Friday, December 15, 2006

Five Ways to Avoid SPAM

What has happened to email? The sea of messages that is email has become badly polluted! According to TechNewsWorld, “nearly every e-mail consumers receive -- some 86 percent -- is considered SPAM.”
What can we do about the problem? Email is too important to surrender it to the usurers, the pornographers, the drug pushers, and other assorted moneygrubbers.

In its broadest definition, SPAM is unwanted email. But SPAM, like ugly, is in the eye of the beholder. If I get a message titled, “Check out these naked pictures of me,” unless I look, I won’t know if the pictures are ugly. And what I find ugly, my neighbor may think is the prettiest thing he’s ever seen.

SPAM filters are at work in some places. They scan incoming emails for certain words, and they trash the messages that contain those words. The trouble is that SPAMers are creative. You’ve seen a lot of creative ways to spell Viagra, haven’t you? That’s because the SPAMers have figured out one way to get past your spam filter for the time being. With each new spelling of Viagra, Vicodin, and assorted male and female body parts; highly educated, highly paid computer professionals across the country have to type creative misspellings of narcotics and vulgar words into their SPAM filters. That’s not why I went to graduate school.

Filtering is an imperfect solution at best - witness Poor Dick French and his associates at the Chicken Council. Chickens have breasts, eggs are laid and cockfighting is an issue on their agenda. Words like these are their stock-in-trade. How many emails do they send out that get trapped by SPAM filters and never reach their intended destinations? Dick’s friends all think he’s putting on airs because he’s started signing his messages Richard.

I know how to fix the problem of SPAM. I can help you lose weight, quit smoking, and cure baldness, too. Just kidding. All I really have is five suggestions to alleviate the problem.
  1. Don’t give out your email address. Disguise it in the return address field of the messages you send.
  2. Change your email address regularly.
  3. If you have to give someone your email address, make one up.
  4. Never try to “opt-out” if you have somehow gotten on to a SPAM mailing list. SPAMers know that 99.9% of people don’t want their messages. If you opt out, that tells them that yours is a valid email address and you are stupid enough to read their messages, and you are gullible enough to think they are going to take you off their list. You just won a lifetime supply of SPAM!
  5. Whenever you purchase something online, they usually ask for your email address and they have one or more boxes that you have to select or deselect to avoid receiving “special messages of special interest to you” from them and “specially selected partners.” If you want to exercise a small measure of justice, find an email contact posted on the web site, and list that as your address. Go wild, opt-in to receive those special messages. That way your special messages will be theirs.

Follow these suggestions and not only will you never get SPAM, you’ll get hardly any email. This is what the SPAMers themselves do. Problems afflicting email today are not a laughing matter. We’ll talk again when you are ready to be serious.

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