The universe is an amazing place. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

This document is a discussion of sending e-mail to Alchemy Mindworks. It addresses the conditions under which we're likely to respond to your mail, and those which may cause you instead to find a leather-winged demon of the night in your sock drawer. We maintain several other documents which also deal with aspects of e-mail:

  • For a general discussion of spam and e-mail, please see Death to Spam, a guide to preventing your e-mail from being swamped by advertisements for 9.9 cent per minute phone cards by Gucci, chain letters that promise to make you thousands of dollars a day even if you're presently in a coma and offers to send millions of users to your web page whether they want to be there or not.

  • To send us some e-mail, please visit our e-mail page, which offers a form to direct your e-mail to the party best suited to respond to it in a timely manner.

  • For an exhaustive overview of the various ways to get in touch with us, please visit our contact page.

While e-mail is to some extent the cyberspace equivalent of real mail — or "snail-mail" — there are sufficient differences between the two to make them less than perfectly interchangeable. If we received as much paper mail as we do e-mail, whole forests would be laid bare.

Most of the problems which attend e-mail arise out of its remarkable volume — at least, they do for us. Essentially free to send, e-mail lends itself both to deliberate abuse and to unintentional mispresentation.

This document will outline our policies about e-mail in general and provide some guidelines for sending us e-mail with an eye to getting something useful sent back to you.

Please keep in mind as you read this that we're here to help you and the medium of e-mail is probably how we'll best be able to do so. However, our doing so effectively requires that our e-mail resources work effectively. We need your help to make this happen.

E-MAIL IN ENGLISH

The English language is a remarkable cultural achievement — in some respects it embodies the best of the world's many languages. It can be used to express thoughts effectively and succinctly, and to communicate even the most complex ideas. If the people of England had had the foresight to copyright it, they'd have had to buy most of Europe just to have enough room to store all their money.

Should you send us e-mail messages in languages other than English, we will not be able to respond to them. We'll ask you to resend your message in English. This is probably unfair to the billions of people on Earth who do not speak English. We are suitably chastened — but English is the only language everyone who works here knows how to speak.

Likewise, if you send us a message which is nominally in English but is difficult to read, we will not be able to assist you. Such messages include:

  • Messages which are largely texting or abbreviations. If u cn rd ths srt of txt /out hving yr iz fall out, yr bttr thn n-e of us.
  • Messages typed entirely in capital letters.
  • Messages with unbearably bad spelling.
  • Ambiguous messages.
  • Messages which attempt to squeeze their entire contents into the Subject line.
  • Messages with a lot of acronyms, jargon and cyberspeak that we don't recognize.
  • Messages which refer to earlier messages but do not quote them. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we do not keep messages around after they have been answered. Please quote all your previous messages in an ongoing dialog.
  • Stream of consciousness val-speak messages that just like go on and on in a single long continuous unbroken sentence that never seems to like you know begin or end but just goes on and on and drifts from one subject to another without... what was I saying?

Replies to e-mail sent to us are optional and at our discretion. If it will take five or ten minutes to decode your message, chances are we'll just trash it.

E-MAIL POLITELY

If you need help, send us e-mail. If you need to vent your spleen, send president@whitehouse.gov e-mail. Our job is to help you. His job is to listen to you. The FBI's job is to come 'round and have a word with you if you send a message to president@whitehouse.gov that's really, really nasty. Be warned.

If you're having trouble with our software — even if you're absolutely certain that it's our fault and you suspect that we intended it as a personal attack on you — please don't send us nasty e-mail. Doing so will not get you a solution. Depending upon who answers your message, it will either get you total silence — a deleted message — or some nasty e-mail back. Neither is particularly productive.

If you feel that you have a legitimate complaint to voice, please send us a polite, sensible message which explains your problem and requests our attention. This is as compared to a rude or abrasive message which speculates on the genetic background and forehead dimensions of Alchemy Mindworks' employees, or espouses generic bellyaches about our products. The former will get your problem addressed. The latter will get it ignored.

We regard as especially impolite messages which intimate that problems you might be having accessing our web page or downloading software are the result of a conspiracy on our part, or technical problems at our server installed deliberately just 'coz we felt like it. Prior to sending such a message, we strongly advise that you have a word with your ISP or system administrator. They will be able to both explain to you how the Internet works — and how any one of the typically dozen or so relays between yourself and our server can be the cause of your bandwidth problems — and trace the route to us to actually nail down the culprit. The net can be frustrating at times, but it's usually an error in judgement to take it personally.

We should also note that one of the most reliable ways to make sure you do not receive the response you're looking for is to include a threat in your e-mail to us. The threat which we find both the most preposterous and the most objectionable is a threat to in some way hack or otherwise pirate our software if the author of the message in question doesn't get his or her own way. We are of the opinion that we periodically scrape lifeforms from the soles of our shoes which are more worthy than software pirates, and this applies both to real ones and to those who would just pretend to the position for effect. Our response to threats is to add the e-mail addresses of their authors to the permanent kill list for our mail server, from whence no e-mail address has ever emerged. Note that aside from blocking conventional e-mail, the mail filter also intercepts lost registration code submissions and support requests.

