How to deal with unsolicited email

Chris Anderson, The editor of Wired, tired of getting hundreds of unsolicited emails a day from PR firms, has retaliated in a suitably fitting manner. First, he put all their emails in his blocked list.

There is no getting off this list. If you’re on it and have something appropriate to say to me, use a different email address.

Second, and this is the sweet part, he printed all their email addresses on his blog.

If their address gets harvested by spammers by being published here, so be it–turnabout is fair play.

Tip: The Big Picture

  • The problem is so much spam comes from either non-existent email addresses, or, worse, from real email addresses which have been spoofed and who have nothing to do with it. The amount of spam coming from a real, repliable email address is close to zero.

  • DJ

    I do get quite a bit from legitimate companies who got my email address from a business group I used to be in– and who just won’t take my name off their lists, no matter how often I unsubscribe. I think this is a great idea.

  • woody

    This is a bad idea… One of the most recent tricks spammers have been using is “double binding” their new lists with old lists. They make the to address from recently aquired lists, and the from address from old lists they’ve used before. The result?

    If the mail goes through, they’re more likely to get through the spam filters because it’s “from” a legit address. If it bounces, the “from” target gets their spam in the form of a “send failed” message, which often passes through spam filters. Either way, they get their message to more people than just by blind mailing alone.

    So what happens now if someone used such a technique against this CEO? He’s listing hundreds of e-mails for people that are already spam victoms so they can get more? Hardly seems fair.

    Now if they were smart, they’d used the headers to figure out where the mail originated and block off anything originating from those servers. You’d see a lot of the spammer’s ISPs quickly start cracking down if this happened and suddenly their server was being black listed. It would also help distribute the load, as each ISP would have to deal with its customers, vs putting it all on the receiver to try to fix the problem with filters.

  • GMail and many other mail programs have good kill filters.

    Tracking the ISPs can help, assuming it;s not just spambots sending the email and that the ISP isn’t in on it.

    I get spam comments here with identical text sent to multiple posts from widely different IP addresses. These are sent by bots.

  • DJ

    The problem with blocking originating servers is that much of the spam I get appears to originate from Hotmail. (I’m sure this server info is somehow spoofed.) If I block Hotmail, I won’t be able to receive email from my friends who use it.

    I too have the problem of identical trackbacks originating from a variety of apparent sources. I suspect email is the same.

  • Sometimes I think it might be worth hiring a virtual PA purely to deal with my inbox.

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