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Does SPAM Unsubscribing Really Work? 107

Posted by Cliff
from the lowering-the-junk-mail-volume dept.
dacarr asks: "An associate on a mailing list I am on recalled an article (which he, in turn, does not recall), in which the author managed to reduce his spam some 80% by, of all things, using the provided 'unsubscribe' mechanism in the messages. This is totally counterintuitive to what most of us have learned (doing so was a spectacularly good way to actually *confirm* your address) - but perhaps this isn't the case anymore, based on this. Has anyone else had any luck as far as this goes? By following the aforementioned unsub links, said associate found a number of broken links and dead addresses (and one link that tried to create an attachment and email it out (which he stopped)), but after three days and 400 unsub links, he trimmed his spam levels 'from an average of 250 a day to just 40 today' - that's just around 17% of what he was getting. Maybe spammers are getting their act together and listening for a change." Do any of you have any anecdotal evidence to provide to confirm or contradict this? Have you been able to lower your spam volume by "unsubscribing"?
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Does SPAM Unsubscribing Really Work?

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  • And, AFAIAC, it can't make my spam any worse than it already is. Oh, hello, shub-internet, where did you come from?

    Actually, although I don't have time now, when I run my own mailserver in a year or two, I plan on getting an odd domain - .us, .biz, .info, etc. Actually, the best one for this would probably be .cx, but I don't want to scare off potential employers ;-)

    What really sucks, though, is being joe-jobbed ... and getting spam from your own damn account.
  • I tried it once (Score:5, Informative)

    by IIEFreeMan (450812) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:37AM (#9214312)
    It reduced the flow for a month or two and then as soon as your email is selled again (with the added value of being verified) the spam comes again full strength :(

    my 2c
    • Re:I tried it once (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jahf (21968) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:46AM (#9215042) Journal
      This is exactly my experience. About a year ago I decided to unsub from SPAM whenever it came in.

      After about a month of effort, I reduced my SPAM by more than 1/2 for a short while. Within 3 months I was at a higher level than before.

      Just because you unsub from the SPAM source doesn't mean your address is removed from the databases / CDs that the SPAM source purchased. It is the harvesters that are truly evil.

      And I have a number of addresses that have never been published and yet occasionally show up with SPAM. I wouldn't be surprised if the harvesters are making use of Outlook addressbook exploits to further harvest.
      • Perhaps this is somewhat like applying pesticide to a field of weeds--a good chunk of the spammers will respect the unsubscribe (as if opt-out makes you a legitimate business, but whatever...), but any spammers that "survives" this request are going to be the of the nastiest sort, and you'll never get rid of them.
  • ..but I don't see that people with a list of several million address really care whether yours is correct or not.

    I would guess that if the headers seem reasonabley genuine, then unscribing might work, as it could just be something you accidently signed up for in the old days.
  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:38AM (#9214330) Homepage Journal
    that the only time this is a valid mechanism, is when the sender of the e-mail has gotten your address through a partner agreement with a website where you provided an e-mail address as part of registering.

    The other possibility is that some spammers are still using the functionality to validate e-mail addresses, but as part of that action, they hide the fact from the recipient by suspending spam to the address for some weeks or even months before re-distributing the address to their buddies. As a result, the recipient thinks that the "unsubscribe" worked, but in the end gets even more spam.

    Then again, I could be wrong. I am sitting at around 2-300 spam messages per day, if I see other reports that this is working, perhaps I will try it out as well.

    -Rusty
    • I don't understand how people claim to get 100's of spam messages per day. The most I've ever gotten, I think was perhaps 10, which is a rarity. In fact, most of the email I get is from companies that I actually agreed to them sending me email. Now I've had an email address since the early 90's. I've even subscribed to a few porn sites in the past and posted my address on numerous usenet posts. Nowadays I'm nostly careful, but the fact still remains that spam has never been a problem for me. Are there other
      • Two scenarios. At home I am starting to get more and more spam, after five years with the same address. For three years the only spam I got was addressed to webmaster at my domain. Maybe I got five spams a month. But in the last year it has been growing. I got twenty yesterday. All of them to an address I do not use, and have not used in four years since I got my domain. I can only guess that this obsolete but still valid address got found by one spammer, then sold to all the rest.

