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Spam Your Rights Online

The Continuing Rise of E-Mail Marketing 280

Posted by timothy
from the wholesale dept.
Mark Cantrell writes: "Yahoo is running a story from Reuters Internet Report that says that companies like Doubleclick are becoming more popular with online businesses because of the low price they charge. $25 for 1000 people spammed is the example given. They do mention that there is a threat that spam may get out of hand, however. May get? Obviously they haven't seen my mailbox or Usenet lately. My favorite quote from the article: 'I think spam is becoming a problem,' Bluefly's Seiff said. 'Any time you get clutter in your mailboxes, it is not beneficial to e-mail marketers like us.'" The article touches on true spam, but mostly talks about the much more benign stuff lumped under "direct marketing," like reminder updates from stores you cleared to send it to you.
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The Continuing Rise of E-Mail Marketing

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  • Sadly, these days it's an effort to tell the good kids from the bad...
  • My no spam recipe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LinuxGeek (6139) <djand,nc&gmail,com> on Monday August 19, 2002 @05:44AM (#4096525)
    I got my own domain and run my own email server. I only use those email addresses for business communication and exchanges with trusted friends and family. In a year and a half, no spam. My roadrunner account? Yup, spam flows in and I used it the exact same way. Three other ISPs, same thing. Makes me think that bulk emailers have help gathering valid email lists.

    • Re:My no spam recipe (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vofka (572268) on Monday August 19, 2002 @05:58AM (#4096554) Journal
      I also have my own domain, and run my own SMTP Server. As well as stopping Spam, I'm interested in tracking who gives my E-Mail addresses to whom, so each service I sign up for that is likely to send me Automatic E-Mails (which is most 'net services these days) get's an individual address, such as mdi0000000001@myverysecretdomain.co.uk.

      At my Incoming Mail Server, I run procmail rules to check the incoming message address against 'permitted' senders. Any that don't match are Put into a Holding Account for checking, any that do are allowed through (I want my DNS Host to be able to mail me for example!).

      The benefit of this is that I can tell Who has passed on my address (well, their address, but they don't know that!!). When I find that an address has been comprimised, I simply block it, and bounce all messages destined for it, as well as contacting the original 'owner' of the address to tell them what I think.

      Now, it does take some work, and common sense, to run, it's not a 'set-it and forget-it' system by any means, but it lets me easily allow what I want in, in; and lets me block what I don't.

      As for Doubleclick, they made their way onto my "reject all incoming mail from this sender" list (which I also maintain) a looooong time ago, along with several other 'direct marketing' companies (postmasterdirect springs instantly to mind!!)..
    • Re:My no spam recipe (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Quixote (154172) on Monday August 19, 2002 @05:59AM (#4096556) Homepage Journal
      Well, you better hope that none of your friends and family who run a certain OS from Redmond will get infected by the KLEZ pain-in-the-ass. For, it might start sending out mail to all of his/her contacts with YOUR email address as the source. And then your email address will be out in the open, for everyone to grab.

      Makes me wonder if the SPAMmers have anything to do with this KLEZ bastard. I hope they catch the guy who wrote it, and feed him just spam for 32 years in his jail cell.

    • by flonker (526111) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:08AM (#4096574)
      ISPs get hit with dictionary attacks to find usernames. They find an ISP, and mail every possible username they can come up with. These emails have some kind of web bug or somesuch in them, so that they can tell the good email addresses. They then have a fairly complete list of all email addresses at a given ISP. (Or at least those email accounts that use Outlook & OE) Another method they use is to send their messages to every domain, using a few of the more common usernames, (ie. sales, info, support) (Also, for the sake of completeness, harvesting whois info, crawling web pages, scraping usenet posts, web forms, and "contests" of various sorts.)

      I recently set our mail server to block all messages that contain
      <img src="http://\d{2,3}\.
      This has cut down the amount of spam we get by a good 90%. There are still some messages that have height tags or otherwise don't fit the regexp.
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 19, 2002 @05:48AM (#4096536)
    'I think spam is becoming a problem,' Bluefly's Seiff said. 'Any time you get clutter in your mailboxes, it is not beneficial to e-mail marketers like us.'"
    Is this guy trying to say he doesn't want to have a bigger penis without painful surgical procedures?
  • I am trying this approach [cyberian.org]. Make spammers "agree" and subscribe for an "service" which gives them right to spam a spefic unique e-mail address. The subcription and agreement is done by sending an e-mail to this unique address. As the e-mail address is unique, and I got the webserver logs of who "agreed" on the terms. There might be some chance to nail them :)))
    • Um, you do realize that that page also links to a page with your real (looks real, anyway) e-mail address, as well as the addresses of your wife and children? (Blues Brothers: How much for the wife?)

