Screen Scrape Diaries, Part 2

I’m sure those of you who read the first of this series have been sitting on the edge of your seats for weeks, dying to know whether I was scraped. Forget about the economy, the election, the war on this or that. Did Edward Grossman get scraped?

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Yes. Yes, I did. I got scraped.

You’ll remember a couple months ago, I set a few spam traps in my column (and elsewhere) as an experiment, to see if spambots would spider the site and screen scrape my spam-trap email addresses into their lists.

My goal was twofold. First, I wanted to prove screen scraping is a tool employed by spammers and illegitimate list builders and put to bed any doubt some lists are built this way. Second (and more important), I want to encourage you email marketers to set your own spam traps to verify the integrity of your own list buys. If you ever rent a list and send a campaign to one of your own spam traps, you’ll know the list was dirty. You should ask for your money back.

System administrators and spam fighters have sat on spam traps for years. If they receive email at one of these dummy addresses, hello blacklist.

I received a total of 14 pieces of spam at my spam trap addresses in the past eight weeks. The first came less than 24 hours after my column was published. Several of the offending messages were purebred spam: pyramid schemes for long-lost Gold Coast royalty and the like. Thankfully, there were no messages from larger, “household name”-type companies. This is good. Still, a few people either still don’t get it or got taken for a few bucks.

The big winner (loser?) is Roy Oron from

This is Roy Oron from I took a trip out to your web site
and I was very impressed.

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Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards
Roy Oron

Poor Roy. What a wasted email.

Roy, if you’re reading this, talk to your list broker and get your money back. If you bought software to do your own screen scraping, get a refund. This is a dummy email address. There’s nobody here. It’s just a set-up to catch people screen scraping addresses — evidently, people like you. I won’t be joining your affiliate program.

Our runner-up has to be, an online computer retailer and consulting firm in Florida. I can’t include the message here. Too many broken images. Let me just say once I found a link that worked, I was really enthusiastic about buying a laptop from this company. We clearly have a trust-based relationship. I put my email address online, the company spammed me with broken links. Exactly the type of hardware vendor I’ve been looking for.

I’ll keep my spam traps set and announce more winners in the future. Who will turn up next? (Hopefully, none of our readers.)

Got a question? Think I’m full of it? Let me know — send me email!

Please join us at ClickZ Email Strategies in San Francisco, November 18-19.

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