        At work I get about twent
      • Well, I'm not sure how you got so lucky.

        I have an email address I established in '93. I happily used it on Usenet posts, posted artwork on web sites and included the address, posted to majordomo discussion lists on art and code, etc. It's also been used in numerous Whois records... Maybe that's the problem. In any case, it gets close to 400 spams a day these days.

        My poor, ancient, Pentium-120 mail server is heavily slammed, especially since I now run Spamassassin on it. I've also had to dump my mail logs
        • My spam folder (for bayesean filtering) has 75k+ messages in it - and I expire after 60 days - so about 1250 per day. The email address that receives the spam hasn't been used in at least 6 years but I keep it around as a honeypot. I may try to unsubscribe from some lists and see if it makes any difference at all. I broke it down once though, seemed only to get about 25% porn, 25% mortgage scams, fake credit card offers, 20% drugs, 10% penis enhancers and the rest was a grab bag of crap. I love SPAM.
      • The reason I recieve a lot of spam is that I've requested more information from a few professional-looking websites, including a car insurance company. I know this because in that instance I misspelled my own name, and did not request any emails from partners.

        From that they sold my alter-ego to a number of mortgage companies, who in turn has became infected with a virus and from there on the rate of spam keeps accelerating to the point that I forward most of my mail to a yahoo mail account which sorts out
      • Maybe your ISP has a _good_ spam filter. I've tried to be careful with my e-mail address but I can get up to a 100 spam messages a day. Only 1 or 2 might get through my SpamAssassin to my inbox, but I still get alot. I use user-somethingspecific@domain as my address, so I see exactly where my spam comes from (usually). Mostly it's stuff apparently gathered from the web, sites and usenet are typical. And people with Outlook who have my address in their address book tend to be a problem ;-) If you honestly do

      • Are there other people like me out there?

        I would bet your lack of spam may actually be a side-effect of not signing up for sweepstakes (ever read the fine print on those?), opting out always (fine print!), not posting to crap TV show blogs or whatever, not registering every little product that comes with a registration card (remember to opt out!), telling cashiers to fuck off when they want your contact information to complete a sale, etc.

        In short, I bet you are not a complete moron like most people, so
      • I don't understand how people claim to get 100's of spam messages per day.

        "Claim"? Just because it isn't happening to you doesn't give you reason to question the truthfulness of people to whom it is happening.

        The addresses I get the most spam sent to are ones I've had published on various web sites (especially the long-standing ones, such as one for a shareware program I wrote 6 years ago) and the address I used for much of the 90's on Usenet (back when I was young and foolish about such virtual promis

      • For years, I never got spam. Then my family started to use email... I can't make them understand why its bad to forward everyone in their address book every chain letter they get.
      • A few years ago, long after my primary address started getting a fair bit of spam, I started using tagged addresses so that I could see where leakage is happening.

        Much of my spam still goes to my primary address, which is still up in many places on the web. But a substantial portion now goes to tagged addresses. I haven't run any stats, but my impression is that web-harvested addresses are the biggest source, followed closely by Usenet news posts. A vigorous runner-up is addresses taken from WHOIS records.
    • is to enter a unique, long, hard-to-generate (8+ random characters) address to each "opt-out opportunity," keeping a record of what address you entered where, and then sit back for a year to see which addresses get spam. Yes, none of these addresses were actually used in the original spams, but at least you could see which "opt-out" sites eventually used or distributed the addresses to others.
      I've entered uce@ftc.gov into several spammers' "opt-out" webpages, and they all come back with "Thank you. u
  • by Sancho (17056) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:39AM (#9214337) Homepage
    About the only reason it makes sense to need confirmed e-mail addresses is if you are a) fishing by putting together common names and numbers or b) needing to reduce your bandwidth costs. With bandwidth costs decreasing as much as they have and the use of zombie machines, what's the point in testing e-mails anymore? Plus, if you use an alias that doesn't have common names, most of the spam you get is probably your own doing--signing up to sites that sell your address, posting publicly where spammers can harvest, etc. In other words, these addresses are probably fairly well confirmed anyway. "Unsubscribe-harvesting" doesn't add anything to those unscrupulous spammers (thus shouldn't add to your spam) and thus can only decrease it when legitimate spammers allow you to opt-out.