      And, I don't think I'd like to drive around on my bike with a very large capacitor strapped to my back. ;-)

      • > Um, you do realize that that page also links to a page with your real (looks real, anyway) e-mail address, as well as the addresses of your wife and children? (Blues Brothers: How much for the wife?)

        Yeah, I am not greedy ;)))

        >And, I don't think I'd like to drive around on my bike with a very large capacitor strapped to my back. ;-)

        Hehehehe! I quess you are too clever to do that. I am hoping I can lure some trend-wise market-droids into that though :)

    • by jukal (523582) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:39AM (#4096633) Journal
      As some people have started reloading the spammer-nailer page a lot, it seems, maybe I should clarify that the e-mail address is not unique as unique per pageload. Instead, it's an md5 sum created based on the details got from the client host, browser, time, and maybe something else. So, it's somewhat unique per spammer.
      • Instead, it's an md5 sum created based on the details got from the client host, browser, time, and maybe something else. So, it's somewhat unique per spammer.

        A somewhat unique MD5 sum? OK, I sort of see, but that would make it somewhat unique per page sent, not per spammer, unless I misunderstand something.
        • > A somewhat unique MD5 sum?

          Well, I made some shortcuts in the explanation. In some cases I use the time, and in some cases not. The time is used as part of the sum only when there's not enough data available otherwise.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    the only thing effectively being marketed by email marketing is... itself.

    take the boulder pledge!
  • by vandan (151516) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:02AM (#4096562) Homepage
    Go to http://www.overture.com [overture.com] and search for 'bulk email'. Then click on each of the links. Do this once every day. The amount this will cost each spammer is displayed on the search results page.
    • You wouldn't happen to have a Perl script or somesuch that does this, would you?

      And if not, where should I send it to if I write one? It seems a trivial bit of Perl would do the trick, unless there is a good reason not to.
    • That's a terrific idea. I put this page as my startup page, and will acess it daily.
    • I have an urge to sign up, send out an email saying, "Visit now for your free gift!" or what not.

      I wonder if they would lose more than $99 off of that.. if so it's definitely worth it.
  • One spam story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jht (5006) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:13AM (#4096590) Homepage Journal
    I got a 3rd party spam a few weeks ago on behalf of a company that sells retail women's clothing. Needless to say, since I am not a woman there was no way I had signed up for mail from them. Just another spam, right? Well, it's a company that my mother is a huge fan of, and is actually on a friendly basis with the owners (though they're public now - she bought a healthy-sized chunk when they went public and has done nicely) going way back. So I mentioned it to her, and how I was disappointed that they had resorted to using a spamhaus.

    A couple of days later, I got a very apologetic call at work from their head of marketing. It seems they really didn't understand the difference between opt-in mailing, self-managed lists, and spamhauses. We talked about how to manage a mail list for nearly an hour - I wound up answering a _lot_ of questions (I made some suggestions as well), and got a promise on her behalf that they would try to be good netizens going forward. We also talked about things like banner advertising, the best sites to do reciprocal banners as well as purchased ads, and a lot more.

    The reason I'm bringing this up is that I really think there are companies out there that are clueless about electronic marketing in general. So they listen to a spammer who can sound like a legitimate businessman, look at the numbers that get handed to them, and say, "why not", without realizing the damage that can get done to their reputations.

    Then again, a lot of folks who get this crap in their inboxes don't even realize that it's wrong. Unfortunately, folks are starting to get accustomed to tons of junk mail, and only a relative few of us are vocal about it.

    One interesting point in the article - one mailer supposedly had statistics showing that 70% of their e-mails were opened. Well, that means they were using webbugs - proof that everyone should use mailer agents that either can disable network access or refuse to display HTML.
    • Re:One spam story (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jodrell (191685) on Monday August 19, 2002 @07:23AM (#4096730) Homepage
      This sort of confirms something I've been thinking about for a while now - that spam is *NOT* growing because of clueless fools reading spam they've been sent, but clueless fools being conned into buying services from the spammers.

