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I don't like spam

Spam. UCE. Email marketing.

A set of terms around a practise which grew over the last years as the Internet became more and more commercialized and a more normal means of communication. Sending unsollicited email to people by the thousands hoping some of those people will buy the product advertised. Also, filling newsgroups with messages like these.

On this page I gathered some information about it, information on what I do with spam, and links to other sources of information. By no means complete, but especially written to make my views very clear.

In general, the Internet is built on mutual trust and mutual cooperation. There is enough advertising out there in newspapers, on radio and television and in the landscape around us. Keep the Internet for what it was originally menth for, sharing information and resources and don't stuff your message down someone else's throat.

The most beautiful rant about what is so bad about spamming newsgroups and abusing Internet in general was posted recently. Read it. In full.


Email spam

Unsollicited commercial email (abbreviated UCE). Email you didn't ask for in one way or the other.

I don't read it.

When the subject looks like spam, or the first lines of the body look like an advertisment of some sort, I don't read the message. I didn't ask for that message, so in no way I'm going to use my precious time for dealing with the content. When a company name shows up very proudly, I know not to do business with that company since they have no idea of the Internet.

I try to trace the source.

Most spam I get is sent using accounts on very large Internet providers. Although the spammers sometimes make an attempt to disguise their real origin, it does show most of the time where they dialed in. If that is visible, time for the next step :

I report the spam to the abuse department of the ISP.

A neatly formatted mail with headers and body of the spam, telling that I recieved mail from appearantly a customer of the ISP and could they deal with that according to their acceptable use policy (AUP). No swearing, no threats, just the simple facts and a request to do something about it.

To make life simpler, I have a simple script which quotes full headers and body of the mail.

And then

The good news is a mail back telling me that the offending account was cancelled.

Most of the time I don't get such an answer at such a short notice. But the replies I do get do show reporting spam makes a difference.

Filtering email

Although I do maintain some mailservers, I am not in the position to filter mail on contents and/or originating addresses. The mailservers *do* implement checks agains relaying (to prevent abuse) and check for forged from: addresses.

I do filter mail on my personal account using procmail. A number of simple rules can deal with easily identifyable spam.

Resources

A lot of information about dealing with spam is available.

Offcourse the Dutch mirror of the abuse.net anti-spam site. The dutch mirror is hosted at Cetis, the contents is maintained and translated by Thijs Kinkhorst and I was the one to make it technically possible.

This site has loads of information about dealing with spam, finding out where it came from, filtering spam.

Usenet spam

I'm not very actively involved in more then a few Usenet groups. I know there is a lot of spam there, thanks too the great work of some people I don't see much of it.

I do actively participate in Usenet II, an initiative to build a 'new Usenet' this time with rules and sanctions for not keeping the rules. Usenet II feeds are available at news.cetis.hvu.nl for anyone who asks (and is willing to keep the rules).


Koos van den Hout (koos+web@idefix.net )