You are here: Home / Dog Blog / Archives

I am not American!

Tuesday 19 October, 2004 ( 5:15PM GMT)

National bias is a difficult habit to break out of when thinking about content destined for an international audience.

I hate spam anyway (who doesn't?), but I get especially annoyed when I receive (as I do a number of times every bloody day) a notification of my "m0rtg agE approval" detailed in dollars. On the off-chance I'd be stupid enough to get a mortgage from a unsolicited no-face spambot, I'm certainly not going to get a mortgage in the USA when I live in the UK!

There's a similar (although much less anger-inducing) tendency on the web to be nation (particularly American) centric. Adverts, for example. I ain't gonna buy no book from no I might buy a book from, but I'm certainly not going to buy from a shop that wants dollars, costs more to ship and takes longer to arrive.

The American audience will be, in most cases, by far the biggest market for an internationally relevant product or service, particularly in the West. But no one really wants to exclude anyone and, surely, the more specifically you can target something to any individual user, the greater the chance will be that they will respond to it. You can quite accurately tell what country a user is from by their IP address, for example, and I've noticed UK-targeted adverts on sites such as and IMDb.

Obviously, spammers just don't care who they bombard with their crap - it's expected from such reprobates. But when it comes to web sites, users can expect more and web site owners can reap the benefits of giving them more.

I guess my rant point is that not only should you consider your own cultural biases when producing content, but also that you could (for the benefit of the user, and, ultimately, you) offer content (such as, but not exclusively, advertising) that is more relevant to each user's world.


Comment 1

I think I read somewhere that a lot of spam is targeted towards americans because we're easy to trick out of our money. Like my favorite, "Dear Sir, My father died and I would like to transfer 55 million US dollars to your bank account"...

Yes, though, I think more and more websites should realize that they are dealing with a world wide audience- it's not the "American Wide Web". I imagine that it couldn't be too hard to set up some kind of script that adjust content based on a visitors location? It could, at the least, just change advertisments.

So said Jenni on Tuesday 19 October, 2004 at 5:54PM GMT.

Comment 2

Dunstan deals with this particular user location issue particularly well in his Reading section ( ) - users can select their chosen online book vendor, and then any links they click will go to the right place. They can also save their preferences for next time.

So said Matthew Pennell on Tuesday 19 October, 2004 at 7:18PM GMT.

Comment 3

The list of prefered languages could also have some impact. My site is regularly visited by people from the UK, Australia and so on, and I know this because they have those variants of english set up as their default.
IP block to country mapping is also widespread. A 2MB text file and some smart code and youi're there!

So said Gabriel Mihalache on Tuesday 19 October, 2004 at 9:53PM GMT.

Comment 4

The problem is that Americans just don't give a damn about the rest of the world, except if a certain country has a lot of oil.

I get far too many spam emails from some African money scam thing.

So said Dante Evans on Tuesday 19 October, 2004 at 10:48PM GMT.

Comment 5

Does anybody know where to get a free IP-to country mapping?

So said djn on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 1:00AM GMT.

Comment 6

Targeted ads make me laugh. I live in Holland, though I am British. Those ads in Dutch are just a whole lot easier to ignore.

So said Debra Broughton on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 12:07PM GMT.

Comment 7

Dante said:
"The problem is that Americans just don't give a damn about the rest of the world, except if a certain country has a lot of oil."

I don't want to start anything here, but please keep in mind that most Americans are not that way, and the majority of us didn't vote for our current president :)

So said will on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 3:02PM GMT.

Comment 8

djn, try doing whois on an IP address. It should return the address of the ISP and the block of IPs they have. Cache the country and build up a database of IP to country mappings over time.

So said Wereon on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 5:38PM GMT.

Comment 9

I keep getting all those spam adds every now and then, even thou I take my time and clean ('unsubscribe','desuscribe','remove',...) from them all .. there is always a sub-partner who had the database before I removed myself from the mother company/database.

I've this growing feeling that this people just ignores good privacy policies, and right when you send your 'unsubscribe' message, your email address is passed promptly to the next company in the block.

About the IP scan .. well .. it would take time to filter each email url to see where it is from. To make it worst, in Spain, we don't really give too much credit to local regulators, and there are much more .com .net .org domains than .es ... so even if you are a well thought email marketing company, and filter your database with the simplest queries, you would have got my address in the pack.

Just my two euro cents.

So said Quique Borredá on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 5:43PM GMT.

Comment 10

There's nothing that can really be done about spam in this manner. Even if we could pick up on spam that isn't relevant to our country, there's loads more out there....

In terms of delivering country-specific content on a website based on the IP address though, there are a few services which cost a bit and also which isn't too happy in my browser, but appears to be free. I haven't tried it out yet, mainly because I have databasaphobia.

So said Patrick on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 5:53PM GMT.

Comment 11

Quique Borredá:
For the love of humanity - don't click the "Unsubscribe" link in spam email! (Or any link, for that matter).

All you are doing is confirming there is someone at the end of the line (you). Your email address is then flagged as 'good', and sold to more spammers. It's a viscious cycle.

So said will on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 6:33PM GMT.

Comment 12

Wow, will just told me why i get so much spam in some email boxes, thanks

So said Steve C. on Friday 22 October, 2004 at 8:01PM GMT.

Comment 13

The "we would like to transfer $55 million into your account" is one of my favorites to. I set up a fake email account to respond back to them with nonsense.

So said Joe on Wednesday 27 October, 2004 at 5:33PM GMT.

