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2 Spam - The Basics

Spam is more or less defined as any e-mail you don't want and didn't sign up for. It is usually advertising something or promoting some kind of scam. Other terms for it include unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE) and unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE).

Spam is widely recognized as a serious problem facing ISPs and internet users, since it eats up bandwidth, defrauds people, and fills up people's inboxes with junk. It has the potential to become much more of a problem than junk snail mail or telemarketing (phone spam) because it is so unbelievably cheap to send spam e-mail rather than calling you or mailing you a piece of paper. Some people literally are forced to throw away their e-mail addresses because they receive so much unwanted spam.

If e-mail servers are continuously overwhelmed with spam, it could eventually become a threat to the very existence of e-mail as a communications medium.

by Sarah See Profile

Believe it or not, it's from the Monty Python "Spam" sketch. Spam e-mail drowns out e-mail conversations just as the men shouting SPAM SPAM SPAMMITY SPAM! drowned out the conversations around them in that scene.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • stop sending money to the scammers \all spam mail\ - http://isc60.blogspot.com/

    2011-04-23 23:47:57 (peterpl See Profile)

by Sarah See Profile

You are getting spammed by strangers because they were able to get your e-mail address, one way or another, and are hoping to get money from you. See the Spam Prevention section to find out how to prevent this from happening in the future; and see the Spam Management section if it's already too late.

by Sarah See Profile

An opt-in list is one that you have to specifically request to be on - like signing up for a newsletter. If you opt-in, it's not really spam, because you requested it. There is usually a fairly simple way to get off the list in this case. (This is not a technique used much by spammers.)

An opt-out list is one where you are signed up for the list without your knowledge and you are responsible for removing yourself. Opt-out is usually a sign of bad intentions! Many people feel that any legislation which legalizes opt-out marketing is (almost) worthless.

by Sarah See Profile

In a word: NO!

Using the 'remove me' link (or e-mail) is never, repeat NEVER, a good idea, unless you requested to be on the list in the first place (in which case it is not really spam).

Most of the time, a remove request will just not work. However, when it does, it's even worse! It lets them know that you are reading and responding to their e-mail - that is, you are a sucker for spam. (Don't feel bad, just about everyone has done it at some point in their lives.)

If they find out that you clicked 'remove me', you will probably be deluged with spam pretty soon.

by Sarah See Profile

Deleting spam helps no one. Your silence will be taken as acceptance.

Bouncing spam is tricky; if you don't do it right, the spammer may realize that you faked it, and that your address is a legitimate one. This may get you more spam. Most of the time, the spammer will not include a legitimate address to bounce a message to anyway, so it's just a waste of time.

The best thing to do is report the spam to the proper authorities.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • who are the proper authorities?????

    2011-01-20 17:41:31

by Sarah See Profile

You should complain to anyone who is hosting any of the spammer's e-mail or web addresses. Decipher the headers of the e-mail address and complain to their ISP; do a lookup on the web address and complain to the company hosting it.

This can be tricky as spammers usually try to hide where they are spamming from.

Some sites that will help you with the details of spam reporting include Spamcop and UXN Spam Combat. These sites make it easy even for a relative newbie.

by Sarah See Profile
last modified: 2002-05-20 23:09:35

Once you've parsed the email headers and determined the injection point, you can visit the Network Abuse Clearinghouse, http://www.abuse.net/, and input the domain name to search their master database for the correct abuse address to send complaints.

by newview See Profile edited by Sarah See Profile
last modified: 2002-05-23 10:04:01

There are lots. Here are a few places to start:

Spamcop - They will help you report spam and educate you on fighting the good fight. Both paid and free services.

MyRealBox - Providing spam-free e-mail.

MailWasher - Allows you to bounce, delete, filter, preview, blacklist, etc. your e-mail messages. Free!

CAUCE - An organization dedicated to fighting spam.

Spamfaq.net - A very extensive spam FAQ with lots of good links.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • In my opinion, MagicSpam anti-spam email software is the best of class. It's easy to use & even easier to install on your server running CPanel, Plesk, MailEnable etc. Tech support is very knowledgeable & fast. No muss, no fuss. Features: * Lower Your Bandwith * Zero Day Protection * Automatic Updates * 'Best Practices' Validation * Mail Server Profiling * Reduces 'Back Scatter' * Blocks Trojans & Bots * Set Custom Policies * Searchable Logs * Live Statistics * Less System Overhead * Easy to Use & Maintain But I know there are many others, so I'm all ears. Website: http://www.MagicSpam.com

    2013-10-22 13:21:17 (magicspam See Profile)

by Sarah See Profile
last modified: 2006-03-29 11:48:10

The Center for Democracy and Technology has put together a paper based on a study about what online behavior results in the most spam.


Their analysis indicated that e-mail addresses posted on Web sites or in newsgroups attract the most spam.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • Dead link, please fix.

    2013-02-27 10:20:09

  • Dead link.

    2009-12-14 13:28:26 (legendNYC See Profile)

by newview See Profile edited by Sarah See Profile
last modified: 2003-05-09 00:12:55