I found this email in this morning’s inbox.

Hi Tom,

My name is Maya and I wanted to introduce to you our hiking forum: http://www.hikingforums.net/.
As a hiking enthusiastic, I am trying to set up a hiking community, which, hopefully will organically grow.

I wanted to ask you for feedback about the forum, as well as to add a link to my forum from your pages. That would be highly appreciated.

I am looking forward to hear from you.

Again, thanks in advance,

Maya Ofek

First thing I wonder is how come I’ve never heard of this site. I figure maybe it’s brand new. So I google it and find nothing at the dot-net address, but I do find another hiking site that I hadn’t found before called www.hikingforums.com. Hmm.

So I went to the dot-net site and discovered it had dozens of threads, hundreds of posts and over 900 users — all of whom seemed to have joined the site yesterday. Numerous threads had multiple posts but had been viewed only once.

Furthermore, there’s no “admin” section explaining how the site works, what the policies are, etc.

Before long my ol’ bullshit detector was making large crackling Geiger-counter noises, but I wanted to be sure. So I googled a few thread titles and found they’d been poached from the archives at whiteblaze.net.

Conclusion: This is obviously a rather elaborate e-mail mining operation. Our good friend Maya, who no doubt lives beyond the grasp of U.S. copyright enforcers, set up the “forum” to acquire active e-mail addresses that can be sold to spammers.

Now if I were mean and nasty I’d suggest we all go over to hikingforums.net, create phony usernames and start all kinds of mean, nasty threads exposing the transparently fraudulent nature of the site, thus keeping the spammers so busy deleting our threads that they’d have no time for inflicting similar dreck on other people’s hobbies. Like I said, I would never do that. You, however, must do whatever your conscience dictates.