Email SPAM

Anti-Spam Solutions and Email Spamming

Some time ago, people were enjoying the ability to communicate online using electronic mail. Boy, they didn’t even have a clue of what this might turn into. Email spam has occupied the world wide web. Even until these days, there are no 100% reliable solutions to fight SPAM. As some people say, now unsolicited email reaches about 95% or even more of all emails sent online. Clearly, this has affected the web community.

Internet marketers and simple web surfers have changed their habits of using email. Electronic newsletter publishers, company owners, internet marketing experts, have hard times delivering their messages to subscribers, because of spam filtering.

Readers are much more aware now. They have one or more anti spam solutions installed that filter out, in many cases, “good” messages. Those who do not use anti spam software, receive tons of junk and spend more time everyday deleting unsolicited messages. In many cases, they accidentally delete important emails too.

Definition of SPAM

As long as we know how it has changed the way we use email these days, let’s find out what it actually is.

SPAM has also other definitions, like “unsolicited commercial email”, “junk mail”, “bulk mail”. SPAM simply means sending an email message with commercial content to a person who has not requested it.

Many people argue about the original source of the term. Some say that the definition comes from Monty Python’s song: “Spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam…". Others say that it comes from a computer group lab at the University of California.

Why it Still Exists?

Unsolicited advertising still exists for a few reasons. One is that some people still click on spammer’s message. But moreover, they not just click it, they buy what’s offered there. These are usually inexperienced computer or web users. Otherwise, it’s hard to believe that a person, who uses the web for some time, could buy anything from such unreliable source.

The other thing is that it really doesn’t cost much for spammers to send unsolicited emails. Talented computer geeks easily create little programs, called spambots, which surf the web searching for email addresses. Those collect millions (if not billions) of emails into the database and all it takes for a spammer is to press a button to send out bulk mailing. Of course they have to be careful and not get caught, because the laws are little stricter these days. However, it probably doesn’t distract them from making a cyber crime, as long as spamming has increased significantly over the last few years.

Where Does it Come From?

If you’ve been living on earth for the past 5 years, without a doubt, you’ve seen numerous junk emails that promote prescription drugs, online gambling sites, adult dating membership sites, mortgages and etc. in your inbox. Some people, in fact, spend about 5 to 10 minutes in front of their computer screens deleting SPAM every single day.

But did you ask yourself where SPAM comes from? How the heck spammers get your email address?

Well, here are a few possible explanations:

  • Unreliable Safelists
    You might subscribe to some kind of MLM Safelist. Sometimes they sell your email address to 3rd parties or not even allow you to unsubscribe and keep sending you junk mail. Read privacy policy of those who you trust your email and see if they promise not to give away your address to 3rd parties.

  • Domain Name Registrants
    When you register a domain name, you must provide a contact email address. If you give them your real email address, you've just given it to everyone, including the spammers. Instead, use some not important email address (like Hotmail) to set up your domain.

  • Forums and Message Boards
    Remember that if you leave your email anywhere on the web, where public can see, you are on high risk of getting into a spammer’s database. Never leave your emails anywhere on the web.

  • Hard Coded Email Address on Your Website
    Those who have a website, many times leave their email address hard coded. It means that they use simply "mailto:user@site.com" or simply leave not hyperlinked email address. It doesn’t matter if you hyperlink or not your address, spambots will find it anyway.

If you suffer from SPAM badly, you might as well, try to follow the information mentioned above.

What Can You Do About It?

Sure, we have covered little possibilities on how your email address can get into spammer’s database. But you need actual tips that should help you to eliminate the SPAM, or at least, reduce the number of messages received. Here are some tips:

  • Do Not Leave Your Email on Every Corner
    It was mentioned above, but it’s hard to emphasize this enough. Never ever leave your email addresses on the web where anyone can see. This is the main reason why people get so much SPAM.

  • Use JavaScript to Encode Your Email Address
    This code below will help you to protect your email from SPAM at some level:

    <script language="javascript">
    <!--
    var username = "username";
    var hostname = "domain.com";
    var linktext = username + "@" + hostname;
    document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + username +
    "@" + hostname + ">" + linktext + "</a>")
    //-->
    </script>

  • Use Unpredictable Usernames
    In some cases, spam programs will try to guess what your email could be. They’ll copy the domain and add “webmaster” or “info” and will send the message. So if you want even better protect yourself from spammers, do not use such usernames as: “info@”, “webmaster@”, “contact@”, “admin@” etc.

  • Use Web Contact Forms
    Using PHP, CGI, ASP based contact forms is one of the safest methods to protect yourself from SPAM. There are tons of different contact forms online. Just do a search for “mail form”, “contact form script” on any search engine and you’ll come up with many choices. However, many of such forms are vulnerable too. You should dig around to find really good one.

Is There a Real Solution?

Well, basically not. There are various anti-spam solutions being adopted, but they have their own downsides. They often filter out “good” content too. So if you do not use any antispam protection, and use your email a lot, there’s a big chance that sooner or later you’ll start receiving spam.

If you install anti-spam filters, there are absolutely no guarantees that you won’t filter out important messages, no matter how good or smart the filtering system is.

You might naturally ask: Are the days of email over? The short answer is not. People still use email very often. Even if they have to delete 100 – 200 spam messages from their inbox daily. However, there’s a big possibility that email, as a communication tool will be replaced.

Including the fact that companies lose billions of dollars online because of it, people are fed up with reading and deleting it, webmasters are sick and tired of fighting it, there’s little doubt that it will last for years like that.

With such a technology progress as we have today, no doubt that some solution will see the world. Even nowadays we already have RSS feeds, real time audio webinars, videos on websites.

Not so far from now, people will forget text based communication and use video messaging, or at least, audio communication over the web. This, probably, won’t happen within 5 or 10 years. It took IT specialists more than 10 years to fight spam and there’s still no 100% accurate solution found. So it might take 10 or 20 more years until email will be replaced by a more advanced technology. However, no one can ensure that spammers won’t be able to put their fingers there.

Ok. After a little look into the future, let’s get back into reality where we use text and HTML based email clients and have to deal with unsolicited mailings.

Conclusion

Email spam is getting worse everyday. Despite the importance of the problem (billions of dollars lost, can spam law) it still exists. And we still have to fight it, or at least, avoid it.

If you want to save yourself from receiving spam, use the tips provided above. Try not to show your email address whenever it’s possible. Encode it if you have to. Use online contact forms. Although it might not be a big solution, but it will definitely save you from receiving more spam.