I See Stupid People In My Inbox

GOD. As if it wasn’t enough that we have to fight them on the beaches, in the fields, streets and outside the doctor’s surgery, now the Stupid People are freakin’ EMAILING ME.

Last week this flooded into my inbox:

From: A stupid person  ] Sent: 03 October 2007 16:06
To: Amber McNaught
Subject: how?

how do i submit my work?

Now, on the surface of it, this may not seem too bad – until, of course, you realise that I get emails like this all the time and I have NO IDEA what these people want from me. Straight away it got my back up: I mean, did this guy’s mother never teach him how to send emails? In MY day it was the belt for us if we didn’t observe proper email etiquette: a salutation, a sign-off, correct punctuation, some clue as to why the hell we were writing to the person… Nowadays these crazy kids are all just “HOW?” As if I will know what they’re talking about. Jesus.

Well, I thought on this for a couple of minutes, but during that time I did not miraculous become involved in any kind of enterprise in which people would need to submit their “work” to me, so I wrote back an equally abrupt:

What are you talking about, dude?

In return I got this:

October 2007 16:11
To: Amber McNaught
Subject: Re:

on a site i have
just been on it said to contact this address to ask any questions, i would like
to know ho wi submit my work onto the site

Now, this obviously helped me quite a lot, because luckily it’s not like there are millions of websites in the world or anything, is it? To be honest, though, it was news to me that one of these millions of sites was advising people to contact me (Me! Little me!) with any questions, so I asked my mystery correspondent if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to tell me which site he was talking about.

In return, he sent me a URL. Just a URL, mind. Because that’s a nice way to communicate with people. Polite. Makes you want to help them, you know? Anyway, luckily the URL was that of my infrequently-updated and actually pretty-much-forgotten-about a freelance writing blog. Which does not accept submissions of people’s work onto it, so really, we were no further forward. I brought my mighty intellect to bear on the problem before me, though, and managed to deduce that he was probably referring to the writing competition I had posted about a couple of days earlier. That would be the post which states “For more information and submission guidelines visit <clicky linky>.” NOT the post that states “Feel free to send me one-line emails trying to submit your work to me,” because that post? Doesn’t actually exist. Gah.

Sure enough, when I emailed my new friend to tell him that no, my blog does not accept writing submissions, I got back:


ok then, how do you enter the competition then?

Now, why could he not have just said that in the first place? Why could he not have just written somethinhg along the lines of: “Hi, I was just reading your blog and wondered if you could tell me how to enter the writing cometition you posted about? P.S. You rock.”  Why could he not have written that? Sure, I’d still have thought he was a bit of a dumbass because the instructions are IN. THE. POST. but at least I’d have thought he was polite.

I told him to just read the post about the thing and follow the instructions in it. I didn’t hear from him again, so he’s probably off emailing other people about it now. I bet he wins that writing competition, though, if he ever works out how to enter it  – talents like his don’t come along very often, you know?

And so it goes. Every week brings another email from someone who wants to know how to become a professional writer, but who has barely mastered the art of communication/ writing. Every week I have to sit on my hands to stop myself from telling them honestly what their chances are. Mostly, though, I wish they would just stop emailing me. Or would at least learn how to communicate people with something approaching manners, rather than just firing off one-line, un-punctuated emails saying “HOW?”


  • Erik (Sorrento) says:

    You can take an idea from Nigeria scammers. Respond with,

    Congratulations! Due to your superbly written email, you already won grand prize in my competition! The grand prize is £20,000! I will be sending you a cashiers cheque in the amount of £25,000. All you need to do is return £5,000 in "validation fees" via my Western Union account number provided and you will have the £20,000 secured.

    It probably will work. Commission will be appreciated.

    ps, you r the rockenest writing babe o nthe plannet!

  • Janssen says:

    Sometimes, you really just have to question the theory of evolution.

  • Danielle says:

    Gah, I used to be a theatrical agent and I used to get kids emailing me all the time. Once a publication wrongly said that I was working in the Harry Potter casting dept. and I got indundated with stupid questions from 14-year-olds. Like:

    'i wana b an actress can u help me pls.'


    'Please please please please hlp me I want to play Luna Lovegood i need ur hlp PLEASE MAIL ME BACK.'

    Sounds funny, but I'd get like 20 of these a day. With the genuine questions from people who ACTUALLY KNEW HOW TO EMAIL I'd reply and try and put them on the right track, but the trouble with stupid people is that they're ignorant, and even if you DO reply, many will take that as their cue to pester you even further! ('ok i know you dont work there but can i send you my pic anyway cuz i'd be really good at playing Hermione!!!111!!)

  • supertiff says:

    just kidding.
    p.s. the link to the Perfect People post is the funniest thing i've read in a while.

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