      It's a very similar situation to recruitment - recruitment consultants spend a lot more time grooming existing clients and potential new business than they do looking after their candidates. They theory being that they can always get more candidates, but the clients are the ones who pay them money.

      Spammers are salesmen ultimately - but they don't sell their client's product to their "customers" - they sell their "customers" to their clients.
      • Re:One spam story (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dimensio (311070)
        It's not just that they're being conned into willingly spamming -- some of them are lied to by the spammers who claim to be using a valid opt-in method. I've heard from companies who were duped as such, and I've always recommended purusing fraud charges against the marketing company involved. Either that or hand out the home address of the CEO of that company so that the slimeballs can be hunted down and killed as they deserve.
    • Re:One spam story (Score:4, Informative)

      by funky womble (518255) on Monday August 19, 2002 @07:52AM (#4096839)
      Well, that means they were using webbugs - proof that everyone should use mailer agents that either can disable network access or refuse to display HTML.
      Some MUAs that are useful for this include:

      Mulberry [cyrusoft.com] displays HTML without images (Win/Mac/Linux x86+PPC/Solaris)
      The Bat [ritlabs.com] makes it easy to disable HTML. (Win)
      Pegasus [pmail.com] normally disables downloading images by http (Win)

      • KMail, part of KDE renders HTML, but not web bugs or pictures.
      • And yet another reason why I have both js and image loading disabled in Netscape. No spammer ever gets a "delivery confirmed" HTTP request from MY mail client. :)

    • One interesting point in the article - one mailer supposedly had statistics showing that 70% of their e-mails were opened. Well, that means they were using webbugs - proof that everyone should use mailer agents that either can disable network access or refuse to display HTML.

      Why do I suspect that they included Outlook's preview pane in their definition of "opened"?
      • Because it counts as "opening" - they can't tell if you read it, but they can tell if you opened it. So that's the relevant metric to the junk-mailers. It's kind of like the way people who send postal junkmail know if the resident got the mail (because it doesn't get returned), but don't know if you actually read it or not.

        By the way, all my junkmail that includes postage-paid return envelopes gets shredded and inserted back into the envelope for a return trip. I suggest others do the same. One friend of mine has taken it a little further - he's inserted little "gifts" produced by his baby in some of the return envelopes. Too bad there's no effective way to do that digitally...

        Back to the topic at hand, ironically, MS' Mac folks got it right in a big way - Entourage gives you separate options to disable complex HTML and to block network access by the mail messages.

      • Why do I suspect that they included Outlook's preview pane in their definition of "opened"?

        Right... and when the cursor is at the top of the listbox, every new message is previewed momentarily before the spam filter deletes it.

        -a
    • Mostly just playing Devil's Advocate, here, but you say:


      Then again, a lot of folks who get this crap in their inboxes don't even realize that it's wrong.


      I hate spam, you hate spam, so we say that "it's wrong" when they send it to us, but in cases where the recipients "don't even realize it's wrong", why should we inform this otherwise blissfully ignorant person that they have, in fact, been harmed by receiving junk email? Why not just let them go on not really minding and not really noticing? Sure, we should take measures to make it possible to prevent people from spamming us, if we don't like it, but I don't see how we can or should convince someone else that they don't like it.


      It's like the entropy of annoyance or something - once we've got them convinced that they hate it, that's just one unit of person-annoyance in the world. I suspect that the world does not have conservation of annoyance, either. So we are all free to eventually hate everything without regard.

  • Gold Rush anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:20AM (#4096601)
    The basic point I never seem to see mentioned is that SPAM does work.

    How you ask? Quite simple, it's not supposed to make money for the people actually sending the email. It's supposed to make money for the people selling the mass email lists/services.

    It's the same as the California Gold Rush days; the vast majority of people who made money were the ones selling shovels, not using them.
    • (* It's the same as the California Gold Rush days; the vast majority of people who made money were the ones selling shovels, not using them. *)

      And their ancesters ran the dot-com ponzi schemes only 140 miles from that very spot.
  • Seiff says most are more than happy to hear about new shipments of Furla bags or Michael Kors cashmere sweaters.

