One thing's for sure - it ain't Some Place Around Mississippi.
To those not familiar with the internet or computing, it likely means that "wonder" of processed and pressed pork products, officially termed "Spiced Meat", that Hormel Foods Corp. created in 1937. To the rest of us though it can be anything from e-mails sent shotgun style to thousands of users at once, to broadcast posts on Usenet groups; usually advertising some scheme or other that the sender hopes will return them a smattering of profits from their sleazy marketing techniques. Regardless of how it's sliced, it leaves a very bad taste in the recipients' mouths.
More to the point of this article, is what does SPAM mean on a webmaster discussion forum?
Spam is coming to a discussion forum and saying hello by posting the equivalent of a press release promoting the wonders of your wares. It is done in any number of ways, from the flagrant advertisement, to the innocuous "Hey I'm new here. What do you all think of this:" Sometimes, albeit rarely, it is even done through simple ignorance of proper netiquette.
Note the use of the term "discussion forum" in the previous paragraph. It means just that.
A forum for discussion of issues, questions, ideas and newsworthy information relevant to the inhabitants. Some boards offer places for advertising your services, usually they have a name like "Webmaster Opportunities." Save the bill board style posts for these places. Is promoting your services forbidden? Absolutely not, yet there are much more effective ways of getting noticed and respected in a community of businesses. It's called networking, and it doesn't mean handing out virtual business cards or posting virtual bill boards. It's about contributing to the community through sharing your knowledge and expertise where appropriate.
Want your business to get recognition and use? Of course, we all do. Discussion forums are a great way to make that happen, but you've got to do it right and that means knowing the basic set of rules or acceptable practices of the forum/community in which you wish to participate. Most of us in this business are always looking for new viable relationships, or partnerships to help build our own businesses. What we are not looking for is a complete stranger to shotgun their "new opportunity" all over our house and then never contribute a single worthwhile thought.
Another way to think about it is time-management; not just yours but your fellow webmasters'. Reading boards and gaining the knowledge found there is an important part of the day for many of us. And one thing that will anger us faster than most anything is opening a post hoping for one more tidbit of wisdom or knowledge only to find a Billboard Advertisement from someone we don't know from Adam or Eve. It is considered rude and discourteous behavior, and is likely at the top of the list of ways to lose friends and alienate people. ...before typing that first character, spend some time lurking and reading the active posts on the board. Learn the board's personality.
Here's a tip, before typing that first character, spend some time lurking and reading the active posts on the board. Learn the board's personality. Once you've done that post a simple "hello world" to the forum of choice. Let your fellow webmasters get to know you a bit. Sooner or later, someone is going to become curious about what you do and what you have to offer. If you have a business presence that is of benefit to webmasters put a simple link to your website in your signature tag line. That's perfectly acceptable in most circles, but make sure it is before you do it. Some boards are quite restrictive, others are quite lenient.
Remember this, first impressions last. Make a bad one with a Spam post as your first introduction and you'll spend weeks or months attempting to win over the respect of your colleagues. Make a good impression by offering help to a newbie or a webmaster in need of assistance; or even a non-impression by simply saying hello; and you'll find yourself well on the way to finding business opportunities a plenty.
So, now that we all understand what SPAM really is and how adversely it effects everyone that touches it, lets all put it back in the can and Go Make Some Money!