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April 19, 2006

When you sign up for an e-newsletter from some site, how much do you care if they have the technology to put your name in the message?

I mean, when Amazon writes to you, they say, "Dear Anne." If you sign up for updates from a news site, it's usually just the news topics you asked for, no name.

How much does having your name on an e-mail impress you?

Posted by AnneZook at 06:07 PM


Long ago I was paid a great deal of money to write software that produced personalized letters from databases. My personal take was they were still "junk mail", expensive and well-mannered, but still junk mail.

My general reaction, being about as old as dirt, is that I don't know these people well enough for them to use my first name, even in a letter. I view it as unwarranted familiarity.

Posted by: Bryan at April 19, 2006 06:18 PM

I remember an old Prairie Home Companion piece from the early 80s which basically consisted of a guy reading a piece of "personalized" mail (pretty whacky, eventually) with the personalized stuff (which used to come out different colors) said in a really loud voice....

Otherwise, I'm with Bryan. I used to be able to write dBaseIII code that could do stuff like that. I'm not impressed.

Actually, with some of it now linked to previous purchase databases, etc., it creeps me out when they get really personal.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at April 20, 2006 02:55 AM

Thanks, guys. I was wondering about that. I'm largely indifferent to personalization. If I sign up for an e-mail program, what I care about is that I get the kind of content I request, not that it says, "Dear Anne" at the top. I was wondering how other people felt.

(The only time I care about it is at Amazon.com. I actually enjoy the "recommended for you" pages. Sometimes they've very odd, but I've found interesting things that way.)

Posted by: Anne at April 21, 2006 08:12 PM