WebmedCentral: Inviting eminent biomedical spamtraps to join their editorial board

WebmedCentral want spamtraps to join their editorial board because of [their] eminence in the biomedical field. Admittedly the spamtrap was a corresponding author in some rather minor articles published in a Finnish medical journal way, way back. It is clear the addresses this was sent to have been scraped from articles available via, or in this case, not even available but merely alluded to, on PubMed. Others writing well before me are not too convinced either.

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2 Responses to WebmedCentral: Inviting eminent biomedical spamtraps to join their editorial board

  1. This is malicious and certainly not true. Unlike the vast majority of open access journals that charge authors thousands of dollars for publishing an article, it is free to publish articles on WebmedCentral. It is just to give people an idea of what sort of a business we are and what ethical standards we follow. All the current costs are being met by owners and we do not have a dream of makig huge amounts of profits from it. All we want to do is to provide scientists with an alternative model of publishing which is cheaper and more effective.

    We do invite “selected scientists” and let our authors invite reviewers and colleagues on to the portal. We don’t invite reviewers anymore for authors following complaints in the past. Scientists invited are typically published authors of some repute as per the arbitrary judgement of our admin team. Unsolicted emails sent to scientists who have disclosed emails (and hence are presumably willing to be contacted for scientific purposes) is not really spam. Scientists can easily opt out as well, if they do not wish to be contacted by us again. Scientists and authors ( I am one myself) give our emails out because we don’t mind being contacted for scientific purposes.

    I would sincerely hope you would remove us from this list. It is almost defamatory and certainly discriminatory. If you insist on keeping us on this blog, please then at least provide with me an email id of the person to whom I will forward every single email I get from all these journals throughout the year. It would be interesting to see how you then react to them.

    Kamal Mahawar
    Webmed Limited

    • Dear Mr Mahawar, thank you for participating.

      > This is malicious and certainly not true.

      It’s not malicious. In fact, I’d like to posit it’s completely without an attitude. This is a report of unsolicited bulk email received at a spamtrap. It’s a report of something that happened. Had it not happened, there would have been nothing to report.

      As for whether it’s true: you can certainly see that we have received that email. I’m not a scientist myself; these are not addresses that belong to me personally. The addresses at which I saw this spam used to belong to what I see as scientific nobodies who have published something really minor, over ten years ago, in a journal you can’t even read because it’s in a language you don’t speak. But that journal is indexed on PubMed, and so the email addresses are available there, and so you ended up spamming them.

      Let me also point it out to you that I don’t know you guys from John Doe; you wouldn’t exist for me if it wasn’t for the unsolicited bulk email you send.

      > Unlike the vast majority of open access journals that charge

      We’re not addressing the content of your message. Spam is not about content, it’s about consent. For all I know, your service can be the next best thing after sliced bread. But I wouldn’t publish through you because I don’t work with folks who spam.

      > All we want to do is to provide scientists with an alternative
      > model of publishing which is cheaper and more effective.

      Surely there must be a way of accomplishing that that does not involve the sending of unsolicited bulk email.

      > Unsolicted emails sent to scientists who have disclosed emails
      > (and hence are presumably willing to be contacted for scientific
      > purposes) is not really spam.

      It is my ever so humble opinion that your definition of spam is purposefully skewed to suit your own purposes and to justify your own actions by excluding them from the common definition of spam. Everybody else agrees that spam is unsolicited bulk email, period.

      As far as I know, one has to include an email address in order to be a corresponding author of an article; you would be most welcome to contact these addresses for reprints of their articles or for personal discussion of the topic of the article, but it’s not a blanket invitation to spam, which unfortunately seems to be an interpretation shared by many others in addition to yourselves.

      > Scientists can easily opt out as well, if they do not wish to be
      > contacted by us again.

      You tell me you’re a scientist. Can I please ask you to take five minutes to understand the economics of spam and whether it is reasonable to ask anybody else to waste their time processing spam. In addition, I’d like to point out that it is widely agreed one shouldn’t opt out of anything one did not opt in to oneself.

      > Scientists and authors ( I am one myself) give our emails out
      > because we don’t mind being contacted for scientific purposes.

      Perhaps so. I know my scientific contacts don’t mind being contacted for scientific purposes related to their work, but do generally see the advertisements that result as annoying and uninvited. And those messages are unsolicited bulk email, which is spam.

      In this particular case, there is also the issue that your mailing list management is defective in a way that is illegal in the European Union. Article 6(d) of the personal data directive requires that data be accurate and kept up to date. This is codified in the fourth principle of the UK Data Protection Act as well (unsurprising as the DPA is based on the Directive). If I understand correctly, you are in the UK and hence required to comply by this Act. These addresses haven’t belonged to those scientists in about ten years and consequently, your address list is neither accurate or up to date.

      > I would sincerely hope you would remove us from this list.

      Removing the blog post would make the blog untruthful. I cannot possibly grant you that.

      > It is almost defamatory

      Not only are you sending out unsolicited bulk email, you are even admitting it yourself in the comment you sent here. If anybody is defaming you, it is you yourselves through your own actions.

      > and certainly discriminatory.

      Against whom? We report spam we receive. We don’t receive every spam in the world – we don’t have visibility into every email address in the world, obviously. We can only act upon what we see.

      > If you insist on keeping us on this blog, please then at least
      > provide with me an email id of the person

      We have a policy on revealing spamtrap addresses.

      > to whom I will forward every single email I get from all these
      > journals throughout the year.

      It does boggle my mind to think why you would wish to add to the abuse you are already committing.

      On the other hand, if you feel like doing that, I suppose you can just spam your own list some more. It seems we will get copies of those messages…

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