Comment 14

Well, to show pages depending on location the IP check works. But if you want to show contents depending on language then checking the languages accepted by the users should be used.
What about a combination of both.

So said q on Wednesday 27 October, 2004 at 8:23PM GMT.

Comment 15

RE: "I don't want to start anything here, but please keep in mind that most Americans are not that way, and the majority of us didn't vote for our current president :)

So said will on Wednesday 20 October, 2004 at 3:02PM GMT."

As a matter of fact, MOST of 'us' did indeed vote for the current president - THAT'S how he got to be president - majority wins. (i didn't vote this one into office though!)

However, it is very true that most Americans are not greed centered, caring only about oil enriched countries. Most Americans care very much about not only their fellow countrymen but how peoples of other countries fair as well. The difference being that we like to learn on a personal level which may seem nosy or pushy to people not familiar with our over friendliness. Quite often people will mistake this for being rude or overbearing when it really is just a genuine interest in wanting to know so as to better understand. Hey, everybody has the same troubles, just in different languages and cultures.

All in all - country specified wordings on a website does truly exclude some visitors and should be eliminated altogether. I suggest that by putting the address of the business on the home page that this might help to significantly reduce any confusion...

I hate Citibank spam and my ISP immediately bans the whole domain range when I send them in. Though I don't know if banning the whole range is a good idea...

So said Bry on Friday 29 October, 2004 at 9:28PM GMT.

Comment 16

This is going WAY off topic, but...

> As a matter of fact, MOST of 'us' did indeed vote for the current president - THAT'S how he got to be president - majority wins.

That's not actually true on a number of counts. Firstly, only 51% of Americans turned out to vote at all in 2000. Of those that did vote, Gore actually received more votes than Bush - 50,996,116 to 50,456,169. These both work out at around 48% of the vote. So, not only did less than 25% of the population of the USA vote for the current president, most voters actually voted for the other guy! - minority wins.

So said Patrick on Saturday 30 October, 2004 at 11:32AM GMT.

Comment 17

We Americans are grateful that the vocal minority of internet users don't comprise the vast majority of reasonable people that did in fact vote for the current president and will, in fact, re-elect him tomorrow ;)

The database resource that is being provided here is extremely useful... thanks!

So said Jman on Monday 1 November, 2004 at 8:28PM GMT.

Comment 18

It's those dem fer'ners that mess everything up for us a-mer-i-cans, anyway.

</ducks> Kidding! I was kidding!

BTW, good point. J2EE/ASP.NET handles language-specific resources automatically, although the rtl stuff can fall through the cracks. But country-specific variants aren't something you normally think of.

So said [Anon] on Tuesday 2 November, 2004 at 10:43PM GMT.

Comment 19

Spam has no face nor does it care where you are. The spammers will always be there....

So said Joe on Thursday 4 November, 2004 at 3:00PM GMT.

Comment 20

The only thing I hate more than Spam, is American spam.

Sometimes, for a laugh, I open up emails titled "0ur mor;tgag;3 r4te5 are l0w", or "cl1ck t0 w1n a [Insert item here]" and see it's indeed all American based, and give the site a visit, and usually in huge text, it states that it's for American residents only.

How they manage to spam an Email address ending in baffles me.

So said SCC on Saturday 13 November, 2004 at 5:34AM GMT.

Comment 21

Hey, HTML-Dog. I am American, though not always proud of our political behavior, and hope that the principles on which our nation was founded can be preserved. More than that, howerver, is the fact that we are all fellow-human beings no matter our geographical residence, culture or personal beliefs. To me that binds all of us to a higher standard.

I just found your site and LOVE it as a resource. Thank you.


So said JohnBoy on Sunday 21 November, 2004 at 6:23PM GMT.

Comment 22

Coming to the thread late. Sad how on round 2, Americans (places like Nebraska in the low seventies for Bush) did confirm that as a majority they are as vicious and self-centred and aggressive and ignorant as caricaturists abroad would paint them.

Oh how I wished that day to have been wrong. A slight distaste for American vulgarity is a much more agreable état d'être than daily fury with a miltary plutocracy which practices the bombing of civilian populations, the use of depleted uranium weapons, the suspension of the Geneva convention, and broadening the war on terror (read anyone who doesn't support American imperialism)

And I'm tired of American spam as well.

So said alec on Tuesday 30 November, 2004 at 11:07PM GMT.

Comment 23

Perhaps a slightly different subject, but one in which there seems no other place to raise it....

Everyone claims to be African American, Irish American, Scottish American, German American,Polish American, Jewish American, German American etc, etc. What the f*** happened to all the English Americans? We formed the bulk of the people that founded your country, our armed forces (who are your staunchest allies) contain mostly English people, we gave you a beautiful language, from what I can gather you love our Royal Family and yet I have NEVER once in my life heard anyone proclaim to be an English American. Where the hell did they all go? By the way, despite some anti-American sentiments, I have met some very nice Americans whilst serving in the Persian Gulf (fears alayed).

So said Phil on Sunday 13 February, 2005 at 11:26PM GMT.

Comment 24

Found this late, I was trying to find sites that list American owned companies, that own British brands, so I can avoid/boycott them. Proud of being a pure-blood Celt, and European, I want to spend my money on making Europe better, not increasing the material greed of the American. Interesting though, throughout all the comments on this site concerning the history, character and structure of the current USA, no one ever mentioned the 16 million indigenous population exterminated by those setting up the land of the free!!!

So said David Munroe on Thursday 14 July, 2005 at 4:20PM GMT.

See Also

^ Top

SiteGround: Fast, reliable, recommended hosting.