Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Similar spam emails wanting me to use their content - this could be a bit tiresome

I've received two emails this week that I now think are spam, although the first one I received didn't spark off any spam warnings - more that the person emailing me hadn't really done their homework. Now that I've received the second one (and checked with others on Twitter, and Google) I thought I'd post the emails here.

Generally, when faced with potential spam I copy and paste a line of text into Google, stick a couple of "quote marks" around it and search. Quite often I'll see that others have asked on forums and elsewhere about this particular bit of spam. It's not foolproof though.

I've written more about the tactics underlying these spam requests and guest blog posts here.

Once I got the second email I spotted that both of these have asked the question "I am curious if you are the person responsible for adding content to the following page" which brings up a fair few hits on Google.

Email 1, from Allison
Inquiry Regarding Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Hi Jo,
I am curious if you are the person responsible for adding content to the following page:
I am a recent psychology graduate who writes and contributes to an online project that explores the field of psychology and examines its many disciplines for the benefit of those pursuing degrees in psychology.
In this role I recently published a resource that dives into the lesser known field of industrial and organizational psychology and how business executives could benefit from an understanding of I-O psychology. I thought this resource might be of interest to you and I'm curious if you'd like to see it? Please let me know and I'll send it over for your perusal.
Thanks for your time. I hope to hear from you soon!
Believe you can and you're halfway there. - Theodore Roosevelt

Email 2, from Nina
Nursing Resource Project
Hi Jo,
I am curious if you are the person responsible for adding content to the following page: 
If not, feel free to forward me on to the correct person! I came across your page during my research for a project for which I am contributor. It is a resource primarily aimed at health care professionals in a nursing capacity. Our mission is to be an objective, informative source of information for those in the specialized fast-paced field of nursing.
I would love to send over more details about this project and partner with you, let me know!
Thanks for your time. I look forward to working with you!
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln
My response to the first one explained the purpose of my blog and suggested that the resource might not be relevant, but the second was a bit more terse. I think the third will be 'yes, and no' ;)

Edit (13 August 2012)
Another crop have appeared, from the same person, sent about an hour apart.
An idea for a blog post: Food sustainability and security
Hi ,
I'm a writer for an online public health resource and I came across your blog as I was conducting research on the topic of food sustainability and security. Your blog post was very interesting and I'd like to contribute an article to your blog.
As mentioned, I'm interested in food sustainability and security in today's world. Specifically, I'd like to write an article about the effects of genetically modified foods on farmers, consumers, and in general the global world food supply.
Please let me know if you'd be interested. I'd be happy to discuss the article idea in more depth if you'd like more clarification on my idea also.


An idea for a blog post: Contributions of public health
Hi ,
I'm a writer for an online resource about the field of public health and obtaining a degree in the area of study and I came across your blog as I was conducting research on the topic. Your blog post was very interesting and I'd like to contribute an article to your blog.
As mentioned, I'm interested in the role of public health degrees in today's social, economic, and medical spheres. Many students who study public health today go on to work in a range of organizations, and I'd like to look at specifically the different contributions the field of public health has made.
Please let me know if you'd be interested. I'd be happy to discuss the article idea in more depth if you'd like more clarification on my idea also.

Edit (27 August 2012)
Another one of these has come in - I've said "Sure", largely because I want to see what happens and I'll post whatever she sends me (without the spam link(s) of course). A quick Google of her name or variant spellings and it's easy to see she's either managed to get posts on this topic Cuckooed into other blogs, or they know what she's up to and have written about her tactics more generally.

Email from Estelle Shumann
An idea for a blog post: The Frugal Online Student

Hello Jo,

I write for an online education website that is focused on providing information to current and prospective students looking to fulfill their studies online.

I read an article in The Atlantic a few months back that gave theories into why public schools are getting more expensive and it got me thinking about the high cost to value ratio for traditional brick and mortar schools.  In researching more on the subject, I came across your post I would really love to contribute an article to your blog that discusses this disparity in further detail. What do you think?

Specifically, I'm interested in examining how decreases in government funding for public institutions has caused an unexpected rise in tuition costs and present your readership with reasonable, more affordable educational alternatives.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks in advance.
Since I'm collecting instances of spam emails I thought I'd add this one too, also received on 27 August 2012, although it's nothing to do with guest post requests. My email address is pretty findable so I suppose that's how they found me, but I'm still pissed off at having been added to some generic email list without any introductory explanation of how they discovered me. Peripherally relevant to my interests of course (health conferences) but they're from the US which is of no interest to me, so a reasonably large fail there on several levels.
"WEGO Health is looking to bring the patient & caregiver perspective to health conferences. 
As part of our ongoing mission to empower Health Activists, WEGO Health has launched the WEGO Health Press Corps - an offshoot of our Health Activist Speaker's Bureau - that offers members the opportunity to attend and report from health and social media conferences - without paying to get in!  
Sign up for the WEGO Health Press Corps and you'll be the first to hear about conference pass opportunities (and you'll even get the chance to recommend a few of your favorites conferences to us!).  You'll agree to cover the conference from the Health Activist point of view and in exchange, we'll provide you with free registration for the conference AND feature your coverage on our own social media networks! 
Join now: WEGO Health Press Corps [link redacted]
Know of a specific conference you'd like to attend?  Reply to this email and let me know!
Natalia Forsyth
Community Coordinator 
WEGO Health | 180 Lincoln St, Fifth Floor | Boston, MA 02111
This email was sent to: [my email address]To opt out of future WEGO Health mailings, please click here [link redacted]"

