You should disguise your email address when posting to the Usenet or talking in chat
rooms to help block spam
Many email spammers have automatic programs that search the newsgroups
and non-IRC chat rooms to collect
addresses to add to their databases. Wherever a remailer is
not practical protection for this type of surfing, the standard
technique is to
disguise your email address with camouflage or
as described below.
Camouflage. You can camouflage your email address
by putting some extra words in the address that can be easily removed
by a conscious human being, but not by an automatic computer program.
If a spam utility sends email to that address, it will bounce and
never get to you. Note that a side-effect of this technique, for
good or ill, is also to reduce the ability to search the
newsgroups for your email address and dig up your old postings
unless you remember which disguises you used over the years.
You can easily change your email address in most email
application and news reader configuration
settings without problems by simply entering a disguised address,
since these programs authenticate their server connections
with a separately provided user name. If you use the same
to send email
and newsgroup postings, remember to change the address back
again before you send mail to your usual friends and acquaintances!
A detailed description of address disguise is provided at Spambot
Beware!, and the essential elements are described below:
- Extra words. Put some obvious words in your address
that a person can easily tell should be removed, such as "dontsendspam", "delete_these_letters", "remove
this phrase", or something similar:
You should use something meaningful but not too obvious since some
spam utilities use filters that recognize and automatically remove
the most common phrases such as "removethis" and "nospam".
If you use a less common but meaningful phrase, and put some spaces
in it, then the disguise should be able to fool most automatic programs.
However, the following tip works even better.
- Instructions. A more sophisticated disguise is achieved
by placing normal looking additions in your email, and then specifying
elsewhere how to rebuild the correct address. For example, you
may add the word "cat", and then explain that the word for a "feline" should
be removed. The email address and explanation is often conveniently
placed in an automatic signature file
added to the end of every posting, so that you don't have to
type it each time. Typical examples of the technique are shown
Remove the feline from my address to get my real address.
Delete the tall part to get a working address.
Disappear the numbers to get from my actual address
Temporary addresses. Another method of disguising
your address is to use a temporary address for all non-personal
communications -- that is other than friends and family. Temporary
addresses are usually forwarded to your main address for a set
configurable period of time, and then disappear. You can use temporary
addresses for signing up for short term services, buying products,
in chat rooms, keeping your personal email address confidential
and enabling you to throw the temporary address away if it attracts
any spam or other unwelcome email.
Temporary addresses accomplish a similar purpose to disguising
your address with camouflage words, with the following differences:
- They are usually used for email and chat, not message posting.
- If picked up quickly by a spam robot you will still get some
spam until the address is deactivated.
- They do not provide a long term way to get in touch with you
if someone tries to contact you after the address is deactivated.
Your Internet service provider might
provide temporary address services -- check with
the help line. The following sites also provide
temporary email addresses: