Spam bait and fresh starts

I've temporarily removed the feedback form on this site, because some weasel spammer was abusing it to send me 50 emails a day.  It'll come back when it's spam-proof.  Even a humble PHP contact form isn't safe! I hate having to lock things down because of a minority of mindless vandals, and I hate wasting time dealing with spam.  It's like stepping in chewing gum.  This will help protect your email address:

  • Turn off the preview or reading pane in your email program.  Do NOT let it open emails automatically.  Some spam emails use remote image loading to find live email addresses (Thunderbird can block remote images).
  • If you don't know who the email is from (and it's not flagged as a blog comment), delete it.
  • NEVER open an attachment from a stranger.
  • NEVER click on a link in an email from a stranger.
  • NEVER publish your email address on your website.
  • NEVER put a "mailto:" link on your website.
  • If you've got a Windows box, use Mailwasher to delete the spam before it gets to your inbox.  It's worth the money for the Pro version.  I haven't found a Mac equivalent.
  • Spam emails often have appalling spelling and random subject lines. Delete them on sight.  I wish someone would build grammar and spelling checking into a spam filter!
  • If the email claims to be from your bank, or PayPal, or eBay, delete it on sight, it's probably a phishing scam designed to get your login details.  Go to the real bank/PayPal/eBay site and login there, or call them.  If there's a problem, they will tell you.
  • Do not reply to the spam.  Do NOT click on the "unsubscribe" link.
  • Keep a "spam bait" web-based email address (like Yahoo or Hotmail) for when you have to give an address out.  Check it only when you know something will get sent there, like order confirmations.
  • Use the spam bait address on message boards, or anywhere it might get published on the web.
  • If you can talk your ISP into offering Postini mail filtering, it's fantastic.  They filter out spam and viruses before it gets to your mailbox.

If you want a fresh start with a new email address, I have some Gmail invites, just leave me a comment.  I think spammers are greedy, lazy, vandals, and anything I can do to make it harder for them is effort well spent.  I had to learn some of this the hard way, and burned through a few email addresses.

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