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Spam

Opting Out Increases Spam? 481

Posted by timothy
from the damned-either-way dept.
J. L. Tympanum writes "I used to ignore spam but recently I have been using the opt-out feature. Now I get more spam than ever, especially of the Nigerian scam (and related) types. The latter has gone from almost none to several a day. Was I a fool for opting out? Is my email address being harvested when I opt out? Has anybody had similar experience?"
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Opting Out Increases Spam?

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  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by malkir (1031750) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:36PM (#27695345)
    It *does* show the spammers that the account is active and you're looking at the email...
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by telchine (719345) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:39PM (#27695397)

      Exactly. If this is a newsletter that you've opted in to, then you can safely opt out.

      If you didn't opt-in in the first place what makes you think they're going to act faithfully with an opt-out request?!

      All that opting out does in those circumstances is prove that your address is an active one, and that makes it loads more valuable, so they'll sell it on to their spammers as a premium "active email address!

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kamokazi (1080091) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:11PM (#27695759)

        Not just a newsletter, but any place that you know is a legitimate website/business, etc. should be more than safe to opt out of, because they have to adhere to CAN-SPAM Act or similar laws/regulations in other countries. Not only that, they may have a reputation worth upholding.

        Virtually everything else is going to be a red flag to send you even more spam. They have zero accountability, and no incentive to stop because they are probably stealing the bandwidth from someone else's compromised PC anyway.

        Really, this should be common sense for most of the Slashdot readership.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hurfy (735314)

          But how many scams and spams do you see that even have opt-out instructions? If it is zombie-spam they usually don't even bother. Why pretend if they are untouchable anyway. I doubt a known good address that is known to not want it is a better prospect than the next bazillion addresses that are free to attempt to sell/scam to.

          • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by FrostPaw (1189257) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:46PM (#27696685)
            Simple... even from a "brute force" zombie spammer's perspective, having a list of guaranteed active mail addresses that are actually read will result in a lot more hits than misses. By opting out to non solicited spam from a "hostile" source and confirming the account is active and has someone actually reading junkmail in the process, one only makes the spammers' job easier. Also, your email address increases in value when being sold inbetween spammers. Effectively, you make the A-list among spammers. Having an opt out bit to catch the most naive users would be an investment so to speak. Then again, as you say not all spammers do this.
            • by Anonymous Coward
              Yeah, and you can find out all about spammers, their tacts, and what they do with opt-out and other ways they confirm active addresses. I know this is big and scary for all of you, but you can even find that out all on your own, yes, just by your little lonesome! How, you ask? With Google! It's not even slightly difficult. If you can read Slashdot you can handle a Google search too.

              Yay, look everybody, it's YET ANOTHER Ask Slashdot that should have been an Ask Google. Reminds me of the web site jus [slashdot.org]
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ResidntGeek (772730)

                just by your little lonesome!

                Doesn't that just say it all? You'd rather learn while being lonesome than by having a discussion with other people.

                Not that I don't agree with you in this specific case, but there are a LOT of things you can learn on your own that I'd certainly never prefer to. There's a reason college classes have a professor, other students, discussion sessions, study groups, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by severoon (536737)

          zOMG w t f? This is evil, harvesting active email addresses for more spam when people opt-out! Who could have thought of such an evil plan? -incredulous-

          Actually, there is one part of what I said above that's true...I am incredulous. How did this get a story on /.? Ooh, I have a story too: "Are spammers bad people that would misuse your information? wut doyoo guys think lol!!!"

          • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by TheLink (130905) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:10PM (#27697193) Journal
            Well at least it provides more evidence that "using spammers opt out increases spam you get".

            I use spammer opt outs when I want certain email addresses to get more spam.

            There are many reasons to want more spam at a particular email address for example:

            1) email address of someone you don't like (e.g. another spammer).
            2) honeypot email address - any email that also ends up in the honeypots gets a higher "spam" score.

            I also have suspect that "greeting card" sites and "free SMS" sites will cause more spam to go to the supplied email/phone number.

            Lastly, do note that spammers might actually remove you from their list as they claim they would, but that doesn't mean they won't sell your address to others, or pass it to their partners...
      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sir Holo (531007) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:36PM (#27696015)
        ...what makes you think they're going to act faithfully with an opt-out request?!

        I've recently begun to receive spam emails from supply companies in my field, usually disguised as a "newsletter" that I can opt out of.

