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content by: editor
This week, don't click "remove me".If you've got an email address, you're probably accustomed to receiving spam emails, especially if like me you keep signing up for cheap pharmaceuticals.
But spam is a wider problem that afflicts many parts of the internet: from comments on blogs, to messageboards, communities like MySpace and YouTube, automated instant messages, even entire websites in themselves.
While there's a good chance the entire internet could literally explode due to too much spam, killing us all, there are some valiant groups out there who are doing their best to put a stop to it - people like Spamhaus, who provide grim-faced, no-nonsense antispam advice and services. Ever click “remove me” in unsolicited emails from email lists you didn't sign up for? Don't, you mug.
But there are more fun ways to deal with it. Sometimes the broken English and frequently nonsensical text can be inadvertently amusing in itself, and provides inspiration for the illustrators of the Spamusement! web comic. Or the sheer volume of data generated by spam could be interpreted to make something with a bit more class, like SpamPaint's artwork, generated from blog comment spam. Going one step further, if you find a way to represent spam statistics in 3D, you might even end up with something as beautiful as these Spam Plants, which are explained in greater detail here.
Having fun with spam isn't just about passively interpreting it. In fact, there's probably a Dave Gorman-style adventure to be had in responding positively to spam - although his adventures don't usually end with him up to his neck in debt and pills. Some unsolicited emails are actually trying to sell products, but others are an outright con. That's where the practice of scam baiting comes in, a kind of vigilante retribution against scammers – or just a bit of fun wasting their time, depending on how far you want to take it.
So next time you're purging the spam from your inbox, instead of cursing and flailing about furiously, take a moment to imagine the pretty 3D sculptures it might make before hitting the junk button.
Read members' comments related to this column.
comment by UKSpamEater Feb 10, 2008On the subject of Spam Baiting, something that seems to be becoming more popular these days, I found this Scottish site quite amusing:
I'm amazed that someone has actually taken the time to wind-up the folk who send these emails.
I was amazed just how many different types of spams were being sent. Thankfully my own ISP seems to block most of mine and I only get teh odd one now and again. They're still a nuisance though
comment by WaldoGonzales Dec 14, 2007Can someone tell me why the Microsoft Hotmail service contains no spam emails; at least mine doesn't?
To get rid of spam on my server email section, I tried the following with some success, although I must admit I do not know how long it will last:
I got rid of my old email address completely and opened-up a new one with just initials and a four-digit number @ email address. Also, to help stop drop-down advertising and banner advertising, I now use a homepage which has no animations whatsoever.
Believe it or not, and as simple as it sounds, it all has helped a lot. So far, touch wood, no spam emails at all!
spamhaus: remove me
king cosmonaut: spam paint
news.com: spam art
wikipedia: scam baiting
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