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Specialist's hidden twist

Specialist's hidden twist

A friend told me about an interesting online experience he had the other day that I’d like to share with you. It went something like this.

He likes getting away and is always on the lookout for possible conferences and exhibitions that he can wangle his way into – especially those out of town. He spotted an event he liked the look of, did his research, came up with his excuse and managed to convince his boss that he should go.

Normally that is the tricky bit but not this time. He filled in his details on the website – name, title, company, that sort of thing – and hit ‘submit’. However, the site rejected his application.

“Error” it said. “This message has not been sent due to elements of the submission being deemed as spam. Please contact us if you are having trouble submitting your details.”

He tried again.

Same thing. “Error. This message has not been sent, blah, blah …”

I guess we’ve all had problems filling in website forms at one time or another, and he thought it was just some sort of bug that would fix itself in due course. He decided to wait and try again when he got home.

He did but the result was exactly the same.

He refreshed the page. Nope. He went offline, then online again. Nope. He even swapped browsers. Nope. Nothing. Just the same error report.

The next day at work it was the same thing.Curiouser and curiouser.

Thankfully, he is not one to get a complex about these kinds of things. So, as suggested, he contacted the organisers. They were all very nice about it and a bit surprised as the page seemed to be working fine for the hundreds of other people registering to come along.

They suggested he tried again.

“Error. This message has not been sent …”

They said they’d check with their web guy and sure enough he contacted my friend.

“To enable me to find the issue,” he wrote in an email, “would you send me the details that you were putting in the form. I expect that one of the words contains a string that our blocker is deeming to be spam.”

He did. A couple of hours passed and the answer pinged its way into his inbox.

It wasn’t his name. That was fine.

It wasn’t his company. That was deemed as acceptable.

His title, however, was a different matter. Turns out that was the culprit.

What was it? Well, nothing out of the ordinary. He calls himself an ICT specialist. And what could possibly be wrong with that?

The ICT bit is okay. It’s the word specialist that was causing the filter to get its knickers in a technological twist. Look a bit closer and you can see why. Specialist. There’s a word closely related with spam lurking inside.

Take away the ‘Spe’ from the start … and the ‘t’ from the end. What’s left?


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