Date:         Wed, 5 Apr 2000 05:28:55 +0000
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 04 Apr 2000 - Sick of Spam?
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             TOURBUS Volume 5, Number 81 -- 04 April 2000
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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, porn sites, etc.  Here's my take on what works, what
doesn't and tips you can use to stem the flow.  I originally wrote
this article over a year ago, but it's been updated with the latest
links and information available to me. If you're sick of spam, read on
- and please feel free to forward this issue to a friend.
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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.
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.
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.
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.  For an update on HR
3113, an anti-spam bill being considered by the US House of
Representatives, look here:  
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.
If you're more technical, or mad enough to learn the details of
Internet mail headers, there are some tools and techniques that can
help you find a spammer's service provider and register a complaint.
Look here for more info on that:        
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?
Other smart moves to keep your email address out of the hands of
spammers include:
- Don't post your email address on your website.  Some spammers use
harvesting programs to find addresses.
- Don't post to forums, chat rooms, mailing lists or newsgroups with
your primary address.  Use an alternate address provided by your ISP
or get an account at Hotmail or one of the other free web-based email
services.  Only give out your primary address to trusted people or
sites with a clear email privacy policy.
Some people prefer to install spam filters in their e-mail program.
These work to varying degrees, but my concern is that over-zealous
filters might zap some non-spam emails. Some Internet Service
providers are filtering email at the server level, which makes me even
more nervous.
For example, I recently learned that EXCITE was blocking all TOURBUS
and other LISTSERV mailings to their members, because the incoming
volume triggered one of their spam rules.  We got this one resolved,
so if this is your first issue in several months, you'll know why! 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.
Another interesting site is the SPAM RECYCLING CENTER, where you can
learn how to forward your spam to the appropriate authorities, get a
free anti-spam filter from Brightmail or MailCircuit, and check out
the Omaha Steaks "Turn Your Spam into Steak" program, which offers
Spam Recycling Center participants discounts and freebies.  
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.
That's all for now, see you next time.  --Bob
The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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