    But since the OP asked for anecdotal evidence, my mom began clicking on every unsubscribe link she came across. She called me to tell me this (and I knee-jerked about what a horrible idea it was). Then she told me that her spam had decreased significantly since she'd begun unsubscribing, and .. well, I was surprised :) But there ya go.
    • I tested the theory out with my old junk hotmail account, which was originally created for untrusted online registrations. Eventually, the account was receiving about 50-70 junk messages a day, which for a few years ago was quite impressive. I wondered how high I could get the spam rate, and having heard that clicking unsubscribe links was a good way to attract more spam, I clicked every such link I could find. I was most surprised and disappointed to find the spam rate dropped to around 20 a day...
    • It does matter if your clients advertising products demand number of impressions of their advertising upfront, which could mean the percentage of emails that respond in some way to the ad.
      • Yeah, but it doesn't seem like you could ever guarantee that up-front. All you could "guarantee" is that a certain percentage of the addresses are legitimate, and let's face it, if you're spamming, you probably wouldn't mind fudging on some of the other deals you're making.
  • Pure Luck? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sandman1971 (516283) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:39AM (#9214338) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it was shear luck? I tested this out about 6 months ago. I created a honeypot email address that appeared on a website for a total of 24 hours. Got a little bit of spam on the account. When I unsubscribed (the ones which didn't bounce back, etc...), the amount of spam I started to receive grew expotentionally. So in my personal experience, unsubscribing still does nothing more than confirm your email address.
    • Re:Pure Luck? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AnwerB (255422) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:45AM (#9214406)
      > When I unsubscribed (the ones which didn't bounce back, etc...), the amount of spam I started to receive grew expotentionally.

      You know, it might have just grown anyway, as the email address was copied from list to list...

      It might have been a good idea to do a control study, where you set up two emails, equally obscure and subscribe to the same sites. On one email unsub., and see what happens.
    • Shear means cut, sheer means unqualified.

      -Peter
    • Re:Pure Luck? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)
      I created a honeypot email address

      Thanks. That would explain all of forged sandman@honeypot.net [honeypot.net] spams that I have to deal with.

      Yes, I own honeypot.net. About once a week, some jackass decides that "foo@honeypot.net" would be a splendid From: address, so I suddenly get thousands of bounce messages, whiny upset recipients, and other administrative hassles. My Sendmail reject list is growing longer by the month.

      • Re:Pure Luck? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Just Some Guy (3352)
        By the way, the first line of my reply was lacking the <funny /> tag that seemed obvious at the time. I didn't really think that you used an address at honeypot.net.
      • Yep! Tell me about it. One of my domains is a simple dictionary word. I have it set so that all email, whatever the recipient address, comes directly to me.

        This was swell until some dolts made things like wpoison, which put up spambot bait pages with randomly generated email addresses made up from dictionary words.

        Yesterday, I got 149 spams thanks to the not-clever-enough efforts of anti-spam activists. Thanks, guys!
  • We don't have a site wide spam filter. I get maybe 1 account a month that starts getting spam. I then get assigned to go and unsubscribe from all the spam messages. This seems to work for legit spammers. Now, my free yahoo mail account always has about 300-400 messages in its bulk mail. I wouldn't say yahoo's spam is as friendly as others. Heck, yahoo will sign you up for more spam if you don't keep track of your settings. Our e-mail problem is more with spoofed e-mail addresses. Getting a user to emtiona
  • I'm a little too skeptical to try it with my primary email address. I tend to agree that some if it may go away initially, but your verified address will eventually be sold.

