Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Since When Is This 'Spam'?

I am not speaking officially for the Montreal Worldcon bid here. Although I sat behind a bid table for them and hosted a party for them at Westercon, I am not on the Montreal in 2009 Worldcon bid committee. This is my own opinion, and it's a strong one, and touches off unhappy memories of the 2005 Worldcon and some unreasonable but similar attitudes I encountered there, too.

I am flabbergasted by this message complaining that the Montreal Worldcon bid sent him -- and all of the other pre-supporters for whom they have e-mail addresses -- a message that amounts to "Don't forget to vote, and if you've missed the mail-in ballot deadline, you can send your ballot to us and we'll carry it to Japan for you." He's announced that this is "spam" and that he will therefore no longer support the Montreal bid, that they've obviously destroyed any chance of winning the election, and that he won't attend their Worldcon if they win.


If a Worldcon bid that you join and give your paper address sends you printed pieces of paper in an envelope through the postal service in a package sometimes called a "Pre-Progress Report" or even a "letter" saying, "Thanks for supporting us through the bidding process. It's time to vote, and here's how, an if you need us to do so, we'll carry your ballot for you," I don't think most reasonable fans would consider this "junk mail." I get letters of this sort from many of the bids I've joined. I don't remember if Kansas City sent one, but if they didn't, they should have done so.

I see no difference at all between getting a paper letter from a bid saying these things and an e-mail from the same group saying the same things. Now, it would have been sensible for Montreal to have sent out paper letters including paper ballots just after Westercon, but they wouldn't be the first bid to get behind on their schedule, and sending paper letters now is a little too late, given that the Worldcon is only four weeks away.

As I said to madfilkentist in my reply, why in the world did you give them your e-mail address if you didn't want them to send you e-mails about the bid?

And as far as declaring that you won't attend their Worldcon if they win, all I can say is, "Let me help you sharpen up your nose-removal tool. I'm sure your face will feel very spited when you're finished."

E-mail spam is unsolicited commercial e-mail, particularly for products I've never shown any interest in purchasing. My box is full of such junk, mostly for drugs of various sorts. E-mail from a convention or I've joined, telling me about that convention or bid, is not spam. If I did not want them to e-mail me at all, then I wouldn't have given them my e-mail address! If I give a convention or bid my address, then I've solicited them to contact me, and it's not spam.

Here's the bad memory from Interaction that shows a similar level of unreasonable fannish behavior. We were selling advertising slots on the "load in slide show" that ran during the load-in to our major events. (This is similar to what you see in most movie theaters.) We figured that some of our dealers might want to buy a slide in our shows to try and attract people to their dealer tables, so we sent an e-mail to all of the dealers who had purchased tables in the dealers' room telling them about the advertising opportunity. One dealer -- who was as I recall actually a fan group that had purchased a dealer table rather than take fan table space in the exhibits area -- furiously declared that this was spam, reported Interaction as an e-mail spammer, and basically made a huge fuss about it. A bunch of people informed him that he didn't know what e-mail spam was and that he was wrong. A tiny number of people supported his opinion. He eventually withdrew his complaint, but in such a grudging way that you could tell he really didn't think he was wrong.

Here's a hint, folks: If you don't want someone to contact you, don't give them contact information. If you give your address -- paper or electronic -- to a convention or bid, you should assume automatically that they are going to contact you. Most people want the convention to contact them. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints you hear about a convention is that "they aren't communicating; I haven't heard anything from them."

Honestly, I'm fuming over this display of excess fannishness. It's complaints like this that sometimes make me want to gafiate entirely, because it's a prime example of "damned if you do, damned if you don't." Contact your supporters and you're told you're spamming them. Don't contact them and people say, "Well, they never communicate."

And to anyone who does think that a bid sending e-mail to its members amounting to, "Don't forget to vote" is spam, then put yourself in the bid's shoes and tell me, "How do you propose to get the word out to your supporters at this late date that it's their last chance to vote?"

Update, 10:00: Included a link to the text of the message itself, as posted by Robert J. Sawyer.
Tags: montreal, worldcon
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