What is it?
How is it done?
Who are they?
Avoiding spam
Punish spammers

homemail me!

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Copyright © 1997-2004
Paul Hsieh All Rights Reserved.


First of all, to make sure you all aren't convinced this is all a waste of time (Posted on rec.humor.funny):

That honesty is the best policy was driven home to me a couple of days ago, when I went to the butcher's shop late in the day. A wizened old lady wanted to buy a lamb roast, so he'd pulled one out, weighed it, and told her, "That'll be $13.45, please."

"Too small, I'm afraid. Do you have a larger one?"

The butcher picked up the roast, went out to the back room, waited a while (it was obviously the last one he had in stock), and came back. "This one should be better. It's $15.20."

I was just about to explode in protest, when I saw the old lady give him a sly grin. "Thank you. That's perfect. I'll take both."

While not having anything to do with spamming, I think this little anecdote sets the tone for this page in the sense that (1) Spammers are always trying to con you (2) There are ways to exact retribution by burning spammers with their own trick.

What is spam?

Spam includes internet based telemarketing, sending unsolicited batch emails, cross posting off topic commercials or other materials to the USENET, or otherwise abusing the internet's facilities, to send unwanted messages to huge volumes of people.  Most people who try to interact on the internet in any non-passive way will encounter spam.

In the old days (before 1996), this sort of thing was limited to one off pranks or newbie idiocy usually limited to USENET where it can be controlled to some degree.  But with the explosion of the internet, over anxious telemarketers are redefining the concept of abuse, bad taste and invasion of privacy through spam.  Batched email commercials for products you would normally hear about in an infommercial (essentially, junk email) is currently the method of choice for today's spam instigator.

Most people find spam annoying and also end up paying for connection time just to receive spam. While my employer absorbs the cost, I am one of the "annoyed" people, who receives a lot of unwanted spam. I am fed up! This page is about how to counter act spamming. I am willing to invest some time into counter acting spamming in general, and if anyone else has any better suggestions, feel free to tell me about them.

In case you are wondering how most people in general feel about this take an online poll on which tallied up whether or not people think unsolicited email should be illegal, concluded that 84% thought it should be illegal. I'm sure the 16% that thought it was all right are composed primarily of perpetrators and people who have not yet been hit by massive email spam and can't imagine what's so wrong about it.

I have a personal definition that I am fairly comfortable using:

Spam is any email sent to you under a premise that you have not invited the sender to contact you about. That is to say, you must in some sense open yourself to the conversation before such solicitation is acceptable.

For USENET postings, this is extended by saying postings made to a newsgroup which the vast majority consider to be off topic (as described by the newsgroup charter) and/or a waste of bandwidth.

Here are some email examples:

  1. Out of the blue one day I received mail from McAffee about their virus detection products. This is spam since I have never invited anyone to discuss viruses with me in conjunction with trying to sell me a virus detection product. This mail was spam. (McAffee is a very disreputable company known for spreading false virus warnings in an attempt to sell their product.)

  2. Out of the blue one day I received mail from SciTech Software about their latest graphics driver products. I have established a relationship with SciTech and two of the employees as well as having a keen interest in graphics drivers (that is what I do for a living.) This relationship was established in public forums such as the USENET and a conference (CGDC.) I also work for a company that has a relationship with SciTech. This mail is not spam.

In both cases the sender had a simple mechanism for determining whether or not what they were sending was spam or not. Basically, the question simply comes down to whether or not there was already an established relationship.

Similarly speaking, as I make public postings to the USENET and author several public web pages, I essentially have established a one way relationship with anyone wishing to discuss such topics with me. But not to simply take my email address and start up any old conversation with me; that's spam. Recruiting firms giving me random job offers based on my skills/reputation also falls under the terms of spam since the recruiting firms themselves do not open a direct discussion on such topics. They just want to talk about jobs, not assembly or graphics. (The only time I feel I should be talking to somebody's representative is when I am in a court of law, not on the internet.)

How do they do it?

The easiest way to spam is to cross-post a commercial on the USENET.  Given its growing size, such posts can cost the internet tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars just to propagate the unwanted message to everyone.  Although cancelbots (automated agents that put a stop to such posts early on) do exist, they are automated, and hence have very unaggressive rules for identifying spam (otherwise it may inadvertently cancel somebody's legitimate post.)  This form of spamming, tends to be the least effective, as people usually quickly learn to recognize and ignore such posts very quickly.

The most typical spam/scam posted to the USENET is the pyramid scheme, get rich quick scam. It basically starts up an exponent flow of money, without ever selling a product or service, and the goal is to be at the receiving end of the flow of money. The reason it doesn't work is that the total money remains constant, and is really just shuffling around (with most of it going to the instigator and the handful of early adopters, all of whom can be charged with fraud in a court of law.) It lures people in based on the same false premise as any lottery system. Unlike lottery systems, however, there is no government control, clearly posted rules, or even an honest business establishment backing it up.

Another typical scam is to use bait and switch tactics.  This is when a  telemarketer has set up their scam on a web page somewhere, that you would not ordinarily run into (unless you were just randomly clicking on link exchange banners.)  They post one thing, that seems either very interesting or on topic for the particular newsgroup, with a link to their page.  Of course, once you click on their site, they can try to sell you anything they like.  Spammers are not above trying anything.  One spammer I saw posted something to the effect of "Ok, since there has been so much demand I'll just post the URL:" without ever having giving any sort of prelude to what they are talking about (they were not referring to any previous discussion of course, just feed off people's curiosity and mob mentality.)

Batch emailing (or email bombing) is a somewhat more sophisticated, but far  more effective way that telemarketers have picked up and it threatens to ruin the internet.  Basically, the spammer accumulates a list of valid email addresses.  The easiest way to do that is to download an entire USENET feed and scan for email addresses.  An alternative way to harvest for email addresses is to use a "search engine" to scan email addresses from people's web pages, including their "guest books", and finally, popular web pages which get you to input your email address in some form somewhere can easily accumulate a list.  They then simply write a simple program to send a copy of their commercial to each of the email addresses.  Of course, there would be little point of doing  this, unless they were able to hook some percentage of those email targets into  their scam.  This requires that they have some way for you to respond to them.  

The amateur or beginner email spammers will tend to just supply a return email address to "get more information". These spammers tend to lose their accounts rather quickly (enough of their targets are usually savvy enough to complain to the right people, to help get this done.) If the scam is pyramid scheme in nature, alerting the post office will help bring the offender up on charges.

The hard core telemarketers who have a skilled programmer on staff will be  able to do much more to protect themselves.  They can use a mail relay sympathetic to the cause of spammers that will hide the originating IP address as well as faking all the regular header fields of the email.  For all intents and purposes it is possible for the real originator to be  completely shrouded.  But at the very least, in all cases, the header will  at least give the last mail relay which did send you the mail.  (And if  that relay is legitimate it will at least give the IP address of the mail  originator.)  Typically only spammers that own their own email relay, or buy the service from a sympathetic spammer, can do this.

