There was this thing going around awhile ago, the “porn star name,” which you create by taking the name of your childhood pet, followed by the name of the street where you grew up (for example, Blitz Clifton).
But recently I’ve been thinking about spam names. Just in the last two days, I’ve received emails from “Blair Williams” (“I’m sorry to have to tell you this. Tomorrow is the last day that the 40% discount will be available.”), “Audrey Woods” (“I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that we just launched an infographic . . .”), “Steven Harris” (“Part-Time Job – Earn $600/day in your spare-time”), and “Nick Bagnall” (“I sent you an email some weeks ago concerning . . .”). Actually, I think “Nick Bagnall” is probably a real person who’s just spamming me. But the first three names above look fake fake fake. And then there were “George Stoneriver,” Scott Wolfe,” and just plain “Paul,” who were sockpuppeting our discussion on compressed sensing a couple months ago.
And does anyone remember “Alexa Russell,” “Maricel Anderson,” and “Marty McKee” from a couple years back? Apparently Mr. McKee is a real person who just did some spamming on the side (as Kahneman and Tversky might say, “Marty is a real person and is active in the shamanist movement”), but I’m guessing that Alexa Russell and Maricel Anderson are fakes. They look like fake names, don’t they?
So what is it about a spam name? It sounds generic, but not too generic (no John Smiths, surely). “George Stoneriver” and “Audrey Woods” fit the pattern, but “Nick Bagnall” is too quirky. The rules are not so clear. And, of course, if you happen to be named “Audrey Woods” for real, you’re screwed, as everyone will be sending your messages straight to the spam folder. Unfair, I know, but the same thing must happen to people named John Smith who try to register at hotels, no? And a lot of people are named John Smith.
To create a good spammer name, you perhaps need a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.
Perhaps there is a simple algorithm to come up with a spammer name, e.g. make a first name out of the first two letters of the names each of your first two children, then make a last name out of the first two letters of the names of each of your last two children. Nah, that would never work! Planned chaos, indeed.
P.S. I suppose I should just switch all the way to gmail and then maybe more of my spam would get caught? But I’d like to be able to continue to use the mac email reader, as it allows me to read and write emails while offline.
P.P.S. The people in the above image are not porn stars.
P.P.P.S. Just out of curiosity, I googled Blitz Clifton—maybe there really is a pornstar with that name? But this is the closest I could find:
The headline: “Brides Blitz Clifton Shop After Rumor It Was Closing”
P.P.P.P.S. Speaking of spam, check our this expose from Nenad SEO. The practices it describes are so sleazy, it just makes me want to barf. Although I’m sure there’s nothing special about online scammers, I’d also be repulsed by student-loan scammers, legal double-billers, and other participants in the scam-industrial complex.