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You've Got Spam!

spam, email, email address, unsolicited email, anti spam, junk mail

There’s the canned Spam some people love to eat, and then there’s the electronic spam nobody wants to sink their teeth into. Anyone with an email address knows how tasteless the latter can be. Getting unsolicited messages containing advertisements for get-rich-quick schemes and enlargement of various body parts is no one’s idea of fun. In general, though, spam means any form of unwanted and irrelevant information in electronic form sent to people who didn’t ask for it. Unwelcome text messages sent to your mobile phone are already considered spam (those from your exes don’t count). However, its popular definition is junk email. It is a method used by unscrupulous businesspeople to promote their products and services.

You already know why you’re getting spam, but most likely you don’t know how. One of the reasons is the infamous address harvester, also known as spambot, which is a program whose only purpose in life is to scour the internet for email addresses. You unwittingly offer yourself up as a spam victim if you post your email address in blog entries, user profiles, newsgroups, message forums and other similar medium. If you posted it in HTML format, it’s screaming “I’m an email address, hear me roar!” Spambots will surely hear that call.

A solution is to never post your email address anywhere on the internet. Of course, that’s impractical. You won’t be getting spam, but you won’t get any other kind of mail, either. An alternative is to break down your email address when posting it. The address ‘username@maildomain.com’ can be posted as ‘username at mail domain dot com.’ It’s up to you how to disguise your email address, just make sure that it’s still understandable to human beings.

However, even if you don’t post your email address anywhere (which is unlikely in the first place), you can still get spam by just having one. Your address is part of your email hosting service’s public directory available to everyone—and that includes spambots.

When it comes to fighting spam, tactics are more defensive than offensive. Take heart though, because sometimes the best offense is defense. So put up your walls in the form of filters, which are often third-party software you can buy from a computer store. These filters stop spam from entering into your account, or at least to divert it into a separate folder—the bulk folder—for easier disposal.

A word of warning, though: some legitimate emails are marked as spam by these filters. Spare a minute for scanning your bulk email for any misdirected mail. You might end up deleting a message concerning a deadline from your boss. The excuse “I accidentally deleted your email because my filters thought it was spam” will go down as badly as your childhood days’ “The dog ate my homework” did.

If your email service provider has an option to report spam and mark emails as spam, use those features. Block the addresses which stubbornly send you unwanted mails. Create at least three email accounts. One is strictly used for communication with friends and family, another for business, and the last one for signing up for forums, chatrooms, newsletters, etc. Even if the third account gets bombarded with spam, at least you wouldn’t have to worry about looking for a message from your mother amidst fifty emails saying you’ll soon be a multi-millionaire home business owner and a lottery winner with thicker hair, younger-looking skin, and bigger body parts.
Published: 2006-04-18
Author: Alexandrea Roman

About the author or the publisher
Alexandrea is a degree holder in Computer Science and now works as a full-time researcher. Nevertheless, she still spends ample amount of time on writing, which is her one true passion. She has been writing online content for a couple of years.

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