See also: E-Mail | Usenet | Advertising | iA Spam



Unsolicited advertisements, usually e-mail or usenet but also spreading to other media and platforms. They are almost universally hated due to their overabundance and the subsequent problems they cause. This carpet bomb-style marketing composes an estimated 60 % of all e-mail traffic on the internet, a total running into several billion messages each day. Products promoted include sexually oriented products (such as pornography), drugs, and attempts at fraud, etc.

Although Spam refers primarily to bulk commercial e-mails and newsgroup postings, it also appears in weblog comments, and even on wikis. Spam is illegal in many places, like Australia and the UK, but spam laws have been proved to be very difficult to enforce from the perspective of the recipient.

A small percentage of people still fall prey to bulk advertisement, funding these solicitors. Spam continues to exist because it is inexpensive to generate and transport, and, as David Hannum (not P.T. Barnum) put it, “There’s a sucker born every minute.“.

Spam confuses its recipients through disguised or spoofed messages, using varying titles and subject lines to get users’ attention. It is therefore often difficult to distiguish from other new e-mail and can cause users to miss important communications by accidentally deleting non-spam. A war continues between developers who try to create better spam blockers while spammers continue to try and defeat them.

Origin of the term

SPAM is a meat product made by Hormel Foods but the word has since been given another meaning suggesting annoyance or repetition. This is due to a comedy skit that Monty Python’s Flying Circus created, featuring a set of vikings singing “spam spam spam spam” during an “I don’t like spam” tirade. The term was brought to the computer world to label unsolicited commercial e-mail as well as several related, often advertisement based, annoyances. Spam is written in lowercase or mixed case when not referring to the potted meat product.

Spam Prevention

Anti-Spam Software

See Spam Blockers; the E-Mail page holds information on reading headers, a valuable skill for tracking down the source of spam.

Never buy spam

First and foremost, if you receive information about a product via spam, never purchase that product. Tell your friends not to purchase anything from spam, either. If it is a company with a non-Internet portal (like a phone number) call them and tell them.

Never reply, unsubscribe, or interact

If you didn’t sign up for it, don’t unsubscribe from it. This is just a method to validate e-mail addresses which will then get more spam.

Rewriting your address

E-mail addresses are frequently harvested by data mining to collect email addresses for the purposes of spamming them. For this reason, many people have begun to obscure their email addresses, as with:

  • username at provider dot com

Graphic address

Posting a picture of your address as a graphic instead of in plain text is a great deterrent. Furthermore, for reasons related to displaying an email address correctly, the <code>mailto:</code> tag which allows a user to click on an email address and thus send an email more easily is also removed or obscured.


For organizations that find commercial groups are posting to their Web sites, the best attack is vigilance. Moderated newsgroups and Web sites have a much lower presence of spam.


As part of the war between spammers and anti-spam, some Hacker groups will attack spammers, trying to make them lose money and fail in their attempts to market spam, looking at the way it disrupts Internet traffic. Similarly, some crackers attack anti-spam advocates and legislators.


Blanket marketing succeeds only a small percentage of the time and increasing legislation is making it much more costly to use new technology in this way.


Instead of engaging in sending spam, companies are encouraged to look to opt-in e-mail lists that have willing and available recipients and provide targeted marketing.

  • – “Why run the risks of using spam (unsolicited bulk email), when you can have us organize a trouble-free opt-in email campaign for you? We remove the hassles from bulk emailing!”




TakeDown.NET -> “Spam