Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 01:17:56 -0500
Sender: The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 09 Mar 1999 - Sick of Spam?
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\___/ \___/ T h e I n t e r n e t T o u r B u s \___/
TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: SICK OF SPAM?
Lots of people write asking what to do about spam - that unwanted
email that clogs your inbox with promises of fast money, weight loss,
stock tips, porno sites, etc. Here's my take on what works, what
doesn't and tips you can use to stem the flow. If you're sick of
spam, read on - and please do forward this issue to a friend.
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KICK ME, I'M A JERK
Q: I've read about sites where you can register yourself as a "no
spam" address. Suppposedly spammers run their bulk mailings
through these databases and remove the addresses that have
requested no spam. Are these legit, and how can we know that these
sites will not misuse the addresses they receive?
A: You can't be sure, and I recommend that you NOT use them. Some of
these sites are merely collection points run by spammers to obtain
valid e-mail addresses. It's quite likely that registering at these
sites is the cyber-equivalent of hanging a "Kick me" sign on your
own back, and will actually increase your spam level. Even if they
are run by well-meaning people, most spammers wouldn't use them.
REMOVE ME = SPAM ME
Q: I faithfully send in REMOVE requests whenever I get unsolicited
e-mail. But I'm still getting spam - more than ever. What's up?
A: If you send REMOVE requests this tells the spammers two things:
(1) your e-mail address is valid; and (2) you read the e-mail you
receive. Thus, you are a perfect target for more spam. This is
why I recommend that people DO NOT send REMOVE requests.
NOT SUCH A DEAL
Q: What about those services that claim they work with the major
spam factories, and offer to remove your name from all spam
lists for $25?
A: They claim to work with the major spammers, but the major spammers
DON'T WANT to remove people from their lists. Even if they are not
crooks, it's likely that they have little or no power to deliver on
their promises. And they can't do anything to stop the army of
small-time spammers with lists of their own.
ISN'T SPAMMING ILLEGAL?
Q: How can these companies get away with selling bulk e-mail software
that makes it easy for people to spam the Net? Isn't spamming
illegal, by extension of the "junk fax" laws in the USA?
A: Spamming is obnoxious, but not illegal. There are several pieces
of anti-spam legislation being considered in the USA, one of which
would extend the "junk fax law" to cover e-mail spam, but it's been
under discussion by lawmakers since 1997. And any law passed by the
US Congress would have no power outside the USA. (The state of
Virginia passed an anti-spam law in February but hasn't been signed
by the governor, and the ACLU is contesting it.)
SPITTING IN THE WIND
Q: I have a program called Spam Hater, which sends nastygrams to
spammers and their service providers, but most of the messages it
generates bounce right back to me. Why?
A: Spammers typically forge the headers in their e-mail so the true
sending address cannot be determined. Spam Hater will only be
effective against newbie spammers who don't know how to cover
their tracks. Another problem is that when you DO get through to
a real person, it's often the spammer himself, since many have
their own domain names.
LOW TECH, BUT IT WORKS
Q: Okay, so no-spam registries, remove requests and anti-spam
software are all useless. The spammers are running wild and
there are no laws on the horizon to stop them. What *can* I do?
A: Press the Delete key, and get on with your life. Really.
I get more spam than most people (dozens every day) and this is
the best advice I can offer. Depressing, ain't it?
WHAT ABOUT SPAM FILTERS?
Some people prefer to install spam filters in their e-mail
program. If you use Eudora and want to try filtering, visit
this site for instructions:
For more info on spam filtering tools and techniques, visit:
The JunkBusters site is a great resource on dealing with spam and
other forms of junk, both online and offline. It's even available
in 15 languages.
If you use AOL, you're at the mercy of their Mail Controls, which
can filter certain spammer domains, but still misses quite a bit.
I've stopped checking my AOL email entirely because the spam
problem is so bad there.
As a geek and fan of non-intrusive government, I think a technical
solution to the spam problem is preferable to a legislative one. But
for now we'll have to keep hammering that Delete key.
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That's all for now, see you next time. --Bob
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