Actually, I used to hate the term, but since everyone knows it stands for electronic 'junk mail', I use it with the same loathing that others have come to feel.

There is little need to explain why it is more than a nuisance, but let me sum it up. In my eyes, it does three things that I dislike. First, it wastes my time. You may not think this is very costly, but even if one did not combat spam, the simple act of opening the insidious messages that clutter our internet costs minutes a day. When things get out of hand it can be more. Take this times the millions of people receiving them, and you can see the waste spam causes, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Secondly, SPAM wastes resources. It clogs up the way where legitimate communication can take place. It resides on others servers and steals disk space. It deviously steals from the world at large to spread inane, illegal, and most often completely useless --I won't even call them messages, they are electronic litter.

Thirdly, these internet pollutants remind me every day how a few idiots try to spoil something good for the rest of us. How humans can be just as low as they can be great. For this reason I refuse to continue to let them take over my mailbox. The people behind the obscene and illegal SPAMs work hard to hide their own identity, and this makes going after them frustrating.

I have always maintained that if anyone was truly interested in stopping all SPAM, all he would have to do is follow the money trail. There are many types of undesired emails. They are eventually sorted into several categories. I sort them as follows.

GOOD SPAM -- You get a reply from a real person if you reply to the spam. They offer a legitimate product. They apologize for bothering you and willingly remove you from their list. They would not re-sell your email to another person.
BAD SPAM You cannot reply to these. They use their 'remove' link only to validate your email address and sell it to others. They offer amoral and questionable products for sale, such as phony degrees, pornography,bogus stock tips.
ABHORENT SPAM These SPAMS border on the 'illegal in the real world' edge. They want to sell prescription drugs, get information about an account through the infamous 419 Nigerian scam. They send links to porn sites or send images in the email itself.
ABSOLUTELY STUPID SPAM Here we find emails that don't even open up. Cryptic messages. No ability to reply-to, seemingly absolutely useless clutter. These may be the result of people learning themselves about how to send obscure emails. Perhaps hackers are honing their skills.

Here are a few of the tactics I have tried.


Keep your email address to yourself, unless you know or trust the recipient. In short, don't trust any larger entity to keep your email address to themselves. There is ALWAYS a manager who has no regard for anything but himself who would sell his mother's spot at the old peoples home if it meant improving the bottom line. This is the type of individuals that rise in business. When they get to the top, they hire others who are willing to do the dirty work for a price. If you have already given it out to every site you have visited, fear not, email addresses are still somewhat fleeting. There is a premium on valid ones, and new lists are being compiled all the time. If you start now, over time you will get fewer SPAMS.

If you have a website where your email is posted, unless you use a script to obscure it from 'robots', then it will get picked up and added to lists of SPAMable emails every hour on the hour. These programs just scour the internet for email addresses. To keep your email visible without having it grabbed by the dorks, just use a script here's one I grabbed from somewhere , and allow your legitimate message senders access without broadcasting it to one and all.

Here's where it can get more rewarding. I learned in the beginning how powerful email marketing can be. I even tried it myself. Until one day I had sent out a couple thousand emails and two things happened. One guy had an auto-reply on his email that said if you really want to talk to me, use the word "REALLYTALK" in the subject line of the email, or something to that effect. I sent that guy an email. He ended up buying my CD! I may have sold one other, but it showed me that for all the effort, the only one that counted was the one with more honest communication.

But I said two things happened. The other thing was that one particularly obnoxious guy complained to my ISP ( internet service provider -- acronyms that make no clever word...). He complained. I was warned to stop it. I decided it was not really worth doing anyway. Thus ended my short and unsuccessful email marketing stint. He was a tenatious and mean complainer. Although I still dislike his rudeness, I learned from the experience that complaining to the ISP is effective. Since that time I have gone from email marketing dabbler to true SPAM hater. It's funny. If all SPAMMERS were honest, you could ask them to stop and they would. You could email them back and actually have a valid dialog. When this guy complained, he vented all his frustration with the real SPAMMERS ( who NEVER make their SPAM 'reply-to'able ) on me! Don't let SPAM turn you into a venemous dork who complains to innocents who may actually be able to help.

If SPAM is getting on your nerves, fight it and win. By using the above tactics you can slow down new creeps from SPAMMING you, and with the following you can make life more difficult for the ones that already SPAM you. In other words REVENGE


To get revenge, you can do a couple of things. Besides complaining to addresses interesting in fighting SPAM, you can do some sleuthing yourself.

I started keeping a list of 'complaint' addresses for the various types of SPAM in the address book. I dutifully forwarded the SPAM to the follow-up agency. This tactic is very unrewarding and uninteresting. One ends up spending even MORE time forwarding the SPAM. Due to the large volume of SPAM, they can not really respond, or let you know how they were able nail someone. You continue to get emails because if any of these entities actually SOLVED the problem, they would be out of work. They are not motivated like you are.

By looking at the 'source' text of the SPAM email, you can find IP's that may lead you to the legitimate internet provider who sells access to the SPAMMER who you hate. Remember, the access provider may be negligent, but they are not the bad guy here. The most useful link I have found is . IP numbers are like internet telephone numbers. They have the format of four numbers between 0 and 255 separated by periods (.) Like this:
This is actually one I got from Asia. It's kind of fun when you can visualize where all these bothersome messages come from. The creepy SPAMMERS will throw in a few untraceable ones to throw you off track, but if you pay attention to the time each one was received, you can find, in plain english, the IP number where the email came from.

I usually cut and paste the entire message source into a notepad file. Then I isolate the IP's that I think might hold the true number of the SPAMMER's internet provider. By plugging this into the search engine at UXN, you can see if it came from asia, US, Europe or Africa.

There is usually an address posted for 'abuse' or 'anti-spam'. Copy the source of the email into a message and I usually put a firmly worded courteous message urging them to punish and prosecute the offending party.

To my great suprise, after only 23 of these exercises, I have had 3 or 4 positive replies. They are actually getting rid of the spammers. They will resurface, but doesn't it feel good to get back at them for wasting your time. Alright!

I will not spent alot more time fighting this. Now that I know I can pass along the tools necessary to really make a dent in the problem to others angry enough to pick up this battle. SPAM can be maddening to get, frustrating to do anything about, and a vexing problem to try to solve. So far, it may be my imagination, or the season, but these tactics have already reduced the volume of unwanted email I get. I have one filtered and one non-filtered ( SPAM BLOCKING FILTER) email address. The one that is non-filtered gets MANY MANY SPAMS. My filtered account gets many fewer, and now, sometimes a reply from an ISP letting me know they are kicking a SPAMMER off their service.

If you find this info useful, let me know what you are doing to fight SPAM as well. My email is lars at pisymphony dot com, if you know what I mean.