| The Method
[ Recipes for Specific Systems (Eudora, Internet Explorer, Netscape/Mozilla, Forte Agent, Procmail, Unknown Mailers) ]
What a lot of people have taken to doing to avoid it is to post news (and email!) with a corrupted version of their address in the From: line so that automatic address gathering tools don't collect a useful address. A side effect of this is that anyone wanting to <reply> to the author must manually hack the address back into usable form.
Conversely, we can probably all agree that busted addresses like "firstname.lastname@example.org" for "email@example.com" cause legitimate repliers inconvenience, and harm the "it just works" nature of electronic communication.
Now, if you could have your mailer automatically recognise spam and toss it for you, wouldn't you feel less need to hide from the spammers? It is, after all, the interruption/noise-in-the-mailbox which is the major irritant.
Here's my technique, which is low maintenance and works quite well (particular types of spam get past it, but most doesn't).
A brief jaunt into spam and then the filter method, which any of you can apply yourselves. How it works: most spam is broadcast (contact SMTP service, give message to service, tell it to deliver to thousands of people). As a consequence, the header lines are fixed and thus do not have my (your) address in the To: or CC: line, nor the address of any of the mailing lists you read.
So, you make a list of rules, saying something like:
I've personally set this up for people using: netscape, M$ Exchange, Eudora, procmail. Anything with filters will do the trick. And your mailbox will be quiet again and you can stop hiding!
if Subject: has ""into:
then Transfer to ProbablySpam
if Subject: has ""because there'll always be the occasional item which isn't spam, but does look that way to these rules. Just peruse your spam folder every so often (I do it every 3 or so days) for the exceptions - some exceptions will be lists you forgot, especially early on, and some will simply be exceptions - many can be addressed by examining the From: line. For example, I have a friend whose mailer routinely busts the To: line, so these rules would call it spam. I recently added:
if From: has "firstname.lastname@example.org"to the list. There should be very few of these.
Email rules are quite simple. You just set up a list of tests in a nice little dialogue and it applies them in turn. When one matches email item then the corresponding action is taken. Your choices for tests and actions are pretty constrained, like "does the To: line contain this address" and "transfer this item/message to that folder".
if To: contains the-address skip-all-further-rulesNetscape has a header rule clause for saying:
if Cc: contains the-address skip-all-further-rules
if To:-or-Cc: contains ...which immediately halves the work you need to do. Anyway, after these "match me" rules you need a final rule:
if something-always-true then transfer to "ProbablySpam"If the mailer doesn't have a "true" I tend to use "Subject: contains empty-string".
Some mailers let you make complex rules:
if this or that or the-otherlike this:
then do 1 then 2 then 3
if To: contains the-addressIf you're really lucky you can say:
OR Cc: contains the-address
OR To: contains another-address
OR Cc: contains another-address
... etc etc ...
if something-always-true then transfer to "ProbablySpam"
if To: does-not-contain the-addressas a single rule and you're away.
AND Cc: does-not-contain the-address
AND To: does-not-contain another-address
AND Cc: does-not-contain another-address
... etc etc ...
then transfer to "ProbablySpam"
My personal mail filer's custom and amongst other things labels items with their topic (i.e. "Personal", "SydRide", "SysAdmin" etc) for later use. Anything not getting a label is "ProbablySpam", and that's where it goes.