I received an interesting email this morning that appears to me to be spam:

Hello , I came across your profie in (stackoverflow.com) and I will like us to have a goodrelationship and to know much better .my name is Blessing, i am single and never marriage.I will wait for your reply . you can contact me at this my email address ( [--------------]@yahoo.com) so that i can send you my picture andmore about myself. waiting to hear from you .


It has many of the hallmarks of spam, but my email isn't listed in my SO profile, so one of the following must be true:

  • They made their bot harvest emails from sites linked from SO
  • They collected addresses by hand
  • They got the emails from the database (I imagine this is stripped, but don't know)
  • They got it from the openid provider (does openid give out info without credentials?)
  • They sent the same message to their entire mailing list, hoping to catch out a few people with the name of a specific website (and thus bringing new SO users to SO in the process who are wondering what their profile is doing there)
  • It isn't spam (Sorry blessing - I'm not interested in getting to know people that write email that looks exactly like spam)

I'm interested in other possibilities, and to hear if anyone else received something similar.


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    Spaces before punctuation?! Blessing's not a keeper, even if she has never marriage. – Eric Aug 28 '09 at 13:40
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    re send her picture once you get it – juan Aug 28 '09 at 13:44
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    Spam is a multi-billion dollar business, and they still can't afford to hire QA? – Sampson Aug 28 '09 at 13:45
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    If this isn't the spam that comes with the photo already attached, you're playing with a soft sell. – random Aug 28 '09 at 13:50
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    @Jonathan: They make billions of dollars without QA. Why should they bother? Never touch a flooding cash flow ;) – Ladybug Killer Aug 28 '09 at 13:50
  • @Eric : What are you talking about ? – Welbog Aug 28 '09 at 13:53
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    @Jonathan: Are you implying that without typos, you'd respond more amorously to Blessing? – devinb Aug 28 '09 at 13:54
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    @devinb: There's nothing like a well constructed sentence. As a programmer, you should be able to appreciate that this spam doesn't even compile. – Welbog Aug 28 '09 at 13:56
  • @John Smithers, Touche! – Sampson Aug 28 '09 at 13:57
  • @Welbog: Eric talks about this: keeper.com/aboutkeeper.html Don't you, Eric :] – Ladybug Killer Aug 28 '09 at 14:27

It's definitely spam: http://www.aarp.org/community/MPHS10

Hello ,I came across your profile in and I will like us to have a good relationship and to know much better .my name is grace, i am single and never marriage.I will wait for your reply . you can contact me at this my email address (grracemabar@yahoo.com) so that i can send you my picture and more about myself. waiting to hear from you

As you pointed out, your website address is mentioned in a few places. From a cursory glance at your site, I didn't see any public email address, but a whois search brought up one. I won't post it here, but it's the primary address for your domain. Who knows, maybe they collected your domain from here, looked it up on a whois search, and collected the administrative contact details..

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  • Nice find. Same thing, though the emails are different. The latter part of the email (mabar) is very similar to my version. – Pollyanna Aug 28 '09 at 13:53
  • They seem to have placeholders - I saw some other results on Google mentioning other sites in place of "stackoverflow.com." – Sampson Aug 28 '09 at 13:56
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    So then did they spam millions of people about their "stackoverflow" accounts, or do they have some way of knowing that a certain address has a stackoverflow account? SO is a very particular site - not like a bank or large organization. – user27414 Aug 28 '09 at 13:59
  • That's what I'm wondering, Jon B. – Sampson Aug 28 '09 at 14:11
  • @Jon B, was it your primary email for your domain that was spammed? If so, this is available to the public via a simple whois. – Sampson Aug 28 '09 at 14:16

It doesn't actually link to your stack overflow profile though, does it? It sounds like the equivalent of a 'your account with bank X has been suspended' spam. There are probably millions of people around the world looking at this message and wondering what on earth '(stackoverflow.com)' is as we speak...

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  • That could be true as well - I'll update the question with this possibility. Perhaps they have mailing lists that contain largely technical audiences, to give better results. It certainly caught my attention, but way too many hallmarks of spam to be taken seriously. – Pollyanna Aug 28 '09 at 13:59
  • Maybe it's a sinister plot by Jeff and Joel to advertise SO! ;) Not like it needs any advertising at this point. – gnostradamus Aug 28 '09 at 14:23

I would be extremely surprised if options 1 - 3 are actually true, consider the way Jeff and Joel feels about spam. I also doubt Jeff will take this lightly in any way whatsoever. The last thing SO needs is a reputation for spamming.

My best advise is to forward it on the the team at team@stackoverflow.com if you haven't already.

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  • 1
    The database contains at minimum the questions and answers, and a lot of them have links to other sites so 1 could still be true without having a bot harvest websites directly from SO. I don't know if the data dump SO provides has the full (visible) user profile, which would have more links to user's websites. – Pollyanna Aug 28 '09 at 13:52
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    Perhaps your email address is in someone else's profile. Or in one of your answers. – devinb Aug 28 '09 at 13:56
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    I did a search for it, and it looks like it's not in any questions or answers, but my website is in a few questions and answers, and also in my profile. – Pollyanna Aug 28 '09 at 13:58

I actually received an email from someone who's question I answered. I never responded to it. He probably got my address off of my personal website which is linked in my profile. Check the web page that you specified in your profile for any contact information.

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It is possible to harvest e-mails from Gravatar, which StackExchange uses. That could possibly be what happened.

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