Back when we were building SiteAdvisor, one of the things we wanted to warn users about were websites that sold or traded your email address leading to spam (you can see some of the bad stuff we caught in our old blog posts). In order to do this we created bots that crawled the web and signed up for every form they could find. Tens of millions of forms.*
Some of these forms required a physical address, so we rented a post office box and gave that address. A few weeks after we started, we got a call from the post office saying “Um, you guys better come down here and get your mail.” What we found were crates and crates of junk mail.
As a result, visitors to our office were delighted to find a great magazine selection:
Eventually we had to build a magazine avoider algorithm into our bots because we started getting billed for all the signed ups!
This crazy little operation still goes on today. The guys currently at SiteAdvisor (now McAfee) told me they recently received a lamb carcass in the mail (from a hunting advocacy organization).
*Yes, everything is recycled, and the ultimate goal is to reduce spam/junk mail, so we think net it’s a positive service.