The Bitter  Network Administrator

                                                A Website Dedicated to Computer Professional...and some not so Professional

Spam Chasers
By Doug Chick

Spam is nothing more than the same unsolicited phone calls that interrupt you during dinner or Real Junk Mail that the U.S. Post Office delivers, and yet people are more outraged when they receive it. Being called to the phone in the middle of dinner by a telemarketer infuriates me. I've been so rude and have hung up on so many telemarketers I don't know how they haven't become physiological damage after talking to me. And of course with paper junk mail, I am just too desensitized to even comment on. 

It is not difficult to stop Spam; it is almost impossible! --Especially if your ISP is selling your e-mail address. Oh yes they do that. Most Spam comes with a Spoofed IP Address that rotates so it cannot be blocked. And mandating state laws to stop Spam is a foolish waste of tax dollars if Spammers are spamming from another country. You can terminal into any computer abroad and target any country you want with E-mail. If you are of the mindset, that the government can stay a step ahead of a well-motivated computer geeks, than you are a reasonable candidate for the popularly Spammed male organ enlarger.

Regrettably, I introduced my website in a newsletter to other computer geek with e-mail addresses that I harvested from the Internet. (Harvesting is when someone uses a spider program of sorts, to extract e-mail addresses from websites, newsgroups and bulletin boards.)  Being the knowledgeable hack that I am, the temptation was just too great to pass up. 

How an e-mail harvester works is like this: You enter a web address such as www.LotsOfAddressesHere.com and the program begins searching for any string that has a @ , retrieves and stores it. Furthermore, using a Spider engine,
the program tracks any embedded links on the page, and burrows down until there is nowhere else to search. With some larger sites this could continue almost indefinitely.  There are people out there that do nothing but collect and sell e-mail addresses. These people are known as Harvesters.

I'm not bragging, the fact is that in doing so I was labeled a Spammer by a small group of Spam Chasers. These Spam Chasers complained to my ISP, posted my name and address in a Newsgroup, and sent me insulting e-mail. As they should have. Their efforts were in my opinion a waste of time because, the ISPs are buried with complaints of real Spammers, most computer people above the rank of helpdesk don't even go to Usenet's, and insulting me will cause your name and IP Address to end up on a Chinese Hackers list. And yet, it still bothered me. The next month I sent another newsletter to the same addresses, with an exception of those that asked to be removed, and received a lot of hits, complimenting e-mails about my site, and 3 irate geeks complaining about being spammed. Finally their words of disapproval hit home and I decided to use my computer powers only for good. (Well, as good as I can be.) But these 3 Spam Chasers, as I like to call them, didn't waste their time after all.   Spam Chasers have a full time job saving the Internet from Spam mail. I receive about 100 individual Spams a day. I don't think that I could run a Whois lookup on all 100, report them to an ISP, submit them to a SpamCop org and still do the job that you were hired for. I tried while I was writing this article and gave up after number 5. Doing the math, times millions of Spam, it is very unlikely that anyone will successfully put a dent into stopping Spam using these methods. And you mustn't forget, many Spammers received your e-mail address from the same ISP that you are complaining to. What is the short term solution to stopping this explosion of junk mail? I don't know. But what I do think is, as we continue to delete these uninvited e-mails without reading them, advertisers have no audience,  therefore they will have no reason to send them.  Advertisers will only advertise as long as they are getting a return on their efforts.  

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