        Mainstream companies are beginning to lose their fear of spamming (technical equipment) customers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by erroneus (253617)

        EVER so true. And let me be the first to warn you: Signing up with "DICE.COM" will result in MASSIVE amounts of spam. Interestingly enough, though, since I own the domain I used, I have abilities to collect relief under the CAN-SPAM act and sent out a couple of threats to that end. It still took about two months before the email stopped... but they stopped.

        My best advice to people who get too much spam is to stop using their email address, create some new ones and adopt new, more paranoid habits when usi

        • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Pikoro (844299) <init&init,sh> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:59PM (#27696275) Homepage Journal
          May I kindly introduce you all to Slopsbox [slopsbox.com] which is provided by our friends at TPB.

          From their page:

          Slopsbox is your temporary mailbox, the e-mail address you use to register for random services. It's a long-finger up the butt to spammers who wants your real e-mail. Slopsboxâ is the inbox you don't care about. But Slopsboxâ cares about you, your privacy and we want your spam, because we think it's tasty!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by aliquis (678370)

          I use my real address everywhere, I expected the spammers to be intelligent enough to try to filter out any attempts to hide the real address.

          So I expected them to see this dospam part and either remove the spam part and just spam do@gmail.com or either ignore it completely, but I guess I was wrong because I do get spam =P

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ocker3 (1232550) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:41PM (#27695415)
      If it's an e-mail list you signed up for from a reputable source, unsubscribing will get you off of that list. If it's junk that you didn't sign up for, what makes you think they'll suddenly become reputable when they get an unsubscribe message? They'll simply onsell your e-mail address as an active one and keep going. Whitelist your address book, keep an eye on your spam folder for new legitimate incoming e-mails and contacts, and make heavy use of the delete option.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by azav (469988) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:15PM (#27695815) Homepage Journal

        What if someone has forged the BofA email headers? Or the Yahoo headers. I've seen this all too often.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:14PM (#27695809) Journal

      Don't take this personally, 'cause it really isn't - and I know I'll be modded down for this - but I must say this story has the greatest concentration of the lamest "Informative" posts, ever.

      I'm thinking that it's maybe just a gigantic troll, and the submitter is LOLling his ass off as I post this. Timothy maybe in on the joke.

      And you know what? THIS is the kind of shit that should be submitted on April Fool's Day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bugi (8479)

      It shows the spammers that there is a *gullible* human on the other end.

  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darpo (5213) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:36PM (#27695347) Homepage
    Is my email address being harvested when I opt out?

    Yes.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moblaster (521614) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:39PM (#27695391)

      You don't even need to opt out -- if you leave graphical preview options turned on in your html, the spammers can use uniquely named graphical images to confirm your email address is valid.

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:48PM (#27695501) Journal

        True enough. Luckily, Gmail's default is to not download images. And in fact, I think you can't even override that global default - only on a sende-by-sender basis.

        Which is great.

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Informative)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:59PM (#27695629)

        if you leave graphical preview options turned on in your [email], the spammers can use uniquely named graphical images to confirm your email address is valid.

        Which is another reason why I hate iphone's mail.app

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by B Nesson (1153483)
        This drive me absolutely crazy.

        Joe Q. Spammer sends me spam with a uniquely named image. I can never ever ever know what that image is.

        I can't let my mail client show me the image. I can't copy the address and paste it into a browser myself. I can't even write it down and go to the library and type the address in by hand.

        I can never see that image.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:21PM (#27695879)

      Was I a fool for opting out?

      Yes.

  • Validation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cstdenis (1118589) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:37PM (#27695355)

    You've validated to the spammers that your email address is being actively read, and that you actually READ spam. You have confirmed to them that you are an excellent use of their resources.

  • by proton (56759) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:37PM (#27695365) Homepage

    It has always been my understanding that hitting those opting out links only verifies that your email address is valid.

    Thus increasing the amount of spam because a valid email address is worth so much more...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:38PM (#27695379)
    I used to avoid water but recently I have been using the shower. Now I get more wet than ever, especially of the makes-my-skin-pruny (and related) types. The latter has gone from almost none to one or more a week. Was I a fool for taking a shower? Is my skin being harvested when I shower? Has anybody had a similar experience?
  • DUH? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:38PM (#27695381) Journal
    DUH? Of course, "opting" out increases spam...

