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Friday, May 14, 2004

“Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!”

There is a secret underside to the Internet that is seldom encountered directly by the average user. It is a parallel universe filled with spiders, robots and a dazzling array of automated henchmen carrying out tasks for nefarious masters: The Spamlords!

Named after everyone’s favourite vacuous “meat” product, Internet Spam can be defined as any unsolicited information that wastes bandwidth. The most common form of spam that effects just about every Internet user is bulk, unsolicited email messages.

We all know these messages, promising us unlimited wealth, larger cantaloupes, firmer tofu, eternal life, etc… ad nauseum.

The current spamalanche can be traced to an ill-conceived law enacted by the United States earlier this year dubbed by its opponents as the “You Can Spam Law”, which has basically opened the floodgates for bulk email. In its most basic form, this law says that to be legal, all unsolicited emails must contain a link whereby the receiver of the message can remove him or herself from the mailing list. However, this breaks the first cardinal rule of cutting down on the amount of spam that you receive: “Thou shalt not respond to bulk, unsolicited messages.”


Because the holy grail of the Spam Lords are active email addresses, when you respond to an unsolicited message, you have just informed the Spamlord responsible that your email address is active. What is worse is that your message never even came close to being read by a live person, remember those spiders and robots that skulk around the web?

Well, they are actually automated computer programs designed for a variety of purposes, some useful, such as search engine spiders and some downright annoying, such as the programs that harvest email addresses and create the basis of bulk email lists.

In fact, you may not even have to respond to an unsolicited message to confirm that your address is active. Most of the time it is as simple as opening or previewing a spam message. Thus comes rule number two: “If it looks like spam or smells like spam, don’t risk opening the can, just toss it in the dustbin.”

The third rule is: “Never post your email address unaltered on a website, such as message boards.” Either use an “Avatar” address, which I will discuss in a future article, or alter your address to fool spiders by adding something like “NO SPAM” to it, such as

posted by Kusari 9:11 PM

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