26 February 2006


I received the following e-mail today from joldford@strato.com:

hello jason orendorff,
If you don't mind me asking are you a programer by profession? I noticed Microsoft has new Visual programming products, it is hyped for easier, quicker, more affordable programing, are you familiar with it? http://msdn.microsoft.com/developercenters/ http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/products/
Do you freelance (independently write, produce, or make) any desktop programs for Windows 98, XP? Or Mac?
John Oldford

The question is, is this spam?


jto said...

Answer: of course it is, but it took me a lot longer to decide for this one than for most other spam e-mails. My spam filter is smart enough to figure out most of them, and most of the rest I don't even have to open.

Ultimately the problem will be undecidable. This suggests an interesting "lesser Turing test": give a program a link to someone's blog; it composes an e-mail and wins if the recipient responds.

Jim Jinkins said...


If you ask the guy not send any more emails like that, and continue to receive them, then he is a spammer; and Microsoft is either his sponsor or his victim.