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A few words from Armand
   

Is SPAM Taking Over The World?


In 1936, long before the rise of the personal computer, Hormel Foods created SPAM.   In 2002, that company produced it's six billionth can of the specially processed ham product.   But that number was passed long ago in the world of Internet spam.

  
Who Cooked This Up!?
(How did Internet Spam get its name?)


The modern meaning of the word "spam" has nothing to do with spiced ham.  It has its origin in the early 1990's.  A skit, at that time, by the British comedy troop, "Monty Python", led to this word's common usage.
"The SPAM Skit" follows a couple struggling to order dinner from a restaurant that serves only dishes composed of the actual Hormel's canned meat product, SPAM,  which was prepared in every conceivable way (SPAM and broccoli soup, SPAM-and jelly sandwiches, SPAM milkshakes... you get the picture). At various intervals during the skit, while patrons are trying to converse, restaurant employees, dressed as Vikings, break into song, repeating "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM ... Lovely SPAM!"

Repetition is key to the humor here.  In the 2.5 minute skit, the actors were able to say the word "SPAM" more than 104 times! This prompted some Internet users to label as SPAM any unwanted communication that was noisy, annoying and unrelentingly repetitious.  The name stuck.

Today, "spam" is the common term for "Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail", or "UCE."

In 2003, President Clinton signed the Can Spam Act into law.  Since then, only one or two people have actually been tried and convicted of being "Spammers" and violating the new law. Most people don't even know what "CAN SPAM" stands for?  The formal name of this piece of legislation is:  "Controlling the Assault Of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing."  While this legislation does have teeth in it, it certainly has done little to slow the amount of spam email that shows up in my inbox.


So Why Does Bad Spam Still Happen to Good People?

1.Spammers are hard to track down. 

2.Our country's laws are not enforceable in other countries.

Chances are, you've been spammed before. Somehow, your e-mail address has found it's way into the hands of a spammer, and your inbox is suffering the consequences. How does this happen?
There are several possibilities.


1.  Backstabbing Businesses -
Businesses often keep lists of their customers' e-mail addresses. This is a completely legitimate practice and, usually, nothing bad comes of it. Sometimes though, the temptation to make a quick buck is too great, and these lists are sold or rented to outside advertisers. The result? A lot of unsolicited e-mail, and a serious breach of your trust.

2.  Random Address Generation -
Computer programs called random address generators simply "guess" e-mail addresses. For example, there are over 100 million hotmail addresses in existence!  How hard could it be to guess some of them? Unfortunately for many unsuspecting Internet citizens, "netizens," - not too hard.  Many spammers also guess at "standard" addresses, like "support@yourdomain.com", "info@yourdomain.com", and "billing@yourdomain.com."


3.  Web Spiders -
Today's most insidious list-gathering tools are web spiders and webbots (web robots).  Now, all of the major search engines use spiders and bots on the web and save information about each page they visit. This is a legitimate use for these tools.
Spammers also use these types of tools to search the web, but their spiders only look for and save any e-mail addresses they come across.  If your web page lists your e-mail address, be prepared for an onslaught!

Editor's note: 
If you do post your email address on your website and you'd like to protect it from Spammers, check out the article "Protect your E-mail Address" on another page of this web site.


4.  Chat Room Harvesting -
ISP's offer very popular chat rooms where users are known only by their screen names.
Of course, spammers know that your screen name is usually the first part of your e-mail address.
Why should they waste time guessing e-mail addresses when a few hours of lurking in a chat room can net them a list of actively-used addresses?


5.  The Poor Man's Bad Marketing Idea -
It didn't work when MCI tried it, and it won't work for e-mail marketers either. But, some spammers still keep their own "friends-and-family" style e-mail lists.  Compiled from the addresses of other known spammers, and also from people or businesses that the list owner has come across in the past, these lists are still illegitimate. Why?
Only you can give someone permission to send you e-mail. A friend-of-a-friend's permission won't cut it.




How to Stop The Flood to Your Inbox


Already drowning in spam? The first thing to do is to try using your e-mail program's filters since many of them provide a way to block specific e-mail addresses. Each time you receive spam, just block the sender's address. In Outlook Express, simply click on the "Message" menu item at the top of the screen and click on "Block Sender."

Keep in mind that spammers send messages from many different addresses, and you may be on many lists, but this method will at least slow some of the flow.
Another technique is to use more than one e-mail address, and then keep one of them "clean." Many netizens find that this technique turns the spam flood into a trickle. Use one address for only spam-safe activities like e-mailing your friends, or signing on with trustworthy businesses. Never use your clean address on the web! Get yourself a free address to use on the web and in chat rooms. That's why we have Yahoo-Mail and Hotmail.

If nothing else helps, consider changing your screen name, or opening an entirely new e-mail account. When you do, you'll start with a clean, spam-free slate. This time, be sure to protect your e-mail address!


Stay Off Spammed Lists in the Future


Want to surf the web without getting sucked into the spam-flood? Prevention is your best policy.
--Don't use an easy-to-guess e-mail address. Keep your address clean by not using it for spam producing activities.
--Don't post it on any web pages, and don't use it in chat rooms or newsgroups.
--Before giving your clean e-mail address to a business, check the company out. Are sections of its user agreement dedicated to anti-spam rules? Does a privacy policy explain exactly what will be done with your address? The most considerate companies also post an anti-spam policy written
in plain English, so you can be absolutely sure of what you're getting into.

The Final Blow


The online world is turning the tide on spam. In the end, people will stop sending spam because
it will stop being profitable. To do your part: never, ever, buy from a spammer no matter how "valuable" their offer is.  When you seek out technology companies with which to to business, only choose those with a staunch anti-spam stance.
Spam has a long history in both the food and e-mail sectors.  In September, 2001, Hormel Foods opened a real-world museum dedicated to SPAM. While the museum does feature the Monty Python SPAM Skit, there's no word yet on an unsolicited commercial e-mail exhibit. But, if all upstanding netizens work together, Hormel's ham in a can will far outlive the Internet plague that is UCE
.

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