If you're having difficulty with the Lost Registration Code Robot, or if you feel that for reasons of longitude, foot size or preferred brand of sports car you deserve some form of dispensation from using it, please accept our sincere regrets. The robot is, unfortunately, the only no-cost method we are able to provide to recover lost registration codes. The volume of lost code requests we receive would require that we hire additional staff to process them manually, which would in turn require that we raise the prices of our products to pay them. We feel that charging all our users to provide a service which a tiny fraction of them will ever need would be at least as deplorable as what our various governments do with our taxes. We would respectfully observe that your registration codes, like your other possessions, are your responsibility to safeguard.

Sending us impolite e-mail about your lost registration codes will not get your codes back.

Finally, the big silly: we are unable to take seriously assertions that as a result of something we've done, not done, said, carved into imported marble, skywritten or taught one of the security dogs to bark in Morse code, you will hereafter never buy our products again; tell your legions of friends, colleagues and co-workers to do the same; or — the house favourite — scrap your plans to buy hundreds of thousands of copies of Graphic Workshop to install it on every Windows-based computer in New Zealand by next Michaelmas. Be advised that the people who answer our e-mail are prohibited from communicating these sentiments to anyone with the authority to do more than chuckle.

E-MAIL WITHOUT SPAM

For our purposes, spam e-mail includes any message sent to us which does not pertain directly to one of our products, to our web page or to some other aspect of what Alchemy Mindworks does. The following are examples of the sorts of messages we regard as spam.

  • Advertisements for anything. If you send us information about a product or service you are selling without our having requested it, we will regard your message as being spam — unsolicited and decidedly unwanted. The web is a superb research tool for finding things — if we want what you're selling, we'll find you and buy it. The converse is also true — if you haven't heard from us, we don't want what you're selling.

  • Chain letters and get rich quick schemes. The former are puerile and the latter would constitute an insult to the intelligence of a bacterium.

  • Political statements, cultural diatribes and requests to contribute to charities, sign petitions and participate in letter writing campaigns. Our e-mail is not your soapbox — again, if we care about whatever you're advocating, we'll use the net to find you and become involved. If you haven't heard from us, whatever has you fired up with righteous indignation and moral fervor probably doesn't mean squat to us. Survival is a noble cause. The correct way to promote your cause on the Internet is to create a web page for it and announce the page through the usual channels.

  • Ostensible jokes, putative lists of humorous quotations, reputedly entertaining stories, genuine or bogus virus warnings — in the event that there's much of a distinction — health alerts, rumours of conspiracies real, imagined or induced by a lack of sleep and other forms of adolescent distraction. We're in Canada — if we need a laugh, we have a parliament full of liberals.

  • Offers to redesign our web page for us. If we didn't like the way it looks, we'd have changed it by now.

  • Attempts to sell us web hosting or electronic commerce "solutions." This being a web page, it will be apparent to most observers that we have the former. See our secure server page for the latter. Once again, if we didn't like the web hosting or electronic commerce we have, we'd have changed them.

  • Requests for us to complete surveys, market preference questionnaires and other commercial research. Our time has a value associated with it — we're not amenable to squandering it on behalf of parties who want to find better ways to attempt to sell us things we don't want to begin with.

  • Offers to drive unlimited numbers of unwilling users of the internet to our web page, promises of substantial material wealth for driving them to your page, commercial banner exchanges, advertising swaps, "partnership" arrangements, cooperative ventures, plans to violate one or more laws of physics and/or human behavior and other species of cyberscams. We've been using the internet since long before it was trendy, and we've seen every one of these innovative little shell games go by.

  • Attempts to sell us advertising. It's not so much that we feel that ad salesmen are swamp-sucking poodle-kissing three-eye'd malevolent tumours upon the broad buttocks of the universe — well, yes, that too — but rather that were we to decide to buy advertising on the web or in other media, we'd have no trouble tracking it down without any assistance. Our reactions to salesmen and to Jehovah's Witnesses at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning are nearly indistinguishable.

  • Partnership proposals, offers to generate new business for us by sharing your expertise, lucrative co-sponsorship offers, corporate leveraging potentials, co-branded solutions and other corporate-speak for attempting to peddle us quasi-worthless intangibles. If we had large piles of money we didn't like the look of, we could easily dispose of it without your assistance.

  • Résumés; curriculum vitae; offers to locate stellar employees for us; entreaties to translate our software, web pages, documentation and other text into languages other than English; requests for work and advertisements by employment agencies and placement services. At such time as we're looking for personnel, we'll announce our requirements at our main page. Failing this, all positions at Alchemy Mindworks should be considered filled. We have the greatest sympathy for talented people looking for work, but anyone capable of a job-seeking strategy no more sophisticated than spamming every potential employer on the planet arguably would not be qualified to work for us.

