Protect Yourself from Spam
Unsolicited commercial email (spam) is a sad fact of life on today's Internet. While there's no perfect solution that will keep your email mailbox clean, there are many simple steps you can take to alleviate the problem.
Protect Your Email Address Online
Many spammers operate "bots": autonomous software robots that "crawl" the Web looking for email addresses. If you post your email address publicly anywhere online (on a website, a discussion forum, on USENET, in a guestbook etc.) then sooner or later it will be found by one of these bots and will then get added to a spam mailing list. These harvested email addresses are commonly bundled by the millions onto CDs, which spammers then use to send out their unwanted messages.
- Don't post your email address in "plain" form anywhere on the Web. Instead, you can disguise your email address by writing it in a convoluted way so that humans can still read it, but bots can't. For example, instead of writing "email@example.com", use "john AT example DOT com".
- Sign up for a new email address to use when you need to supply an email address but don't particularly care about the replies (e.g. when posting on a guestbook)
- Keep a "private" email address which you share only with close friends and family. Never use this private email address on any site.
- Obfuscate your email address before posting it on your website by using the email address encoding tool.
- Use a feedback form on your website instead of providing a contact email address.
Choose a Non-Obvious Email Address
Some spammers find email addresses by generating likely combinations using automated tools. For example, they may generate a list like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and so on. They also make use of word lists and lists of first names and surnames to generate likely email addresses.
Of course, most of the email addresses generated automatically using these techniques won't actually exist, but spammers don't care since email is so cheap to send out.
- Choose a relatively long email address (8+ characters)
- Never sign up for an email address which is the same as your first name or last name (e.g. email@example.com). Instead, add your initials and some numbers (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
The following articles provide additional pointers as to how you can fend off spam.
- How to Beat Spam
Tired of junk mail flooding your mailbox? Here are some practical tips to stem the tide of spam...
- The Cost of Spam
Why you should NEVER give in to the siren call of spam!
- Avoid Being Labeled a Spammer!
If you run a newsletter or discussion list, this article may save you from being falsely accused of spamming your readership.
- How to Report Spam
If you regularly receive spam, you may want to report it to someone. This article looks at various places you could submit a spam report.
- The MailTo Encoder Tool
Learn about a simple free tool that will help protect your site's email address from marauding email-harvesting 'bots!