Edit 18 October 2012

From Nicholas Nielson (
A Quick Question About Your Website
Hello Jo,

I stumbled upon your site while searching for blogs about Information Technology and noticed you had some knowledge on the subject! I particularly liked the post, 'Stuff that occurs to me: Has Twitter killed RSS feeds yet? Possibly not, but not working awfully well'. Currently, I am looking for quality sites like Stuff that occurs to me to help boost traffic to a website on web and data managment. One way I am able to do this is through the magic of linking and I would love to place a link within one of the older posts on your site (such as the one above). In doing so, I can promise that the new links and text would match the theme of the original post and would be placed seamlessly within the existing content.

You, of course, would have final editorial control and I'm open to any suggestions. Naturally, a link placement would also benefit me and I can offer to compensate you a healthy amount via PayPal. If you are at all interested, please let me know. This is a process I have been employing successfully for over a year and I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Thank you,

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
-Mark Twain

Edit 9 November 2012

Well this is new - not an email sent to me, but directly to another blog I run over at which is manifestly a blog for science communication jobs. Here's a post from someone called Jess who, I'm just going to come right out and say it, is a bit of a moron:

A Website Question For


I was wondering if you accepted any form of sponsored articles, blog posts or simple text links within your site?

I'm starting a new campaign over the next couple of days for my client who is a highly respected travel company and was wondering if you'd be willing to place a link within a relevant article on your site or any other travel related sites you may have.

I'd be looking to place as soon as possible and I have a large number of anchor texts available to choose from, some very destination specific.

Please let me know if this is something that interests you and we can go into more detail about what I am looking for.

Kind regards

Jess Stanbridge

Magic Page Media Outreach Assistant 


Edit: 12 November 2012

Hey Jo,


I have been working on a piece about the growing competition among companies to hire the most talented workers and I thought it might be something your site would be interested in posting.

The article hits on two main points:
There is a growing trend among companies to offer non-monetary benefits in order to attract young talent with high tech skills.
These new benefits may make life easier for employees easier, but the additional benefits are also blurring the lines between private and professional lives.

I would be honored if you would consider posting the completed article on your site and am happy to send you a full outline that provides more detail. Please don't hesitate with any additional questions you might have for me.

Emma Collins

Edit: 21 January 2013

Hi there,

I'm reaching out to you because I was extremely impressed with the content that you have created on As a writer and researcher in the education field, I sometimes find it very difficult to track down good web resources for prospective students and I found your site very helpful.

Do you have any interest in adding supplemental public health resources to your site that other students might find useful? It is a collection of OpenCourseWare that covers a wide variety of different topics and I think could be really valuable for your site's visitors.

If you're not the right person to contact, can you let me know who is?

Alexandra Campbell


Edit: 2 February 2013

I delighted in the exspample below, which arrived as part of my work on the cs4fn project. Schools in the UK fill in their details on our form and we send them a magazine - occasionally, as you can see below, spam gets through and I weed it out. 
The reason that this one interests me is because I've never actually seen the raw text for 'article spinning' types of spam before. I guess there's some programme that can take this text and parse it into multiple versions of the same comment, so that they all look slightly different. I get loads of this sort of comment on my site, but it's interesting to peer under the bonnet for it. The curly brackets certainly suggest to me that some sort of automated coding thing will be going on to handle this text, but perhaps it's just people copying and pasting the relevant bits.
{Hello|Greetings|Hey there|Hey|Good day|Howdy|Hi there|Hello there|Hi}! I know this is {kinda|somewhat|kind of} off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this {site|website}? I'm getting {tired|fed up|sick and tired} of Wordpress because I've had {issues|problems} with hackers and I'm looking at {options|alternatives} for another platform. I would be {great|awesome|fantastic} if you could point me in the direction of a good platform. #file_links\zhu\ubb.txt,1,N]}|{{Hello|Hey there|Hey|Howdy|Good day|Hi there|Hello there|Hi}! This post {couldn't|could not} be written any better! {Reading|Reading through} this post reminds me of my {old|good old|previous} room mate! He always kept {talking|chatting} about this. I will forward this {article|page|post|write-up} to him. {Pretty sure|Fairly certain} he will have a good read. {Thanks|Thank you|Many thanks} for sharing #file_links\zhu\ubb.txt,1,N]! 

Edit: 28 March 2014
Subject: Re: Request for Guest Posting at - Reece Higgins from India is keen to write something on the blog.

