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To Avoid A Spammer
Harvesters

There is software called harvesters and spiders that comb message bases such as newsgroups and mailing list archives to find e-mail addresses. If you are active on any newsgroups or mailing lists, then there really isn't much you can do about this. Some people have used methods such as inserting text into their e-mail address to foil spammers, but this presents three problems.

  • It makes it confusing for a legitimate user to respond to your messages.
  • The harvesters and spiders are "smart" enough to recognize and remove this text.
  • If it is done incorrectly, you could be tying up resources on your POP3 server.


To make this clearer, let's use my e-mail address as an example. It is <vbok@biogate.com>.

The text that people usually put into their e-mail address is "NOSPAM". So now my address would look like:

<vbokNOSPAM@biogate.com>

Did you spot problem number one and three yet? This address would cause problems for your POP3 server, because you haven't affected the domain name. All you did was to change the username. The mail is still going to <biogate.com>, but now there is a false user <vbokNOSPAM>. This of course will cause a bounce (because the user vbokNOSPAM doesn't exist), which means your POP3 server must create a message saying so. To correct this problem, you would change the address to:

<vbok@NOSPAMbiogate.com>

This will alleviate problem three, but you can see where problem one still comes into play. You must provide in your message instructions for removing the text "NOSPAM" from your address so that someone can send you mail. For experienced Usenet users, this isn't too big of a problem, but for novices, they may not understand what they need to do.

Either way, harvesters and spiders are getting "smart" enough to remove this text, so it really doesn't do you a whole lot of good anyway.

So how do you avoid spam on Usenet and mailing lists? Unfortunately, the only answer is to not post, or get a throwaway e-mail account with a service like Hotmail.com.


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