Gemini stuns me

The ultimate spam study

The Center for Democracy and Technology did the coolest study ever: They figured out what online activities will attract spam to your inbox. They started a bunch of email addresses, and used them in several ways — on USENET, on web sites, in e-commerce, and other ways. The verdict? From their report:

Our analysis indicated that e-mail addresses posted on Web sites or in newsgroups attract the most spam … CDT received the most e-mails when an address was placed visibly on a public Web site. Spammers use software harvesting programs such as robots or spiders to record e-mail addresses listed on Web sites, including both personal Web pages and institutional (corporate or non-profit) Web pages.

USENET postings also attracted spam, but not as much. The good news is that e-commerce folks were mostly honest about not re-selling your email, when they promised to do so. The other good news is that if you have to post your email on a web sit, you can thwart spambots from harvesting it by slightly altering it — i.e. writing it as clive at clivethompson.net.

It’s interesting to see how these results differ from when CNET did a (probably less rigorous) version of this experiment two years ago. Back then, they reported that message boards and AOL’s chat rooms were the worst places to leave your email address.

For me, the irony is that I’ve left my email address all the hell over Collision Detection. Nor do I disguise it by altering it. No wonder I’m getting, like, 20 penis-enlargement solicitations a day. Sigh.

(Thanks to Plastic for finding tihs one!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson