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Matmail: Where did the term “spamming” come from? I assume it has something to do with the canned meat, but what? — Marika, San Diego

“Spamming,” for you pencil-pushers, is the mass distribution of an e-mail message (usually an ad) around a network or to everyone in a newsgroup or forum. Digital junk mail. Almost as irritating as recorded telephone sales pitches. The name was cooked up by two on-line Monty Python fans who were reminded of the group’s restaurant sketch in which Eric Idle, as a waitress, reads from the menu something to the effect that “We’ve got Spam. Eggs and Spam. Spam, eggs, and Spam. Spam, Spam, sausage, and Spam. Spam, eggs, Spam, and Spam. Spam, Spam, and Spam....” “Don’t you have anything without Spam?” “Well, you might try Spam, eggs, sausage, and Spam. That’s not got much Spam in it.” Not Python’s funniest bit, but I guess it’s too hard to make a verb out of “dead parrot.”

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