Sunday, July 5, 2009

And the answer is .......

No. Yes, it's no. Not yes, but no. Yes, indeed, email addresses just sitting around in blogspot pages (well at least this one) do not get picked up by the email harvesting spiders. The email addresses on the very poorly linked website were picked up inside a few months but none of the ones posted in here.

And now, a small update on hunting the best way to get spam. Warning - non-sensical semi rant inbound.

Signing up for all the scams from googling well known anti-malware, and clicking on the ads on facebook has given me a huge stream of "opt-out" & "CAN-SPAM compliant" spammers. They all dutifully provide unsubscribe links but I only have 3 working traps from the hundred or so signups I did so I'm loathe to see if any of them work lest I lose all this wonderful spam, although there is always the possibility it would promote further spams. There are several distinct groups that have somehow ended up with the addresses, most likely through the affiliate agreements that I was never given the opportunity to choose opt-into let alone opt-out.

Each group cycles their postal and main domain every couple days to several months, providing a seemingly endless supply of places I am required to opt-out. If I did start opting out, I'd have a lot of clicking to do. There are ethical qualms with getting spam this way - Is it really spam? Should I be trying to unsubscribe since I do not want this stuff (yet, I really do)?

Quite frankly, the crap I'm getting from those signups is completely and utterly useless. No one in their right mind would ever use any of the "products". Most seem to either be companies that made a poor decision on who to pay to market their product for them, some poor shmucks affiliate program being abused, or further scams. If they were arriving on my normal email account, I'd be pissed off. Someone got my email address in good faith for something I was interested in, and now it's being flooded with things that are not. To that end, I declare it is spam. Not a legal definition, but that's where the line has to be drawn.

If I gather all the information I can from these email addresses and use that information to block emails going to real users, am I doing something wrong? Some user has been silly enough to enter their email address into part 1 of a 2 part web form (part 2 is where you find out that this is going to cost money and that you've just been signed up for the affiliate program with your previous click because it's in the terms of service which you can read here) and they are now going to get flooded with all the same crap as my seeded addresses. Should that user have to try to unsubscribe from all the groups that are now going to be sending him crap? In a perfect world they should be able to go back to that original website and say that they no longer wish to participate and that would be that. Don't laugh - that's how it should be. Alas, that user will now come to me and want it all to stop thank you.

I don't unsubscribe because I want a current list of all the domains and servers in use by those spammers (I really do seem to have gone off trying to call these people anything but spammers regardless of their actual status) so that the user above never has to come to me. When they signed up for whatever it was, they will never get the first email, nor any of the others. If someone really wants it, I can allow that group through to their email address only and still keep everyone else safe and sane.

Is it spam? By definition probably not. Is it wanted? Hell no. Should I unsubscribe? No. I'm just collecting it all without rejecting it and collating information from it. Am I doing something wrong by blocking users from getting this crap in the first place? Hell no! Accessing my mail servers is not a right given to everyone on the planet. It is a privilege extended to those people trusted not to abuse it.

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