Calls for papers and spam etiquette

Why are we so lenient with Calls for Papers when we are dealing with junk mail ?

Nowadays I get in my personal and professional mail addresses dozens of calls a month, most of which I can even begin to imagine how their senders found me, and none of which I actually read. With services like WikiCFP, and targeted mailing lists, like those of the ACM SIGs, are CFP sent directly to researchers even relevant anymore ?

My first instinct is to reach for the “report spam” button whenever those messages come, but I freeze mid-click and end up either deleting them, either ignoring them. Filtering them has proved quite difficult, since terms like “CFP” and “call for papers” are not enough to exhaust the creativity of their writers. And I don’t want to risk false positives.

Isn’t it time for new culture of calls for contributions in these days of explosion of venues and journals ?

7 thoughts on “Calls for papers and spam etiquette

  1. I can never figure out why they send out the Calls For Papers in the first place. I never see them and think “Oh, I was going to send my next paper to a moderate-impact journal appropriate for an ornithology paper, but now I want to send it to ‘Free India Biochemistry Science Journal’ instead!”

  2. As a workshop organizer, I experience quiet the opposite. I always send out the call for paper via the usual mailing lists, via usenet, I post it on wikicfp, and I send messages to people I identified as maybe interested (because of their general interest in this topic, because of personal contacts, etc.) I always ask authors and participants at the very last session (using an old-school paper survey) how they got to know about the workshop. And the results are surprising: Nobody reads usenet anymore, only a third noticed it on a mailing list (although all of these people are subscribed to these lists!). But everybody got either a personal message from me or it was forwarded by a colleague. Of course there are some people remembering having seen the call several times, but only a few.

    So, as an organizer, if you want to reach people you assume to be interested in the workshop/conference/journal issue, you should use personal messages.

    • You are right, of course, but it used to be the case that people used common sense in dispatching those invitations. I am always delighted when I receive an invitation related to my research (even if marginally so) from someone I’ve met in a conference, from a student, from a colleague.

      But nowadays I receive 2-3 CFPs a day, almost all of them from people I’ve never met (or heard of), and many of them about subjects I don’t even care about. It’s just plain spam.

    • Yes, I understand the difficulty in get (potential) authors moving along : but I wonder if we had adopted a more conservative policy of sending those calls to people really into the target subject of the conference, the mailboxes would get less polluted and the receivers would pay more attention. This is idle speculation though, because: (i) the cat is already out of the bag; (ii) multidisciplinarity might prevent knowing a priory who is really into which community.

  3. I get nearly every day spam from CFP “Macroworld”. Although the mail states that you can unsubscribe (which I don’t do, ofc), I can confirm that it is actually spam. The spam is sent to an redirection-adress which was ONLY published in the IANA PEN database (alas, unencrypted published). So, they got that adress from there.
    I banned the IP adress using iptables, which is the mail relay for the spam. Hopefully this will help. Btw, it is interesting that this IP is hosted in Netherlands, but has an USA adress in the description field of the whois.

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