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Where Do Dummy Email Addresses Go? 926

ajain writes "Maybe a year and a half back or so, I started using as a dummy email id in online blogs, guestboks, forums, and sundry pages. But then I started wondering what if someone actually tried to email me on that email address. I was sure that it would bounce because I assumed that there wouldn't be an actual email address like that. In any case, just for fun, I decided to google on And lo behold, there are some 4090 results! I have written a small article at my blog and a reader says is another contender. Do you use some common dummy email IDs too, to get around the privacy problem online? Isn't there a potential for malicious misuse of someone's email ID in this way?"
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Where Do Dummy Email Addresses Go?

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  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:53AM (#9666195) Homepage
    how many people fill out (or something similar)
    the answer is "yes", move along.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:02AM (#9666288)
      I have been using for years.
      • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:46PM (#9667029) Journal
        My personal favorite is, mainly because it's so short. I pity the poor bastard who got that email address though...It seems like, with AOL, that address is bound to be in use.
        • by gessel ( 310103 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:59PM (#9670238) Homepage
          As a variation on my last name, when I was a student at MIT, I chose "" as my address on Athena. It was open... I was young...

          Athena was, at the time, marginally connected to Arpanet, the internet as such did not exist yet.

          Everyone was new to email; it was such an exciting new medium for flirting, a combination that led to some unfortunate experiments. A really surprising number of people seemed to think it was cute to cc "guess" as a joke when they were sending out their little love notes...

          For a while it was fun to reply to all and ask when we were getting together for whatever it was they were proposing to each other, or to respond with "I can't make it at 11:00, can we do it at 1:00 instead?" Nobody ever wrote back... or cc'd "guess" twice.
    • by yobbo ( 324595 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:30AM (#9666485)
      Actually, my dummy email has always been .
      • by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:17PM (#9666844) Homepage Journal
        I've been using for years.

        I hope AOL appreciates my efforts ;)
      • I always thought is a good one to use too.
      • by cjellibebi ( 645568 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:02PM (#9669857)
        > Actually, my dummy email has always been .

        Oh dear... I can see this already.

        Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 555666

        Are we satisfied with the length of our penis?

        Symptoms: You are unsure if we at Microsoft Support are satisfied with the length of our collective penis.

        Resolution: To solve the problem:

        1. Repeat the following mantra to yourself over and over again: "Microsoft Support is satisfied with the length of it's penis. Everyone is satisfied with the length of their penises. If I don't stop asking people these questions, my own penis will shrivel up and fall off."...
        2. Fuck off.

        Status: Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the internet e-mail system, which thanks to our insecure e-mail apps and OSses, has gotten a lot worse than it should. Also, stupid users are to blame.

        The information in this article applies to: Yourself you good for nothing spammer, Clippy.

    • Network Solutions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:01PM (#9666728) Journal
      Maybe an address at or would be more appropriate, after all they want to be the destination for traffic to nonexistent domain names with their sitefinder crap.

      • Nonexistent domains (Score:5, Interesting)

        by blorg ( 726186 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:53PM (#9667064)
        Heh. I actually registered that [] to put up a parody/protest about sitefinder. The domain turns out to get a lot of spam; some stuff from people who obviously just typed it into a form, but also however from people who had their mail systems configured to divert their spam/bad mail to (or some variant). All were happy to stop when asked, but if you must configure your mail like this, possibly better use an *impossible* domain (I did get a fair bit of private email bounced on to me by badly configured mail systems).
        • by Waltre ( 523056 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @01:44PM (#9667410) Homepage

          hmmmm...all this bandwidth being wasted.

          I feel it's my duty to the internet to point these clowns to h4wh4w@

          You'd be suprised how many sites will actually allow this, since the regular expressions that check them usually allow for, with each allowing [a-zA-Z0-9].

    • Re:isn't it obvious? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mdamaged ( 708238 )
      > Isn't there a potential for malicious misuse of someone's email ID in this way?

      Yup, it is called a joe-job...
    • i like to use

      toilet humour is still funny at 30 years of age!
  • I like to use, and find that it is taken on many sites.
  • Who else? (Score:2, Funny)

    by digitalunity ( 19107 )
    I usually use
    • by MikShapi ( 681808 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:22AM (#9666437) Journal
      Probbably half the /. crowd, myself among them, worked in support, YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD!

