"Spam not, lest ye be spammed." ~Mari Peckham
Just yesterday, I received over 40,000 emails from a person who had harvested a contact email address from one of my websites. The person may or may not have personally secured my email address, but since I use it only to receive email feedback from my website and never to send mail, I know that it was a harvested address. Because of nature of my use of this email address, I also have a "Thank you for contacting us." autoresponder message in place there.
My server was mad at me. My entire system was mad at me. I couldn't conduct my normal business and send out email that needed to be sent out, because my computer was hard at work downloading email upon email.
How can something like this happen?
Simple enough, really. My email was picked up off of my website and added to an autoresponder. If it had been a regular email account, I would have received an unsolicited message that I would have easily deleted, no big deal. But since my email address was attached to an autoresponder, it started a vicious cycle of email autoresponse.
The person who had sent me email - well, they ended up with 40,000 "Thank you for contacting us." emails in their box from me.
I'm sure that that wasn't very pleasant for them, either. And fact of matter is that they may have not even realized that they had done anything wrong.
Spam is bad. Not all spammers are bad people, though. Some of them are just misinformed or inexperienced Internet marketers.
I'm first to admit that marketing can be frustrating. Just when you've hit wall and can't think of another fresh marketing idea to get new people to your site, along comes a company that offers you a list of 100,000 email addresses for just $24.95 or some other unbelievable deal. Wow! What an opportunity! Affordable, even! It's hard not to jump all over an offer like that.
But beware! It's hard to say where those email addresses are coming from.
Many unscrupulous companies use "harvesting" software that spiders Internet and lifts email address off of websites. They then compile lists of these email addresses and sell them as "opt-in safelists" for profit.