Spam disclaimers


Spam is always a poorly written mess of bad grammar and spelling. I pass no judgement for that; their English is better than my grasp of their first language, and the number of typos and mistakes I make here that I have to fix later are just embarrassing. I judge them instead for using farms of compromised computers owned by innocent people for sending unsolicited junk.

Lately I’ve taken a keen interest in spam footer grammar, and how it can aid in filtering. I did the Merlin Mann life hack a few years ago of flagging any email with the word Unsubscribe, or the far more dubious Update Your Email Preferences. But Spammers don’t have a legitimate site to point you to, so will usually direct you to confirm your existence email them to remove yourself from their lists.

Some of them contain refreshing honesty, like this one from Sarah Mizrahi this morning, who I can only be sure is a real person:

Disclaimer: We’re are using this domain for marketing …

I’m sure you do! This one was more polite:

Please accepts my apologies for writing this email without your prior permission.

But this is my favourite:

Disclaimer: “Note: - We are not spammer. We found your email through manually efforts. You can simply reply with Remove so we will delete your email from our list. Thanks again.

There’s a wild variation in the design and text in these spam messages of late, but I’ve seen a large uptick in ones specifically containing one of these disclaimers. Messages which look superficially different can now be matched and deleted based on the same broken grammar structure, which makes me happy.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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