      Do some good - tell them about

      And if you can add a sig with HTML, Feel free to throw this little charm in as well:
      <A HREF="">litigious bastards</A>
    • Re:Who else? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cat_Byte ( 621676 )
      I usually use

      That is so uncool. I used to work for an ISP and people like you slowed response time for real issues tremendously when we had to dig through tons of crap to find the real issues.

  • fake email (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hawkeyeMI ( 412577 ) <brock@brocktic[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:54AM (#9666202) Homepage
    I usually use Never checked if it exists.
    • $ whois
      CentralNic Ltd (NO202-DOM)
      64-66 Coleman Street
      London EC2R 5BX
      UK would be even better though.

    • Re:fake email (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pegr ( 46683 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:05AM (#9666319) Homepage Journal
      Even better, don't use a fake email. I use If you send mail there, you get an auto-reply that says the submitter likes their privacy and you generally suck for being an email harvester. Go ahead, send an email and see what I mean...

    • For me its :^) Thought I'd be polite about it at least.
    • If you're on a Windowz box which doesn't have whois, you can use a site like [] to check.

      Please don't be rude to people who own real domains by using them, even if they're cute-sounding domains like or, many of which are owned by old internet hackers who got the names when you could still get cool names like It's fine to use, which was set up specifically for that purpose. If you use domains that actually don't exist, you'll be hitting the TLD name s

  • Left hand (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rexz ( 724700 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:54AM (#9666203)
    I usually spam a few characters with my non-mouse hand:

  • Please tell me email to really does go nowhere where it costs people money... I can't count the number of places I've used that anymore.
    • (Score:5, Insightful)

      by magefile ( 776388 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:58AM (#9666248)
      If you go to (or .org, .net) it'll tell you that it was set up as a dummy domain in some RFC for the express purpose of being used as an example: "so then you point your browser to" that wouldn't be abusable. So go right ahead and use example.[com|org|net].
  • I usually use Hasn't let me down yet.
  • (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Poor owner of that address. These days, though, I use wherever possible because I know it won't go anywhere at all. It's not a bad idea for other people to use it when they can, either.
  • asdf (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishrokka ( 233163 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#9666210)
    I always use

    seems I'm not alone: [] []

  • Mail Somewhere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#9666211) Homepage Journal
    Strangely enough, [] offers anti-spam services as well as other consulting things. Could it be that they have set up as a black hole to track spammers? That sure would rock. There is always some misuse when you post your email address online. Don't do it. Simply code a form for contacting you via email and let PHP or whatever send it to you behind the scenes. This halts any kind of email harvesting, and results in the use of faked email addresses, or obvious ones, like or whatever. If you have a catchall, you should disable it and let them all bounce. When enough email bounces, someone somewhere will figure out something to solve the problem of spam, or run of the mill spammers will just give up.
    • Oh, The Irony... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mellon ( 7048 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @01:56PM (#9667467) Homepage is a domain that was registered by a friend of mine long long ago back before spam and web sites and all that crap ruined the beauty that was the Old Internet. (I'm being ironic here, by the way). I think he registered it because he thought it was kind of funny, but unfortunately he pointed it at his mail server.

      It turns out that as the internet became more and more popular, more and more people started using as the address they'd put into email when they didn't want the originator of the email to be known. For example, forwarded mail where you don't want the person who forwarded it to get mad at you for publishing their email address.

      So he started getting a lot of crank email to - people complaining that he shouldn't send them mail about Jesus' third coming in a UFO, and stuff like that. For a while he tried sending mail to these people to clue them in, but of course they were un-cluable.

      Eventially, it got to the point where he was mostly getting the kind of stuff you get when you've been joe-jobbed - angry replies to actual spam of the kind to which we've sadly become accustomed. It was then that he started analyzing the responses, and I'm pretty sure this is what inspired his anti-spam work.

      Messagefire, the anti-spam service he started, really rocks. It's too bad that they've stopped accepting new customers. Sigh. Because I know him, I got in on the ground floor, and am still using it to filter my spam. It's wildly successful, and I'm very grateful to him for setting it up. I hope at some point they start selling service again. :'}
  • I'm sure there is lots of abuse
    I've typed mom or dad and had my client not substitute the address, so this could happen by accident quite likely.

