MSN Messenger as a way of advertising?

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

A while back, one of the more technically-minded members of the UPSU team mentioned that there were people using MSN Messenger as a way of sending out advertisements. Naturally I assumed the worst and - choking on my instant coffee - decried it as a cheap way of spamming users of instant messenger programs, and another intrusion on peoples' privacy.

As usual, I slightly jumped the gun.

The way this works is this; say the Union wanted to send out "what's on" information through MSN Messenger. We would set up an MSN "bot", which is simply a computer program with an MSN Messenger account that "talks" to people on it's MSN contacts list.

To join up to the service, I would simply add the bot's e-mail address to my MSN contacts list - e.g. sociallife@upsu.net. The bot would automagically accept my e-mail address into it's contacts list and send out a message through MSNM (assuming I'm online) saying something like,

"This is the UPSU.net Social:Life messenger bot. I send out what's on information every 24 hours.

To join up to this service and receive this information, please type 'join'. To cancel, please type 'cancel', or simply close this conversation window and delete me from your contacts list.

Remember you can cancel this service at any time simply by typing 'cancel'."

Seems simple enough doesn't it?

The bot would then keep an eye out for you and when it sees you're online and you haven't been sent the latest updates for at least 24 hours, it sends out a mini-summary of what's on, e.g.

"Tonight at the Union - Mr. Scruff in Lux 9pm to 2am (dance music) - more info click here
Tomorrow at the Union - ....
Drinks offers - Bud 2-4-

Most-mentioned in the blog