Are they all using the same form letter?

In January 2019, I wrote an article called, quite pointedly, “At least read the article before sending a solicitation“. Well this morning I received an e-mail that, on a second glance, I realized looked… familiar.

Dear Editor,

My name is Jo and I’m an Editor at Happy DIY Home. I was doing research on the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky and just finished reading your wonderful piece:

In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid resource that I’ve come across in the past:

We just published an updated, comprehensive guide on the similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky on our sister site, [REDACTED]. It is completely free and you can find it here: [REDACTED]

If you like the piece we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article. Of course, we will also share your article with our 100k newsletter subscribers and followers across our social platforms.

Either way, keep up the great work!


So they note an article in which I posted an e-mail solicitation I received, and then use nearly the exact same e-mail template as what the preceding solicitor used. Seriously? This tells me that “Jo” never read the article. Hasn’t even seen my blog, since that article also hasn’t had any hits in all of 2020.

Instead here’s what likely happened.

A search engine crawling service went looking for web sites that mention “Alaskan Malamute” (which the preceding post did) or “Siberian Husky” (something not mentioned on this site at all till now). The searches are likely limited as well to pages that link to another, such as the noted Wikipedia article. Then an automated service blasted out e-mails to domain owners based on a form template (what used to be called “mail merge“) in which the noted person, “Jo”, claims to have read the article (I know that didn’t happen here) to bait the target into adding a link to their article to boost their site’s search engine placement.

To get more clicks.

Meaning more ad impressions.

And more money.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I know quite well how this works.

And yes, that link to the “mail merge” article is intentional, an attempt to bait another automated system as another test of that hypothesis. If I get a solicitation about “mail merge” or something related to it noting this article, I’ll post that here as well.

In the mean time, I’ll just leave you with the reply I sent back – on which I doubt the e-mail it came from is actually a monitored inbox. (Something else I should consider testing by flooding it with replies.)

Ms Miller,

I can tell quite clearly from your message (quoted below) that you didn’t read the article you note, as I would hope it is very obvious just how nonsensical your request is.

Take a good look at that article if you’re confused by this reply. And while you’re there, look to the right-hand side of the page and you’ll see a section called “On Solicitations and Inquiries”.