Abandoning the battle against spam
I don’t understand why people are so afraid of spam in this day and age. It seems to me that people get overly concerned about giving out their e-mail address to companies or web sites or what-have-you, because “they’re going to send me a bunch of stuff I don’t want.”
Well, I suppose there’s a kernel of truth there. After all, why would someone want your e-mail address unless they wanted to e-mail you? And I admit that I have a tendency to omit my e-mail address from forms where it’s not needed. But then there are those who feel a need to create a separate e-mail account specifically because they don’t want to see spam in their “real” inbox. At which point, it seems to me that the cure is taking more effort than dealing with the mild symptoms of the disease.
First of all, I’ve found in my experience that giving out your e-mail address to a web site (or whatever) doesn’t automatically lead to more spam. There was a time a couple years ago where I was getting upwards of 70 spam messages a day. I consider that to be a lot, especially considering how much spam I get now, which is like one or two a day (which my filters catch for me).
I found that I was getting a lot of spam because my contact e-mail on my web site used a “mailto” tag. Once I changed that to a link to a feedback form (which has its own anti-spam device), the spam dropped of precipitously. There must be something about spam robots that like the mailto tag, but don’t dig much deeper than that. There are apparently NOT roving gangs of spammers out there collecting e-mail addresses and putting them into a databases used for mass-mailing crap. If there were, I’d get a lot more spam than I get now.
It also seems to me that perhaps the spammers have all moved on to web-based feedback forms. Oh, they love the forms, I can tell you that. The comments in Jammer’s Reviews get spammed like crazy. I don’t have to deal with it, though, because spam bots apparently don’t deal much with arithmetic. Adding a field that says “34+3=” (tossing any e-mail that doesn’t answer it correctly) eliminated about 90 percent of the spam in there, and I eliminated the remaining 10 percent by automatically tossing anything with “[url=” in the message. Here on the blog, I use WordPress, which has Akismet filtering that manages most of my spam seamlessly.
But back to my original point: I don’t understand why people who don’t have web sites or blogs have to even worry about e-mail spam. In today’s world of e-mail applications, all the major players have spam filters. I can’t attest to how good all of them are, but I can attest to how good Gmail’s is. (It’s very good.)
Besides, most companies, if they put you on a list, will gladly remove you if you click the “remove” link. And for those few who don’t, you have the power to invisibly filter them out. (You can also do this for people who insist on sending you irrelevant BS on a weekly basis.)
But as far as I’m concerned, the spam problem (and I’m talking about personal e-mail users here, not companies that have to deal with this on a large scale) has been solved. There are people out there who seem to think there’s a battle out there against personal e-mail spam, and that we as e-mail account holders must take it up or we lose. The battle strategy appears to be to not give out your e-mail address unless you trust the recipient with your first born. I don’t see the point. The technology, from where I sit, has made spam irrelevant.
Besides, it’s freaking e-mail. Who cares if you have to delete a few useless messages?