A lesson in how to lose friends and isolate people online

angryAnyone who knows me well knows that I am a pretty patient person. I rarely lose my temper and my tolerance level is set quite high from years of educating newcomers to the world of search engine marketing. Newbies to this industry tend to ask very basic questions and people often ask me if I get frustrated seeing the same questions over and over. The answer is no. Every question is a good question, if the answer educates and informs. If people are asking for advice and are open to feedback, I believe that’s a very positive thing and I honestly don’t mind helping people if they are willing to learn.

But what really presses my buttons is ignorance from people who should know better. Take today for example. I began receiving emails at the rate of 1 every hour or so from a person I didn’t recognize, at a domain I didn’t recognize, to an email address that I hardly use. The titles for these emails were always the same: “A comment has been posted on [site name]”. The content read:

“A comment was posted about one of your articles on [site URL].

Article: The Top 10 Dumbest Web Site Decisions

Article URL: [URL of my article on their site]

Rating: 3

Comment:”

Turns out that the site is an article directory and the owner republishes various articles from across the Internet. He had found some of my recent articles on SiteProNews and decided to republish them all in his directory. So far, so good. SPN allows webmasters to republish their articles provided the author by-line and resource box are left intact, which they were. BUT I couldn’t understand why I was being sent multiple emails whenever somebody rated an article or left a comment.

This email exchange I had with him today reveals all:

Dear Joe*

It’s one thing to republish one of my articles from SiteProNews. It’s
quite another to automatically sign me up to receive multiple emails
whenever somebody rates my article or leaves a comment. I did NOT
sign up to receive these and they are unsolicited so please take me off
your mailing list immediately.

thanks
Kalena

Dear Kalena

You have my sincere apologies for the inconvenience. However, just for
the record, you are not on my mailing list. The system automatically
sends you an e-mail whenever someone rates one of your articles. Be
that as it may, I will make sure that it never happens again.

All the best,
Joe

Dear Joe

But my point is that I don’t recall providing my email address in the
first place and I don’t know how you got it. I didn’t submit the
article to you either – it has only been circulated via SiteProNews.

Kalena

Kalena

Getting your e-mail address was just a matter of me using some basic
common sense. I just assumed that it was your first name at your
domain.com. Many webmasters set up their e-mail accounts that way. I
happen to use my first and last name.

Also, no you did not submit the article to me. I got it from Site Pro
News. The content was not altered in any way, and your copyright info
is included at the end of the article.

If this is a problem for you, I have no problem removing your bio and
all your articles from my website.

I’m not looking for any trouble. I’m only trying to provide my readers
with the best marketing and SEO information possible. Just say the
word, and I’ll delete everything as it pertains to you.

Joe

Joe

You are completely missing the point. Your actions (as described in your first paragraph below) have actually broken the law. I suggest you read http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm. I’ve got no interest in receiving 10 emails a day that I didn’t sign up for. Make no mistake – that’s a mailing list, no matter how you try to justify it.

Yes, this is a big problem for me and YES I would like you to remove my bio and articles from your site immediately.

Kalena

I’m sorry but there is ZERO EXCUSE for someone to sign me up to receive system emails from a web site I’ve never heard of and give me no way to opt-out, whether they are publishing my content or not. It’s even against the law! Most webmasters know this and I’m sure he did too.

The fact that he tried to justify it by explaining how easy it was to guess my email address just made my blood boil. Not to mention his threatening tone about removing my content like he was doing me some type of big favor in the first place. He probably assumed I’d think “Geez, I’d better keep my mouth shut or I might lose those valuable links from his highly-trafficked site.” Well he was wrong.

A short time later, I read Jennifer’s latest article Be Nice – You Never Know Who That Email is From and I laughed to think that perhaps I’d missed an opportunity to make a friend in Joe.

Then I had a coffee, got fired up again and realized that I handled the situation exactly right. Maybe some people will think I overreacted here, but believe me, when you already have to wade through hundreds of emails on a daily basis, you don’t want to see another 10 unsolicited ones.

If Joe’s approach had been more professional, perhaps things could have been different. But he isolated me from the very first contact and lost my trust immediately. His loss!

* Not his real name

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About Kalena Jordan

In my day job, I'm Director of Studies and tutor at the online training institution Search Engine College. In my spare time, I'm a search engine agony aunt and SEO to global clients. I've been marketing websites online since 1996 and blogging about search since 2002. To learn more, visit