Tired of Bogus Spam Complaints? United We Stand ....Written by June Campbell
If you are distributing material to an opt-in email list, you need to know about a fledgling, grassroots organization called e-Crucible. The organization is committed to "opposing by any ethical, political, and legal means available vigilante activities of "anti-Spam" fanatics and unfair and unjust handling of 'Spam' complaints by certain Internet Service Providers."
According to Executive Director, John Botscharow, e-Crucibles is in process of acquiring non-profit status so it can exist as a legal entity.
But first, a little background.
As an online publisher, you already know what I mean by bogus spam reports. Either in error or with mischievous intent, a subscriber decides your ezine is spam. Quicker than you can say, "Hey, you subscribed!", s/he sends hostile, rude and often abusive emails to every web site or email address listed in your ezine. In some cases, complainant includes a worm or virus with email for added impact. Or maybe s/he reports you to SpamCop, CAUSE or a similar vigilante group.
The bad stuff hits fan. You're deemed guilty and there is no wayto prove your innocence. Without contacting you, SpamCop emails your ISP, your web host, your advertisers and even writers whose articles you have published. At best, you spend next few days explaining and pleading your innocence to people involved. At worst, your website host and your ISP shut you down. Your business is interrupted until you can make other arrangements. If you live in an area of world where you have only one ISP available, this can mean end of your Internet business.
This story is but one example of many. Frank Garon is a webmaster who publishes an opt-in ezine with a subscriber base of 12,000 (http://www.InternetCashPlanet.com). His ezine contains clear unsubscribe instructions. Sometime in April, 2001, a subscriber allegedly sent entire ezine to SpamCop with instructions to "shut down this American *&%^ spammer."
Garon reported that SpamCop contacted every email address and web host address contained in ezine. One victim was a writer whose article had been published in 'zine. She had usual resource box at end of her article, including a link to her site. The writer's email account was shut down, and at last report, her web site was in jeopardy. Remember that this writer did not send a single email. Common sense dictates that she could not possibly have been guilty of spam.
Spam: Poison PillWritten by Richard Lowe
A common way for spammers to create their vast lists of email addresses is to cull web pages for "mailto:" tags. There are many different programs, available for small to huge costs, which will do this automatically, easily and efficiently.
I monitor my web site log files on a regular basis, and I'm always amazed at vast numbers of spam harvesting programs that regularly scan my pages. Not only do these obnoxious things steal email addresses, they use bandwidth which I pay for without any kind of compensation. I put up my web pages for people to read not for some scumbag spammer to scan them.
There are many ways to combat spammer. None of these methods are perfect. As in any war, both sides are continually developing new weapons to use against other. New methods work for a short time until enemy comes up with countermeasures and overcomes weapon.
One of more effective ways to confuse spammer (not hard because they don't tend to be very bright) is "poison pill" defense. This consists of handing spam harvesting robots some pages which appear juicy, full of yummy email addresses ripe for picking.
The email address on these pages are fake. They have nothing to do with reality and exist only to choke spam robots, causing them to overflow and possibly even crash.
The script creates a page which appears in all ways to be a normal document in a web site. The page may include some text informing human visitors of intention (this is important so any people who see page are not confused).
It also needs to include a meta tag informing all robots not to index page. This is critical, as you do not want robots such as googlebot or scooter (the spiders for Google and Altavista, respectively) seeing this stuff. Don't worry, spam harvesters ignore these meta tags.