At the very least, unsolicited email wastes everyone's time. Much worse however, are the online dangers that this unwanted
email (also known as unsolicited email or spam) brings.
I'm talking about the problems of spyware and adware; of computer viruses; and of so-called phishing attacks that enable
identity theft and threaten your financial security.
There's no doubt that reducing unwanted email helps just about everyone, whether site owner or site visitor. This article aims
to help both.
So, here's how webmasters, site owners and web visitors can reduce unwanted email, today:
Tip 1. Use A Challenge Response System
What is a challenge response email system?
Well, according to Domains-dns.com, "it is an anti-spam system which is designed to shift the filtering workload from the
recipient to the spammer (or the legitimate sender).
"The fundamental idea is that spammers will not take the time to confirm that they want to send you email, but a legitimate
Basically, a challenge response system aims to prevent unwanted email getting through to your inbox, by getting the sender
of the email to confirm that they sent the email. (Spammers would simply not have the time to confirm millions of messages
Email Publisher Comment on Tip 1:
Challenge response email systems are time-consuming to say the least, for those email publishers that send legitimate emails
to hundreds or thousands of double-opt-in subscribers. So some email publishers will not confirm details and you will not
receive the email subscription you requested.
To find out more, do a search for "email challenge response systems".
Tip 2. Use Disposable Email Addresses
What are disposable email addresses?
Well, without stating the obvious, they're email addresses you can dispose of. They're easy to set up, use once, and forget. So
if someone sends unwanted email to this email address you'll most likely never know about it.
These email addresses are mostly used to register at sites that people don't really want to register at.
Site Owner Comment on Tip 2:
These email addresses are not liked by site owners who obviously want to maintain contact with people by sending further
emails in the future. (Responsible email marketing is one method that site owners use to keep their site free, after all.) Quite
often, therefore, these email addresses are banned from being used to register for a site.
To find out more, do a search for "disposable email".
Tip 3. Hide Your Email Address
This tip is aimed at anyone who leaves their email address on a website or online forum.
Basically, so-called spambot programs scour the web looking for email addresses to add to databases. These databases get
sold to spammers who then send you unwanted email.
So either replace all email links on your site with "contact forms" or encrypt your email address somehow. And be careful
when leaving your email on a forum (some forums automatically encrypt your email or just do not publish it).
There are several ways you can 'hide' your email address but the basic idea is to try not to leave a 'live' email address on a
site or forum. (Technically speaking, I'm talking about not using mailto: for your email addresses.)
You can do this by:
o Encrypting your email address with ASCII-code;
o Using an anti-spam feedback form, only;
o Putting your email address in an image.
As simple as that, really.
Site Owner Comment on Tip 3:
Removing live mailto: links from your website may take some time, but the amount of time site owners will eventually save
make this a worthwhile activity. Not all of the methods discussed above are 100% spam-proof, however.
Here is an example of a contact form that uses several of the above techniques:
To find out more, do a search for "mailto encrypter" or "anti-spam feedback form" or visit the following pages at
Site Owner Comment (#2) on Tip 3:
Try and make sure that your email is set up to reject firstname.lastname@example.org (this is easy to configure on a
good web host). This will mean that spammers can't guess what your email address is and spam you even if you don't put
this email address live on your site.
Site Visitor Comment on Tip 3:
You're relying on either not using your real email address (see Tip 2, above), or on hoping that the owner of the site you're
using has anti spam measures in place to hide your email address on the site forum or guest book. Do take care.
Tip 4. Filter Your Email
If all else fails, and you're receiving lots and lots of spam, you simply have to filter your email.
That means automatically deleting the junk via a set of rules (or filters). How you do this depends on what email software you
use: Outlook, Outlook Express and Eudora have email filters (spam filters) that are easy to train.
You can also buy anti-spam email software to filter your email before it even reaches your email client (e.g. Outlook).
Web-based email sites like AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! etc. also allow you to filter your email.
General Comment on Tip 4:
Filters never stop all of the junk, alas. One thing to consider is setting up special email addresses that you can track and swap
to another email address should it start to receive too much spam. This would be more a temporary email address than a
So, there you have it: four tips site owners as well as site visitors can use today to reduce unwanted email, or spam.
Unwanted email is, at the very least an unpleasant waste of time, and it really can be reduced if you follow the tips above. It
is important that you try at least one of the spam-reduction tips shown.
Above all, site owners should remove their mailto: links from their website, and site visitors should simply take care when and
where they use their email address online.