    I think I'll try some "direct marketing" of a bag full of marbles. I'm sure Mr. Seiff would be more than happy to have some sense beaten into him.

    Remember kids, every generalization is wrong.
  • I keep hearing about a spam problem on Usenet, but I never see it in the groups I read. Am I reading the wrong groups? Is it a big problem in, eg, groups with 'sex' in the groupname?

    Or is my newsfeed being pre-filtered, and nobody told me?

    • there is tons of spam in the alt.fan and alt.music. groups. right now, i think there is sommeone going around into every alt.music group posting links to his mp3.com page saying he has a connection with the music. the same guy posted in depeche mode, nine inch nails, and ministry. curious, i went and looked in a kenny g group, and sure enough, this guy has a "kenny g" connection as well. when you actually visit his mp3.com page the genre is stated as "folk rock".

      then there are all of the "enlarge your penis", "kill all the niggers", "make money at home"...
    • Your newsfeed is almost definitely pre-filtered, probably by your ISP, using (mostly) Cleanfeed [exit109.com]. Lurk in nanau [admin.net-abuse.usenet] for a couple weeks, and you'll get a pretty solid picture of everything. (You'll also get lots of flames, trolls, floodbots, cancelbots, sporgeries, and everything else that makes Usenet fun.)
      • > Your newsfeed is almost definitely pre-filtered, probably by your ISP

        True. The only groups I would bet that *aren't* targetted by spammers would be some of the comp.* groups, as well as the Monastery & it's little brother.

        After all, only a newbie or an auto-Darwinating spammer would annoy someone who could gleefully drop an obsfucated patch into BIND, sendmail, Postfix -- or even gcc -- that effectively blackholes the spammer for eternity.

        Hmm. I shuld take a look at the source code for one of these applications & see if it has been done.

        Geoff
  • by multicsfan (311891) on Monday August 19, 2002 @06:50AM (#4096654)
    I used to run an ISP that went poof a couple years ago. I'm still running the mail server for myself and a few people who wanted to keep the address. The following is in the mail queue of bounced email on an account that hasn't existed for at least a couple years:

    ===
    You are receiving this e-mail because you have opted-in to receive special offers from
    Hi-Speed Media or one of it's marketing partners. If you feel you have received this e-mail in error or do not wish to receive additional special offers, please scroll down to unsubscribe.
    ===

    I'd really like to know how an account that has not existed for at least 2 years could opt in to a marketing list. Isn't this false advertising? I should problaby complain to the NYS attorney general or maybe the FBI.
    • Spammers lie about people opting in... this is news to you?

      -a
  • Beat my record (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kasperd (592156)
    I have an SMTP honeypot on my computer. Last week it captured more than six million copies of the same spam mail. The spammer thought my computer would relay them, but it didn't. That is six million less spammails, yet there is a long way to go to get rid of them all.
    • Last week it captured more than six million copies of the same spam mail

      SSsshhhh...
      Not so loud. Spamers may find it an easy way to harvest 6 million addresses for free. Just put up a honeypot and wait for a spammer provide you the addresses free of charge.
  • I've all but stopped using Internet email for anything important. Over 90% of the mail I receive is spam.

    Filtering is great, but spam still gets thru (because I traditionally didn't want to loose messages due to overly-aggressive filtering).

    Now, when you email me directly, you get a message telling you to call me if it's important.

    Isn't curious that every ISP out there spouts off about how good their SPAM filtering is? Doesn't congress see this as a threat to business? Where is the president now? Off on a month-long vacation - clearly needed to clean up his own email box.

    Spammers ruined any possible business benefits of email. At least for me.

    PS - even my poor old Dad gets a ton of messages about teen sluts and crap like that. This just isn't right.
  • Key distinction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by squaretorus (459130)
    The key distinction here is between spam, and targeted email marketing.

    I get a lot of targeted direct mail in my post box. This morning I got info from two banks (that we dont use) and a mail order service. 3

    I get a lot of targeted direct email in my mail box from identifiable companies offering things that might be interesting. This morning I got stuff from Security, Project Management, a few games sites. 4

    I get a lot of Spam. This morning I was offered a big knob, hot babes, viagra, hair, part time work, katie, investment opportunities... etc... 46

    The first and last of these I hate. The first because of the wasted paper, the second because its a pain in the arse.