    Generally I use root@localhost, or the site (here I might use root@slashdot)
  • Way way back when, I used to mess around with pre-written VB (VB 3,4) modules already set up with API to interface with AOL. You could make a mail bomber and other malicious programs with very little actual programming experience. I remember testing my work on "". I assumed that since AOL often used the handle to indicate where to use a screenname, it couldn't actually be someone's screenname. Wrong. He emailed me back after I sent him a few thousand emails, threatening to report me.
    • Re:AOL (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zoko Siman ( 585929 )
      Right, posting about your mail bombing exploits to innocent AOL customers is the perfect way to get respct and karma around here. Let alone you did it in VB.
  • I always used... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by velo_mike ( 666386 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#9666223)
    I always used root@localhost as the replyto when I posted to usenet, let the spambots pick that one up...
  • Mailinator (Score:5, Informative)

    by iCharles ( 242580 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#9666226) Homepage
    I used to use the ones you describe, as well as "" Then, I discovered Mailinator []. This is pretty handy. You make up an address Mail can go there, and the address is "created" on the fly. Later, if you are really interested (say, a registration for a newspaper site), you can pick up the mail. After a few hours, the account is deleted.
    • Re:Mailinator (Score:5, Informative)

      by tanguyr ( 468371 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:31AM (#9666494) Homepage
      Those of you running firefox can download a search plugin for from mycroft [], so you can check [whatever] from your seach box.
  • Back in the day there was a web site, that gave out free email So I grabbed and used that whenever I had to give an address to something I didn't want to give an address to, just to be an ass.

    The original faded away in the mid-90's. It's rather interesting to note that now, when I point my browser to [] it redirects me to the offical Bush-Cheney '04 blog. How bizzare. What's up with that?
  • Webmaster (Score:2, Funny)

    by mokomull ( 630232 )
    I usually use webmaster@<site>, and I check all of the "Email me adverts for all this shit!" boxes, too. Let that teach 'em to harvest emails for spam!
    • I prefer... (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonHawk ( 21256 )
      "I usually use webmaster@ ..."

      I prefer postmaster@[site]. Internet standards require postmaster be a working mailbox (not everyone follows the standards, but many/most do). I also find webmaster@[any-domain] tends to gets tons of dictionary-attack spam, thus making it more likely to be filtered already. Most (not all!) spammers filter out postmaster@[all-domains] (spammers may be stupid, but they're not *that* stupid). Finnally, postmaster@ is, I suspect, more likely to be read by people who care (sysa
  • I usually sign up with the adress of people I hate. Right now it's that smelly boy in 5th grade who never would shut up about his baseball card collection.
  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:57AM (#9666241) Homepage Journal
    The domain "" is reserved for exactly this purpose.

    However, I find that for cases where you can be reasonably certain your address is NEVER going to be used for legitimate purposes (such as cases like this where the context implies the address is useless and it will only be treated as real by harvesters), you can skip the middle man by using
    • by tignom ( 562076 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:27PM (#9666927) is my favorite when someone with no legitimate use for my email is requesting it. If that won't take, next in line are, and - where is whatever site is demanding my email. After that comes, and I don't expect AOL or any of the other big ISPs to do anything, but on the off chance they do, it means a site that's trying to abuse my email will run afowl of someone who can cut them off from a large number of customer/victims.
  • You never signed up your friend for a porn service as a joke? I thought that was standard adolescent fare. The more random the porn, with limits obviously, the better.
  • Depends how dummy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 )
    Most programs and sites happily take -@-.- which isnt even valid.
  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:59AM (#9666252) Homepage Journal
    1. [] - 15,800
    2. [] - 4,170
    3. [] - 2,900
    4. root@localhost.localdomainm [] - 2,860
    5. [] - 2,470
    6. [] - 2,240
    7. [] - 2,120
    8. [] - 1,790
    9. [] - 1,400
    10. [] - 975
    11. [] - 710
    12. [] - 423
  • by Neophytus ( 642863 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:59AM (#9666253)
    There are plenty of places you can safely point to. It's fair to assume that mailboxes at example.{com []|net []|org []} are unmonitored. There's also which bounces email with a polite notice [] that you don't want email from the sender. Spamcop provides the conspicuous, originally provided for users of their newsgroups but open to all and of course you can just use fake tlds like nobody@fake.invalid which will always be rejected before the email even leaves the spammer's servers.