  • by mcgroarty (633843) <brian...mcgroarty@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:40AM (#9214354) Homepage
    You'll find that a lot of the spammers present a load of banners on the unsubscribe page. There are still banner advertisers willing to pay per impression instead of per click, believe it or not, and this is one way of getting those in everybody's face.

    For what it's worth, I read an article similar to this one about a year ago. I clicked all the opt out links in my Yahoo account and continued to discard spam unread in my self-run account. I'm only one guy, which makes this statistically insignificant (and thus, it would be highly irresponsible to do something like writing an article about it!), but I can definitely confirm that the Yahoo spam skyrocketed while my other account stayed the same.

    • You'll find that a lot of the spammers present a load of banners on the unsubscribe page.

      You know, sending about 10,000 virtual eyeballs to each one of those ads might not be a bad idea. When the first advertiser gets hit with an $87,000 bill for a month's worth of impressions, a public and ugly court battle between a spammer and his clients might dissuade other ideas from doing business with either party.

      I'd be willing to help a spammer "earn" some outrageous, uncollectable fee if I thought that the r

      • Take a minute to think about the character of most of those banners (sex sex sex) and think about how public you think that court battle would go.

        More likely is that the banner advertiser just refuses to pay and lets the spammer try and take him and one of his disposable shadow companies to court.

        • Spammers are immorally greedy, pretty much by definition. If they weren't they wouldn't be spammers. That's why I'm pretty sure that they'd have no problem with suing the advertiser.

          Now, someone would notice that lawsuit and report on it - spam + lawsuit == public interest. When they did, it might make a spammer's would-be partners think twice about going into business with them, in much the same way that SCO's lawsuits against their own clients certainly isn't making their sales telephone ring off the

          • The point you missed is that the advertisers are equally shady, and can just go "belly up" and start over with a "new" company.

            The two were made for each other. It's truly beautiful.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by rehannan (98364) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:49AM (#9214443) Homepage
    Perhaps our friend here is sending out a few "marketing messages" as well?

    Fox: "No, really, we only eat bugs and stuff."
    Chicken: "Oh, really? Great! Lets do lunch"
    Fox: "Muahahaha"
  • I "unsubscribed" a unique spam trap email address and it started recieving spam a few months later.
  • Red Herring? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icerunner (587505) * on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:05AM (#9214596)
    And what if this 'anecdotal article' was in fact posted by a spammer.

    What better way to try and reassure people that unsubscribing via the link in a spam email works and therefore get even more unsuspecting people to verify their addresses?
  • by Frambooz (555784) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:12AM (#9214661) Homepage
    I have the "privilige" of owning my own domainname with unlimited email-addresses and, more importantly, a Catch-All address (e.g. mail to non existent mailboxes end up in the Catch-All address, which is, by choice, own email address).

    When I register on a page (New York Times, for instance), I simply enter a non-existent email address with the name of the service: newyorktimes@[mydomain.com]. Any email (passwords) sent to that address will end up in my personal inbox, and I can easily check to which address it was delivered originally (by checking the "To" field or scanning the headers of the message).

    The key part is that you can't use that address for ANY other purpose. Don't post it on forums, don't use it to subscribe to other services. If there's a spinoff-service from a site you're already registered to, and it requires you to register again, use a new address. It'll all end up in the same inbox anyway.

    This has two upsides: it's easy to create sorting-rules in my email client and, in relation to this /. article, once you start receiving spam on the 'fake' address (e.g. they sold your address to 3rd parties), that address is easily blocked by creating an auto-reply on my server whenever a message to newyorktimes@[mydomain.com] arrives.

    In fact, its even hard proof for them selling your message, so you can back-track the user agreement and see if they're allowed to do that.

