Death by a Thousand Cuts« an older post
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Not How This Works


First email:

I noticed that you have a broken link to a website. That site was first published way back in 2001 but unfortunately, it is no longer a working website.

We recently published an article that explains what happened to the site. I think it's an interesting story, and it could be useful to your readers.

Would you consider swapping out the broken link for our article? It would really help.

It went into the ignore folder.

Second email:

I wanted to check in and see if you got my note about the broken link on your site?

Yes, and I really don't particular want to invest the time in tracking down the 404 at this point. Such cleanup is on my Tech Debt List, which is not high on my to-do list yet. Soon, but not today.

Third email:

After emailing you, I realized this may not be your responsibility and you're focused on other stuff.

Who's the best person on your team to talk to about this?

Well, A+ for persistence. My site isn't so visited that this level of effort makes sense. I think I want to meet the author of these emails.

Fourth email:

I'm sure you're busy, but if you could respond to my email below, I can cross this off my list.

Well, shit, I've become a blocker for someone. That really sucks. I'd feel bad, except let's look back at this from the first email:

PS: if you didn't like getting this email, please just shoot me a note and ask me not to email you anymore. I'll make sure I don't.

Yeaaaaaaaaah, no. This isn't how this site works.

All of these emails have asks. All of these emails demand action from me. All of these are asking for my attention, for action on my part. If I fail to follow up, more demands for my attention are made.

I recognize there is a person on the other end of those emails, and, wow, would responding be easier than writing this note. I would like to be kind to the sender, but, increasing demands on my time, without my consent, eh, really shouldn't be rewarded.

And how funny that I balk at setting this boundary on demands for my time and my site. I'm sure Jonathan can relate to this boundary, unfortunately.

So, I checked my assumptions and went to look for the person behind the emails, as the wording leads me to believe there is a person, and, well, now I'm less sure. Looking on Twitter, the company behind the "replace your URL with this URL" emails has one tweet, no followers, and is following no one (ugh, non-parallel structure there). I haven't gone to the website, but note that searches for the sender's name and the company name yield zero results in Duckduckgo, and subsequently Google, results.

A company I contracted with recently would use fake names in their marketing emails, names odd enough that one would be able to find the senders on the internet if they existed. The sender of the emails seems to be as much of a ghost as that company's marketing women.

Ehhhhhh, yeah, link rot sucks. I have a better solution planned than what I have now. It is, also, on the Tech Debt List. It is, also, not today.

And the link that was referenced in the first email? Still rotten.


This is not a person! This is a really standard “script” that gets used a lot to do this style of “organic link building”. It’s icky, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is software you can purchase to automate it for you. I’d humblebrag here about having received enough of these to notice the pattern but honestly, I am not sure that that’s a positive..

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