The most typical email spammer, though, will simply use an unsuspecting public email relay. They will provide fake Reply-To and From fields and have you call some long distance number or send something to a PO Box to get feedback. These people are traceable because they leave their IP address in the header. But it requires a little bit of work to actually track them down. These spammers hope that they can get away with it for long enough that by the time the appropriate UNIX hackers track them down and alert the right people, they will have accomplished what they need to accomplish.

More recently, spammers are using the tactic of sending their spam at "off hours" (like Sunday night) to spread out retaliations enough to gain a little extra time before they are tracked down and shut down.

The scams

On 10/08/97 I received the follow email:

Date: Wed, 08 Oct 1997 23:08:20 -0400
Subject: See Ya Tomorrow
X-Sender: (Unverified)
To: (Recipient list suppressed)

Hey there, what's going on.  I just signed up for this great web 
site, and thought you would get a kick out of it.  Here is my 
password, check it out if you want. The video sex is unreal..
User name= xxxxxx
Password= xxxxx

See you at the golf corse in the morning. 
 You better not be late this time.......
P.S. Tell Kathy to give my wife a call..

Ok, obviously I have no idea who "D" or is. The idea of this SPAM is that its meant to lead me to believe that this email has been sent to me by mistake. And I'm supposed to say to myself "Wow! Someone has inadvertently sent me free access to an Adult site that might otherwise cost me some ungodly sum of money! I should take advantage of this!"

There are plenty of telltale signs that make this SPAM, not any inadvertent legitimate email message.

  1. To: (Recipient list suppressed) is a typical email list signature
  2. It comes from
  3. The content: discussion of online sex between people is obviously fairly rare in comparison to unsolicited email trying to push it.
  4. Even if the mail was sent erroneously, the chances that they make a sufficient set of coincidental errors is essentially zero unless the person knows me. So no matter what this person must have my email address without my consent.
Reasons 2 through 4 are, by themselves, sufficient to label the email as SPAM.   Reason 1, if you are not familiar with the sender, is also sufficient.   Unfortunately, as can be seen from the above, its hard to be 100% sure without  wasting the time and effort to read the scam in the first place and thinking  about it for a second.  Examples like this should be convincing evidence of the  use of SPAM for the purposes of fraudulent advertising.

Who are these people? Are they really so bad?

By personality, scruples and a sense of who they are, basically these people  are the same people who make infommercials as well as telemarketers with fewer resources (they were probably abused as children.) Internet spamming is a very cheap, and very easy way to get a message across to thousands or millions of unsuspecting people.  Because the internet has no laws, and is not heavily policed, there are no consequences. If they only get a 1% favorable response, it is good for them; all they have to do is increase the number of targets they hit with their spam, which costs them nothing, of course.

These people are used car salesmen. They are the scum of the earth and they will resort to any tactic to sell something to you; the slimier the better. They are taking up valuable internet bandwidth and precious oxygen. They will often try to suck you in, by being friendly or, put of a facade of being reasonable nice people in their spam. Don't buy it for a second. If they weren't the lowest scum, they wouldn't be doing this to you.

As a primary example, many spammers will offer to remove you from their list contingent upon you sending them a "remove" email. They are lying. Rather than removing you, they will either resell your email address to someone else or use it for another list they are maintaining. If you respond, you are confirming that your address is active, which is music to their ears. Originally this was just a theory of mine, but it has been very much confirmed by folks like Paul Vixie and Dave Romerstein. They both set up some bogus email addresses which had no other activity on the net other than to log into the so called IEMMC.ORG "take me off the spam lists" site and ask to be taken off all spam lists. Sure enough those email addresses, which had no other activity on them whatsoever started receiving spam.

Signing up for spam blocker lists are a red herring for several reasons:

  1. The spammers are under no legal obligation to follow them, and most do not. Even those that do can ignore it at their option and blame it on technical reasons without recourse. Quite simply you have no reason to trust them.

  2. It is an email address list, plain and simple. That means people will master CDs with those lists and sell them as willing spam targets plain and simple. Burying your head in the sand and somehow believe that such people don't exist is naive.

  3. .ORG sites are the shortest lived sites due to a lack of monetary backing. That's why and are not likely to be serious. At any given time, accessing them is not a likely proposition.

  4. Its just meant as a deflection tactic to keep you from getting angry and retaliating. Don't fall for it. If you feel so inclined, retaliate.

If you are somehow unconvinced that spammers are as bad I am making them out to be, you might like to consider the words of the supreme court of the United State of America:

"Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit.... The ancient concept that 'a man's home is his castle' into which 'not even the king may enter' has lost none of its vitality.... We therefore categorically reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. If this prohibition operates to impede the flow of even valid ideas, the answer is that no one has a right to press even 'good' ideas on an unwilling recipient. That we are often 'captives' outside the sanctuary of the home and subject to objectionable speech and other sound does not mean we must be captives everywhere.... The asserted right of a mailer, we repeat, stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."

source -- Brought to you by FindLaw Internet Legal Resources

What can I do to avoid receiving spam?

The majority of the community on USENET are pleasant people with a genuine interest in topical discussion.  Unfortunately, the free speech nature of it tends to precipitate flame wars (a cascade of posts and responses where a contentious argument degenerates into childish insults, slander, put downs and name calling.)  There's nothing worse than watching your favorite newsgroup degrade into something comparable to the British Parliament as a result of a few thoughtless bad apples who just cannot resist the temptation to show the  world how big they are when they can say something without saying it to their  face. Ignoring these posts is often hard to do, especially if your news reader  is substandard.  So, my best and only recommendation is to get a good  news reader. A good news reader will let you screen out certain individuals or  subjects of discussion with an easily configured filter.  UNIX  news readers usually include this feature, as do the better Windows news readers  (Netscape 4.0 and Anawave's Gravity for example.)

Batch email spammers principally rely on harvesting from some textual internet source in an automated way to get your email address. So the simplest way to avoid email spam is to avoid copying your email address anywhere on the internet. This means, either not posting to USENET, or posting with a fake email address (commonly in vogue is some simple modification of your email address so that a human looking at it could figure out the real address, while a computer could not) and not entering your email address on any WWW forms (like guest books.) If you have a web page, with CGI access, or a CGI based remailer of some kind then you can funnel all "mailto" tags to an html web form (such as mine) that hides your email address from the text stream while allowing humans to email you or even see your address.

Since setting up the system above for rerouting all my email, the amount of spam I receive has reduced substantially. I used to receive many spam emails per day. It pissed me off so much, I wrote this web page up as a result! Now I only receive about one or two a week! (Update: I have recently backed off of this strategy and watched my spam reception go right back up to an average of 3-8+ spams a day.)

