April 30th, 2006


hall of shame

Further to my previous entry about people responding to spam, I heard back from one of the people I sent a response to. I'll back up a bit and show you the whole exchange. First, his original message to me:

From: "Don" <...@cox.net>
To: "Rosamund Stephenson" <lchta@hewgill.net>
Subject: RE: monsoon

Ok knock your shit off please and stop sending me this

[original spam message quoted in his message]

My response:

From: "Greg Hewgill" <greg@hewgill.com>
To: "Don" <...@cox.net>
Subject: RE: monsoon

On Fri, Apr 28, 2006 at 08:29:26AM -0700, Don wrote:
> Ok knock your shit off please and stop sending me this

I understand you received some spam that appeared to be from an email
address in a domain I own (hewgill.net). Unfortunately, today spammers
are using software that can easily forge the "From" address on email
messages. They don't use their own name to try to hide their identity.
They insert random email addresses from domains they don't own and so it
looks like the spam came from me. I can assure you that it did not.

If your email provider has a spam blocking system, you may want to try
turning that on. On my own email system, I have a number of different
layers of spam protection and it brings the spam down to a manageable
level (I receive thousands of spam messages per day, most of which are
automatically blocked). With luck, people will stop buying products from
spammers and it will no longer be profitable for them to send their junk

Have a great day.

Greg Hewgill

I thought that was clear, succinct, and quite understandable. However, our friend Don appears to have not read any further than the very first sentence:

From: "Don" <...@cox.net>
To: "Greg Hewgill" <greg@hewgill.com>
Subject: RE: monsoon

Own it or not I don't need it so STOP sending me this

Of course he didn't read my explanation about forging of email headers; he didn't read that I did not personally send him that spam; he did not read about my recommendation regarding spam filters; he did not read that I too am subject to receiving spam from junk mailers; he is probably not even having a great day today. I had originally thought about mentioning SPF and how that would have prevented him receiving the message in the first place, but I'm sort of glad I didn't waste my energy. (Instead, I'm using that energy to rant about this here.)

Perhaps I'm old and jaded (at least in internet years), but it's surprising to me that people using the internet today have no clue how email works. I imagine our friend Don could, perhaps with a bit of effort, understand what happened if he received a forged written letter in his mailbox delivered by the post office. However, the same does not appear to be true about email delivered by his computer. If he hits Reply, the message must go back to the person who sent it, right? I fear for him if he ever starts receiving phishing messages.

Ok, I know this is boring. I'm done for now.