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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Inbox Oddities

Two things tend to happen when I return from a holiday and get back on the ’net. There’s the mildly disturbing realisation that traffic to my sites doesn’t noticeably drop in my absence, and usually a couple of strange emails to deal with (I occasionally check via my phone while away, but only to keep an eye on ongoing projects). Maybe having them there waiting for me makes them seem odder or more memorable, as it certainly seems like I get more of them when away.

Yesterday’s odd email was someone asking about their mum’s faulty combo boiler and radiators. Yes, they emailed a web designer about a plumbing problem. If I had more time I’d have composed a lengthy reply attempting to diagnose the problem instead of just seeming bemused.

There are some recurrent odd-email topics:

Big Brother application form requests
Years ago I put a colleague’s daft application form online and so now every year, as the latest series draws to a close, I get emails asking for Big Brother application forms. If anyone at Endemol is looking to fill the house with extremely stupid people next year then I can supply a helpful list.
Random nutters
When I had millions of visitors to malevole I braced myself for an onslaught of insanity that didn’t happen, but I have had a few nastily paranoid people get in touch. One even emailed my employers claiming persecution (that was fun to explain), simply because a web site they had a feud with had linked to something of mine.
Mineral importers/exporters
I got loads of emails from Chinese mineral exporters offering large quantities of tourmaline, sepiolite floss and fused quartz. Once that was indexed by search engines I started receiving queries from elsewhere in Asia asking about buying vast shipments of minerals. If I was more entrepreneurial I probably could’ve made a fortune from brokering deals.
Mistaken identity
Lazy Googling has resulted in me being mistaken for namesakes (usually the bloke at Amazon; I could’ve swiped several of his Christmas cards and event invitations). That’s understandable, but gets odd when people refuse to believe they’re wrong. One bloke kept insisting he’d been to school with me in London and was deeply hurt that a good friend was trying to disown him. I ended up writing that I’m really not the right person, but if he insisted on believing I was then he should know I slept with all of his girlfriends behind his back, stole money from his wallet, and fantasised about imprisoning him in a subterranean torture chamber. He didn’t reply after that.


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