As I receive spam email, I used to try to notify all the postmaster and roots that the message that they have a spammer on their hands and they should not let them get away with it. But I realized that this just makes matters worse if the roots/postmasters are sympathetic to the spammer rather than yourself.

As much of the spam email comes from a common source, I have build email filters to deal with well known spammer addresses.  I use the free Pegasus email program and the filters that I have set up (and periodically update) seems to be able to automatically filter about 50% of all  the spam I receive. Its not perfect, but its a lot better than nothing.

Update: I've recently learned Pegasus' "regular expression" matching feature and the spam filtering has risen to nearly 80%! I must really recommend this feature now. I have also made a copy of my filter in a simple text form that you can examine here. Please note that Pegasus uses * and ? in place of the more standard .* and . (used in the UNIX version of egrep and Perl.) Also, Pegasus' regular expressions are missing quite a few regular expression constructs.

The JunkBusters Corporation has recommended that the following generic notice/warning/offer be sent back to the spammer.

I do not want to receive uninvited solicitations by email (``Junk Email''). I am unwilling to receive Junk Email freely because it costs me time and money. If you send me any Junk Email other than on the terms of the offer set out in the following nine points, I will take this to mean that you plan to use what I offered you without paying for it. If you ever try to do this I reserve my right to take any action available to me without further reference to you. Actions available to me include taking proceedings against you for negligence or breach of contract, which may result in substantial damages being awarded against you by a court. The unauthorized use of my computing facilities may even be a crime.

  1. I offer to receive all further email from you on the terms set out below. If you send me any solicitation by email without my express prior written consent this will be taken as your acceptance of this offer.
  2. For the purposes of points 3 and 4, you will be taken to have sent any email sent by any entity apparently associated with you for the purpose of sending email solicitations.
  3. You must pay me ten US dollars for each such item of email that you send me.
  4. You must pay me ten US dollars for each copy of each email solicitation that you send to anybody or any email address referred to below, even if you don't send a copy to me. You may also have to pay other persons as well if they have sent you a similar offer.
  5. I may join with any of those persons for the purpose of efficiently collecting your payments.
  6. You must mail payment by certified check to me within five working days of the transmission of the email. If you do not know where to send payment, you must state this in the email and give me an easy way to tell you.
  7. Each email item must be uniquely identified, and each payment must clearly identify the relevant item or items.
  8. You must tell me your name and full business and residential addresses in each email message.
  9. I may vary the terms of or terminate this offer at any time (even after you have accepted it). Any new terms will apply to all email you send after you have been notified of a variation.

The copyright of the above text is held by Junkbusters Corporation and is used here in accordance with the GNU General Public License, copies of which are available at or from the Free Software Foundation, 675 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

The above message's main effectiveness is that it appears to be almost a form letter in nature and is highly non-personal. This is good because it lets the spammer know that you didn't take the time to read whatever it was they sent you beyond knowing it for what it is, and are not interested, nor easily enticed into engaging in any personal or business contact.

As part of email disclaimers in USENET postings, I've seen the following message:

WARNING: Use of the above Email address for unsolicited 
commercial Email or as part of a mailing list for any 
purpose, without express consent of the addressee is a 
violation of US Law (see below).  

Permission to use the above Email address for solicitation
purposes may be granted by the addressee for a fee of 
US $1000.00.  Use of this address for solicitation or
other purposes constitutes agreement to these terms.
"By US Code Title 47, Sec.227(a)(2)(B), a computer/modem/printer 
meets the definition of a telephone fax machine.  By Sec.227(b)(1)(C), 
it is unlawful to send any unsolicited advertisement to such 
equipment.  By Sec.227(b)(3)(C), a violation of the aforementioned 
Section is punishable by action to recover actual monetary loss, or 
$500, whichever is greater, for each violation."

While succinct and to the point, it won't stop automated email address harvesters and it wont stop the hard core spammer who will simply ignore you and use whatever technological means at their disposal to make tracking them down a difficult and time consuming proposition.

On the other hand if you were able to use this as a successful basis for  recovering damages from a spammers, it might be a nice way to supplement your  income.  I think it would be cool if collection agencies would get together  with anti-spammers and started a small industry of basically punishing spammers for money.

How can I help stop spamming as a general practice?

Ok, time for another joke:

Dear Mr. Jones:

We noticed you've not picked up any condoms at SpiffyMart recently. (Your last purchase was 8 weeks ago.) Further, you have stopped buying feminine hygiene products, but have sharply increased your frozen pizza and dinners usage in the same time frame.

It's clear that Ms. Jody Sanders has dumped you. (It's probably for the best - we knew she was a loser from that cheap shampoo she buys.) We confirmed this with the Post Office database -- yep, she filed a change of address.

We at Horny International offer our condolences. As the number-one vender of hot X-rated videos, we'd like to help you out in this time of stress. If you're feeling lonely, check out our catalog of both VHS and super 8 tapes.

Order now and we throw in an extra tape FREE!

Yours Truly;

Sleazy Jerk, Marketing Manager.

ps: That "blond" at O'Dougles last Saturday -- you bought her 2nd Strawberry Martini? Forget it! She's on her third yeast infection in as many months, and is a 'regular' at Acme Pharmacy. (Her HMO computer gossips with ours.) You never know what else she might have. Our tapes are LOTS safer!..

I am suggesting you consider the question of how to stop spamming, not because I am enforcing moral values as to how you should react to spam, but rather because we (the internet community) will soon have no choice.

  • Never read the contents of a spam

    • Nobody can force you to do anything, and that includes reading solicitation, and my strong recommendation is that you don't. That is fundamentally the ultimate cost to you, and it is what they first want out of you. In not reading what they've said, it keeps you completely neutral to the contents, which means you can concentrate any reference to the spam on the fact that it is nothing more than spam to you. It usually doesn't take me more than 3 or 4 lines to know that an email is SPAM (and often you can tell just from the subject, or sender's email address alone.)

      While you may be able to see through their scams now, it is clear that as this  form of marketing grows, more sophisticated and deceptive spam will be sent  (like a legit sounding charity service asking for contribution, that's really  just someone's PO box, or somebody claiming to be an old school friend in need  of help/money.  Update: did you get a Diana T-shirt spam?  Know what I am  talking about now?)

  • Use mail and usenet filtering to block common spammers

    • If your mailer/newsreader does not support filtering then I suggest you get  yourself ones that do.  Relatively speaking, the internet is very cheap for  what it does (its a lot cheaper than long distance, that's for sure!) and I  feel that its worth the fixed cost investment to purchase good tools for using  it.  The tools I use: Netscape Communicator 4.0, Pegasus Mail for  Win32, and Anawave's Gravity News reader.  (I have not linked them,  as I think its entirely up to you to choose your own tools, and also your onus  to find them.)

      So far, I've just been accumulating lists of people/subject matter that I consider spam of too prevalent a nature and excluded them through my Pegasus Mail filters. Unfortunately, it does not send any negative feedback to the spammer, but nobody can be expected to respond to every piece of junk email sent their way.