    If spammers will not honour our private property rights by stealing our bandwidth and mail server ressources, what makes you think that they will honour requests not to be spammed again?

    Worse, "opting" out confirms that the e-mail address the spam has be sent to is valid!!!

    You never opt-out of spams, you LART their upstreams until they have no more connectivity.

    • Re:DUH? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:55PM (#27695571) Homepage

      If spammers will not honour our private property rights by stealing our bandwidth and mail server ressources, what makes you think that they will honour requests not to be spammed again?

      Have you *lost* your bandwidth or mail server resources? I'm not trying to justify spam, but let's not use incendiary terms when there exists a perfectly valid alternative: bandwidth-and-mail-server-infringement. Resource sharing is the future; the ultimate goal of cloud computing. Instead of trying to stamp out spam, people need to change their reading models. It's not our job to support obsolete reading models, and it's arrogant to expect us to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Raffaello (230287)

        large volumes of spam do cause network slowdowns, so, yes, we have all lost network bandwidth because of spam.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:38PM (#27695385) Homepage

    People still fall for this "opt-out" scam? Really?

    I thought this was pretty well known and understood by now, especially by Slashdot types.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:38PM (#27695389) Journal

    Is this guy serious?

    I would give him the benefit of the doubt if this was circa 1997. But it's 2009, and even the birds on the trees are singing the tune "who tries to opt-out on spam is a fucking fool and deserves to have his e-mail harvested to hell and back". Or some such tune.

  • by zzottt (629458) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:39PM (#27695395) Journal
    I have had the exact same experience with my hotmail account a few years ago. I would get almost no spam. This was great for years with that account. Then one day I got a few spam. I tried the "opt out" option and almost moments later I saw multiple spams coming in. I have not tried it with my gmail or any other account for fear that my spam will double.
  • Absolutely. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Walpurgiss (723989) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:40PM (#27695407)
    As everyone says, opting out of spam mails just shows the spammer that your email is still active, and that you bother to look at the spam beyond deleting it.

    The only opt out links worth following are ones you know the source of; i.e. something you once opted in to, or did not opt out of when you bought something.
    e.g. Bought something at newegg and did not uncheck the box about mailing you about specials and deals.

    Essentially, opting out only works for non-spam mailing lists. Spammers don't care and just use it to acknowledge a good target.
  • A Contest? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:41PM (#27695425) Homepage Journal

    Are the editors in some kind of contest to put up the lamest "Ask Slashdot" story? If so, they can end it right now — Timothy has definitely won.

    Or maybe not. Somebody might ask "why doesn't my computer work when it's not plugged in?"

    • by unhooked (21010) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:53PM (#27695555)

      No no no, it's not a contest at all.
      The lame stories are being posted to make you complain, thus verifying who actually reads the articles so they can make a list and sell it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      Are the editors in some kind of contest to put up the lamest "Ask Slashdot" story? If so, they can end it right now -- Timothy has definitely won.

      Or maybe not. Somebody might ask "why doesn't my computer work when it's not plugged in?"

      That's a good one, but I think someone should go for "Ask Slashdot: Should I shove my Eee PC 701 up my own ass or is that a bad idea? What are the technical implication of such a hardware procedure?" Followed by "Ask Slashdot: How do I get this thing out? Urgent question."

  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:44PM (#27695449) Homepage
    Or are you trying to make one of your friends/enemies look dumb?
  • A better question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HunterZ (20035) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:46PM (#27695479) Journal

    A better Ask Slashdot question would have been: "how can I forge bounce messages so that they think my email address is invalid?"

  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:47PM (#27695489) Journal

    Has anyone explained why opting out is a bad idea yet?

  • by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:48PM (#27695497)

    How on earth did this make any part of slashdot at all?

  • It works (Score:3, Funny)

    by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:52PM (#27695541)

    It works even better if you include your SSN, DOB, and banking info too.

    But if you really want to improve your fortunes, I know this Nigerian Prince that I can put you in contact with.

  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @06:58PM (#27695617)

    As someone who does responsible e-mail marketing, please let me make a distinction between that and spamming.

    If you are getting notices to enhance your johnson or "Che@p drug$" or whatever, DO NOT use the "opt out" link. It confirms your e-mail address is functional. In fact don't open them at all. Report them as spam and help your ISP improve their filters.

