Ways To Stop (Or At Least Reduce) Spam


Q. I get loads of junk mail and it jams my inbox. Is there some way to stop it?

A. The solution to that problem may be as elusive as the design of an antigravity, perpetual-motion machine. Seriously, some of the best computer minds are struggling with the problem. Unfortunately, a larger number of equally top-notch computer minds are searching for ways not only to expand spam (that’s what junk e-mail is called) but to thwart any technical efforts to block it. So you have a dedicated force butting heads with an equally dedicated obstacle.

Your Internet provider (such as AOL or Earthlink) has developed ways to filter some of it, but much still slips through. Since most spammers get addresses when people fill out forms on the Internet—such as when they buy something at a Web site or register for a Web service—one fairly effective way to stop spam is to create a second address that you use only for filling in forms. That way you can keep your private e-mail address just for friends and colleagues.

Another option: When asked to provide your e-mail address on a Web page or when posting to newsgroups, alter it in such a way as to trick spammers who troll for addresses but not confuse your friends and colleagues. For example, if your e-mail address is jones@internet.com, make it jonesNOJUNKMAIL@internet.com . Many users will know to remove NOJUNKMAIL from the address before using it, but trolling software programs aren’t that smart.

Granted, neither solution is perfect, but both can cut down on the spam volume. Also, there’s talk of a federal law to make spam illegal, but it’s unlikely to pass the free speech provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

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