      Designing a mail filter to ferret out spam.
      For me this has been an interactive process. I have found that there are a few clever things that go a long way to nailing spam. Below is a list of simple filter rules that will do a lot of the work:

      • If in the body of the message you find to be removed from future mail, that is a nail on the head sure sign of spam.
      • Mail coming from certain sites such as  hotmail, earthlink, juno, nevwest, cyberpromo, savetrees are obvious  targets and should be added to your mail filter. (Update: hotmail has  gotten better, in that it does not condone spamming, but there is little  evidence they have pursued people for faking hotmail addresses for the  purposes of fraud or spam.  That is to say a fair percentage of spam still  does appear to come from addresses, but did not actually  originate from so filtering is still effective so long as you  don't care to receive mail from hotmail members.)
      • User names such as money@, freestuff@, guarranteedcash@ and so on should be added as you run into them.
      • Subject with "supplement your income", "guarantee", "$50,000", should be entered into your filter.
      • For phrases in the body of the mail: "This is not a pyramid scheme", and "this is not illegal!" are telltale signs of spam.
      • The special header strings X-Advertisement,

      The question then is where should you target this filtered email? Because filtering your email can be a little risky, just sending to the garbage bin may not be such a great idea. I personally send them to a "spam folder". I use this spam folder as a source of spammer email addresses that I use in some of the offensive tactics listed below. In the case of hotmail, though, I simply forward any mail I receive from their site to

      In collecting spam, I have found the following interesting statistics that can help you design a spam filter:

      • About 10% of all spam contains in its header, but nearly all of it has other telltale signs that it is spam. This is the worst spam site (and best guarantee that the mail has only spam content) followed by, (a close second),,,, and in that order. Of course, I've heard that cyberpromo, savetrees and nevwest are really all just cyberpromo in one form or another, which obviously makes cyberpromo far and away the number one spam domain. (Update: Even with hotmail's anti-spam policy, these statistics have not changed.)
      • The next most definite determination that something is spam is a From address which is nothing but numerals leading up to or starting from the @ sign, or else an address with nothing but numbers ending in Another 20% of spam can be determined by this.
      • Email that addresses you as Dear Friend or you@ have the highest probability of having no other telltale signs  that they are spam, and by themselves are enough to identify spam.
      • Among contextual filters, looking for telltale  phrases referring to bulk email, mailing lists, or bulk  emailing software is the most likely to occur in spam.
      • At least 75% of all spam has multiple "spam marks" (phrases or header tags which does not appear in regular email) that identifies it as spam.
      • Despite claims by some spam domains about promoting "responsible UCE" less than 25% of all spam is distributed with the X-Advertisement header tag. Less 4% of all spam contains a pointer to, the supposed "spam block list". (Update: no longer exists but the statistics were true right up to the point of its ceasing to exist, and the X-Advertisement header string usage has dropped to 0%.)

      If you have a programmer's flair, or know a little about regular expressions, then you will find this even more useful. For example, some useful UNIX regular expressions are:

      \$\W*([0-9,]{1,}|[0-9,]+\.[0-9]{2,2}) Money
      .*make \$+\W*[0-9,.]+.*in.*[0-9]+\W*(day|week)s.* make money in short time
      ([Ff]rom|[Tt]o):?\W*[0-9]+@[0-9]* Bogus numeric email addresses

      If your filtering system supports a form of regular expressions, you will find them more effective than looking for specific strings.

      Be sure to read the Mail filtering FAQ

  • Hide your email address from automatic email harvesters

    • On USENET, its pretty easy to garble your email address in such a way that a human can easily decipher it, but the an automatic email harvester will have no good algorithm for deciphering it. I use addresses such as: qed "-at-" pobox "-dot-" com or qREMOeVEd@poCAPIbTOLox.cLEToTERSm. I believe I was the first person on the USENET to use these techniques to encode my email address, and the idea has since spread like wildfire.

    • If you need to provide links or a method to contact you by email, then you should instead try to use an URL to a specific email web page. The web page could then use CGI (or even Java or Javascript) possibly in combination with a form to hide your email address (depending on what web services you have available to you.) As an example, you should study my set up. I have mail links on almost all my pages all referring to an email page that uses precisely this trick. Notice how my email address is in plain view on that page, but impossible for a harvester to decipher. (My email address does not appear as a piece of text, anywhere on my site.)

    • Do not sign up for services that are likely to resell your sign up information (usually just your email address) to email listing houses. Unfortunately, I found out about this the hard way, and I signed up for too many services to be able to pin down who I think the culprits are.

  • Attacking spammers

    • This is not for everyone, especially if you don't have the time to do it. Don't feel guilty about wanting to stop spam, but not having the time or resources to do it, as it only takes a small percentage of competent people to bring down spammers. I think these recommendations are important however, since spammers will not go away on their own. There needs to be consequences for their actions. For those willing to put for the effort, I have a few recommendations:

      • Respond to the spammer (Update: this is a bad/useless idea.  Go straight  to the top, over their heads; talking to them is a waste of time), as well as  their postmaster, root and those of all the hops for the email or news post  that can be gleaned from their email header with a cease and desist letter.   Hopefully, the system administrator for these spammer accounts will see fit to  terminate their account.  (Responding on USENET is a silly idea, as everyone  already knows the spam is bad, and you are just adding to the wasted  bandwidth; limiting your responses to email is preferable.)

        Unfortunately, there is a new breed of email spammers out there that can not only protect their own email from ISP retribution, but from retribution from the mail relay they use.  Clearly the mail back technique will not work  against them.  If you can at least manage mail to their target, you should  modify your sender address to that of another spammer, pretending to be  interested in their offering.  If there are spammers you want to annoy, you  should accumulate their addresses and send them each other's spam. If they provide an (800) number dial it up a few times, but don't make a  sound.  Every call costs them money; and if everyone annoyed by them does it, their phone bill will be enormous.

        If you want to keep your email address, you can "spoof" your own email address or, in fact, use an anonymous remailer service.

        The whole idea is to give them responses that are useless to them and end up tying up their time and resources in much the same way they are doing to you. As they are likely to be hit by a lot of this (since they send out a lot!)  hopefully this will help deter them from doing this again (or at least  avoiding you!)

      • Use their own trick against them! Whenever you get a pair of spam emails forge an email with one as the sender and the  other as a receiver (in fact I like to do a third address as the signature.)   I put some generic nonsense like:  "Wow!  That sounds like an opportunity I  have to take advantage of!  Please send me as much information as you can, as  soon as possible!".  That way they send further spam from each other.  For the  most aggressive harvesters, they ought to put each other into multiple mailing  lists which will cause them as much grief as anyone else.  (I should sit down  and model this mathematically; it seems like it should burden the spammers at  an exponentially growing rate as they pass their own addresses on to more and  more lists ... .  This sounds absolutely delightful!)

