60-Second Window #300 : Junk Mail Names

by Fred Showker

Fred Showker's favorite Wall Calendars are FREE You know you've made it when Google recognizes ghost names you made up a decade ago. But there's more to this story -- as I discovered one of my pseudo names from the past is a real live person! Yikes!!!

It happens all the time. We get junk mail to the facility and I get a knock on the door of my office : "Who the heck is Jennifer Robertson?"

With a bit of chagrin I have to explain "Oh, she never worked here, that's a pseudo name I used in the early 1990s for the various listserves."

It's amazing -- Yahoo, Dell and Google are the worst for picking up names from web sites for their junk mail. Sometimes we'll get four and five of exactly the same direct mail piece, all to different recipients addressed to the Design Center -- mainly those of contributing authors from the past. Martha Retallick* is one of the most popular. We get at least several from Google addressed to Martha several times a year. Back a half dozen or so years ago she did a series of articles* on marketing, and for some reason the direct marketing industry thinks she's still employed here. But she never was!

Fred gets mail from the real matt robertson But today something totally different happened. I received a press release about public hearings for a local project beginning to ramp up. What really shocked me was the "reply to" name "Matt Robertson" - which got me thinking. Wow, this is the real Matt Robertson. Or, at least one of them.

You see, back in the early 1990s, after moving DTG magazine from GEnie and AOL to the internet, we started two listservs on graphic design and web design. Since I participated in the set up of the original desktop publishing forums on AOL before it launched, we brought along lots of followers and the listservs became very, very popular.

In order to keep things separate for trackability, we settled on the pseudo name "Matt Robertson" as administrator to run the lists! We also set up the pseudo name "Jennifer Robertson" to act as support and contact on the new "Photoshop Tips & Tricks" department lists. (We discovered that a female name would increase sign-ups by 88%!) Even more insane, during that period everyone thought Jennifer was Matt's sister!

To this day we get email and snail mail junk mailed to Matt or Jennifer Robertson. So as the story goes, be careful what you put on the web. What goes on the web, stays on the web. I didn't look -- but I'll bet somewhere down the long, long list of search results you might just find DTG's Matt or Jennifer Robertson -- linked from page 600 or so.

HELLO (again) to "Matt Robertson" of The Stratford Companies!

And, thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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