How to tell robot handwriting from the human kind … and how I react to the former

092414blog robot writing

Journalist Clive Thompson has published an enlightening piece at that shows us how we can tell the difference between a snail-mail letter that has been written by a robot and one that has been written by an actual human being.

Here’s an example of a robot scribbling away:

Like Thompson, I believe that I can easily spot most of these fakes when sifting through my mail. However, also like Thompson, I have been fooled once or twice. I am sure we are not alone.

Thompson’s story carefully explains the tell-tale signs of even the best robot writing. And he notes that there is a continuing arms race between those who want to trick us into opening their mail and those of us who think we’re usually too smart to fall for such nonsense.

Which brings me to this question: Why on Earth would any marketer want to overtly trick anyone into opening their mail?

OK, the answer is probably that, as with spam, there must be people out there who have no problem with being tricked.

I do have a problem with it. That time or two I opened what appeared to be a hand-written letter but it turned out to be solicitation genuinely ticked me off. I would no sooner have done business with the senders than I would wire my bank account password to a Nigerian prince.

So go ahead you writing-robot makers, make your robot writing so deceptive that nary a human eye can tell the difference between it an the best human penmanship. Bring it on, you deceptive marketers. Because if I do open the letter and it’s a solicitation of any kind, you’ll be telling me in no uncertain terms that you and your client are untrustworthy.

And I’ll do my best to tell others.

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