Can You Please Stop The Spam For Me?

Anyone who ever worked with customers knows that customers are ignorant. They don’t care how, what or when, they want their instant gratification now. Now, damn it! I mean NOW! Certain providers are happy to oblige, some would spit in customer’s soup to return the favor, some would turn such a customer away and ask not to come back ever. Everybody’s got their own favorite story to tell.

However, there’s another trend, that you may observed if you stick with your clients long enough, especially if your relationship is more or less successful. It’s the trend of ignorance rising, based on belief that you, the service provider, can solve any problem out there. From e-mails bounced off to Sun stopped rolling around Earth. And the better you do your job, the more unreasonable client’s demands become. While working as a systems administrator awhile ago, I have experienced this firsthand. Once you fixed something unbelievably hard once or twice, clients start thinking you can fix internet for them, no less. With them just asking.

Recently, one of our clients asked us to route a few common e-mailĀ  pointers to actual people’s mailboxes. Immediately they started having, what they called, a “spam problem”. As in: “After he did this we started to have a spam problem”. Inclined to say the famous “welcome to the real world, Neo”, I tried to educate client’s staff on what is spam, how it originates and why I can do absolutely nothing to stop it, except for a set of measures that will definitely reduce it, if applied properly. Client wasn’t interested in spending any time on implementing spam protection (not to mention implement any of the commercial tools), while his staff is forced to use web mail instead of any other e-mail client. I still did what I thought I should – turned on SpamAssassin on the server to at least mark the most obvious cases of spam, so they could bulk-delete them and explained how to use filters in Outlook. Not that I expect any significant improvement of the “spam problem” for that particular client, but too I can’t be very pushy.

One of the reasons, as I see it, for not adopting any solution whatsoever, is that instant gratification thing:

What? You can’t turn off the spam? What about that solution? Still not 100% proof? Then I don’t want any solution at all!

While this approach works perfectly in 10022-SHOE zip code, it doesn’t really work in a world of Bayesian approach to catching spam. The only way to do this is to hire an interpreter from SHOE-ish to English.