The University of Arizona


Spam Using Computer Science Facilities

June 2, 2002
Peter J. Downey
Department Head

A number of students in this department have been spamming faculty and other researchers across the University, by sending indiscriminate mass mailings in order to solicit a job.

Apparently some of you have been advised by a "friend" or other source that the way to recruit is to send out email to everybody you have ever heard of, or even names you have never ever heard of but have been communicated to you.

If you are one of these spammers, read on. If you do not spam, I apologize for intruding on your time, and ask you to ignore this mail.

Attention all spammers:

This mail is to warn you that such mass e-mailings are both forbidden and counterproductive. Cease at once.

The term "spam" includes mail broadcast indiscriminately for a commercial or opportunistic purpose. It is absolutely detested by the Internet community.

Such e-mail does not have the intended effect of getting you an interview. You are creating nuisance email that only angers faculty recipients in other Departments. Then they mail me a copy of your mail, object strenuously, and tell me how irritated they are. They are particularly angry about email containing obviously toady-like language such as "I have always wanted to work with such a distinguished person as you ... your research has always fascinated me ... blah, blah, blah."

These are smart people who are not fooled by your attempts to "tailor" the mail to fit their discipline; it is obvious to them that the same mail was sent to all and sundry, to "fish" for a job opening.

Below is mail received from a very distinguished scientist in another Department, after being inundated by mails sent by many CS students:

Dear Prof. Downey:

I am really getting tired of my email being spammed by your students! I am fed up by the annual flood of emails from students who claim to be fascinated by my research, although they seem to be unable to spell the basic descriptions of what I do (or, worse, claim to be fascinated by research of a type that I have never done). If I need RA's I will find them in my own department, not among the unknown talents of your students.
I, for one, intend to fight back by *never* offering support to anyone from your department!

As you can see, some of you have "poisoned the well" for any future students by engaging in spamming behavior. The above email is not unique. I receive mail like it routinely. I cannot defend it; I can only apologize on behalf of this Department.

Mail of the kind received by the above scientist is spam, pure and simple.

If it does not stop forthwith, I will begin the practice of publicizing the identities of those who are doing this, along with their unctuous (and frequently unintentionally hilarious) spam sent to University faculty. The use of Department resources and equipment to spam constitutes misuse of your account, which is subject to immediate cancellation.

Are you one of those who are advising other students to behave in this way? Stop. You are damaging the reputation of our Department and students.

What is the right way to recruit? You can respond to a position advertisement that contains a reply email address, indicating your interest in the position. Such advertisements appear on the UA Human Resources website, our own newsgroup, bulletin boards around campus, and at the Career Services offices. It is legitimate to respond to faculty who advertise for a position, and who *ask* candidates to contact them. The key is that a potential employer *ask* for your reply. It is *not* legitimate to send out your CV broadly in the hope that someone will "bite".

Peter J. Downey
Professor and Department Head