        Of course, if you just fake the mail by playing games with your mail program's send and receive fields, your header still will not be entirely clean, as the header will still reveal your mail relay.  To fake a message thoroughly  requires a little more work, but is not that challenging for a programmer that is familiar with sockets and can read a few RFCs.

        Some spammers will have autoresponders from spam domains. What this means is that if you email an address like it immediately sends back some generic mail indicating that they are not going to do anything about the spam you have just received. Now, if you find two such auto-responders then spoofing some mail to make it look like one auto-responder has sent mail to another ... :o) (Thanks to the reader that suggested this idea to me.)

      • Attack spammers as a form of entertainment!

        This comes from HotWired's `packet' site, at:

        Spam Libs

        Bulk email spawns ingenious offensives from the masses

        Do you remember Droodles? They're those simple line drawings that look like nonsense until you read the captions. Droodles were invented in the '60s by a humorist named Roger Price, an author probably best known for his stinging critique of American society, The Great Roob Revolution. I was lucky enough to get to know Roger before he died in 1990. He had lots of great comics, books, and original art (from people like MAD Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman) lying around his Studio City, California, home.

        Beside Droodles, Roger also invented Mad Libs. You might remember these, too. Mad Libs were little books with stories in them. But the stories had several missing words, with instructions to insert verbs, nouns, and adjectives in the blank spaces. The game was played at parties, where one person asked the others to supply the missing words. Then the story was read out loud and everybody laughed heartily at the result. (There are dozens of Mad Lib knockoffs on the Web.)

        Because spammers work their cons anonymously, hiding behind forged email addresses and working out of PO boxes, our imaginations can run wild about what they look like. My fantasy spammer is a rat-skinny, potbellied, 40-year-old with a greasy salt-and-pepper ponytail and beard. And he's rat-smart: After being spammed with get-rich-on-the-Net messages, he bought the lists containing millions of email addresses, and he bought the DIY spam software, and now he's in business for himself, working from the spare bedroom of his mother's house in a Las Vegas suburb. I'm grateful to Roger and his Mad Libs for helping me come up with a fun spam prank. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I received the following:

        	Do you drink bottled water?
        	Are you looking for a
        	discount? How about 4 cents
        	a gallon? With our high
        	quality water-filtration
        	systems, you can bottle
        	your own!! Email your name,
        	address, phone# & email
        	address to The Water Lady -

        I copied this stupid message into my word processor, and using the search-and-replace function, swapped every occurrence of the word "water" with "urine," then sent the result to the Water Lady:

        	I received the following
        	advertisement and I'm
        	wondering if it is a joke?
        	Do you drink bottled urine?
        	Are you looking for a
        	discount? How about 4 cents
        	a gallon? With our high
        	quality urine-production
        	systems, you can bottle
        	your own!! Email your name,
        	address, phone# & email
        	address to The Urine Lady -

        In a couple of hours, I got the following reply:

        	Dear Mark:
        	I don't know who may have
        	done this sh*t (sic) to the
        	message. Everywhere the
        	word < urine > is found was
        	originally < water >.
        	Please accept our
        	apologies. This is
        	somebody's idea of a joke!

        Heh - it sure was. Pleased with myself, I sent the mutated mail to my friends. They got in on the action, respamming the Mad-Libbed message back to The Urine Lady. Someone even posted the message on, with the subject "GOLDEN BOTTLES!" The post was forged to look as though it were sent by The Urine Lady herself.

        That same day, I got a spam trying to sell me a copy of Floodgate software, a notorious spamming program. I copied the spam to my word processor and did a few swaps. I changed "Floodgate" to "The Pig Spittle Drinkers' Toolkit," "email" to "slobber bottle," "program" to "pig-drool-extraction device," and "software" to "salivary-gland stimulator." Here's what I sent back to the spammer:

        	SPECIAL: Buy the latest
        	version of The Pig Spittle
        	Drinkers' Toolkit before
        	May 21st and receive a list
        	of 30 slobber-bottle
        	swappers who have millions
        	of slobber bottles to swap
        	with you as you build your
        	USERS SAY.....
        	"The Pig Spittle Drinkers'
        	Toolkit is truly a dream
        	come true! By following the
        	instructions in the book, I
        	was able to develop a list
        	of 2,400 slobber bottle
        	addresses in less than one
        	hour. Furthermore, the
        	technical support is
        	outstanding. This
        	pig-drool-extraction device
        	will put me on a level
        	playing field with the big
        	boys. They don't teach this
        	stuff in business school!"
        	"This salivary-gland
        	stimulator works fantastic
        	- I'm so busy now I can't
        	keep up with the orders and
        	inquiries! Thanks!"
        	"I ordered the
        	pig-drool-extraction device
        	and haven't stopped running
        	with it since. With your
        	support, (at the drop of a
        	hat), with the finest
        	pig-drool-extraction device
        	ever released for public
        	use, I started my dream
        	business, a bulk
        	slobber-bottle business.
        	"If a 'dummy' like me can
        	use this salivary-gland
        	stimulator, anyone can!
        	Great tool!!!"

        Soon, my friends and I were mutating and resending almost every spam we got. Most of the spammers wrote back saying they were mystified and expressed dismay that anyone would want to hurt their wonderful home-based business, apologized profusely, and promised that they'd get to the bottom of the nefarious campaign to defame their good name.

        This was our intent: to make them think that someone had intercepted their spam and was ruining their good name with wacko faux-spam. Only once did the spammer retaliate by flaming the messenger. Here's the original spam that a friend received:

        	This is a great opportunity
        	for your business. How
        	would you like to get
        	200-300 responses per day
        	from your advertisement? At
        	Selective Marketing we make
        	it happen for your
        	business. Selective
        	Marketing is a bulk email
        	advertiseing (sic) company
        	that generates hundreds to
        	thousands of responses for
        	your business.

        Here is his reply to the spammer:

        	CAN BE TAKEN!
        	This is a great opportunity
        	for your penis. How would
        	you like to get 200-300
        	penises per day from your
        	penis? At Selective
        	Marketing we make it happen
        	for your penis. Selective
        	Marketing is a bulk penis
        	advertising company that
        	generates hundreds to
        	thousands of penises for
        	your penis.

        The spammer sent 61 identical emails to my friend, which read:

                ME YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!!!!

        (My friend said it took him "all of 30 seconds" to save the messages in a folder.)

        If you want to play the Mad Lib Mutated Spam game, here are some tips. (Remember, some of this stuff might get you in trouble with the long tentacle of the law, so proceed at your own risk.)

