June 9, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Once Spammed, Always Spammed

When I first registered my personal domain name five years ago, I eagerly created my custom email address, "mike@strick.net." Short and memorable, consisting of my nickname and shortened version of my last name, I thought I'd created the last email address I'd ever need. Such was my eagerness that I plastered the address all over the Web sites I created. I also used it online for everything from entering sweepstakes to registering for online products and services. You live, you learn; in no time, the spam started sprouting in my Inbox.

The 'bots quickly harvested my address from the Web sites I'd created, as well as from the message boards I frequented. The companies to whom I'd given the address put me on their mailing lists, and sold or gave away the address to countless online marketers (read: spammers). Before long, my email routine comprised equal parts sending and deleting. Finally, it got so bad that I had to change my email address completely and cancel the whole "mike@strick.net" account.

What I've just described is not novel in any way. I'm sure many of my readers have gone through such tribulations, either choosing to create a new address as I did, or just putting up with the junk by exercising the index finger on the Delete button. The twist that makes the story interesting is that I just recreated the "mike@strick.net" address the other day on a lark, just to see if it's become "purified" in the intervening years. I thought that perhaps, over time, the invalid address might have been slowly removed from the countless spammer mailing lists on which it had replicated. If there was any rhyme or reason to the spamming, maybe repeated "bounces" would have signaled some spambot to remove the bogus address.

No such luck. Once spammed, always spammed. In just two short days, the address that had been inactive for three years or more collected nearly 100 spam email messages. Apparently once you get on these lists, you're on there eternally. You might choose to abandon your email address, but they'll never give it up.

So guard your address well, if it's not too late already. Give out your address only to those whom you trust. If you need to sign up for any online services or register on any Web sites, take a moment to create a free Hotmail or Yahoo email account and use it as a secondary "spam" account. Otherwise, you'll get branded with a big fat "S," as one of the "Spammed for Life."


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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June Columns:

6/30: Halfway There
6/27: 28 Days Later
6/26: I Am a Racist
6/24: America the Obese
6/23: Reality TV Sells
6/20: June Gloom
6/18: Hatch's Hollywood Hacking
6/16: Qualcomm Stadium
6/15: Happy Father's Day
6/14: Flag Day
6/13: Friday the 13th
6/12: Extreme
6/9: Spammed
6/8: Lack of PLANning
6/7: When Grass Attacks
6/4: Culture Shock
6/1: The Baja 500
Previous months in The Archive

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