    The big downside to this is that when you use a fake address for a public mailinglist, they can require you to send mail from that fake address. Then, you'll need a client that allows you to change the From-field in one way or another.

    My $0.02.

    P.S. I know you can get my domain from looking at my profile, but I figured I keep the example simple by using [mydomain.com].
    • One of the worst things, though, about having a "catch all" address on a domain, is that you receive all the bounces from forged spam that's using your domain.

      I get tons of bounces from spam to things like: jsdjfqwnc@[mydomain.com].

      Luckily these are relatively easy to filter, but are superbly annoying. Why do these spammers pick on my and my little, innocuous domain?

      Worse, every once in a while because somepeople don't understand that from headers can be forged, I get on a blacklist, so my mail can't ge
      • Yes. Sit back and laugh. You seem like an intelligent person. Why would you possibly want to e-mail somebody who is do dumb that they have to use AOL. If you ask me, they are doing you a favor.

        This also keeps your e-mail address out of the computers that are most likely to pick up trojans, spyware, and viruses.
      • One of the worst things, though, about having a "catch all" address on a domain, is that you receive all the bounces from forged spam that's using your domain. I get tons of bounces from spam to things like: jsdjfqwnc@[mydomain.com].

        My primary mail domain is not configured to be catch-all, but I have a subdomain which is. In other words, I use addresses like newyorktimes@subdomain.mydomain.com, and I'm not bothered by dictionary attacks or forged mail bounces to jsdjfqwnc@mydomain.com.

        Spammers don'

    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:41AM (#9215875)
      If you don't happen to have your own domain, you can get the same benefits you described by setting up a Spamgourmet account [spamgourmet.com].

      You create throwaway addresses on the fly (just make them up - no logging in) and email gets forwarded to your real address. Works great for addresses you only expect to receive a few emails from (like when registering for NYT, etc), as the address automatically expires once you receive a certain number of emails. If you want to continually receive email at that address, you can specify an exclusive sender (by email address or domain) to allow email to come in indefinitely.

      Works great and is free too.
    • and I take it one step further.

      I run BSD on my domain and when I get 'bad' email hits, I have a realtime process that detects this and adds IPFW 'block' statements to cut that turkey off WHILE he's trying to smtp me. having my firewall and mail server on the same box lets me to this very realtime.

      so while someone tries to send to "sales@" or something equally guessy and dumb (for my domain), he gets ipfw'd and he doesn't even GET to try to talk to me ever again.

      it works. but only for small controlled s
      • oh, and this also works when someone dictionary attacks you. that's easy. if a username is sent to that CLEARLY doesn't exist on that box (dictionary or not) then block him.

        but if its a dictionary username, then REALLY block him. ie, add him to your etc/rc startup file as a perm block entry (really).

        for extra credit, keep track of the hits and age entries out that haven't been hit for a while. but with today's cpus being so fast, I'm not even sure I _need_ to age entries out. a ghz processor can proc
    • "In fact, its even hard proof for them selling your message, so you can back-track the user agreement and see if they're allowed to do that."

      Unless they were hacked and their DB was stolen. (This is of course a good excuse for them to use because you can't really disprove it. But then again, my former ISP was hacked and we started receiving spam at our account.)

      Nevertheless, this trick with using a unique e-mail alias is very effective IMO. I use it, and my main inbox that I actually use is 99% spam-fr

    • In 5 or so years, I've only caught *one* company redistributing my email for spam. It seems easier in hindsight to just use one email address, then point all other addresses to the bitbucket to foil joe-jobbers.

      As things are now, I have to check all bounce messages because I can't remember all the fake email addresses I've given out.

      • I use the same system of unique addresses at one of my domains for every business I deal with. Interestingly enough, over the four or five years I've been doing this, only one of those has attracted spam: iBill. Beware of ibill.com, they will sell your name not just to spammers, but to some of the most explicit (and graphic) porn spammers ever to flood an inbox with spam targeted to people of the wrong sex, wrong orientation, or both.
    • Catch-all addresses aren't a good idea. Just wait until some spammer tries a dictionary type attack on your server. It happened to me 3-4 years ago.

