The following email exchange is between me and one of the thousands of people whose email addresses appear in the message header of the hoax email that I have posted here. He apparently found my page doing a web search for his own email address after he began recieving large amounts of spam.

He's attempting to blame me for his misery. I got to wondering why this individual is recieveing spam as a result of webbots supposedly scanning my site, when I haven't also recieved similar amounts of spam, even though my own email address is very prominently listed elsewhere on my site. I had a very interesting thought about these stupid "forward this email" hoaxes, and the motivations of people who create them.

As usual, this exchange is maybe a little too long for the attention spans of many web users, but bear with it, I think it's worth reading. In deference to the individual in question, the email addresses of the innocent have been changed slightly. Oh, in case you think it's any more dangerous to have email addresses listed in the text of an html file than hidden within "mailto" links, try "view" > "page source" on any web page you visit; there's no way to hide your email address!

Oh, one other  thing, once information is sent out as email, it basically becomes public domain, or at the very least, becomes the property of the recipient to do with as they please, so I am under no obligation to remove, or change any email addresses or names in this or any other emails that I've posted copies of. If you don't want your email address appearing on some jerk's web site, don't forward copies of email hoaxes to all your friends. Nothing is sacred, really.

 

From: best <besl@efn.org>

Date: Mon, 01 Jul 2002 22:10:29 -0700

To:   <jobrien@smm.edu>

Subject: Re: Carl Best web page on emailhoaxes

 

> From: <jobrien@smm.edu>

> Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 23:11:05 -0400

> To: <besl@efn.org>

> Subject: Carl Best web page on emailhoaxes

> When you list email addresses en masse on a web page people can use automated  means to scan the page, pick up the addresses and send all the people listed junk email or viruses. You have me listed on your page  (http://www.carlbest.com/emailhoaxes.htm). I think that listing is why I have  started getting junk mail in the past few months. Would you take me off it.

>Thanks,

> Christian

 

James/Christian(?), Your email address appears in a very long message header for an email hoax that I received some time ago and posted on my web page as an example. I did not specifically select your email address to list on my web page. Your address appears in that message header because you were one of the people who received that hoax, and sent it on to others, a very foolish thing to do.

I am quite aware of the risk of email addresses being picked up by webbots operating under the direction of email list vendors. Are you aware that these days, most email list compilers send email out to the addresses that they harvest in order to verify that they are live addresses? If you responded to any spam by "opting out", at any time in the past, you have allowed some email list vendor to guarantee a "live" email address, thereby making your email address into a saleable commodity.

I am curious how you singled out my web site as the source of your problem. The email that I posted there was sent out to thousands of people, any one of which could also be the cause of your problem. Interestingly, my own email address, which is easily found on my website in several places rarely receives spam, if you believe that your problem stems from my having posted an email that contains your address in the recipients list, why is it that I am not suffering the same problem that you are? I suppose it might be because I never respond to spam, especially not by "opting out", although I am more inclined to think that your email address was obtained by some means other than a scan of my web site.

Come to think of it, since the only reason that your email address would appear in that message header is because you are one of the people who foolishly sent that email hoax on to others, thereby broadcasting your own email address to who knows how many other possible sources. In fact, that very email could have been received by someone who works for, or owns an email list compiling company, in other words, you probably sent your email address to the spammers on your own volition.

In fact, now that I'm going along this line of thought; I'd think an excellent way to harvest live email addresses, would be to send out a clever "forward this to all your friends" hoax, it will eventually make the rounds and come back to the originator or an associate with a message header that is loaded with pre-certified "live" email addresses. What a scam! Makes me glad I never respond to those.

Having said that, when I have the time, I will be happy to go and change the email address for you that appears in the header for that message, but given your propensity to respond to email hoaxes, I doubt that is going to provide you with any lasting protection, if it indeed offers any relief at all.

btw, did you ever get any of the goodies that were promised in exchange for forwarding that email to everyone you know? Didn't think so...

Cheers,

Carl Best