  • Anything having to do with "adult" products, services or on-line resources. We prefer the old-fashioned sorts of sex, that is, involving two live human beings and no technology to speak of.

  • Messages which seek to convince us that Jesus loves us, likes us, is prepared to tolerate us, despises anyone who even looks like us or could be disposed to forgive us for whatever it is that we're alleged to have done or not done in this or some former life.

It's probably worth noting that we do not include in the foregoing list messages concerning the things we have created web pages about. If you'd like to e-mail us with questions or opinions about things we have posted at our page — even if said opinions have nothing at all to do with our software — we'd love to hear from you. As a quick sanity check for spam, any message which could be applicable to us and at least one other party constitutes spam. Any message which is obviously intended specifically for us does not.

We'd also like to point out that none of the foregoing changes if you're a registered user of one of our applications — paying for our software, as much as we appreciate your doing so, buys you a license to use the software. This does not include a license to send us spam.

The problem with spam is not a single inappropriate message — which we'd happily delete — but as many as several hundred inappropriate messages per day. This volume of junk mail entails a significant investment of someone's time to sort through and trash. The time involved could be used far more productively, such as for answering legitimate queries from users of our software and readers of our pages.

Because of the volume of unsolicited junk mail we receive, we don't spend any more time reading it than is necessary to determine that it's of no interest to us. This usually involves a quick glance at the first few lines. If it looks like spam and walks like spam and quacks like spam, chances are it's spam. Having ascertained that it's spam, it will be dealt with as spam. This will not be mitigated by apologies for the spam-like nature of your message, assurances that we'll think that in this case it was worth being spammed to hear what you have to say or descriptions of the lofty purpose of your message, spam though it may be. Actually, there's very little chance that we'll read far enough to notice these.

We typically respond to spam in one or more of the following ways:

  • We'll send you a reply message informing you that we have no interest in what your message was about, and instruct you not to contact us again. In the event that you choose not to accede to our request, we may send you a great many copies of this message to better illustrate our assertion that unsolicited, unwanted e-mail can spoil your day.

  • We'll send a message to your ISP, upstream provider or system administrator requesting that he or she explain to you that your use of the Internet and our e-mail facilities in particular were inappropriate, and should not be repeated.

  • We'll send a message to your ISP, upstream provider or system administrator requesting that your account be terminated. It's surprising how often this works — most system administrators have had a bellyful of spam too.

  • We'll add your e-mail address to our mail filter, which will automatically delete any further messages from you in the future. Being a bot of very little brain, the filter won't know if these messages are actually more spam or something legitimate, such as a question about our software. If you spam us, you probably won't be able to get technical support by e-mail for our software in the future.

  • We could submit your e-mail address to a Revenge™ program, which would sign it up for over 300 automatic e-mail lists. These range from a list about how best to care for and love your cat — sweet enough to kill diabetics at a range of half a mile — on up to a periodic effort by a latter-day beat poet in Wyoming who spews out epics in bad iambic pentameter about once a month and just flat-out refuses to remove addresses from his list once they get on there.

The bottom line vis à vis spam is that we're busy. We want to make the best use of our limited resources to provide the best customer service we can. Unsolicited e-mail gets in the way of this, and we have no sympathy for its authors. Sending us spam is a fairly reliable way of putting us off whatever it is that you're writing about. It's as much a waste of your time and resources as it is of ours.

Legal stuff: Our e-mail address is provided solely for communication with users of software and other products of Alchemy Mindwork, and for questions specific to our on-line services, such as this web page. Do not send unsolicited advertising, chain letters, automatic messages or other spam to this address. Abuse of our e-mail resources may result in legal action or a leather-winged demon of the night dining on your pancreas.

See Death to Spam for more about e-mail abuse and our policies thereon.

All the information at this page is as accurate as we can make it. Neither Alchemy Mindworks nor the author of this page accepts any responsibility for any loss, damage or expense caused by your use of these pages, however it happens. If you can figure out a way for any of this to cause you loss, damage or expense you have a sneakier mind than any of us. This page and all dependent pages are copyright © 1994 — 2017 Alchemy Mindworks. No portion of this page may be reproduced in any form without the explicit written permission of the author and copyright holder.

This web page is operated by 1522452 Ontario Limited under license from Alchemy Mindworks Corporation. 1522452 Ontario Limited has licensed the use of the trade name "Alchemy Mindworks," the software and other intellectual property which it offers for sale and/or license, and any and all additional trade names, trade marks, logos, symbols, text and other functional and descriptive elements owned by Alchemy Mindworks Corporation and comprising the aforementioned products. Purchase of a license or licenses for these products or any portion thereof is deemed to constitute a transaction between the purchaser and 1522452 Ontario Limited. All distribution of these products, in evaluation or licensed form, is from 1522452 Ontario Limited.