    HOWEVER, if you are receiving e-mail marketing you just don't want anymore--like say the daily deal e-mail from Expedia*--please use the opt-out link to cancel your subscription. Deleting them won't stop the flow, and marking them as spam hurts deliverability reputation, making it harder to get them to people who actually want them.

    Perhaps I'll get modded down for saying this, but e-mail marketing can be done responsibly and is a big part of many legitimate businesses. I think this sometimes gets lost in the War On Spam.

    * I don't work for them, this is just an example of an e-mail marketing that I know I get.

    • by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:17PM (#27695851)

      This sort of empty distinction is why can-spam and other laws are completely ineffective - because legislators want to make a legal distinction between "good" spammers, like expedia, and "bad" spammers, like chinese viagra vendors.

      There is no such distinction. If a user did not actively request commercial email from a specific commercial entity (not their affiliates or others they sell addresses to), then that email is unsolicited commercial email and should be an unambiguous criminal offense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SirSlud (67381)

        No, there is precisely a distinction. Any responsible party who sends commercial email to your account will have gathered your permission at a prior date. It's not useless to point out that the act of opting out of marketing email is fairly safe (how could it ever be 100% safe? there isn't anybody on this planet you can trust with absolute implicit certainty) if you trust that the company practices responsible customer relationship practices (and I spit everytime I have to use that term, but hey, that's rea

        • Any responsible party who sends commercial email to your account will have gathered your permission at a prior date.

          No, they don't. They haven't. This is a spammer lie.
          Do I have to name names?
          Try Sears. Guns and Ammo Magazine(more likely Petersen Publishing). The Libertarian Party.
          Two of these spammers sent opt-out demands before spamming full tilt. The other simply e-pended me without notice. What part of "permission" do you see there?

          It's not useless to point out that the act of opting out of marke

      • by snowwrestler (896305) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:38AM (#27698133)

        But people often use the spam button to try to end e-mails that they requested in the first place. I work for a non-profit and do mostly member communications. People pay hundreds of dollars every year to join or renew their membership with us. And yet they sometimes mark an e-mail from us as spam. When we call them to follow up, they say they just weren't reading it.

        I think some people have been conditioned (by discussions like this one) to treat the "spam" and "delete" buttons as the exact same thing, and to never ever use the opt-out link...even when they know they requested the e-mails in the first place.

        Responsible e-mail marketing starts with a real opt-in. That's a big distinction between it and spam.

    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:58PM (#27696259) Homepage

      I divide "spam" e-mail into three categories:

      1. E-mail from entities I didn't ask to send me e-mail. Note that I don't distinguish between companies sending me "V|@grA" messages when I didn't ask for them and companies sending me "Book a trip via Expedia!" messages when I didn't ask for them. There isn't any difference between them.
      2. E-mail from entities I asked to send me e-mail at one point but don't want to get e-mail from now.
      3. E-mail from entities I've told not to send me e-mail who are continuing to send it to me.

      For #2 I just use the unsubscribe function. I've asked for the e-mail, it's up to me to tell them if I don't want it anymore. For #1, I report the e-mail as spam through the regular channels. If it hurts a legitimate company's reputation and makes it harder for them to deliver e-mail, maybe they'll think twice about sending e-mail without asking whether the recipient wants it first. I didn't ask for it, I'm not obliged to put extra effort into being nice to them. For #3, I go out of my way to report it as spam in a way that'll cause the worst possible problems for the originator (once I've confirmed who it really came from, if I'm going to go to the trouble of breaking out the big guns I'm not going to let them go to waste on the wrong target and there's plenty of joe jobs out there). Once it's knowing and willful, the Marquis of Queensbury can go pound sand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GWBasic (900357)

      HOWEVER, if you are receiving e-mail marketing you just don't want anymore--like say the daily deal e-mail from Expedia*--please use the opt-out link to cancel your subscription. Deleting them won't stop the flow, and marking them as spam hurts deliverability reputation, making it harder to get them to people who actually want them.

      SPAM is any unwanted marketing email. Thus, the daily Expedia email is SPAM.

      Remember, I, as the recipient / customer, am 100% right due to the phrase "the customer is always right." No business can change the definition of SPAM to legitimize their aggressive marketing techniques.

