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Down with e-cards

Send me an email and chances are you'll get a reply. Send me an e-card, however, and don't hold your breath.

I don't open them - ever - and if an unscientific survey of my colleagues is any indication, I am far from alone in this delete-on-sight detachment from these ubiquitous electronic annoyances. A few co-workers open e-cards selectively if not gingerly; most do not at all.

The matter percolated to the surface recently when Symantec released its latest "State of Spam" report that included this nugget: "Greeting card spam remains a spammer favourite. Symantec saw over 250 million of these spam messages being targeted towards a sample set of customers in July."

Seems as though at least two or three a day make it by our spam filters. (No word of a lie: Three have popped into my inbox since I've begun been writing this item.) ... Delete, delete ... delete. Not so much as a moment's thought.

One reason that I've unilaterally stopped opening them is that I receive so many that are obviously spam that I do not consider it worth my time to attempt to differentiate between those that are spam and the one in 100 that might actually be from someone I know. The cost simply outweighs the benefit.

And I reach this state knowing that it carries a small risk, too, as a colleague just mentioned that he recently deleted without thought an e-card that carried a legitimate invitation and the party so ignored expressed a degree of pique over the perceived slight.

Tough petunias, I say; use a form of communication that doesn't require the recipient to play detective before opening.

Frankly, it's a wonder anybody opens these things given the prevalence of headlines such as these, culled from just the first page of results on Google News for a search on 'e-cards': Not quite a Hallmark moment: E-cards sent by identity thieves; Fake e-cards signal massive DDoS attack; New Computer Scam Involves Bogus E-Cards; and, E-Cards Deliver New Internet Danger.

I sent email enquiries to a half-dozen companies that market e-cards - including Hallmark and Yahoo - asking for comment about the impact spam and virus threats are having on their e-card customers and e-card franchises.

Haven't heard a word in reply....Perhaps they didn't dare open my email.

Paul McNamara writes for Infoworld.

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