      What I do is similar to what you do (individual email address for everything I register for), except that I use sendmail's alias feature. I simply create an alias to my main mail account. Once I start receiving spam to the alias, to the virtual shredder that address goes.
    • I do something similar, where I give out email addresses of the form menscher+blah@uiuc to company Blah. That way I can track where it was harvested from. It's interesting to find which newsgroups spammers harvest addresses from, by using a different address for each newsgroup you post to.

      But this has its downsides. I'm not in the spammer's databases only as menscher@uiuc.edu, but as menscher+blah@uiuc, menscher+foobar@uiuc, and menscher+measlemorp@uiuc. So I get duplicate spams sometimes.

    • P.S. I know you can get my domain from looking at my profile, but I figured I keep the example simple by using [mydomain.com].

      Get with the program - RFC 2606 [faqs.org] clearly says that example.com has been set aside specifically for this purpose. ;o)
  • While the slashdot bretheren might be able to intelligently pick apart some message headers and the unsub link to see if there is any legitimacy to it, we all know that the average user has nowhere near that level of sophistication. Trying to get your average user to stop and think about where the unsub link is taking them is like trying to convince them that they shouldn't open attachments from e-mail addresses they dont recognize.
  • by lightspawn (155347) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:31AM (#9214881) Homepage
    Hormel keeps sending me those cans of spiced ham, even though I've asked them to stop at least five times now.

    Really, what's with the uppercase? Is "spam" an acronym now?
  • ...if you don't "unsubscribe" your own email addresses but those of other spammers. Soon they'll spam each other, spoiling their business (especially as far as 419 scams are concerned) and occupying their ressources.

    If you "unsubscribe" a few hundred email addresses in parallel, you can even /. a spammer's server and make it quite impossible for spam victims to order penis enlargement pills.

  • by shemnon (77367)
    Ask Slashdot: Used Car Salesmen
    I am looking into replaceing my '73 Ford Pinto and am considering going to a used car lot rather than a private sale. I know used car salesmen have a bad repuration, but some of them insist they are trustworthy. When a Used Car Salesman says they are telling the truth, can I beleive them?

    Answer:
    On occasion: yes. As a rule of thumb: don't count on it.

    It's the delemma of return business. Sell one that's a lemon and you won't come back to the lot. Sell one that's too good
  • I can see why spammers might want this to work. When they get up on their moral high horse and try to tell everyone that they are providing a service, and doing nothing wrong, they love to be able to point to how they honor every unsubscribe request. Unsubscribing gives them the opportunity to pretend that they are a legitimate business with legitimate customer service behavior. However, the actual effect on total spam is insignificant, and there are so many lists out there that within a short time they are
  • I think that a lot of Spam is actually unintentionally subscribed to. When I register my username and password on a website, it often asks if I would like to recieve occaisonal offers, get on their mailing list, and other things of that nature. I just say no (Which I think a lot of people fail to do) and if I do get sent unwanted email I unsubscribe and block the email. I dont get any Spam. None. Nada. It just doesnt happen. Its that simple.
    • Re:Yes, it works. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jqh1 (212455)
      use spamgourmet [spamgourmet.com], then you don't have to worry about the checkboxes.

      [disclaimer: I'm associated with spamgourmet -- if that bugs you, please *don't* follow the link :) ]

    • There's a website somewhere around(forgot url) that has a list of ~100 mailing lists with checkboxes next to them. You check all of them, enter e-mail address, and hit submit.