      For example: A hotel that I made a reservation with signed me up for their mailing list, even though I told the person over the phone that I did not want SPAM. Their emails were unwanted, thus they were SPAM and I would be 100%

  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:09PM (#27695735) Homepage Journal
    marketing from an otherwise legitimate company, opting out will work, but for spammers it just makes things worse. Spammers count on two things, that they just need a tiny percentage to respond to their solicitations, and that the rest of us will ignore it. Once a year I make a point of researching the complete header of spam and reporting them to their ISP and any law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction. They are engaged in fraud in the traditional sense of the term, so are violating existing laws. They are counting on the rest of us to just delete them and not lodge a complaint.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc . r r . c om> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:14PM (#27695807) Homepage

    The Opt Out "feature" is simply a way spammers can discover if the addresses on their list are active. The spamed can then be moved to a premium "active" list so the email harvester can make more money selling the address again.

  • by Crash Culligan (227354) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:39PM (#27696051) Journal

    It's been years since they were relevant, and they last updated in January 2008. However, they've been featured on Slashdot before and that January 2008 update his close to the mark on this one.

    Clueless Mailers [cluelessmailers.org] is the group that mapped the flow of spam, tracking email addresses as they were sold from one company to another to another until they mapped who fed what.

    That "recent" article covers the current problem of (supposedly) reputable companies buying mailing lists from clueless clowns, and the troubles that ensued.

    If it's a company you've heard before, and you can verify that the "opt out" will actually go to them, then opt out that way. If you don't see why you got on their list, tell them so, and they may twig onto the fact that their list wasn't all that hot.

    If it's a company you've never heard of or there's something in it that smells hinky, just delete it, let it slide, and let them think that the message sailed off into the æther, never to be heard from again.

    That third case? If it looks like a reputable company but the opt-out goes someplace apparently unrelated, do not simply opt out. Send a copy of the message to the people at the real company complaining of the deception. And that one's the one to hope for. Because if you can point out to the home office either (a) that someone is using their name poorly or (b) if they are authorized agents, they're getting bogus email addresses from somewhere, then they'll stop buying those discount lists of bulk email addresses and start doing their own damn work.

  • What the hell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:40PM (#27696059)

    Does anybody read any other responses before posting??

    How many times has the same answer been given ?!?!

  • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:41PM (#27696065)

    The people that profit from spam, credit card companies, also are a powerful lobby group.

    In short, spam isn't going away.

    Your contribution eating congress critters will make sure of that.

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:41PM (#27696069) Homepage Journal

    I ignore spam, but unsubscribe from any other advertisement sent my way. I have also embarked on a campaign to reduce my internet footprint by axing nearly everything I can. (It's impossible, but I still try.) I've gone from a hundred spams a day to less than 10--usually two or three.

  • by hack slash (1064002) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:46PM (#27696131)
    They want your innocence back.

    But really, I've been using the same main email address for 12+ years now and in the first couple of years I did sometimes send the opt-out replies but mostly gave up because I just couldn't be bothered as the SPAM levels were so low, I do recall one time being Joe-jobbed and that was a bitch as I got more bounce messages in a day than SPAMs in a month and some of the emails were from real people simply emailing "opt out".

    Nowadays my ISP uses Brightmail for spam filtering so I don't see most of it and the ones that get through are 'Mailwashed' before they have a chance of getting to my email app.

    This topic does take me back though, anyone remember the early days of email and the myth of getting a computer virus simply by opening an email? Never happened on my Amiga, but Microsoft turned that myth into reality with Outlook and everyone has been plaged with virus in emails ever since...
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:47PM (#27696147)

    It's worse when you have a catch-all domain, especially if that domain shares a name with a blockbuster movie about to come out, or is in theaters, or was successful in theaters. It doesn't matter if it's .com, .org, .net, or whatever: spammers will forge under your domain and you'll get the bounce-back, and some of the addresses they spam to will also be spammers. Those spammers will then harvest those addresses and spam them directly, creating a feedback loop that grows so massive that your ISP will disable your server-side filters because they're too busy filtering the incoming spam, forcing you to close your catch-all domain to only those usernames for which you want to receive mail.

    And then it will take hours for your ISP to open a new username at that domain instead of the mere seconds to whitelist it yourself, so you might as well register some obscure domain no one would ever want to trademark.

    Though you may want to choose a domain that doesn't contain any HTML tag names like "script" or "table" in it. Some sites will strip anything that looks like an HTML tag from your registered e-mail address, leaving you unable to receive your password verification link.

