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OT: Rant on email and forum spam

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 03-11-2011

I have been very patient, but my personal and professional spam is now out of control, consuming more and more of my day as I try to weed through what are legitimate business propositions for GreatDad and Pregnancy Magazine, and what is pure garbage. Most of the time, it’s easy, but it still takes time. Then there is the curse of friends’ hacked email accounts, where they send you links and files to open. These are clearly not come-ons I’m going to react to, but I still dutifully look at their emails. And then there are also all the spam emails I get like this to my newsletters (at) GreatDad and Pregnancy accounts, from people I don’t know, but which could very well be a consumer inquiry, suggestion, or complaint. I still have to open them.

But the absolute worst is that the spammers have figured out how to infect actual human beings to continue spamming and interrupting the work day. Since each new person who is embarrassed by a hacker attack feels compelled to apologize to EVERYONE in their address book, I now get the spam and then the APOLOGY for the spam, as if I really think my mother or my high school friend really meant to send me a link for discount Cialis on line. For the record, there is no reason to apologize for being the victim of an attack or acting all embarrassed that this happened to you (sometimes people go out of their way with long emails assuring me they “would never send an email like this in their life,” which does make me think they protest a wee much).

Then there are also the dear friends and family who change their email every few months or years to avoid spam. There now three things that are unavoidable: death, taxes, and now spam. Please choose an email for life and stick with it.

And finally, there is now a whole industry spamming forums and discussion groups and I spend 30 minutes a day weeding out entries that read, “Hi. Bye.” Some are in Russian and have so many redirects, users can’t even open the entry. Others are filled with links or worse, if I didn’t have a ban on the code, rows and rows of porn images. I’ve been approached many times by people promising to get my links all over the web, so I do understand why the link spammers do this. But I am amazed how much of the forum spam serves no purpose at all. Does anyone know? Is it there just to test the system to see what gets through.

And, a last question to those who also deal with this. Is it best to ban spammers by ID, email, or IP address? I’ve tried them all, but the spam just keeps on coming!

What is your experience? What do you do to minimize spam? How do you ensure that you don’t miss the real “million dollar contest winner” email?

PS: I just heard of a plug-in for Apple Mail, Outlook and Firefox browser that is supposed to make it easier to unsubscribe from emails. I read about it in MacWorld and will give it a try.