On 24 Mar 2014, at 06:51, Reece Higgins wrote:

Hi Myself Reece Higgins,
I am truly impressed with your blog content. I can say that you created your blog very well. I am very happy to read your article here. I would like to propose my content on your blog as guest post with my website link. My content will be 100% original and it with unique content. So please let me know that if you are interested to accept guest posts I will ready to share my content. Waiting for you are reply.
Thank you
Reece Higgins

On Monday, March 24, 2014 12:30 PM, Jo Brodie wrote:
Sure, what's the website link? I assume you're familiar with the guest posting section of my blog...
On 24 March 2014 07:16, Reece Higgins wrote:
Hello Jo,
I am going to prepare an article on the topic "Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure and Jaundice". And I like to add my website link( author-bio in my article. So let me know your reply to my request. Please accept my request and reply to my mail.

Reece Higgins

On Monday, March 24, 2014 1:10 PM, Jo Brodie wrote:
Hello again

I assume also that you mean a different link anyway, as that one goes to a page about essay writing which is obviously not at all relevant to high blood pressure or jaundice. I'm sure there are plenty of good, evidence-based sites about hypertension or jaundice that I can link to instead.

On 24 March 2014 07:45, Reece Higgins wrote:
Hello Jo,

I include my website link in author bio only. Please allow me to do this. Please accept my request and reply to my mail.

Reece Higgins
On Monday, March 24, 2014 1:22 PM, Jo Brodie wrote:
OK but as long as you understand that it won't be hyperlinked so there will be no page rank benefit in having it there. There will be no hyperlinks at all in your bio or text.

Are you absolutely sure you've read the guest posting guidelines on my blog? I rather suspect you haven't... I get an awful lot of these requests and I treat them as spam, but usually post stuff here or here.
On 24 March 2014 08:47, Reece Higgins wrote:

Hello Jo,
I guarantee you 100 % writing quality and unique content. Kindly allow me to include my website link in author bio part. Please come up with a positive reply.
Reece Higgins

On Monday, March 24, 2014 2:23 PM, Jo Brodie wrote:
I have already said yes to your request, but note that none of the links will actually be hyperlinked.

As you are presumably confirming that you have read and understood where your content will be placed on my blog and how it will be framed... proceed ;)
But I strongly recommend reading the links I posted in my earlier reply if you haven't. I get a lot of requests like this and treat them all like spam, take note.


On 24 March 2014 08:56, Reece Higgins wrote:

Hello Jo,

Thank you for your support. I will send my article ASAP.

Reece Higgins

On Monday, March 24, 2014 09:04, Jo Brodie wrote:
I am now convinced that you have absolutely no idea what my blog is about - please confirm that you have actually read this post

No-one who has read it would want their article added to it, I'm sure.
I post all manner of fake articles which try and link to commercial sites as a warning to others, yours will be no different.


That's the end of this blog post but I've now decided to log other spam comments that I get directly on Blogger below:

In all cases the last words were linked to one or more spam websites.

1. "I was disappointed before reading this article, but now I am an optimist.
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2. "What's up to all, the contents present at this website are genuinely awesome for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows. My website :: repair ipod screen"

3. "What а matеrial оf un-аmbiguity anԁ pгeservenesѕ of valuаble knoω-how regardіng unexpected feеlіngs. Feel free to visit my web site ... mosaic fountains"

4. "I enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for posting such awesome info because I am new to this as a facebook applications developers."


  1. I received so many of these after my polite replies to the first two that appeared in my mailbox. I now just delete them.

  2. I have received about ten of these, each using a different name and gmail account. They are clearly spam. It is not a good idea to respond to them.

  3. Yes I suspect my responding to the first one, not realising it was spam, has only opened me up to further similar emails - oh well. If they don't vary much then I might set up a filter to block them as they come in. Presumably it's merely a ruse to extract live email addresses - I wonder if they even have a site that they want you to promote or link to...

  4. Anonymous wrote: "Great work !!! excellent scam awareness information. I also have received these type of spam e-mail in my spam message box." This came from someone whose website was advertising an antivirus package but didn't have any other name. So 'anonymous' will have to do.

  5. I also have been trying to chase up "Jess" from "". I'm glad I found this. Thanks for posting.

  6. I too have been receiving emails from Various names, but since replying to the first one I now receive a lot of spam.

  7. Melina Watson, a spammer, appealed for 'help' in finding out how to stop receiving these emails. Yet - surprise - the comment contained an embedded link for London escorts ;) Which I have removed...

    "I have also the same problems and I can’t understand to how I stop these unwanted mails. It is not from only one sender but the sender is varies, please help me to stop it."

  8. Melina Watson, again (see comment above) says "I obtained so numerous of these after my gracious replies to the first two that emerged in my mailbox. I now just delete them." There was another link for an escort agency.

    It looks like she's article-spun [] Karen's original comment.

    "I received so many of these after my polite replies to the first two that appeared in my mailbox. I now just delete them." - Karen
    "I obtained so numerous of these after my gracious replies to the first two that emerged in my mailbox. I now just delete them." - Melina ;)


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).