        1. Usually, spams do not contain valid email addresses. But there are a couple of ways to get a real address. First, you can look up the spammer's domain name on InterNIC's Whois database. That'll yield a couple of email address you can use. The other way is to visit the spammer's Web site, which is often listed in the spam. If it isn't, just try typing the spammer's domain into your Web browser, and see if anything pops up. As a last resort, you can fax or snailmail your mutated message to the spammer, as they usually list their phone number and mailing address in their desperate quest to get their sebum-coated hands on your money.
        2. If you have an AOL account, create a special email address (you are allowed up to five different addresses per account). I send most of my Mad-Libbed spams through an AOL address used exclusively for antispamming. That way, if the spammer flips out and decides to mail bomb you or forge your name on obscene Usenet postings, it won't matter. This also works with Web-based anonymous email services like HotMail.
        3. If you're technically adept, you might want to try "linking two spammers to each other," as another friend suggests. By "sending mutated mail to other spammers," says my Mad Lib buddy, "maybe they will start suspecting each other of mutual spam mutating, and spamming will enter a new era of conspiracy and distrust."
        If you get any especially good results from playing Mad Lib Mutated Spam, please tell me about it!

        [Mark Frauenfelder]

        Send mail to Mark Frauenfelder at

        When I first read this, like many, I laughed my ass off. Of course, there's nothing better than ridiculing someone for spamming.

      • Make an antispam black list and put it up on a web page. (see below.) Better yet, contribute to already established spammer blacklists (this is preferable as it will help boost the credibility of the list.)

      • Use your computer skills against them.  (Please note that some of the ideas below are illegal and I don't specifically recommend them, but rather, I recognize that such practices exist and only hope that they could be directed at something useful such as stopping spammers.)

        Are you a UNIX user? If so, you should be able to set up cron jobs to forward accumulated spam messages (or perhaps uuencoded encryptions of your core dump files) to spammer addresses at regular intervals. Since most sites have traffic limits to avoid such things, you will probably have to limit it to once every two hours or so.

        Are you a Windows application programmer? How about learning MAPI and writing a good mail program with a SPAM button? The idea would be that it could automatically take care of responding to spam, filtering and hitting their ISPs all in the background, without any time consuming user intervention. This would be cool. I would be willing to pay for such a program if it were good and had this one feature. (A UNIX spam filtering scriptor called NoCeM has also been written.)

        (Update: Ok, for mail filtering, the key will be to learn the POP3 protocol; its real simple don't worry: look up RFC1939. For sending mail, again its very easy: look up RFC821. These RFCs have been very esoterically written up. The easiest way to read them is skip ahead to the commands sections, and try to play with it interactively by hand with a telnet session.)

        Do you know how to hack into people sites?  I ordinarily don't condone or recommend illegal activities of any kind, but in the case of spammers I will definitely make an exception.  For example, if you could hack into their mailer to simply not send out going mail, and fake receiving mail ... well I'm sure you could dream up a lot of clever things you could do from there.

        Do you know something about writing viruses?  One possibility is if the spammer is using a Microsoft mail program (exchange or IE), you could hook into Active X by sending them MIME with an attached virus.  Or better yet, why not send them an attached word doc with a word doc virus?  Again, there are plenty of possibilities here.  (Again, its illegal, but I'll look the other way.)

        Do you know how to forge internet packets?  If you can identify a couple sites as spammer sites, I'm told it is possible to send one a packet to make it look like it came from the other site.  The idea is to send a corrupt packet that each site responds to the other site with a "resend the packet; something went wrong" request.  This gets the site just ping ponging a dead packet back and forth.  Do this enough times and the sites will eventually bog down until they are not usable.  (This is probably illegal too, but I would be proud to know anyone who could pull this off.)

      • Ask your ISP to beef up their rules to disallow abuse of internet services for the purposes of solicitation. The main thing an ISP should watch for is bulk emailing, and large email cross posting. While an ISP may not want to limit such usage in any way, it is much better that they do. Working out the upper limit of any reasonable individual's posting, and mailing ought to be easy enough, so that ordinary user's activities are not affected. Fundamentally it costs the ISP to support email spammers originating from their machine, so its in their best interest to do something about it. And ultimately, your rates for that ISP will be tied to how much spam your ISP is supporting. It costs them in money and in reputation. This is a bit of work, and I think that simple tools such as bulk mail snooping (that is either snooped, or stopped if it is not a listserv) should be used by the ISP. If you are an ISP, I would ask that you consider the following augmentations of your rules (or something along these lines:)

        Rules for using our ISP service:

        1) Do not send unsolicited email to anyone.  Email is a method of communication  much like the telephone, and just as phone telemarketing has serious laws  limiting it, those laws also extend to use of email.  Similarly do not post off  topic commercial or marketing materials to USENET newsgroups.  Engaging in such activity will also damage our reputation.

        2) Violators of this will be subject to arbitrary removal of their account, but retribution will not be limited to this:

        • a) Anyone who has been reported or detected as spamming may have all     activities originating or passing through their account here subject      to scan, trace and auditing.  The activities will be logged and used      as evidence in court if charges are deemed appropriate.  If we determine      that you have accounts at other domains, we will inform those service     providers of your activities. 
        • b) Anyone who has been deemed a spammer will have the US postal      service, the telephone company and local law enforcement officials      informed of who they are and all profile information you gave us in      order to receive you current account with us.  Your creditors will      also be informed of your activities. 
        • c) If you are deemed a spammer, your name, address and all information you gave us (possibly including social security number) will be added to spammer black lists which will be on public display and well known web sites, as well as being put on USENET cancelbot lists.
        • d) No payments will be refunded for accounts lost if you have been deemed a internet abuser. Such funds will be applied against resource drain from potential mass mailings enacted by the abuser, as well as compensatory damages for negative effects to our reputation as a service provider.
        • e) Such abusers will not be informed when their account is terminated. As the abusers actions may be in severe violation of the law, the only further contact will be through the legal system, including a court summons.

        3) It is at our discretion that we will determine if you are or are not an internet abuser.  If we believe you are a violator, we will not listen to your side of the story.  Decisions of this nature are final and may not be overturned.

        4) Any abuse reported to the postmaster will be investigated by means of tracing and logging usage as described above, as well as other standard methods (such as email header backtracking and traceroutes.) Our anti-abuse policy is an active one, in that we seek out and are always trying to expose offenders.

        If you are an ISP provider that provides email services, then make sure your mailer does not blindly allow mail relaying. In testing email servers of various ISPs, I found that (yeah, I've been having some fun with these spammers) most are simply wide open and will allow arbitrary mail to be sent on them. That is, end users can configure your mail server to use another ISP's mailer, and nothing will stop them. Anyhow, I did find some ISP mailers which actually rejected my attempts to retaliate against spammers! That's how I know its possible to simply monitor the IP address at the mailer, and reject unapproved sites from sending mail out of them.

        The latest sendmail package also has features for limiting spam abuse. It is available at:

        At this point I would like to dedicate some space to commending the free email service BIGFOOT. They have a large known spammer sites list which they publicize and update. This is the kind of action we need against spammers. Its not enough to hate them, we need for the service entities on the Net to take action against them. In the past I have received spam from BigFoot, but this stepping up of their Anti-spam policy has reversed my opinion of them completely. Please take note that this is in contrast to hotmail and juno which claim to have anti-spam policies, but do absolutely nothing about it.

