About two years ago I started getting peculiar messages from unknown academics about conferences I’d never heard of. They all follow a standard form, with a subject like “inviting you to participate in BLAH-05.” Some address me as “potential speaker,” some “Dr. Cameron A. Marlow,” and some simple “Dr. Marlow.” This isn’t all that surprising, given that lots of legitimate emails I get from academic institutions refer to me as a Dr. (it’s much more offensive not to refer to a Ph.D. as Dr. than it is to inflate the ego of a mere student).
An increase in conference spam
The surprising thing about these emails is that they’ve been increasing in frequency pretty regularly. They have moved from the space of “oversized conference list” to legitimate spam. In some cases I’ve gotten emailed multiple times about the same conference, and for a subject that’s about as close to my research as I am to finishing my course in Scientology.
So who are these people? Given the regular structure of the emails, I assume that they’re being sent out from one master list. Some arrive from iiisci.org, which appears to be a collection of losely-related conferences, and others from vreme.yubc.net, an ISP in Serbia.
How big is this network? Did I get randomly added to some master list, or are they spidering for academic’s email addresses? Has anyone actually gone to one of their conferences? As with most spam, lots of questions, few answers.