    The middle one I don't have the slightest problem with. I can always unsubscribe and sometimes they are useful / interesting.

    Most people have a good common sense idea what distinguishes FREE OFFER!!! from New at ComponentSource
    • Re:Key distinction (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dimensio (311070)
      Uh, no.

      If you didn't ask for it, it is spam. Asking for it means submitting your e-mail address and specifically requesting the information. If you don't ask for it, even if it is "of interest" to you and you don't mind it, it's spam. Spam is about consent, not content.

      I don't care at all about the nature or origin of the junk e-mail I receive. If I don't ask for it, I raise hell with the companies that sent it. My e-mail box is NOT meant to be a dumping ground for unsolicited advertising. All spammers should be killed, regardless of what crap they are peddling.
      • If you didn't ask for it, it is spam. Asking for it means submitting your e-mail address and specifically requesting the information.

        Seems like it's pretty easy to avoid spam, by that definition. I wonder though, why do you put your email address on slashdot if you don't want to receive mail which you have not specifically requested?

    • This is an excellent point, but let me expand on its relevance to the article. I saw this article last night, and it's all about sending newsletters and offers to customers who HAVE ASKED FOR IT. I have no problem at all with this. Email me all you like if I've asked you to. If I've accidentally clicked the opt-in button on the signup form, then I can go un-click it (if you don't provide that link and/or you're lying and I never signed up, then I have no sympathy for you).

      Spam is UNSOLICITED commercial email, not just commercial email. Doubleclick provides a valuable service in that arena, and I don't even loathe them like I do on the banner-ad side of their business.
  • Although response rates vary widely based on the ad, DoubleClick said that one recent DARTmail campaign for car maker Saab was opened by some 70 percent of recipients.

    Opened??!! How the hell'd they know *that*? That sounds like a bogus claim right there. In fact, the whole article sounds dubious.

    "Direct Marketing Finds Acceptance on the Net" - says who??

    • Opened??!! How the hell'd they know *that*? That sounds like a bogus claim right there.

      You can do it using HTML e-mails containing images sourced on external servers. Whenever the e-mail is viewed it requests the image, making it possible to know when it was viewed, and even which customer that viewed it! (using parameters to a script)

      That's the main reason I use a software firewall to block outgoing HTTP from my mail client. I'd prefer them to think I'd not seen it, in the hope they'll give up.
      • You can do it using HTML e-mails containing images sourced on external servers.

        Fair point. I hadn't thought of web bugs.

        yet another good reason not to decode HTML-based e-mail automatically. My mail client (Apple Mail) is configged to *not* pull down images. Shame it isn't set like this out-of-the-box. Still ....

        BTW - most mail clients that I know of are multi-paned so that, as the user clicks on the title, the content is displayed below. In my case, they *still* wind up in the trash so DoubleClick's claim that these are 'read' is still completely bogus ...

  • by AppyPappy (64817) on Monday August 19, 2002 @07:37AM (#4096777)
    Spammers remind me of the guys in the disco age who would ask every girl in the club to have sex with them. "If you ask enough girls, eventually one will say yes". The problem is that you trash your reputation in the process. Not only that, if enough guys do it, the girls will quit coming to the club. I don't read ANY emails unless I know the person or trust the mailbox. My Hotmail and Yahoo accounts are 90% spam so I dog all the messages except a few. I laugh thinking that those idiots paid all that money to get dogged. They paid $1000 for two $50 sales and trashed their reputation in the process.


    Imagine 4 spammers in a car looking for chicks "Hey guys, there's 4 girls in that car and there is 4 of us. We are gonna get LAID". Somehow, they never ask themselves why they never get laid. If they did, we wouldn't have mailboxes full of garbage.

    • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday August 19, 2002 @09:26AM (#4097376)
      > Imagine 4 spammers in a car looking for chicks "Hey guys, there's 4 girls in that car and there is 4 of us. We are gonna get LAID". Somehow, they never ask themselves why they never get laid. If they did, we wouldn't have mailboxes full of garbage.

      You're overestimating the spammer's sense of ethics. In the situation you describe, the spammers will get laid. Spammers would just ram the chicks' car off the road and rape them.