        Update: These Bigfoot folks are really a God-send. They have filed a lawsuit against cyberpromotions and are asking for $1,000,000! Basically the premise is that cyberpromo, was in some way using and misrepresenting bigfoot as a conduit for their own spam scams, and Bigfoot is simply seeking damages.

        AOL, the much maligned, lowbrow ISP, is taking steps to block spammers. The email options on AOL allow you to block individual spammers as well as entire domains from being able to send mail to you! This is an excellent first step. Much like BigFoot, they've started by being very typical spam targets by allowing spammers to use "trial subscriptions" for free as their base of operations. They've slowly but surely been taking steps including taking cyberpromotion's Sanford Wallace to court to prevent him from using the "trial subscriptions" in this way.

        I emphasize "slowly", because only until recently (its 10/29/97 right now) AOL was recommending that people respond to spam and ask to be removed from spam lists. Its has been fairly well known for at least a year now, that spammers do not honor these "don't spam me" requests and use these responses as an email address verification mechanism. Furthermore, their blocking mechanisms are a functional subset of my own Pegasus mail filter which is far more effective in blocking spam.

      • Take ordinary legal, and consumer response actions.

        Wayne Smith at "CTS" responded to a magazine article about spamming with the following great suggestions (but they take some motivation to do them):

        Always fight back !! Something that I do:

        1. Any EMAIL mentioning ANY Postal ZIP code. I make (2) copies to paper, for  every ZIP code mentioned. Send one to the postmaster@ZIP. Attn: Fraud Division.  I attach to it a form letter to have them check this out as I consider this to  be illegal use of the USPS. I indicate in the letter that I would like written conformation of receipt of the complaint. File the other.

          Two weeks later, (if no action) call the postmaster@ZIP and ask for written status on your complaint. Indicate that you or you lawyer will call from time to time unless you get written conformation of the progress of your complaint.  All have written to keep me informed of their progress. The FEDS carry a big  stick, and they use it. I have, to date, received notice of 12 taken to court. 

        2. Any unwanted PHONE contacts: BEFORE they have a chance to say anything I ask for their name and phone number. (I also have Caller ID). I tell then in no uncertain terms:

          • I speak to NO ONE without this information
          • To remove my name from their phone lists.
          • Oh BTW, I buy NOTHING over the phone.

        3. When I order ANYTHING from a catalogue or over the phone, I don't use my  real name. I change the middle initial to A-Z in sequence. Keep track of  purchases, initials used and company contacts. If in the future I get Junk mail  addressed to Wayne P Smith and my records show that I used P for my last  contact with XYZ company. Then XYZ gets a nasty call from me.. I always tell  these folks NOT to SELL my name. 

        4. For Junk EMAIL: I first try to decode the header using SPADE.EXE. That  Provider is added to a list of in my address book. Forward  it, along with a message that you consider this to be UCE, to that whole list.

    • Reporting Fraud

      If you believe you have been the victim of fraud through the internet, or been approached with a fraudulent proposal, don't hesitate to turn them in. At least Fraud is something the authorities know how to deal with and will put some effort into cracking down upon.  Check out the  Anti-Fraud web page for the phone number you should call to report it.

Finally, I just want to inform everyone that I am working on my own solution. The ideal would be a piece of software that you could feed spam email to, and it would send a response in a way that not only reduces the amount of spam you receive, but that which others receive from those that have offended you. (No, its not a simple mail bomb; its a little more insidious than that.) Do not email me requesting information, as I am still working on my solution. If you have some good ideas, however, I wouldn't mind entertaining the idea of a collaboration.

I am not available as a consultant for such a service, but would much rather work with other programmers like me who just want to put an end to spamming; for example, I would suggest offering the end products in source form so that anyone including commercial developers could just take it and run with it. But I am open to suggestions.

If you are interested in such a collaboration, please contact me.

News Stories
News stories about spam:
Some good Anti-Spam sites:

Anti-SPAM tools (some commercial)

Perpetrators of Spam

Q: What's the difference between Sanford Wallace and Saddam Hussein?

A: Saddam Hussein has an Internet connection.

(Sanford Wallace is the president of CyberPromotions, and is periodically kicked off of any ISP he signs up with because of the volume of hate mail responses directed at him and the ISP because of the spam he generates.)


    As you can see from the above, the site seems to be a popular source of spam. When I tried to complain to the postmaster at their site, they responded very politely and professional claiming that they were intent on rooting out the perpetrator and would not tolerate spam emanating from their site. They then responded that the source was forged and that the real perpetrator originated somewhere on (one of the hops) and that I should take my complaint there (which I did, but give me a break sending email to the postmaster at AT&T? There's an electronic black hole if ever there was one.) In a few days I received more email from that same forged email address, implying that the perpetrator could still do their scam based on that address, so I was not sure what to do. I then learned of the other perpetrators above and did a quick scan of and decided that filtering out all traffic sent to me was the right thing to do. Unless you have good reason to believe that is not itself to blame, I suggest you do the same.

    Update: Juno has filed suit against: Strippers Inc, INS knoxville,  Phoenix Interactive, Global Information Services, Scott Allen Exports Sales,  asking for an injunction and $1 Million in restitution for loss of reputation and trademark infringement.  Finally! ISPs are getting the message: (1) People hate spam, (2) You are labeled a spammer, even if other people are impersonating your ISP, (3) Providing free email provides a haven for spammers,  and makes essentially just as bad as the spammers themselves, (4) The only  solution for free email services is to actively attack spammers.

    I will be taking a wait an see attitude towards juno, since they still rank among the highest spam sources. I will have to see evidence that they are really clamping down on spammers in an effective manner before I disable my filter against them.

    Further Update: I have since received a trickle of legitimate mail from juno. So I looked over my filter and found a way to filter out all the spam I have ever received from juno in ways other than the fact that it is from juno. While juno is still a big spam conduit, I don't need to filter them directly to filter out all the spam coming from them.

  • FloodGate

    I got spam from the folks who make this product. This product is in fact a Windows based tool for harvesting email addresses from USENET or other text sources such as web pages, so beware. Unfortunately for me, I seem to already be on a bunch of lists, but otherwise my set up seems appropriate to counter acting this software product. Not surprisingly, they did not supply a valid email address to which to respond to, but rather just a snail mail address which they expected me to send a check to for their product. If you want to avoid this spam filter out: "Bulk Emailing" and "".

    BTW, I have verified that a fair amount of my spam actually came from this program, specifically, "Floodgate Pro 5.0". If someone felt like writing a virus that attacked this program, I would look the other way, and secretly praise and worship you forever. :o)

  • Ready Aim Fire

    Like Floodgate, these guys, Microsyssolutions, are basically writing a bulk email program that looks like it is making way too easy and convenient with all their features. Their web site is and as always, I will silently cheer on any hacker that manages to take down this page/site.


