As I've explained before, I'm very willing to add links to sites with relevant content. I'm even willing to stretch the relevancy a bit now and then: if I found the site interesting, sometimes the readers here might also. I'm not hard to get a long with (well, yes, I am hard to get along with, but not in this area).
I'm not willing to add links to some random pile of spammish junk that has nothing to do with anything we ever talk about here. The only time I feel badly about refusing these solicitations is when the site actually is pretty good but just totally unrelated to even the loosest interpretations of what this site is about. That doesn't happen very often.
I think there must be some software out there that seeks out popular sites and sends out form letters. I think the template looks something like this:
I manage a website called [ YOUR_SITE_HERE ] and I think your site would be of interest to the visitors that regularly browse my site. I have gone ahead and given you a link plus a description of your site from my page at [ YOUR_LINK_PAGE_HERE ] and I'm just contacting you to check it is ok to have done this for you? I would greatly appreciate a link back to my site and if you are happy to do this then to make it easy for you I have included the following code...
Yeah, right. I'll jump right on that, you betcha.
I used to just trash those things, but I recently started looking at them differently. When you think about it, this sort of spam actually can be replied to: the email address they give is legitimate, because they want to hear back from people who have added the link. That may not be enirely true: their "link building" software probably checks automatically to see if you did add their link, but I bet that 99% of the time a real person will get your email if you hit "Reply".
I'm going to be a bit cynical and callous now. I'm not ordinarily like this; beneath the mean and gruff exterior a kind and sympathetic heart smiles upon the world. I forgive mistakes, give the benefit of the doubt, put myself in their shoes - all that stuff. But..
That "real person" is either an unscrupulous spammer or a naive and fairly stupid wannabe. Either way, what they want is traffic to their site. So I hit reply, and (using a form letter of my own, of course) invite them to check out the advertising opportunities at this site.
My reasoning is that they were dumb enough to buy this automated link building software, and possibly dumb enough to think that I am actually going to give them a link, so maybe they are dumb enough to buy an ad here.
I don't mean that advertising here is dumb. It certainly isn't if you are advertising something relevant. But for the random spammer wannabe who has asked me to link to their "Your Pomeranian is your Best Pal" site, advertising here would be dumb.
I don't know if I actually would take their ad if they did bite. I probably wouldn't. I've taken ads from Poker sites, but I do write about Poker here now and then, so at least those have some relevance (and apparently quite a few pople visit those advertisers). I couldn't bring myself to help the spammy sites, and my conscience would bother me if some clueless person with a good site wanted to spend money inappropriately. So, in reality, I probably wouldn't follow through, but it does give me a little bit of pleasure to respond to spam with spam. It just balances things off, and makes me smile.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-21 Anthony Lawrence
The less accurate your mental model of a given process is, the less accurate is any guess you make about its malfunction. (Tony Lawrence)