Editorial—The Spam is Real

I decided this week we need to change things up just a bit, so instead of our feature article being an interview, we’re doing something a little bit different this time.  This week, our feature article will be the start of something I hope we’ll continue at some point in the future, something I’m calling “The AUthor Series”.  These articles will be reserved for when we review books by people with some significant connection to AU, as a way to highlight just what AU people are responsible for.  The book we review this time is Home Ice, by Dr. Angie Abdou, one of AU’s English tutors specializing in the creative writing department and who we’ve spoken to a few times here at The Voice Magazine.

It of course helps that the article itself is a great read, and the book seems like something that could connect with every distance education student in one way or another.

However, that doesn’t mean we’ve ditched the interviews either.  This week, our interviewee isn’t a student at all, but rather the research ethics officer and secretary and coordinator for the research ethics board at AU.  As you get further into your studies, and especially as you hit graduate studies, the ability to research with and on humans is likely to become an important factor in your education. Gail is probably the one who will help you to make sure that your research doesn’t violate any ethics standards, so it seemed like a good idea to get to know her a little bit better.

Also this issue, we’ve got some great advice on how to make the most of your student status.  A lot of AU students don’t know about the availability of an AU student card.  And even more don’t know the full value of such a thing. As many AU students are older, many of you may think that you can’t get such a thing as a student discount, but you’d be surprised.  This week, Xin Xu takes a quick look at what you might be missing out on, and why being able to prove you’re an AU student at any time might be a good thing.

Plus, a look at the pros and cons of freelancing, advice on how to age younger, how to set up routines that work for you, and more.

But what I really wanted to bring up this time is the deluge of spam that I’ve been receiving.  I’m not sure if this is common to everybody on wordpress, or just places that say that they’re media publications, but the amount of spam I get from people who essentially want to use The Voice Magazine to game search engines and bring their own results up higher seems to be at a high point.

It wouldn’t even be that bad if so many of them weren’t obviously using software and obviously lying about what they’re doing.  Recently, for instance, I received an email praising The Voice Magazine’s content, something that’s always nice to receive.  They went on about how it’s great to see such quality content being printed and then, oh, by the way, they had recently written an article themselves, very well sourced and with lots of great information about the health benefits of pomegranates, and thought it’d be a great fit with a certain article they’d read on The Voice Magazine, and would we be interested in putting a link to their article?

Funny thing was, this was the article they referenced.  Go ahead and check it out. I’ll wait.

Did you see what the reference to pomegranates was?  No? It had me stumped too, until I took a closer look at some of the links.  One of them is to a store called Pomegranate.  That’s it.  That’s literally the only connection to pomegranates in the article, and it’s not even about the fruit.

Obviously, this person was just using software to search the web and find any possible connection to their subject matter, and then it would automatically fire off an email.  I kind of understand that, but to go on with the praise about an article they’ve obviously never read just strikes me as rude and lazy.  At least have the sense to double check the links the software throws you to see if they have any connection at all, or if you’re just wasting people’s time.

It’s getting so that a good portion of my day is going through these emails now and trying to see if a sender is legitimately interested in our content or is simply another form of search engine spam.  Personally, I’ve always thought that Internet Service Providers should get together and implement a system whereby if you hit a “spam” button on your email, it charges the sender of that email a dime.  This dime is charged from your ISP to their ISP, and presumably from their ISP to them.  Your ISP then forwards this money to whatever group is it that helps development of internet standards.

This way, bulk emails, especially the unwanted variety, have a cost and they’d mostly stop.  Leaving the rest of us free to actually be productive and use email the way it was intended.

Until then though, enjoy the read!