    If you do want to recieve email but only, say, once from a company then you'll be looking at SpamGourmet [] which provides simple, free, fowarding addresses that expire after X hits.
  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:59AM (#9666256)
    ... i still have to ask a guy named Donald working for Disney and a guy named Dubya working at the whitehouse, if they ever received any mail for me.
  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:00AM (#9666262) Homepage Journal

    Once Upon A Time, a friend of mine had a domain that spelled a major ISPs name backwards (he registered it on purpose, and joked that he was the "anti-big vendor" and gave shell accounts to friends, friends of friends, etc.

    Then, someone started posting to usenet a lot, who was a customer of Big Vendor , and he 'spam-proofed' his address by ever so cleverly spelling it backwards.

    Suddenly dozens if not hundreds of undeliverable messages started landing on Mike's server for some clown over at ReallyBigISP.

    So, like any good sysadmin, he corrected this oversight, adding a sendmail rule to deliver mail for to

    The moral of the story: Do not create harm for some innocent third party with your spam evasion techniques. It may come back to haunt you.

  • by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:01AM (#9666273) Homepage
    Untitled Document

    Maybe a year and a half back or so, I started using as a dummy email id in online blogs, guestboks, forums, and sundry pages. But then I started wondering what if someone actually tried to email me on that email address.

    So.... you're the jackass who clogged up my mailbox with all this crap. Thanks alot, pal!

  • Mailinator (Score:3, Informative)

    by igrp ( 732252 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:01AM (#9666275)
    I used to use nobody@localhost but that hardly ever works any more. Then I used (back in the days, replay used to run a remailer and they didn't mind anyone using their 'blackhole' address).

    These days, I just use Mailinator []. They offer throw-away email addresses for free and automatically delete any mail the account receives after a few hours. That way, I can actually confirm registrations and the like but don't have to worry about spam. And I do not bother innocent third parties, such as the domain owners.

  • by LiamQ ( 110676 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:02AM (#9666281)
    RFC 2606 [] reserves domain names like, so you can safely use those without hitting existing email addresses.
  • Ex boss.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by sporty ( 27564 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:03AM (#9666292) Homepage
    I usually use the email of an ex-boss that I hate.

  • by magefile ( 776388 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:03AM (#9666295)
    Use a domain less than 3 chars - can't exist, according to standards, so you won't be abusing anyone. If that's not allowed, use (or .org, or .net), which was set up as a dummy domain to be used in examples.

    The best way I've found, though, is Every account "exists" (is created as needed), and other than (perhaps) root, abuse, etc., they aren't passworded. So you don't even have to set up a junk account, just make up the address on the fly. Be sure to delete any emails with passwords in 'em ASAP, of course.
    • Use a domain less than 3 chars - can't exist, according to standards

      They can exist, it's just that they were set aside early on. But not early enough to stop,,,, and probably a number of other one letter domain registrations. And then we have the hundreds of two letter domains you can find here []. You've never visited, the site for American Airlines? What about, to do currency conversion?

      And if you want to get really technical, every ccTLD is in an example of

  • (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:05AM (#9666313) Homepage Journal
    is a pretty common one here in england....

    by and large (eg with the proviso that only non existent domains are used for this) I applaud such things as the best way to fight all these loons building ever larger and ever more interconnected databases of internet users and profiling and tracking and analysing them is by filling those databases with as much junk as possible...

    I will commonly complete you-must-register-to-get-access forms with;

    a nonsensical name, eg mickey_moose_99
    a DOB circa 1900
    the wrong sex
    an unlikely city and country, such as Krasnyy, Iran
    a 90210 area code
    an 0898 696969 telephone number

    It would be nice to hear from someone with access to a large database, eg online newspaper, what proportion of registration data is bogus.
  • NoSpam (Score:3, Funny)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:13AM (#9666372) Homepage
    The most miserable admin on the planet surely lives here [].

  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrispl ( 189217 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:14AM (#9666379) Homepage
    One I have used for years. I am sure Mr. Irvin Tsnot at Real Networks [] is wondering why he gets so much junk Email...
  • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:18AM (#9666404)
    The domain is registered by Speakeasy. I checked and found that there is currently no mailserver associated with, so in this case you lucked out and didn't hurt anyone with your misguided efforts. People using random email addresses are very much like people randoming shooting guns. The,, and domains are safe to use for this purpose, see RFC 2606, Section 3.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:20AM (#9666419) Homepage Journal
    1 - you are falsifying your identity with intent to deceive.

    2 - you are assuming the identity of someone else, again with intent.

    3 - improperly using others resources, or causing harm to others resources..

