The end of politeness

I was rather disturbed to notice the following message from SpamAssassin attached to an email I received from a Masters student:

* 1.7 DEAR_SOMETHING BODY: Contains ‘Dear (something)’

This is more than 1/3 of the number of points required to decide that the message is spam.

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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2 Responses to The end of politeness

  1. Walter Bruce Sinclair says:

    It was once an important part of our education to learn how to draft a letter. There was a stylized way to do it, a way that always began with the D-word and ended with some kind of protestation of sincerity. That was what manners were, a mannered series of gestures.
    It is just that now there are new style manuals, new manners of approach. We now have constantly evolving sets of rules, precisely weighted and rigorously enforced, that tell us how to speak so that others will not mistake our words for spam.
    Sincerely Yours.

    • By chance it happened that one of the answers to the Araucarua crossword in last Saturday’s Guardian was “bread and butter letter”. I had to have this explained to me – apparently it was a formulaic letter of thanks sent, for example, to friends or relatives you had visited.

      On a related subject, the Guardian letters page has had a debate on how to respond to a shop assistant who says “Cool” (or similar) to you. Yesterday someone suggested “Yes, but still mild for the time of year”. At least this would be unlikely to activate the spam filter, I think.

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