      I mean, they asked for it, right? If they didn't wanna get banged, they shouldn't be on the informayshun s00perhighway with all the responsible murketers, right?

      Spammer #1: "I looked out the window and held down my horn for 10 seconds, and she glanced at me for a second before flipping me the bird and driving off! But I got a good look at her! That's opt-in!"

      Spammer #2: "My chick could have unsubscribed by just giving me a blowjob. But she didn't want to! It's her fault for not unsubscribing!"

      Spammer #3: "I was just expressing my views on sexuality to her! Frea Speach is Garonteed by thuh First Amundmint!"

      Spammer #4: "Just because she said '550 - fuck off, spammer' with every shafting didn't mean she might not change her mind a few seconds later!"

  • by TexTex (323298)
    Spam marketers and the larger companies who help them have adopted the exact mindset used by the giants of direct mail marketing.

    The president of one of these companies was once asked if he cared about all the junk mail being forced through a person's postbox. The response was "There's no such thing as junk mail. There is such a thing as a junk customer."

    Getting your name pulled off 3 of the major lists in the US can drop the amount of credit card applications, free catalogs, and other junk mail by around 80%. Such a thing needs to exist in the spam world, rather than useless "unsubscribe here" links that fail to have any real affect.
  • This appears to be describing legit, "Customer requested to be put on our mailing list" mailings, which IMO are not a problem - Such mailings CAN be nice. I'm subscribed to one, "Funtasia's internet deals", by choice because it keeps me updated on the most recent 'net deals. (Unfortunately, since the .com bubble burst, most of the deals are for stuff I don't care about, but Funtasia used to have the UPS guy coming to our house with cool stuff almost daily. :)

    In fact, one of these "direct marketers" calls spam a problem, because the non-legit crap clogging our mailboxes distracts people from the useful commercial mailings they have asked for.

    I guess the way to think of this is: Does ThinkGeek have a mailing list to notify customers of the latest kewl gadget? (They appear to have one, see following paste:

    E-mail me occassional ThinkGeek updates and promotions!

    Snail-mail me occassional ThinkGeek snail mail flyers or catalogs!
    )

    This is the sort of mailings they're talking about. I get these mailings occasionally, I don't mind them - I asked for them.
  • oh really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nege (263655)
    under "direct marketing," like reminder updates from stores you cleared to send it to you.

    So what about when you sign up for some service etc and there is some tiny checkbox you are supposed to "uncheck" to not sell your email address to every spammer in existance. Does that count as "Direct Marketing" since I "requested" that these companies contact me? Do I sound bitter? Yea probably.
  • The ISPs could stop a lot of the spam by a simple tatic, domain blocking. Say Teensluts.com spams users at ISP.com. ISP.com sends a warning that any futher spam directed at thier users will result in Teensluts.com domain being blocked at thier domain servers for 30 days resulting in zero visits for a month. A Second offense could result in a 90 day suspension, and a third offense in the "death penality" of a permanant block.


    Currently Spam results in more visits to a site, and the Spammer don't care if they piss off 100 people if they can get 1 person to click through. Domain Blocking Spammer sites would not only keep the Spam from working, but would also prevent other regular users of the site from visting it resulting in a loss of income for Spammers.


    It won't stop all the spam, but it would get rid of click through spam.

  • For those of us without the resources to run an mail server and create our own email addresses through it, sneakemail [sneakemail.com] is a great resource to limit the amount of spam you get. If any of you haven't heard about sneakemail yet, it's a service that autogenerates email addresses for you (like asdoifu9832@sneakemail.com) which you can give to registration forms or list as a contact email and have forwarded to your real account. If it turns out that the registration form results in spam, you can get rid of that email address, and you also know which registration form it was which resulted in the spam. I really recommend sneakemail to anybody who hasn't tried it yet.
    • I have a home version of the same actually. For any service on the net that requires an email address from me to sign in, I simply create a new one (for example, I'm slashdot@thelances.com for here, amazon at Amazon, etc). I set up these aliases to forward to my email box. If I get spam, I can immediately cut off the source address with one simple deletion, and, I know which company no longer gets my business... I can send them an email and let them know HOW I know, and why they've lost a customer.