    These folks are true scum bag. The only thing that keeps me from hating these guys completely, is that I've never read through any single piece of spam email from these guys. They don't get their point across quickly, but they do convince me that they are spammers quickly, so they are an easy one to filter.

    Update: These guys indeed were affiliated with cyberpromotions, and with the demise of cyberpromotions, so falls this spam house.


    Like the people, I don't have hard evidence that they are a spam site, but the only mail I have received from that site is junk email, so I've decided that filtering them out is far more likely to be a good thing, than a bad thing. This is the first site which was successfully screened by mere filtering alone.

    Update: I picked up the following quote of the USENET recently:

    "Finally! And all through the value chain of this medium you have amazing savings over traditional analog media. You don't have to kill trees to send somebody junk mail."

    Sky Dayton, CEO Earthlink
    MicroTimes March 5, 1997 #162 pg.100

    New Update:

    It appears as though there are some legitimate users of They appear to be mostly at the level of the early aol users. I have also, since, received more spam from earthlinkers (I have not yet received legitimate mail from earthlink.) So, unless sufficiently compelled, I will leave my filters in an anti-Earthlink mode.

    Further Update:

    I have since received a ton of spam from people on earthlink. Sorry, my spam filter stays in place, intact against earthlink.

    Final Update:

    Earthlink has now joined the ranks of AOL and Bigfoot in a campaign against spam. They won a $2 million settlement again cyberpromotions as well as getting an apology from the CEO Sanford Wallace (the "Spam King".) Wallace said that this effectively puts him out of business ... for now.

    Like juno above, I have looked over my spam archive and redesigned my filter to trap all spam I have ever received from earthlink while not filtering out all earthlink traffic itself.


    I have second hand information that this is another favorite site for spam perpetrators. As I have not seen the evidence first hand, I have not yet filtered them out, however I will upon first receipt of spam from them. These sorts of "free email" services can be especially deadly with respect to spam since they might be set up to monitor any email coming in and out of their site (as a method for harvesting email addresses) regardless of how legitimate or innocent a given user of their service is. Not only are you spammed, but email privacy is threatened!

    Update: I was hit by spam from an user. This is the only form of mail I have ever received from the site, i.e., I've never received legitimate mail from their site. Combine that with what I've heard and that's it; I have filtered them out. (Update to the update: I was hit again by a hotmail spammer; there is no longer the least bit of doubt or regret in filtering them out, and I am happy to say, I have not read the actual contents of any spam sent to me via hotmail.)

    Further Update: I have recently been told that hotmail policy is to not tolerate spamming and that spam should be forwarded to Ok, so I've set up a filter to forward all mail from hotmail to be sent there. (I.e., I still believe them to be nothing but a bunch of spammers, might as well make them pay for it.)

    Latest Update: has now gotten to be so bad that it is second only to in the volume of spam which contains it in their headers. It should be noted that aol, bigfoot, rocketmail, and prodigy all have significantly less spam with their telltale domain address. is to be noted as one of the only free/trial email service providers that has taken absolutely no action against spammers. If you have made the mistake of getting yourself one of these accounts, I implore you to get rid of it and switch to one of the many other free email services.

    Another Update: I have redesigned my filter to trap all the spam I have ever received from hotmail without trapping hotmail itself. Given that it is owned by Microsoft which has shown several signs of their intent to spam, but at the same time Bill Gates has come out against spam. I simply don't trust Microsoft to do the right thing. I am ready to reinstate my anti-hotmail filter, as soon as I have confirmation that Microsoft endorses spam.

  • Surplus Direct

    These guys have targeted geocities mail accounts.  I am not sure whether geocities is to blame or its just limited to surplus direct, but I don't have a geocities email account so I just don't know.  Anyway, it appears as though they are taking advantage of the receive only header filtered email that many geocitizens are limited to.

    I had an URL that had all sorts of details about the nature of the SPAM and a call to action which included a boycott of certain products.   Unfortunately, geocities has seen fit to remove that site, so their involvement is not clear.  Unfortunately, as I was not hit by the SPAM, and as I didn't study the nature of the boycott, and I don't know the circumstances under which the site was deleted (geocities periodically suffers from these kinds of glitches; I have an entire mirror of my site on my hard disk just in case) I  cannot make a definitive judgment.  However, I would be greatly disappointed  if geocities did not take a stiffer stance on SPAM, since I've very happily  made my cyber home here.

    The deleted site was it is slowly being recovered, but the critical boycott.html page is missing.

  • CyberPromo

    Of course, the biggest distributors of spam on earth. You know what pisses me off most about these a**h*l*s? Using my tactics I actually stayed off their lists for over 6 months! But somehow, I recently got added onto them.

    Update: After losing numerous court battles, culminating in a $2  million settlement with Earthlink, it appears as though cyberpromo is dead.   We can only pray it is never resurrected.

Software Spam
There is another kind of spam that people are getting really annoyed about: software spam. That is, you install or use a product, and for some reason it proceeds to bug you with advertisements when it loads or when you use it.

These are not nearly annoying as email spam (by simple virtue of volume) but as I have become better at taming spam (mostly by my extremely effective filter) I have been getting delusions of grandeur.  :o)  I hate spam, so here are some  common commercial spam annoyances as well as some work arounds I've  developed.

  1. Geocities has now decided to use all their free client's pages as forms of advertising that go beyond their original intention.

    What geocities is doing is for any web page where a certain banner is not advertised, some javascript code has been appended to the page launching another buttonless browser window with an advertisement in it.

    Many people complained about this for various reasons (namely that it would increase the likelihood of crashing people's systems, since running two instances of Netscape or IE is quite a stressful thing for poor old Windows, or MacOS to handle.) Despite this, Geocities went ahead with it.

    Now, geocities is a commercial venture, and they have the right to do this considering they are the proprietors and they have to make money off this somehow.  But frankly, it just was far too annoying for me.  I have far too  many web pages that I would have to edit with their banner, and it would  change the content from what people were expecting to see on my own web pages  here. (My pages are linked by over 300 other sites according to AltaVista.)   Here is a work around for this:

    At the bottom of my web pages, I now put <NOSCRIPT>. This nullifies any Javascript appearing after it. This was not my idea, but rather that of the Snicker Page.

  2. Installing the new netscape navigator installs "AOL Instant Messenger" which  comes up on every boot whether you want it there or not (perhaps there was an  install option to keep it from turning off, but once installed, it was not  obvious how to uninstall this AIM crap.)

    Well it turns out that the program aim.exe was being run on boot as specified in the registry key:

    "My Computer\HK_Curr_User\Softw\MicroSoft\Wind\CurrVer\Run"

    Simply remove the entry (using regedit) and AIM goes away. (Good riddance!)

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