Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

dec
06
2002

spamming a spammer

In today’s Detroit Free-Press, columnist Mike Wendland writes about a new snail-mail spam campaign against Alan Ralsky, who, according to Wendland, “just may be the world’s biggest sender of Internet spam.” Ralsky says he’s been deluged with mail-order catalogs and advertisements for the past few weeks, the “victim” of a plot organized by Slashdot users. Poor Ralsky wants to sue.

Nice to see a spammer getting some of his own back. (Or, as Slashdot has it, “From the Golden Rule Department…”)

Wendland’s Nov. 22 story about Ralsky moving into new digs in the Detroit area, combined with other recent mentions of court judgements against Ralsky — not to mention Ralsky’s assertion that he won’t quit the spamming business — combined to spark the Slashdot campaign.

This bit from Wendland’s original article raises some questions, though:

Today, Ralsky says he is trying to keep a lower profile, operating through cell phones and unlisted numbers. Ralsky agreed to this interview and the tour of his operation only if I promised not to print the address of his new home, which I found in Oakland County real estate records.

It’s as though Wendland was trying to help anti-Ralsky/spam folks find Ralsky’s new address. I’m not sure if I think it’s cool that a journalist would try to help in a campaign like the Slashdotters’ in such a sneaky-yet-obvious way, or troubled that he would sort of insert himself into the story by telling people how to find this guy. Plus, since I’m only reading this column online, I don’t have the same clues as I might in print that this is a column rather than a news article. If this is a column, I’m less troubled by the writer getting involved in the story; I’m still concerned, however, about his telling a mass audience where to find someone’s personal information.