Top Ten Junk Email Do's and Don'ts © 2003 - Esu Matra
First, a definition (several definitions, actually)...
Spam Email: Refers generally to email communication that you do not want, from senders that you do not have any existing business relationship with, sent in large quantities of mostly identical messages. Also refers to junk email, UCE (Unsolicited Commerical Email), and sometimes to bulk email.
It seems that email usage has turned from being a window on world to being in a cell in a fortress or castle. You are afraid that you don't have enough defenses. You don't like being in fort, because you remember that only a short while ago this same location was a beautiful open field.
We wrote preceding paragraph before attending momentous U.S. FTC Spam Forum that ended in May 2003. The forum was attended by people on all of many sides of "anti-junk-email" war. But, at least one of panel members echoed feeling that junk email problem will be solved when your email in-box operates like it did when you (for you internet old-timers) first started. In those days, you just got email from people and organization you knew, and "open field" of email communication really was beautiful - no junk.
The attendees at FTC conference and other similar forums about junk email do not always agree on definition of, best solution to, or scope of junk email problem. But for most emailers, there is general agreement that it is a growing problem that they want stopped - fast!
There are many possible variations to top ten junk email DO's and DONT's list below. The items are presented with some humor to keep a light edge to a serious problem:
1. DON'T use unsubscribe option or reply to junk mails - this option at bottom of a junk email message is a trick that spammers use to make sure that address is real. However, at FTC forum it was reported that unsubscribing does not seem to increase spam, so it may not result in too much damage if you have unsubscribed or replied in past. Also, if you remember subscribing to sender, and believe them to be reputable, then use unsubscribe option provided.
2. DO spend time complaining about spam, responsibly and appropriately. Do realize that sender of any email can be faked, along with other information. Your internet service provider (ISP) can help you in tracking down real sender.
3. DON'T view or even pre-view a suspicious message while online. Why? The pictures used in some messages are only retrieved from spammer's computers when you view message, and at that time you could be telling spammers that you received message. It has been observed that identical junk messages may have different codes - possibly to get past email filters, or possibly to track who opens messages. Note that some online webmail providers allow you to not retrieve images when viewing messages, and this option is recommended to prevent spamsters from measuring effectiveness of their work.