In the past few months I have been getting repeated requests for collaborations on this blog. People send me emails saying that they like what I write (always gratifying to hear!) and that they have interesting content that they could contribute and are willing to pay me for the privilege of doing so. These requests often sound like they are coming from genuine people (except for one feature that I will discuss later) and at the beginning I would write back politely declining the offers. I realized that they may not be real when I would get repeat messages from the same people reminding me of their earlier message and requesting a response. Ever since then, I have treated them as spam and simply deleted the emails without replying
But the emails keep coming and they keep increasing their plausibility except for a common feature that makes me suspicious. Here are two that I got just this morning. Notice anything?
Here’s the first:
Just a quick follow up to make sure you got this, and to confirm that I’m a real person and not some some automated email robot!
I chose your site specifically to offer this to and would truly appreciate a response =)
Here’s the second:
I really enjoy your But Trump has the spokesperson he deserves! and am impressed by how well you’ve done with
I’m reaching out to you because I have a client that I think your audience would appreciate. Would you be interested in a collaboration?
Please let me know if you are interested.
Thanks for your time,
The second one is obviously spam but the really suspicious thing is the salutation. Who starts a letter with ‘Hey Singham’ or ‘Hi Singham’? I am not bothered by the ‘hey’ or the ‘hi’ since those are now common and I use the ‘hi’ too in informal correspondence. But I would not use either to address someone I did not have a previous correspondence with. The real problem is the use of my last name without the prefix ‘Mr.’. It just feels a little off to me. It is true that I am an old fuddy-duddy but am not one who stands on formality. I think that addressing a stranger simply by their last name is still not the norm even in this more casual age.
I remember when I got emails from a student that started simply ‘Singham’. I had a friendly chat with her to let her know that that was not quite suitable and that while I was not offended and put it down to her not knowing how to address letters and was willing to discuss with her better ways of doing so, others might not be so charitable and take offense and summarily reject or ignore her. It turned out that she had actually not been aware that it was not suitable. I realized that college students may be unsure of how to address their teachers and so to help them I started to tell them that they could choose to call me ‘Mano’ or ‘Mr. Singham’ or ‘Dr. Singham’ or ‘Professor Singham’, whichever they felt comfortable with. Just plain ‘Singham’ was not one of the options.
Back to these requests for collaborations, my main problem is that I feel obliged to reply to every email that is genuinely addressed to me so I feel guilty when I trash some email unanswered because I think it is spam. I worry that it is genuine and that I am being impolite.
I wonder if as a result of this post, these emails will change their salutations.