Is that message spam? Two people can give a different answer about the very same message, depending on various factors. But one factor that doesn’t really matter is whether or not the message was delivered by a bot or through some automated process.

This logic doesn’t pass muster and a simple exercise exposes this. Let’s say that I use a bot to post a message on your community, send you a message on Twitter or send you an email, and you decide that message is spam. If I were to manually send you the exact same message, would you magically decide it wasn’t spam?

If I registered for your community and posted it myself. If I posted it through to you and hand typed it. If I sent you a once off email. If I sent you the exact same message, the result is the same and so is your reaction.

You may wonder, why am I writing about this? Recently, someone that I respect said that an initiative that he was participating in wasn’t spam because it was being done by a human, because there were no bots involved. While I understand his point, automated or not really isn’t the measure.

And even though he didn’t mean, “go crazy as long as it’s not automated!,” I fear some people will read it as exactly that. “Well, if I do it myself instead of using a bot, it’s OK!” It’s not. Whatever you are doing, especially pertaining to online communities, you need to proceed with care.