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I needed to re-subscribe to the JoelOnSoftware newsletter.

So I went to the appropriate page on the web site. Then I thought: which email address shall I give, the one I normally use for mailing lists, or my personal email address, the one I try to keep as private as possible. I thought: "Joel and Fog Creek are nice people, nothing to worry about..." so I provided my personal email address.

Then I realised that JoelOnSoftware uses the services of a company called WhatCounts to actually manage the mailing list.

I'm sure the guys at WhatCounts are honest people, but still, I'd prefer it if they didn't have my email address in their database.

Maybe there should be some kind of disclaimer on the subscribe page.


Laurent Humbert

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Wow. Do you work for the CIA or the MI5?

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Na, but you may have heard about a problem on the Internet called spam.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

(K, do people in the CIA or the MI5 like spam even less than normal people?)

Laurent, the simple solution is this: no matter how much you think you like a company never give anything but your spam address.

That way, you also get the added benefit of having all "commercial" communications going into one account.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

right, not only do you have to worry about the current company (e.g. are they trustworthy today), but their scucessors and others (what happens if they get bought out? what happens if someone steals the database? what happens if someone sues them?)

sure, there's levels of paranoia here, but since there's such a simple solution (everyone gets the junk or a unique address), it's worth it to use the solution.

although i and many others have noted that very little spam seems to come from giving out your address to places which ask for it. rather it seems to be scraped or generated addresses.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

I'm surprised people even have "spam" and "private" e-mail addresses now. The world is full of spam filtering e-mail readers. Are people still suffering by hand-deleting spam?

Mozilla Thunderbird is free. Bayesian in the box. Go get it.

Brad Wilson (
Saturday, May 1, 2004

So you have your personal address and your spammable address.  There may be a distinction initially, then your friend gives your personal address to ecards, evite, or 'forward this article' on news service.  Your screwed either way. 

Saturday, May 1, 2004

I agree with the observation that spam doesn't arrive through addresses you give out to companies.  In the past five years I've given a unique email address every time I was asked for one (e.g., <service_name>  I must have given hundreds of such addresses, and I haven't received a single spam from them.  All the spam I get comes from a few addresses that have "escaped into the wild", and can be seen in some public web pages.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

My sentiments exactly.  I feel that the whole spam issue is probably overrated.  What's the purpose of having two addresses (one spamable, on private) if not reduced efficiancy?  You would still have to deal with the spam on the "spamable" address anyway.  Productivity gain: nill.  Just use a good spam filter and avoid posting your regular address to newsgroups or the web (use contact forms, etc.)  Use a newsgroup service tht allows you to display a false e-mail address and use your signature to direct those that want to get in touch to your contact form on your site.  Every tech professional has one, right?

Seun Osewa
Saturday, May 1, 2004

"""Every tech professional has one, right? """

No. Only the really nerdy ones.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

On the "companies dont spam" thing.

I thought this too, untill I gave my addy to A brand spanking new email addy. I diddnt even have the chance to use it for anything but ordering those books before spam began to flow in.
I wrote them a very angry letter about that. They said they didnt sell it, but I dont believe them.

Eric Debois
Sunday, May 2, 2004

----"I diddnt even have the chance to use it for anything but ordering those books before spam began to flow in."----

Could have been dictionary spam. That is to say the spam was pouring in before you created the email address but there was no address for it to go to.

I have a fairly common surname and so I was not surprised to receive spam at my srilankan email address even though I have never sent it to anybody. A quick check of the headers makes it clear that spammers are just blitzing the domain. A fair proportion of the spam I get at my Saudi address comes as a result of this as well.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, May 2, 2004

"A quick check of the headers makes it clear that spammers are just blitzing the domain"

Yes, I've seen this at our "catcahall" address for our company.

In fact, I've often thought this would be a GREAT way to detect spam.

I'll often get the same spam message to a non-existent email address (caught by the catchal) AND at my regular email address.

So... you could flag any message as spam if it showed up at a "non existent" email address. 

Nothing new, really. It's the way the mailing list companies make sure that you won't reuse the list. They salt it with a few "decoy" addresses, that exist only on the list, but are monitored. If they get 3 pieces of direct mail from MyCompany, but I only paid to use the list once, then they know I was illegitimately using th list 2 times.

Mr. Analogy
Sunday, May 2, 2004

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