Shut out spam

Written by David Zimmer

“These people are organized, it is big money for them and they will take advantage of any opening to screw the end-user.” Neil Schwartzman doesn’t mince words when it comes to spammers, those vile and anonymous junk e-mailers who fill your inbox with unwanted ads for herbal Viagra and low, low mortgage rates from banks in Sierra Leone. As chair of the Canadian branch of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail (CAUCE), Schwartzman battles spam artists on the legislative level, and is currently working with Industry Canada to address the problem. (Check out to join the fray.)

While there may well be legislative or self-regulated relief on the way, Schwartzman says, there are some simple ways spam-plagued businesses can cut the crap right now:

  • Instead of providing your contact information in the form of an alphanumeric address on the company website, post it as a GIF or JPEG file that does not act as a hotlink. Humans can read the address, but those Web-crawling “spiders” that compile spam lists won’t be able to detect it.
  • Set up both public and private e-mail addresses. Use a generic Hotmail- or Yahoo!-type address for things like contest submissions or posting to discussion groups. When the spam gets thick, ditch that address and pick up a new one. Give out your private address only to legitimate contacts.
  • Never, ever reply to spam. Doing so tells spammers that your e-mail address is valid.
  • If you have your own mail server in-house, you can either outsource your anti-spam efforts or take them in-house with anti-spam technology from companies such as AmikaNow! or Active STATE, which you have to maintain. is just one Canadian company that lets you rely on its specialized expertise to slice spam. You can use it as an ISP or simply point your incoming e-mail to its site and let them do the filtering.

For a wagonload of useful anti-spam information, including dozens of links to spam-zapping services, check out

© 2003 David Zimmer

Originally appeared on