      So far, it's worked well. The only pain in the ass is postmaster, admin, webmaster, info, and other generic accounts that I have for my domain get more than enough spam to make up for it. What the hell do I do there, eh?
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:37PM (#4098796) Homepage
    • Stock high: around $125. Today, around $6.
    • "DoubleClick's ad serving and data collection practices are also the subject of inquiries by the attorneys general of several states. ... DoubleClick believes that, notwithstanding the quality of defenses available, it is possible that our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected by the ultimate outcome of the pending litigation." Source: 10-Q filing. [sec.gov]
    • "Throughout 2001, our management took certain actions to increase operational efficiencies and bring costs in line with revenues. These measures included the involuntary terminations of approximately 605 employees..."
    • "Revenue for DoubleClick Media decreased 66.1% to $27.1 million for the six months ended June 30, 2002 from $79.9 million for the six months ended June 30, 2001."
    • "OUR BUSINESS MAY BE MATERIALLY ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY LAWSUITS RELATED TO PRIVACY AND OUR BUSINESS PRACTICES.
      We are a defendant in several lawsuits alleging, among other things, that we unlawfully obtain and use Internet users' personal information and that our use of cookies violates various laws. We are the subject of an inquiry involving the attorneys general of several states relating to our practices in the collection, maintenance and use of information about, and our disclosure of these information practices to, Internet users. We may in the future receive additional regulatory inquiries and we intend to cooperate fully. Class action litigation and regulatory inquiries of these types are often expensive and time consuming and their outcome is uncertain. We cannot quantify the amount of monetary or human resources that we will be required to use to defend ourselves in these proceedings. We may need to spend significant amounts on our legal defense, senior management may be required to divert their attention from other portions of our business, new product launches may be deferred or canceled as a result of these proceedings, and we may be required to make changes to our present and planned products or services, any of which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If, as a result of any of these proceedings, a judgment is rendered or a decree is entered against us, it may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations."

    That's the reality behind the happy talk. As a company, DoubleClick is shrinking, losing money on operations, and their stockholders lost most of their investment.

    Spamcrime does not pay.

  • by Arandir (19206) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:53PM (#4098888) Homepage Journal
    but mostly talks about the much more benign stuff lumped under "direct marketing," like reminder updates from stores you cleared to send it to you.

    "Hello, you are receiving this message because you selected to receive such messages on our website, one of our competitor's websites, or a completely unrelated website. If you do not wish to receive further messages of this type, please verify the validity of your email address by visiting the following address with a cookie-enabled browser. By removing your address from our list, you indicate your wish to receive similar messages of this type.
  • I'm sure its been thought of before,
    but why won't this at least help?

    Imagine thousands of people running a script to generate webpages with thousands of generated ficticious e-mail addresses. Wouldn't this cost the spammers more money?

    Of course, I'm making the assumption that they get their addresses from webpages, but why wouldn't it help?

  • I live in Washington state, and run several domains with my own mailserver. It seems to me that because the WHOIS information clearly identifies the registrant as being at a Washington address, anyone who sends email to those domains has reason to know its location. So, I should be able to sue them under Washington's anti-spam law [wa.gov], RCW 19.190.020. But is it worth it?

    Sure, the $500 per offense will help offset the cost of my home computer lab. But I'm not sure I want to go down that road. Will I just become a bigger target? Will the time spent gradually spiral out of control, until I become known as the "guy who has no life, so he spends his time suing spammers"? You know, like the guys who sue places that offer free admission to women on Happy Hours nights?
  • by KMSelf (361) <karsten@linuxmafia.com> on Monday August 19, 2002 @05:06PM (#4100632) Homepage

    From a source I can share, spam receipts (daily, flagged by SpamAssassin) are flat since May 1 [iwethey.org]. At work, with a larger sample, I'm actually seeing about an 8% decline over the same interval -- ~55 intercepts daily to 40. Compare this to 2001, where receipts more than doubled over the course of the year. In both cases, I'm using well-known, or catch-all, addresses.

    Related news indicates spammers are feeling the pinch of filtering, reporting, and retaliatory efforts. Spam's an economic activity, with low margins. If it can be made unprofitable, prevalence will drop markedly.

    ...and virus mail's quite another story -- daily intercepts have climbed from ~12/day (Jan - Apr, 2002) to 220+. Thank Klez, though SirCam's putting up a good showing.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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