  • Really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:50PM (#27696187)

    The opt-out links I've used actually did seem to work - both for legit companies I had prior business with and typical spam. But I haven't dealt with spam in ages. Hotmail filters it out well and gets far less than my Gmail account. I have no need to deal with spam anymore, other than baiting Nigerians.

    I get tons of spam at work (and don't filter anything, so I see it all) and I have yet to a "modern" (within the last few years) spam that contains a valid method of contacting people in order to opt out. The majority of crap I see is from bogus addresses with no way to reply back.

    Here's one that just came in, from Bakhshian - resonant@drtinker.com :

    Sentimental songs which were composed entirely her how i ne

    Sex & Ayyurveda (link to some yahoo groups page I dunno)

    I told you so, exclaimed jose triumphantly, there by the power of his art,
    to restore us to our he rapidly turned over the leaves of this volume few
    things about which i want to ask his advice. The liberty to draw the bolt
    against chance visitors, and wherever else a place could be found stood
    have already explained to our young friend here,.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:58PM (#27696253)

    This message is to inform you that your credit card can be protected for FREE by simply responding with your full name, social security number, credit card number, and the security code.

    I mean really, this is obviously a submission that was meant for April 1, but got delayed for some reason (or maybe it's just the obligatory dupe of it, and I missed the original). If not, hand in your computer operator's license immediately (this goes way beyond just handing in your geek card).

  • Outlook imap bug. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TangoCharlie (113383) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @07:59PM (#27696273) Homepage Journal

    Outlook has a cute little bug associated with IMAP folders and using more than one mail client..... Outlook will send a "The email was not read" read receipt if the email is deleted from the imap folder before you've read it in Outlook... even if you tell Outlook not to send read receipts. This is rather annoying if you routinely use an alternative email to delete your spam. The next time you load Outlook it sends out a load of read receipts to the spam merchants, therefore confirming you (my!) email address.

    P.S. Check out:
    here [slipstick.com],
    here [emaildiscussions.com],
    and
    here [outlook-tips.net]. It's not just me!

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:05PM (#27696351)
    ... now you can take up scambaiting [419eater.com] as a sport.
  • Well, d'uh! (Score:3, Informative)

    by he-sk (103163) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:43PM (#27696663)

    I hope you've learned from your mistake clicking on that opt-out link. There might be other reasons for the increase in spam, but opting out is likely a major one.

    That said I often do opt-out of e-mail newsletters of websites that I've had prior business with. But not with every website *cough*classmates.com*cough*

  • Answer: itsatrap (Score:3, Informative)

    by renegadesx (977007) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:11PM (#27696855)
    The opt out option is a trap, plain and simple. What you are doing is essensially saying "here is my email address" and they have an active account to share with their spammer friends.

    Most spammers are doing so outside the law anyways, why would the stop just because you asked them? Unless its a legit newsletter, I say avoid the "opt out" thing.
  • by shanen (462549) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:13PM (#27696871) Homepage Journal

    How could you possibly be so stupid as to trust a spammer?

    By the way, I think the only way spam could be addressed is by changing the economic game. Right now the spammers think they are dividing by zero. They think the marginal cost of sending another million spams is zero, so if they find one more sucker who sends them some money, the RoI looks infinite.

    We need to change the odds so that sending spam has a much higher probability of negative consequences. The so-called zero must be eliminated. Okay, so we can't send the spammers to Guantanamo, but at least we can nuke their spamvertised websites, cancel their domain registrations, and cut their ISP accounts. If a webhost, registrar, or ISP doesn't want to cooperate, we should put them out of business, too.

    I really think Google could do this by implementing a powerful "Good Samaritan" anti-spam system in Gmail. Combine human intelligence to help make sure the correct people get notified quickly--and much quicker than the spammer can find the sucker.

    Like the sucker who started this discussion by nicely asking the spammers to cease and desist.

  • It's simple... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shads (4567) <shadus AT shadus DOT org> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:19PM (#27696905) Homepage Journal

    ... if you opted in, it's safe to opt out. If you didn't opt in, opting out just tells the spammer that they have a live person at that address.

    I did spam admin for many years back in the 90s, that was even the standard advice then.

    If you want to end the spam for a bit, delete the account for a month or two or fake reject messages convincingly.