      Atleast, that's why I started getting spam. Someone that doesn't like me went and signed me up for them. It seems as though the actual newsletters are legitimate, but then they sell off your address to pr0n and penis pills. The unsubscribe links for the legitimate mailing lists worked, and I've gotten my Mozilla Mail junk filter t
  • Every once in awhile you'll get on a "marketing list" that was lawfully obtained by one reputable company and then sold to reputable partners. In that narrow case -- where everyone really does abide by the rules -- then unsubscribing may work.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of spam lists are run by less-than-reputable companies and/or individuals. Unsubscribing from one of their lists will, at best, get you off that one list but then added to a bzillion more (at a premium, too, since you've now confirmed

    • entered a bogus address and promptly created a new spamtrap address to match it. I didn't use that new address for anything else. If I remember correctly, it took only two weeks before the spam started flooding in.

      I did something similar with a few companies a few years ago. One of the things I found was that a lot of the "We've removed you" is basically bogus. I spent about 2 hours one afternoon entering bogus information into the "unsubscribe email address" box and each time I got a "Your email has be

  • I own my own domain, so I get to see where different spams are coming from. Some come from e-mail addresses harvested from the Web and Usenet. These are usually selling penis enlargment pills and porn. Other spam comes from companies that sold my e-mail address to mailing lists. These are sometimes used for more legitimate mailings. (I've seen everything from classic spam to GeorgeWBush.com and Dr. Dobb's Journal.)

    In the case of harvested addresses, this technique probably will not work. But in the case of

  • After i got fed up with spam at my old email address, I set up a new one. After I switched I decided to experiment with the old one... I recorded my email values for 2 weeks to get a baseline before starting the unsubscribe process. Everyday i would unsubscribed from each item. it took a couple of hours each day to go through the routine i had:

    1. Follow the unsubscribe instructions given in the spam

    2. If no unsubscribe instruction was given(or it wasn't working after a few days) I would follow the links
  • I work for a online incorporator (we form corporations, LLC's, etc.). We maintain a email list that includes past clients, people who sign up for our newsletter, people who give us business cards at expos, etc. We send out about 5 emails a month.

    Each time we send a email out dozens of people call us to bitch about it. We've been accused of "domestic terrorism" more then once. People scream about receiving emails for the last three months. I'd like to ask them why the hell the waited until they waited
    • Well, that's why you should be doing confirmed opt-in, not just mailing folks who "should" get mail. Back in "the day", this wasn't such a problem, and I do sympathize with you. This is really the spammers ruining things for everybody else. So you want to make the user give you a response with a unique token to confirm that they want on.

      The problem is, there's nothing you can do to assure legitimacy that spammers don't abuse. A good chunk of spam assures you at the bottom of the message that you really
    • I agree absolutely with cmowire - just because someone at a convention gives you a business card with an email on it, that doesn't even mean the card belongs to the person who gave it to you. In ALL cases where an address is added to your list you should send ONLY a confirmation message telling something about the list with a unique tag. If you don't get a response (in a reasonable time such as three days, but you can tell them how to request another confirmation if they've been on vacation for a week), you
  • I thought the same thing, in fact I setup my hotmail account specifically so that when web sites required me to register, that I would use this hotmail account that I would never use. After a year or two of that, my hotmail account looked horrendus. Spam galore, but how Hotmail opperated back then, it wouldn't refuse e-mail, it would just delete old e-mail to make room for the new e-mail. (they have since changed that - now if the account is full, it will not accept e-mail)

    Since I had considered my hot
    • Yup, I use Yahoo accounts. My wife and I each have our own real one, and then we have my wife's old one that started getting hit with some spam. Now we just use that old one as the shared junk account. Yahoo filtering is really good. I've even submitted my real address on some forms at some very respectable companies, and I only get about 1-2 spams a week. Our junk account gets maybe 5 a day, and most of those seem to be opt-in stuff because we are pretty free about throwing it out when we sign up for
  • . . .

    And SCO is really only trying to help Linux.

    Oh, and in other news, the Easter bunny really exists!!

    Really, truly!!

  • There needs to be a good spam filter that actually works. Any suggestions? I think the open source community should get together and figure this out.

