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We Hate Junk E-Mail

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Keeping your e-mail address off the junk e-mailers' lists isn't easy, but here are some ways to avoid dropping it in their hands:
  • Never give your e-mail address unless you have to. If something (an online form, product reply card, or etc.) asks for your e-mail address, don't give it to them. Especially if you don't know the company or Web page who wants it. If you can't get to what you need (especially online) without providing your e-mail address, check to see if the site says anywhere that your e-mail address won't be sold or used for advertising. If you can't find anything that says that, you have to decide if it's worth getting some junk e-mail (and being permanently put on the junk e-mail lists) to get to whatever is being offered.

  • Don't post messages to Usenet newsgroups. This is probably the single-biggest source of e-mail addresses for the junk e-mailers, because thousands of messages get posted daily, each labeled with someone's e-mail address. On any one day, I could easily collect 1000 different e-mail addresses from newsgroups, and so can anyone else. If you decide you must post to Usenet, consider using an anonymous server. At the very least, it will hide the fact that your e-mail address is in the US, which is probably something that junk e-mailers look for.

  • Don't put your e-mail address on your Web page. It would take considerably longer to gather 1000 different e-mail addresses from Web pages, but it could be done. If you want people who visit your Web page to be able to write to you, there's almost no way to avoid putting your address on it somewhere.

  • Don't submit your address to any of the Internet "people directories". There are some places on the Internet where you can enter your name, e-mail, etc., to let others find you (i.e. an Internet "white pages"). It also makes your address easy to find for junk e-mailers, because they can do a search for "Jones" and get a hundred different e-mail addresses. Put in your Web page address (if you have one, and if the directory service will let you) instead - anyone who wants to find you can, but it's an extra step for someone just collecting e-mail addresses.

  • (From Tom Donohue) Don't post your resume with an online resume service. As with Web pages and Internet directories, resume services are an easy source of hundreds of e-mail addresses because anyone can look at the resumes. If you must post your resume using one of these services, try and not list your e-mail address, or try and get a second, temporary e-mail account to list on your resume so that the junk e-mailers won't get your real address. Once you take your resume off the service, get rid of the temporary address to add even more invalid addresses to the junk e-mailers' address lists.

  • (From Dan) Put an IQ-test into your return address. I.e if your address is dan@aol.com, specify a return address like dan@aol.dot.com or dan@aol.removethis.com or dan@aol.com.nospamm etc. If you do it clever enough, a machine cannot deceiver your address, only humans. This works as a deterrent.

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If you have other suggestions for protecting your e-mail address, let me know and I'll add them to the list.