Tuesday, October 06, 2009

You are coordially invited... Why?

When you get an invitation via email should you accept? How well targeted is it? Some real examples that I got.

EXAMPLE ONE: I would like to invite you to participate at the workshop Ramsey Theory in Logic, Combinatorics and Complexity which will take place in Bertinoro international Center for informatics click here Italy, October 25-30, 2009. The organizers: Pavel Pudlak, Lorenzo Carlucci, Nicola Galesi and Andreas Weiermann Note that this is well targeted (I do Ramsey Theory AND I do Logic!) and the organizerers are people I've heard of (positively!). I have the time to go. This is a clear ACCEPT. (Sorry Lance and Vijay- I'll be missing FOCS.)

It is my pleasure to invite you to publish at the Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence (JETWI) (ISSN 1798-0461 ) published by the Academy Publisher in Finland. JETWI is a peer reviewed and indexed international journal and is teamwork of the distinguished editorial board along with the Academy Publisher to respond to the emerging research needs in the evolving area of Web Intelligence and related Technologies. The aim, scope and the targets of this journal are listed at the journal Web Site: click here
This is badly targeted. I am not in the area. So why did I get this email? There is no harm to the sender to send it to ALOT of people since it doesn't cost anything. I wish that, as a courtesy, they would do better targetting. For me a clear DECLINE. Should I email them and tell them to take me off of their list? I doubt it would work and might even be counterproductive. I hope they read this blog entry and take me off of the list. (I also hope to show P\ne NP.)

There is a book that won't be written for many years, yet its here today for you to review. Courtesy of Jahred Kammen, comes a short but salient retrospective on the life and impact of Ted Kennedy. The complete work is Available at _Freedompressintl@aol.com_ (mailto:Freedompressintl@aol.com). J. D. Russell, President Freedom Press International
Why did this get send to me? I get many such emails since I run a book review column for SIGACT NEWS and book publishers are not that good at targetting. While I am tempted to get free books that I have no intention of reviewing, I refrain. I wish they did better targeting, but I get to hear about books that are out there that I might not have heard about otherwise.

EXAMPLE FOUR: (I leave it for you to judge this one)

BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT! Is your lack of a degree holding you back from career advancement? Are you having difficulty finding employment in your field of interest because you don't have the paper to back it up, even though you are qualified? If you are looking for a fast and effective solution, we can help! Call us right now for your customized diploma: Inside U.SA.: 1-718-989-5746 Outside U.S.A.: +1-718-989-5746. Just leave your NAME & TEL. PHONE # (with country-code) on the voicemail and one of our staff members will get back to you promptly!


  1. I wish this post had gone a little bit more in depth into the larger issue of academic spam, because I was surprised when I first encountered it.

    The moment I as a young grad student uploaded a paper to the Arxiv for the first time, I started to get WSEAS spam. There is no hope of getting off of their mailing lists. (This blog has gone up against WSEAS before.)

    I regularly get invitations to submit to Indian mathematical journals of dubious quality and connection to my research, and invitations to publish a book of my choosing with publishing houses I've never heard of.

    Amusingly, these are all targeted to Professor Mylastname, as they managed to scrape papers for my name and email but not check departmental status.

    Companies regularly troll the list of grad students in my department and send out unpersonalized blast recruitment emails. Even Google does this, though they clearly have a database that my name was once added to and have tracked every single contact they've ever had with me, but not my requests not to be recruited by people other than my friends.

    How are these kinds of mass mailings remotely okay? How is it that academia has managed to spawn a shadow network of junk conferences and journals that finds it acceptable to spam researchers? The rest of my email spam is typical viagra stuff that my automatic spam filters handle quite well.

  2. The fourth example is clearly well targeted. Just look at THEM CAPS. ;-)

  3. i am perplexed: you can review a book that won't be written for years??

  4. I am perplexed also but I suspect that they would give me a reviewers copy or some other pre-copy.
    OR they are just very confused--- the kind of people that would send a book on Ted Kennedy to the SIGACT NEWS book review editor.
    (On the other hand, Ted Kennedy did get his Masters Degree in Math, working on Recursive Algebraic Topology.)

  5. Even worse is that you can't mark fake conference and journal ads as "spam" because then your spam filter might start filtering out legitimate emails. I have seen someone pursue academic spam so aggressively, that his STOC acceptance letter ended up in the spam folder.

    (I leave it for you to judge this one)

    "Gosh-golly ... these professional masters' degree programs are starting to look pretty good!"

  7. Bill! I just got e-mail that my Ph.D. expired! What's going on?

  8. No disrespect for the dead, but Gasarch is wrong. Ted Kennedy most certainly does not have a master's in math! In fact, he's well known for having cheated while an undergrad at Harvard.

  9. (Rather late to add this)
    I was KIDDING about Ted Kennedy having any kind of Math degree. You can tell because Recursive Algebraic topology is not a real field.