USS Clueless - Welcome to the Bozo Bin

Stardate 20040403.1529

(Captain's log): The bozo bin is email purgatory. When someone puts you into their bozo bin, it means they have set up a filtration rule in their email program which will automatically delete any mail from you without alerting them that it has arrived.

By the way, the sound of someone being added to a bozo bin is "plonk".

I get a lot of mail from readers of this site. Some of it is fawning, some of that is blatant sucking up. Some is hostile, and some of that is abusive. But much of my mail is courteous and often is quite challenging, whether the writer agrees with me or not.

I am not quick on the trigger to put people in the bozo bin, but there are a few who earn it the old fashioned way.

The best way to land in my bozo bin is to put me on a mailing list without my permission and to ignore my requests to be removed from it. I think this is especially annoying when the messages sent to the list contain the URL and full contents of every new post the sender makes to his blog, in hopes of getting links. I don't run a "linking" log, to begin with, and given the amount of mail I get which directly relates to this site, the last thing I need is for people to add to the load with "courtesy" copies of their blog posts.

I get added to mailing lists all the time, because USS Clueless is in the top bracket of such things as the TTLB Blogosphere Ecosystem, the Blogrolling Top 100, and the Technorati Top 100, and because I don't conceal my email address. I don't actually pay much attention to such lists, but others looking for publicity use them, and I suspect I'm not the only person listed on them who finds himself on new mailing lists on a regular basis. If I did nothing about that, my email traffic by now would be three times what it is, with most of that being things I had no interest in.

So whenever I see that kind of email, I invariably ask to be removed from the distribution list. If the sender complies (and most do), they don't end up in the bozo bin. For instance, David Theroux is not classed as a bozo as result of this email exchange (colorcoded with him in red and me in blue):

Dear Steve,

Would you please post a notice of the following new article?

[article title and URL omitted - SCDB]

Please advise me with any questions.

Not a question, really, but perhaps some advice (phrased as a question):

Are you aware of the distinction between "linkers" and "thinkers" when it comes to political bloggers?

Someone like Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) looks for things to link to, and welcomes letters like yours. Someone like me sees them only as an annoyance; I don't link to things just to link. I link to things either because they inspired me to write, or because they contain supporting evidence for the things I'm writing about.

It's possible you have not encountered the term "link whoring" (or "link slutting") before.

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your note.

Since you regularly and critically address public policy issues, including foreign policy, we thought that you might be interested in some of our articles.

If not, we will not send them to you.

Just let me know.

As for "link slutting," sending you a personal note about a new article hardly fits.

That would be "not".

I know my second response to him was curt, but I had thought that in my first letter I had made abundantly clear that I didn't want to receive such notifications.

Since I sent it, though, I have not received anything from him or his organization, and I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming I've been removed from the publicity list. So Theroux is not in my bozo bin. I don't mind if he writes to me in future, if he's really writing to me.

It seems that he didn't really comprehend the essence of link whoring. It has nothing to do with whether the email is individually addressed, rather than being broadcast. A blatant link whore message which is sent just to my email address with a personalized greeting is still link whoring. And the only time I forgive it is when it's clear that the person sending it knows it would genuinely be something I was interested in. That was certainly true for the email I received which inspired this post in January. But that was a nearly unique case; virtually all such messages I receive are unwelcome.

Despite Theroux's claim that his first letter was a "personal note", it was pretty clear that Theroux had targeted me because of my high ratings. The article he was trying to pump was the worst kind of "Blame Am

Captured by MemoWeb from on 9/16/2004