[Updated] #walkingspam that you cannot easily filter electronically

[update] Ok, this was amusing. An SEO group commented with a link back to their SEO site. Our spam filter caught it. (/shakes head)

We had the most … well … interesting event happen at the office a few days ago.

You know how, in your spam filtered email you get hundreds or thousands of items with wording something like this:

If you were my Client you would be # 1 on Google

or

I can make you # 1 on Google in 3 Weeks.

or variations on “we noticed your google presence is incomplete”

or … whatever.

Ok. Keep this in mind.

Now, a few days ago, I am at my desk, and I see two people hanging out in front of the Tae Kwon Do place next door. The sensei there, Mike Baker, is a nice guy whom I’ve talked to before. If his adult fitness classes were on different days, I might just take them, but they conflict with the school I attend classes, so I’m outta luck for the moment.

Back to the story. Two people standing outside the dojo in the middle of the afternoon (its open in the evening). No problem. I ignore them, move back to the lab to work on a set of 10GbE latency measurements for one of larger projects.

Henry comes back and tells me that there are two people out front wanting to talk about google.

Hmmm. Ok.

I don’t suspect anything right now. Really, its possible, with their growing presence in Ann Arbor, that we actually have visitors from Google in the office.

I put down my cables, make my way up front where they are admiring our pictures.

They introduce themselves, and I point out that I am very busy, and ask them to get to the point.

For those who don’t know, I have a very low tolerance for time wasters. This is my technique in handling phone calls which I have (mistakenly) answered. I start a 15 second clock in my head. I ask the person to tell me what the call is about. If they cannot in 15 seconds, I pull the receiver from my ear, tell them “thank you, we are not interested.” and then hang up. Thats 15 seconds of my life I cannot get back. But its far better than arguing with someone trying very hard to sell you something.

And everyone … EVERYONE … is trying to sell you something.

I have very limited time because we don’t have enough people locally to handle the work load. That’s another discussion, and you should assume that the first two positions we posted are not the last. Oh no, not by any means. Some of my customers have yelled at me over this, and they are right. I am very picky on whom I hire though. I want to see drive, gumption, ownership of work and responsibility acceptance for non-positive outcomes. I want to see brains in action, and I want to see ability to think their way out of a box. Even if they are in completely unfamiliar territory, I need people whom can think on their feet. I will not, ever again, waste time or resources upon lifers. I filter my applicants as hard as I filter my spammers. Everyone is trying to sell you something, and I have no time to waste on unproductive people trying to sell me their time.

Back to the story.

I realize, too late into meeting them, that they are likely going to be time wasters. My co-owner has advised me to hire a filter … a gatekeeper … so that I am not servicing so many unmaskable interrupts from these folks. He is right. We put out an offer last week to one such, and sadly we lost her to another firm.

I tell them, please tell me their purpose quickly, call it 15 seconds or so (see what I did there?), or I gotta kick them out.

The man (why are these always a man and a woman? I dunno) says, proudly …

“We noticed that your presence on google is incomplete”

Ummm … yeah.

Ok, in my mind, what is flashing by.

First, weren’t these the same two hanging out in front of Mike’s door a few minutes ago?

Second, what is our “presence” on google?

Third, do these people actually have the slightest thing resembling a clue as to what my business is, and what our “presence” on google is? Its not hard to look us up. Here, let me help.

Fourth, I’ve got to train my staff better. Until we get a gatekeeper, everyone is a programmable interrupt controller. With all referrals to Joe only for tornado, earthquake, typhoon, flood, blizzard, and we’ve run out of coffee, otherwise, we have a generalized interrupt handler of “I am sorry, he is unable to service your interrupt right now. Let me queue up your request, and if he has time, he will examine it for a response.”

Took about 2-3 seconds with me staring at this guy, for all this to go through my head. I am standing there, realizing that I have walking spam in front of me. Spam in corporeal form. Living breathing spam. I mean … seriously … these folks were time wasters, going door to door, trying to hock their SEO crap.

I had no choice.

I said “you guys are outta here. Kicked. Leave now.”

No time to be nice, pleasant, etc. GTFO. Seriously.

I work from 7am to 1 or 2am every day, 7 days a week (though I took off yesterday to compete at a karate tournament in our circuit). Been doing this for 10+ years. I have next to zero tolerance for fools and charlatans. I do not gladly suffer their type.

I have tried pleasant disengagement in the past. Polite disengagement. They waste even more of your precious time arguing with you that they deserve a chance. They don’t. Kick em.

Walking spam walked into my front door, and I applied an immediate filter once they were detected.

The woman exclaimed upon leaving “you are so rude, are you like this to everyone?”

Coming into my office without invitation to attempt to use up my time and separate this fool from his limited money … that is rude.

I said “goodbye ma’am.”

Her response was “That confirms it, you are rude.”

I repeated “goodbye ma’am.”

Had they offered a business card up front, and said something to the effect of “this is the business we are in, we help folks with X, is this of interest to you now or possibly in the future.” this would have taken less than 10 seconds, and warranted them a far more pleasant disengagement.

Instead, they presumed to “know” about our business, what our “presence” on google was (I doubt if they’d ever even googled us), etc. And immediately they said they could help. Who are they, and why would they make such a claim? But I don’t really care about the answer to that question. My BS detector was shrieking moments after the guy opened his mouth.

I am not a fan of SEO. I’ve seen the massive increase in noise on search sites due to SEO. I see people actively using SEO as attempting to game a search algorithm so they appear “on top”, rather than pouring in the sweat and labor to build something of genuine value (as we do), and show up higher in the list as a result of that.

SEO only increases the magnitude of the noise portion of the signal to noise ratio, rendering the quality of searches lower more rapidly. Which doesn’t make me look at the top of the search list, but causes me to work harder to filter the noise with greater specificity for the searches.

So spam found its way in the front door, was filtered and kicked out. I am calling this #walkingspam . Electronic filters are unsuitable for corporeal spam. We must filter corporeal spam by other means. My gosh that sounds Clausewitzian.

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