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Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

How to lovingly respond to Christian spam

Is there anything worse than spam from fellow Christians ?Who knew joining a new church or Bible study could be so dangerous? That was my thought at my last church after I mistakenly shared my email with other members of the Sunday morning Bible study – as no sooner than I had gotten home I began to receive emails about how Madalyn Murray O’Hair is conspiring with space aliens from the grave to take images of the Cross off the airwaves.

And no sooner had I responded, nicely and in Christian love to please stop forwarding me such ‘hoax mail‘ did I receive a scathing reply accusing this died-in-the-wool conservative of being a commie pinko, tax-n-spend liberal whose Christianity was called into question for even for a second considering any and all such messages to be urban legends … let alone spam.

I think I still have some on file that I need to dig up just for grins … but I digress.

The point is, most members of the HYCW audience are in the same camp as I. That is:

  1. We prefer to get our latest and greatest news updates from our feed aggregators, not email. We assume this of our friends as well;
  2. We tend to not believe everything we read but instead take Paul’s advice to the 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and “test everything” against the snopes urban legend database;
  3. We believe that there is no need to cut-and-paste any article that is on the web when it is far more considering to write a single original sentence describing why the content is so compelling that ends with the URL of online article;
  4. We get really, really grumpy when we see our email addresses exposed with several hundred in the others by an individual forwarding a message without the benefit of using or understanding the purpose and benefits of their email program’s BCC feature; and
  5. We’ve received enough of this Christian spam that we don’t even bother to read it before summarily pressing the delete button.

so ask yourself - how do you teach, rebuke, correct & train your Christian spammy friendsBut enough about ‘we’ as this unfortunate but all-to-common occurrence raises the uncomfortable question “how does one go about teaching, rebuking, correcting &/or training such a ‘friend’ in righteous email netiquette?

Glad you asked.

As I recall the numerous instances where I was excoriated for:

  • asking nicely not to be included in such distributions;
  • informing the sender that the content was probably false;
  • that exposing my email address in such distributions potentially exposed me to professional spammers further down the chain; and
  • anything worth cutting and pasting is probably already posted as a page on the web;

I realize that there’s no need for this messenger to continually expose himself to such emotional gunfire when there are already a number of web pages and services that will do the dirty work for me.

Most recently, the good folks over at LifeHacker fielded a poll entitled “Email Etiquette Pages Explain So You Don’t Have To” – offering individuals to vote on which ‘tell a friend they’re spammin’ya crazy‘ service they use:

  • Thanks. No – for opting out of all types of unwanted email;
  • BCC Please – for requesting the sender doesn’t expose your email address to a large list;
  • Sentenc.es – for explaining your email brevity; and
  • Waiting-For.com – to let your recipient know you’re waiting to hear back from them.

Had said survey not been closed, I might have possibly recommended some other pages that also go into detail over what’s proper and what’s not in terms of one’s SMTP activities, including:

use this service the next time you get hit with Christian spamNote that I said “I might have possibly recommended some other pages” … this is because old ‘never met a Software as a Service he didn’t like’ author has found via the folks at AppScout a nice, free little online service offered by the generous and thoughtful folks at StopForwarding.Us.

What this neat little online tool does is simply send an anonymous email to the church spammer of your choice that sheds the light truth on said sinner’s incorrect use of the forward feature on their email program. Here’s a sample I sent myself:

Hi Dean is testing this service,

One of your friends has sent you this message from StopForwarding.Us, a website that allows individuals to anonymously email their friends and politely ask that they stop the habit of sending forwarded emails or FWDs.

Please do not forward chain letters, urban myths presented as truth, potentially offensive jokes, videos or photos without being asked or first receiving permission. If you find something that is funny and it is clean and you genuinely think the recipient will enjoy it then foward it to that person only (not in an email blast to all your friends and family) and include a personal note about why you enjoyed it and why you think they will too. Avoid sending forwards to friends or relatives that you’ve grown distant with. It can be frustrating for the recpient when the only correspondance you have with someone is via impersonal, unwanted email.

For more tips on email etiquette, visit StopForwarding.Us/etiq.html

Thank you,
A Friend (via stopforwarding.us)

And if that doesn’t work – send’m here to this post for a dose of tough love.

Now pardon me while I get some wiki work over at blogJordan.com.

10 Comments

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  2. Amen. I used to send such notices to those who abused my email and I would attach a link to the humorous Email Soapbox animation found here. http://tinyurl.com/jowzz

  3. Excellent – thanks Dean as I’ve been meaning to go digging for similar info for a while now to educate my own family let alone Church members!

  4. Pingback: Church Techy » Blog Archive » Christian (and other) Spam

  5. Dean – You said:

    “exposing my email address in such distributions potentially exposed me to professional spammers further down the chain”

    I too have heard that, but one day I realized that passing that info along was the equivalent of an email forward. In other words, it was here say. Maybe true, maybe not. So I went digging and could find nothing that either confirmed or busted that myth.

    I’m curious, not to accuse you of anything, but do you have a source for that info? I’d like to know if this is in fact true or not.

    One thing is for certain, forwards to expose your email address to anyone down the chain. What I’m not certain of is that spammers area making use of those addresses.

  6. Excellent article with great resources. Thanks so very much. I appreciate your balance between dealing with annoying SPAM and with caring for fellow brothers and sisters.

    I found your site via David at http://churchymedia.com

  7. One day prior to your wonderful post, Seth Godin banged out an interesting check list to use before sending e-mail.

    I guess I need to post a follow-up to my commentary on Seth’s post. (I’d link the post, but I am in the process of transitioning the blog.)

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  10. Hi! Thanks for the post. I just found it on a whim while showing my wife how inbound links work. I recognized your blog in the list as I am a subscriber. Funny enough, I actually created StopForwarding.Us after being inspired by a forwarding issue at work. I happen to work at a church.