Dear [Epithet] spamference organizer [Name]

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The most unsuccessful piece of pseudo-personal spam I received this week must surely be the falsely flattering invitation that began as follows:

Dear Professor [Name][Name1],

We would like to invite you as Invited Speaker on the area of Social Sciences, Law, Finances and Humanities in the Conferences

Vouliagmeni Beach, Athens, Greece, December 29-31, 2010

Organized by the European Society for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development / EUROPMENT, in collaboration with the WSEAS...

Dear Professor [Name][Name1]? Come on, spamsters! Can't you even do a standard mail merge? Isn't that the core of your goddamn lousy trade?

Would it be OK with you if I gave an invited talk entitled "[Title][Subtitle]"?

On second thoughts, thank you, but no; I think I can tell the difference between a conference and a spamference. I may have many things to say about social sciences, law, finances, humanities, and sustainable development, but I don't need to expand my carbon footprint by traveling to Vouliagmeni Beach to say them. I can say them right here on Language Log. And I don't need to send off a stiff conference fee to Europment.


  1. Mr Fnortner said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

    Was Heller the first to write this, or were form letters commonplace in WWII?
    Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. And Mrs. [Name]: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing in action.

  2. Sili said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

    Would it be OK with you if I gave an invited talk entitled "[Title][Subtitle]"?

    I'd rather hear "Chicken" to be honest.

  3. Army1987 said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    Would it be OK with you if I gave an invited talk entitled "[Title][Subtitle]"?

    Of course it would!

  4. MattF said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

    [ Self-referential joke]

  5. D. Murphy said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

    Paul Fussell has a bit about these forms in the Great War and Modern Memory. He notes that the Field Service Post Card predates Heller. He does say that Heller took the implications of the card "one step further".

  6. Jonathan Badger said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    This does have to be the laziest spamference invitation yet, but even ignoring the name problem, why do these mails not even bother to check what field their target is in? I get invitations daily in fields as diverse as gynecology and particle physics. I *know* these are automated, but it seems like they could relatively easily scrape some keywords off a web page containing the target name to generate something reasonable sounding.

    BTW, do you think these spamferences actually exist, or are they just a way to steal registration fees?

  7. Luis said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    Wow, I'd forgotten all about those WSEAS things. That's a blast from the past…

  8. Sam said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    Yeah, and what if there was a column entitled TOPIC…COMMENT? Nobody would read that!

  9. groki said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

    perhaps GKP's invitation mistakenly went to Professor [Name][Name1] instead.

    but that singular "area" of overlap they mention? sounds like they'll cover how to use social engineering while skirting legal boundaries in getting money from Humanities types via conferences exactly like this. (might be their plan for their own sustainability, anyway.)

  10. marie-lucie said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    I received one too!

  11. David Walker said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    If you were INVITED, especially as a speaker, it should mean that you don't have to pay. Only the great unwashed who want to attend as listeners should pay.

    You should write them back and ask how much your honorarium would be, for speaking at their illustrious conference.

  12. Q. Pheevr said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Come on, spamsters! Can't you even do a standard mail merge?

    No, of course they can't. They're lazy, incompetent assholes. If they weren't lazy, incompetent assholes, they wouldn't be spammers in the first place.

  13. Threatened W. Lawsuit said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    I suspect that as soon as their self-googling bots kick in, you may be threatened with a lawsuit — as I was — for having the audacity to call them spammers.

  14. john riemann soong said,

    October 6, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

    this wouldn't be in the same country where you could get accused of libel by calling chiropractics pseudoscientists would you?

  15. Michael W said,

    October 7, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    They ought to at least cater to your field. Perhaps more relevant might be an invite from the World Engineering Association & Society for Linguists & Scientists?

  16. xah lee said,

    October 9, 2010 @ 5:34 am

    perhaps everyone here already knows, the most famous of these is probably the WMSCI
    World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics

    [(myl) See "(Mis)Informing Science", 4/20/2005, for some discussion.]

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