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Putting the Kibosh on spam

By Will Harper

SPAM, FOR analog-era readers, is electronic junk mail. Like regular junk mail, it is annoying, irrelevant banter about ridiculous products and get-rich-quick schemes. And like that knee-deep pile of window envelopes in the kitchen, spam can make an email in-box look like a train wreck.

There is no sure-fire way to get rid of spam, but here are a few tips to slow the flow:

Never Reply. Spam-hating experts advise against following a spam email's instructions to be removed from the offending mailing list. Your reply merely shows the spammers that your email address is valid and thus encourages more spam.

Report the Bastards. Computer users can register with the Network Abuse Clearinghouse (www.abuse.net), which will forward complaints to the appropriate system managers. Users can also complain directly to Internet service providers, which usually have a special email address for reporting spam.

Use Filters. Popular email programs like Outlook Express and Eudora Pro allow users to filter out unwanted email. If that isn't good enough, individuals can register with Bright Mail (brightmail.com), a spam-screening service. Cruzio.com, one of Santa Cruz's leading Internet service providers, introduced a powerful new spam filter in July after hundreds of its customers begged for help fighting Internet junk mail. Cruzio says its filter gets rid of about 95 percent of unwanted email.

Establish an Alias. Open a free email account with web-based providers like Yahoo! or Hotmail. Use that account whenever posting messages in chat rooms, buying stuff on the Internet or website registration. This will help divert spam to your alias email address instead of going to your personal account.

For more information on spam, see the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email's website, www.cauce.org.


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From the September 26-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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