In a recent post, commenters criticized me for publishing the email address and phone of a person who tried to bully me by email. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” one wrote.
In general, it’s poor form to publish someone’s contact information. Automated processes can harvest those and spam people with emails and calls. Angry people can harass them. Does that mean you should never publish this information?
Here’s my principle. I may publish your information if you send me unsolicited emails and either of the following applies:
- Your email is automated, sent in bulk, and offers something few people would respond to. (This is the definition of spam.)
- You lie to me, deceive me, threaten me, or attempt to intimidate me.
I understand that you may be working for someone else, likely someone who has provided you with that email address to do your “work.” I understand that you “just have a job to do.” But if your job is automated email harassment, I’m happy to make your job more difficult. It’s not that I don’t care about you as a person. It’s that you don’t care about me as a person.
The principle is simple: if you’re doing something that normal people would be ashamed of, you shouldn’t mind if everyone knows you are doing it.
I will not publish your information if:
- I know you.
- You sent a personal note to me individually about something you think I would find useful.
- You ask for my help.
I’m genuinely curious. Do you think the “don’t publish their contact info” etiquette applies even to folks who send spam and threats? Other than spammers, who else deserves to have their information published?