    Doubt anyone would ever be tried and convicted under the law, but in this day and age, when people are jailed just for speaking, and the government will monitor what books you read, anything is possible..
    • 1 - you are falsifying your identity with intent to deceive.

      Is that really illegal if there is no fraud involved?

      Provided that you don't use a real e-mail address, just who is harmed?

    • by syukton ( 256348 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#9668221)
      Funny, I didn't know "email address" was synonymous with "identity."

      When somebody asks for your email address, they're asking for a way to contact you--like a phone number. They're not asking for you to uniquely identify yourself as you would with a driver's license or passport, they're only asking how they can reach you.

      Email is not identity, and using a dummy email address is not illegal.
  • The correct way (Score:4, Informative)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) <nsayer @ k f u . c om> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:24AM (#9666443) Homepage
    is to use any LHS This, by RFC, is guaranteed to belong to nobody.
  • Revenge... (Score:3, Funny)

    by siesta at uni ( 311500 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @01:07PM (#9667162) :D
  • by wganz ( 113345 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @09:43PM (#9670823)
    I use in cc: lines for the corporate email responses when someone adds everybody remotely related to the 'issue' to an email. When anyone does a ReplyAll, they get back an undeliverable message from In other words, HE doesn't want to hear you whining. The humour is lost on a lot of people.
  • by ( 188228 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:32AM (#9672063) Homepage
    I registered in 1995 (hey, it was free :-). After I sold my first consulting company, I named the next one after the domain. Somewhere.Com, LLC.

    Spam didn't exist at the time. The first warning signs were when we'd occasionally get email bounces. Some versions of 'mail' on Unix, when unable to figure out who to return a bounce to, would send it to somewhere!name-of-the-user. Sendmail would helpfully turn that into, and we'd get the email.

    When spam started, we started getting bounce backs. Spammers were using it as a "fake" domain. In those days somewhere's mail system was a Mac 8500 on a cable modem. Life would get very interesting when all of AOL's mail servers started throwing bounces at me as fast as they could. I had originally been bouncing messages back with messages asking people to stop--that had to change to straight rejections.

    As a result of the time I was spending handling somewhere's email problems, I got into the anti-spam business. Initially writing tools to track spammers ( is still up, although I don't know how well the spam analysis stuff is working). Later I co-founded Messagefire, an end-user anti-spam service.

    In the meantime somewhere's email flow continued to climb. It's doubled every year. Hoaxes like the one about "" (put it in your address book, and the fact that it's fake will cause viruses to die) didn't help. Nor did Microsoft FrontPage shipping with as the default address in its templates. Axis shipped an internet enabled video camera that that (if you turned on the email feature) defaulted to sending all your security pictures to (They've fixed it, but there are still cameras out there sending us a picture every 5-10 seconds.). Viruses that picked up all the references to off of people's address book and web caches started to account for more than a third of the email. People signing up for things with "fake" addresses accounted for a lot as well. (Why anyone would use an email address at a domain and not check to see if the domain existed first, I have no clue. Neither, apparently, do a lot of people who enter fake email addresses.) By last year we were rejecting 100,000 messages a day, of which close to 40,000 were going to I upgraded my DSL line to 768k just to handle the flow, and I had to limit my mail server to 100 simultaneous connections at a time.

    This year we sold Messagefire to a Seattle company called MessageGate, and I now work for them. We use to stress test our enterprise anti-spam and compliance software. That happened only just in time; my router was starting to fail frequently under the load. Now the mail's on a high-bandwidth connection with multiple machines to handle the load--I just pick up the legitimate addresses after the spam has been filtered out.

    I haven't looked in on it in several months, but we did let the email run unthrottled once early this year. After a few hours we were looking at enough bandwidth saturate several T1's, and volume of at least one million messages a day.

    A couple things in summary.

    1. Don't use fake email addresses. If you don't trust the site you are giving your email address too, then why are you doing business with them? If you're afraid of spam because you're posting your address publicly; then buy some anti-spam software. If I can manage to use legitimate email accounts on and not worry about spam, then obviously there's some out there that works well. I've been posting on usenet and the web using for the past 9 years. The spammers definitely have my address. So what?

    2. If you're going to make up a domain name, then *check* first to see if it's real! Better yet, don't. Just because it's not real now doesn't mean it won't be later. Use example.{com,net,org} if you must.

    3. I see a number of people here s

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous