Is Tim O'Reilly Out of His Mind?

A number of you have forwarded to me spam email messages with the subject line ” Is Tim O’Reilly out of his mind for publishing something everyone can print and even” with some more text scraped from various sites on the net, followed by the spam pitch for some penny stock. Harvesting real text from the net is a common technique used to get past spam filters (and if that is accomplished, to get the reader to open the message) but as Rich Morin wrote: “I suppose this is a kind of fame (:-).”

Michael Fitzgerald had a similar thought: “Somehow, I think having your name appear in the subject line of a spam e-mail is a sign of heightened status.” I think it’s more a matter of coincidence, and having lots of easily harvested text out there on the net, but the choice of subject line at least indicated a sense of irony on the part of the spammer (if it wasn’t totally random.)

Liz Castro did a bit of detective work, and found that:

“This morning I got another Spam message with a Subject line that looked more readily google-able…

‘Since Andy started reviewing the Networking Guide’

It turns out to be a line from a page on the Linux Documentation Project site which is also quoted on O’Reilly’s site.

She added, “It turns out that the Subject line I sent you yesterday which was ‘asked me about publishing my book at O’Reilly and Associates’ is on that same page.”

And a bit of Googling turned up the fact that the “Is Tim O’Reilly out of his mind” quote was also from the LDP, from the free version of the preface of the Linux Network Administrator’s Guide.

Dave Radin added: “While some might find this treatment ego gratifying, I would imagine how it
could hinder your ability to contact new people by email — as it’s somewhat
likely for recipients to put your name in a content-filter to keep from
getting further spam, thereby locking you out of their inboxes along with
the spam.” You wouldn’t do that, would you? :-)