 instead of $ 99. (you can select any country or country domain) 
All USA - (10 million messages sent) - $399 instead of $699 
All Europe (7 million messages sent)- $ 299 instead of $599 
All sites in the world (25 million messages sent) - $499 instead of $999 
There is a possibility of FREE TEST MAILING. 

Discounts are valid until June 10. Feedback and warranty! Delivery report! In the process of sending messages we don't break the rules GDRP. 

This message is automatically generated to use our contacts for communication.

Of course, there’s no reason I should be one of their contacts unless my contact page address was harvested by a bot, along with millions of others to be sold on the grey market by this upstanding business

But still, this does seem like a great opportunity to leverage my brand. So what “commercial proposal” would I spam the globe with were I to take up their generous offer? All I have to peddle is a novel and my services as a writer. As spamming out special discounts for the book would betray my identity, how about:

Are you spamming random email addresses and contact forms to get your message out with disappointing results? We can help! Let a published novelist and author of hundreds of well-received posts across the Net craft your sales messages in perfect English (US or UK). We can edit your copy or create new spam to your specifications guaranteed to seduce whatever audiences you set out to reach. No job too small! Only 2 USD per word! Be among the first 100 responders and get half off! Act today!

We respect your privacy. To remain on this list simply do nothing.

That oughta do it.

This post  originally appeared in The Story Hall.

Author: admin

I'm an ex-this-and-that, including software developer, computer graphics researcher, geospatial analyst, market manager, and technical writer, who now writes full-time when not reading, running a household, foraging for edible mushrooms, pushing progressive politics, or volunteering fsomewhere. I live near Boston with my wife, daughter, two cats and two old cars.