mail blocks

In the seemingly unending fight against spam there’s a new kid on the block. Their solution can be frustrating for non-spammers, but it has its advantages.

They use the challenge and response approach to maintain a white list. This means that you give certain users authorization to e-mail you and anyone else who sends you an e-mail gets an automated response asking them to reply (verifying that they’re a human). All unauthorized e-mail goes into a separate folder, which you can check to authorize valid users if you desire. For newsletters they provide what they call trackers. They allow you to add a few extra characters onto your base e-mail address which you can then authorize but you can also use it to see if they sell it to anyone.

I signed up to see what it was like ( and it looks promising. I probably won’t use it but I’m encouraged that companies are trying to address the spam problem in inventive ways. I feel like we’re still in the brainstorming stage of fighting spam, but someone, somewhere is bound to come up with a solution that works well. We may have to go through several solutions until we finally get to the point that it’s so hard to spam that it is no longer lucrative for them to continue.

In the meantime, while waiting for the problem to be solved, we can have fun seeing spammers suffer for their actions. It’s not often that you hear good things about AOL these days, but their marketing department deserves two thumbs up for that stunt. I hope it sends a clear message to spammers everywhere – your profitable days are coming to an end.


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  1. Hmm. Challenge/Response schemes aren’t new, they’re annoying to legit emailers, and they’ll cause their own problems if their adoption becomes widespread enough. Color me unimpressed. I’ll stick with my Bayesian filters.

    Comment by Levi on March 31, 2004 @ 11:54 pm
  2. So you agree with me. I never said the idea was new, nor did I think the solution was a good one (which is why I won’t use it). I’m just encouraged that companies are brainstorming to try to find better solutions to fight spam.

    Comment by dan on April 1, 2004 @ 9:04 am

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