Hiding email addresses on the web -Reply

Anna Beauchamp Beauchamp at sou.edu
Thu Dec 11 17:01:05 EST 1997

For those of you concerned about ever-increasing spam, you may wish to
look at the discussion & practical suggestions at the Anti-Spam Home
Page posted by Paul Lutus, creator of the web editor Arachnophilia (and
AppleWriter, way back when).  See:


I shared Stephanie Stoke's suggestions with him, and following is his

Anna Beauchamp
ILL Coordinator
Southern Oregon University
Ashland OR  97520
beauchamp at sou.edu
I have been having many conversations and exchanges on the subject of
lately, and the idea of having to scramble your e-mail address, or create a
CGI e-mail form to avoid revealing your address, are examples of the
everyone pays to the spammers every day. The other price is that about
of all Internet e-mail is spam -- we have to store it on our servers, we
have to dispose of it, at times our children read its occasionally
disgusting content.

There are several bills pending on this subject. The most likely to pass is
a requirement that spammers include the word "ADVERTISEMENT" in
their e-mail
subject line or another conspicuous location. The spammers are fighting
ferociously, because, simple as it sounds, this requirement would end
This is true because all e-mail client programs, and the program "sendmail,"
responsible for forwarding most e-mail through the Internet, would quickly
be modified to toss any e-mail that had this word in the subject line.

The Internet is dividing into two mutually exclusive subnetworks -- those
that permit spam, and those that prevent it. The spam permitters never
respond to complaints and simply add your address to their list of victims.

Also, and very important, the spammers employ the "remove" ruse to
that their e-mail was read by a human, so no one should fall for this. Here
are the details of this scam: In general, if you respond to a spam e-mail by
typing "remove" in the message body of your reply, this simply indicates a
success -- it proves a human read the e-mail. This guarantees that your
e-mail address will be placed on an expensive, premium list, sure to be
spammed again and again.

By contrast, the spam preventers respond quickly to a complain about
and will go so far as to throw a spammer off their site to prevent being
identified as a spam-friendly site. This assures that their site's e-mail
goes through.

It is possible to block the e-mail from an entire subnetwork (a group of
sites), which is why sites gravitate in one direction or another over
time -- the spammers do not care that they are identified as a
site, but to a conscientious site that serves the needs of human beings,
this identification is fatal. I have received e-mails pleading to be removed
from my widely distributed spammer blacklist, usually from sites that didn't
realize even a single spammer would ruin their reputation.

Some readers will say "This is melodramatic -- he makes this sound like a
war." Well, a few days ago DejaNews, a rather large site, decided to
2 1/2 years of accumulated spam from its newsgroups. The spammers
reacted to
this decision by launching a day-long "ping attack" -- a simple but
effective way to disable a network. Sounds like guerrilla tactics to me.

Also, the content of a typical spam e-mail would never be permitted
the Post Office. One example was a graphic tutorial on how to please a
that ran to 12 pages and left nothing to the imagination, posted by a
self-styled sex therapist. A copy of Gray's Anatomy would have been
to follow all the sordid details. And, as is true for most spam, it was
widely and indiscriminately posted, to recipients of all ages.

I wrote a complaint to the Post Office at the sender's district, but nothing
was done -- it was, after all, electronic, not print, mail. Methods are in
place to prevent this kind of abuse in the printed mail system, but nothing
has been done to protect us from the electronic version of junk mail. I
think it is about time.

Paul Lutus

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