    I own a domain and provide advertisement free email accounts. Luckily I've never caught a spammer among my users. However, over half of my bandwidth charges each month are from users downloading all the spam they get. I'd think that some of my users would use the blacklisting and spam filter each account comes with, but they don't. If only I could get th
  • I've found the best way to tackle spam is to always give out an email address that reflects the sender. For ex. i don't really trust Singlepoint very much (UK telco dealer, very very baaaad & part of the evil Caldwell group). 'My' email address as far as they are concerned is singlepoint@mydomain.com If they send me garbage, I just block mail to that address. Downside is that any rare babies are chucked out with the ocean of bathwater. Remember though, the 80/20 rule is your friend :) Erm.. this is
    • 'My' email address as far as they are concerned is singlepoint@mydomain.com If they send me garbage, I just block mail to that address. Downside is that any rare babies are chucked out with the ocean of bathwater

      If they send you "legitimate" email after spamming you, that's THEIR loss, not yours.
  • Calling your local known felon and ask not be bugularize or robbed...

    "Hello, this is John Smith living at 1234 Any Street. I have a lot of valuables and carry a lot of cash on my person, please do not rob me or bugularize my house."
  • I know the unsubscribe link in emails sent from Emma [myemma.com] work. Only legitimate email marketing (not spam) is sent through that system, but the unsubscribe works.

    I also happen to know that clicking the "this is spam" in many ISP webmail clients works as well. Sometimes the email marketer is notified to stop sending email to that address. It all can happen very automatically, and in a way "this is spam" is like a trusted opt out, with penalties if the emailer doesn't listen to requests.

    -Jackson
  • I tried something similar once.

    It all comes down to who you submitted it to, and if they can really be trusted.

    Some will share your email, and their 'partners' will also honor remove requests.

    The really bad offenders I find are those that try to sell prescription drugs (viagra, etc., and other more generic stuff as well), the dept management/morgage spammers, and that id-10-t that thinks I need another diploma. For the morgage stuff I actually let them call me and tell them their lead finder is a spammer
  • My concern with using unsubscribe links is that I would effectively be testifying to a lie. Someone sends me a spam, claiming that I opted-in and offering me a way to opt-out. If I go ahead and opt-out then it could be argued that I am showing my trust for this person, which would make it difficult to accuse them of lying in the first place.

    I can't immediately think of any reason why this would be harmful on an individual basis, but over time, with hundreds of spammers being able to claim that I have shown
  • no (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I was curious about this several years ago, so I decided that for every single spam sent to my netscape.net account, I would go through the unsubscribe process. I have been doing this religiously for about three years now. The volume of spam has slowly but steadily increased during that time. Half the unsub links are broken, and those that are typically send me five copies of the same message. The ones that do listen go away, but that doesn't matter. It's the ones that don't that constantly increase as the
  • No it does not. Spammers don't play fair. Here are my observations:

    For every unsubscribe request, spammers may or may not actually unsubscribe.

    Always, attempt to unsubscribe qualifies your address as a validated one.

    Spammers always sell validated addresses to other spammers, whether they actually unsubscribed it or not.

    Conclusion: after unsubscribe you always recieve more spam than before.

    Best strategy is don't touch any spam links. Often they are encoded with uids associatable with your address somewh
  • by macdaddy (38372)
    I call bullshit. In fact as an anti-spam professional I know this is a load of crap. I have numerous domains I use for spamtraps and nothing else. I've scripted the seeding of hundreds of thousands of unique addresses for each domain (proper_pronoun@domain.tld) with these "remove" links. I've also seeded addresses with unique information that identified the "remove" form used to seed that particular list. I now get hundreds of thousands of pieces of spam per day on my spamtraps. Before I moved I was a
  • ...and have had them accepted. I usually find out when they're accepted when the spam starts rolling into to the custom address I set up. The 419 scammer crowd shamelessly trawls slashdot.
    FWIW, 22 minutes after posting to the main page is the record for the first spam to arrive

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