  • by Vexorian (959249) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:51PM (#27697097)
    successful troll is successful.
  • Some of us may recall that the CAN-SPAM 2003 ACT [wikipedia.org] specifically set forth rules for opt-out mechanisms from spam. Granted few spammers give a damn about CAN-SPAM for numerous reasons, but the opt-out link does give the spammer / owner of the spamvertised site the appearance of being in compliance. Even though as people have already pointed out the opt-out link generally just confirms for the spammer that your address is indeed active and read.

    If you ever wonder why so many spammers couldn't possibly care less about CAN-SPAM, just consider this:
    • Few spammers operate from within the US
    • Few spamvertised web sites are hosted in the US
    • Few registrars that sell to spammers and spamvertised sites are in the US
    • The act itself has lead to absurdly few prosecutions since being passed almost 6 years ago
    • Effective spammers excel at obfuscating their work to hide their identity and location, so even if they are in the US it is quite difficult to show it in relation to their work
  • Opting out (Score:3, Informative)

    by Metasquares (555685) <slashdot@[ ]asquared.com ['met' in gap]> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:36PM (#27697791) Homepage
    Unless it's something you care about, opt out by blacklisting the sender. You won't get more spam from them then.
  • by MacDaffy (28231) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:37AM (#27698127)

    ...the correct answer is no answer at all.

    Opting out or responding to spammers in any way other than silence or bouncing is asking for trouble.

  • by S-100 (1295224) on Friday April 24, 2009 @01:17AM (#27698337)
    I have a 10+ year old email account that was used all over the place, and now has the dubious honor of getting well over 100 spams per day (unfiltered). I've recently applied the zen.spamhaus.org RBL and a short list of blacklisted domains and keywords (sorry, Mr. Hoodia, I won't be getting your emails). Applying a proper SPF record to the domain has drastically cut down on the non-deliverable backscatter. A couple of times a year, my email address was used as the reply-to address for an entire block of spam and in those cases I'd get hundreds of bounce messages in the course of a few hours. Now it's down to a few now and then, usually from hotmail.

    As for opt-out, the remaining spam comes from what look like legit marketers. I definitely did NOT opt in to their list, but once one crooked spammer sells his "double opt-in email list", you're on it for good. The legit marketers send their mail from different domains, but if the spam has a good SPF record, and the opt-out notice goes to the marketing company and not the domain of the sender, I click on the opt-out link. Incoming mail that fails SPF is rejected. No SPF record and I don't opt out. And after a few weeks, I see a negligible amount of repeat email from these marketers, and overall the incoming spam has been reduced over 90%.
  • no shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cathector (972646) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:35AM (#27698739)

    you're just letting them know you're a live account.
    i've been very happy with using sneakemail.com, an email anonymizer which makes it very convenient to create a new email address every time you register with any given site.

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Friday April 24, 2009 @04:16AM (#27699129) Homepage

    if it's from a company you originally did business with, and now they're sending you spammy e-mails, opt-out will probably work. If you've ever done business with them, they probably already assume your address is legitimate, so the "opt-out" ("unsubscribe", "email settings", etc) button's only purpose would be to stop the e-mails.

    And for the love of fuck, don't be automatically afraid of opt-out buttons. Many people, having heard "opt-out is always a scam to verify your address", automatically click "this is spam" instead of "opt-out" whenever they want to ensure that they're not on a mailing list. Having recently implemented Feed Back Loops on our mailing list at work, the very first "this is spam" report we received was from a booking confirmation. People see an option to unsubscribe from a mailing list (which they five seconds ago had clicked a check box to subscribe to), but are trained "opt out is a scam!", and so click "this is spam" instead.

    Of course, if it's a company you've done business with before, and now they're spamming you, a two-hit combo of "opt-out" and "this is spam" is an even better solution. Companies really do pay attention to who unsubscribes after a mailing, and "oh shit, 20% of our list just unsubscribed!" can very easily wake them up and get them to reconsider what they send.

  • by kieran (20691) on Friday April 24, 2009 @05:12AM (#27699343)

    I opt out of spam regularly, in order to punish just the behaviour that this article talks about. I run my own mail server for myself and friends, and any spam I get is fed into the spam-filters (SpamAssassin and Bogofilter) that feed the entire server. The filters are ham-friendly enough that I can feed most of it straight through without even checking it.

    What I could really do with, in fact, is a method for following all the links and loading the images in emails sent to my honeypot account, which gets fed directly into the spamfilters without me needing to look at it.

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