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Address Munging FAQ: "Spam-Blocking" Your Email Address
Section - 4. Actions

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4a. Why should I mung my address?

 - It is an effective way to avoid junk email.  

   Junk emailers "harvest" email addresses from Usenet posts.
   Most address harvesting software used by junk emailers does not 
   discriminate;  anything with an '@' sign is considered an address.
   By changing what appears in the From: and/or Reply-To: headers
   of Usenet posts, the amount of unsolicited bulk/commercial email
   (UBE/UCE) received drops considerably.

 - It is easy to do compared to other methods of avoiding UBE/UCE.

 - It lowers the percentage of good addresses harvested by the address
   thieves.

4b. Why should I NOT mung my address?

 - It breaks the automated 'reply by email' feature found in most
   newsreaders, forcing people to manually de-mung the address in
   order to email topical replies to your posts.

 - If you use the same software for Usenet and email, you will have
   to change the address regularly, to avoid sending regular email
   with a munged address.

 - It violates RFCs, the rules upon which Usenet is built.

   (It should also be noted that munging does not automatically cause
   messages to bounce back to junk emailers;  if you are considering
   munging for this reason, you would not accomplish your goal.  Also,
   depending on what and where you post, a junkster *may* take the
   time to manually de-mung your address, just for spite.)

4c. How should I mung my address?
   (AOLers! Be sure to read Section 5, "Instructions for AOL members")
 
 - IMPORTANT!  Make sure that modifications to your email address do
   not violate any of the policies of your service provider!

 - Be creative with your mung, and change it often as well.  
   These steps will prevent harvesters from picking up on patterns,
   and possibly changing their software to defeat them.

 - Make it obvious to humans.
        DO: yourname(AT)example(DOT)com
        DO: yournamZ@ZxamplZ.nZt (Replace Z with E)
        DO: yourname@example.invalid 
             (use ONLY .invalid to do this!)
        DO: see_my_sig@for.my.real.address
     DON'T: yourname@foo.example.com

 - If you decide to add a "spamblock" to your existing address, put
   it on the right-hand side of the @ sign.  This avoids making your
   provider's email server handle undeliverable mail.  Also, you want
   your mung to affect the rightmost portion of the domain name;  if 
   you add something after the @ sign, many times the email will be 
   delivered anyway.
        DO: yourname@example-REMOVE_THIS-.com
             (be sure to read Section 4d!)
        DO: yourname@example.invalid
             (use ONLY .invalid to do this!)
     DON'T: yourname-SPAMBLOCK-@example.com
   
 - Tell folks how to de-mung your address somewhere in your message.
   The signature (sig) that gets added to the end of each message is
   a good place to do this.  
     DO: "To reply via email, remove '-REMOVE-THIS-' from my address."
     DO: "Real address is myrealname AT example DOT com"
     DO: "Replace all the Z's with E's to reply"
     DO: "Replace 'invalid' with 'net' to reply"
   
   NOTE: DO NOT put a directly usable address in your sig, because
   many harvesters collect everything with an @ sign in it.
       DO: "Send email to myrealname; ISP is example DOT com"
    DON'T: "Real address is myrealname@example.com"

4d. How should I NOT mung my address?
   (AOLers! Be sure to read Section 5, "Instructions for AOL members")

 - IMPORTANT!  Do not make up domain names!  Most of them actually
   exist, and your fakery could cause them a lot of woe.  Certain
   domains are already virtually useless because of folks using them
   in mungs and forgeries.  Plus, new domain names are being added all
   the time, and you never know if someone might want to use your mung;
   your actions today -do- have an effect on the future!
   It is almost as harmful to add something directly after the @ sign, 
   and doing so may not prevent the delivery of messages anyway.
     DON'T: yourname@NOSPAM.your-isp.com
     DON'T: yourname@REMOVE-THIS.com
     DON'T: yourname@your-isp.ORG (instead of COM)
        DO: yourname@your-isp.INVALID 
            (Use -only- .INVALID to do this!)

 - Do not use a totally faked address, especially one that looks real.
     DON'T: not-your-real-name@some-other-isp.com

 - Do not make it *too* obvious by using a 'standard' mung.  Invent
   your own, or choose an unusual one of those you have seen.  If
   everyone uses the same mung, it becomes easier for junk emailers
   to strip them out.
     DON'T: yourname@example-NOSPAM-.com
        DO: yourname@exampleDO-DO-DO.comDAH-DAH-DAH

4e. If I mung, when should I be sure to use my REAL address?

 - When sending email.

 - When subscribing to a mailing list.

4f. What else can I do besides munging to avoid junk email?

 - Ask your provider to give you the option of having the most
   egregious junk emailers blocked by them.

 - If your ISP/domain offers one, you can use a "spam sink" address;  
   all email to this address should be deleted, unread, by your ISP.
     EX: devnull@example.com
      
   NOTE: Usenet conventions allow topical replies to posts, so if
   you choose this you should include a usable address somewhere in
   the message.

 - Use filters to sort email either at the server or after it has been
   downloaded to your machine.  Most standalone email software
   includes filters, and some of them (notably Pegasus Mail) are free.

   Those who have shell accounts, or server access, can use a Unix
   tool called procmail to handle messages as they arrive at the
   server.  Filtering rules can be VERY simple and still be effective.


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Top Document: Address Munging FAQ: "Spam-Blocking" Your Email Address
Previous Document: 3. Definitions
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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM