Down to anti-spam links

IPTOOLS (very useful!)

Should email advertising be made illegal? Well, here's the message I send when companies send me junkmail:

Unsolicited email advertising hurts me. I run a service which answers children's email science questions, and it is being significantly damaged by the flood of unsolicited advertising. Eskimo.com blocks most spam, but still I must read up to 30 ads a day before deleting them, because I cannot take a chance and delete a child's message.

I only have about 1/2hr per day to help kids, so you can imagine that the spam plague is seriously hurting my service.

I say, YES YES YES, ban unsolicited email advertising totally!!!

But won't this have repercussions for Freedom of Speech? No. Why? Well, right now it's illegal to send junkmail ads by fax machine. This hasn't wrecked freedom of speech in this country. Fax-machine junkmail is illegal because it lets outsiders tie up your phone and use up your fax paper without your permission. If it wasn't illegal, you'd probably get fifty fax ads per day (and in the UK, where fax advertising is legal, people do receive this many ads.) Note that if you receive an illegal fax machine junkmail ad today, the government won't do a thing. However YOU can sue the sender for $500, or $1500 if the sender broke the law intentionally. Actually, many collection companies exist which will (for example) go after the fax-abuser, get the $500, then get a $300 "take" and give you $200.

US Federal Judge Stanley Sporkin:
"[Spammers] have come to court not because their freedom of speech is threatened but because their profits are; to dress up their complaints in First Amendment garb demeans the principles for which the First Amendment stands."
Chief Justice Berger, U.S. Supreme Court
"Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit. We categorically reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. If this prohibition operates to impede the flow of even valid ideas, the answer is that no one has a right to press even 'good' ideas on an unwilling recipient. The asserted right of a mailer, we repeat, stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."
LATEST NEWS: it is now illegal to send spam to residents of Washington state, but only when the "from" address or other email headers are forged, if the spammer uses 3rd-party ISPs without their permission, or if the "subject" line is misleading. Individuals of course must take action against the spam they receive. Some people make a hobby of taking spammers to court, and they make thousands of bucks per year doing so. Maybe other states in the US will enact such laws.


Spammers are just like clueless litterbugs.

Spam is not just an irritant. For those who haven't figured it out... try to calculate how many email ads you personally can expect in the far future. To do this, first ask yourself how many companies are currently using the internet. What if all of those companies freely sent their advertising to EVERYONE on the net? (There are no limits on bulk-email, so such a thing is perfectly possible.) If this started happening, then everyone who sent a spam message would also receive hundreds of thousands of spam messages every day. People who DIDN'T send spams would receive the same number. See? Hundreds of thousands of companies, and each one wants to send you just one measily little email ad. Since bulk-mail spamming does work, and it's also very inexpensive, there's good reason for ALL companies to send advertising to EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE, CONSTANTLY!

Am I getting too shrill? :) Well, that's the worst case example. I doubt it will ever get that bad because at present, we know that people who send out email advertisements are unethical scum. Very few legitimate companies are so clueless that they ever use unsolicited advertising. Since nobody wants to receive huge numbers of spam emails, ethical people know never to SEND email advertisements, even if it's legal. If you receive a spam ad, it's almost guaranteed to be from an ignorant slimeball.

However, if spam ever achieves even a little respectability, then we should expect to receive FAR more junkmail than we do now. The ISPs support the cost of it, therefore there is no upper limit. If an advertiser says "Don't complain, I only sent you a couple of messages per year" ...and if hundreds of thousands of advertisers say the same thing, then you'll receive a couple thousand pieces of unwanted email PER DAY. Other than banning spam entirely, there's no good way to limit the number of spams you receive, since there's no way to limit the total number of advertisers on internet.

The situation is similar to the one where people throw trash out of car windows. An occasional napkin or gum wrapper is nothing, but if such behavior becomes acceptable, and if everyone everywhere constantly throws their McDonalds bags and their used kleenex out the car windows, then our streets instantly look like snow-drifts of garbage. See? When huge numbers of people are involved, if all of them commit a small unethical act, it ends up causinag a huge problem. Same with spam messages: to prevent your inbox from becoming a garbage dump filled with thousands of messages per day, *YOU* must never send out unsolicited email advertisements. Ever! That's the only simple way to deal with the problem.

In addition, we must come down hard on even the well-meaning companies who only rarely use unsolicited email to advertise, and we must give a very nasty response which is all out of proportion to the minor act of sending email advertisements. This is how it works with litterbugs too. Whenever a cop sees you throw a tiny gum-wrapper out of your car window, that's a $500 fine for littering. Too severe for just a gum wrapper? No. To eliminate the giant pile of garbage, each "napkin" or "gum wrapper" must attract fairly extreme retribution, otherwise the many cheaters in our vast population will all say this to themselves "it's only one little gum wrapper, jeeze!" And they'll *ALL* be tempted to add their tiny contribution to the giant pile while ridiculing all who complain. Yet tiny infractions plus vast population equals vast piles of garbage.

And tiny harmless email ads plus a huge number of clueless advertisers means that your inbox will become choked and useless. Unless sending just one email ad becomes a major crime, thousands of advertisers will say "Jeeze, I only sent you a couple of messages, what's the big deal?" And if you convince one advertiser to take your name off their list, ten more will find you and start sending you emails. Huge spam fines and draconian anti-spam laws become appropriate. These are the same types of laws that are currently aimed at the clueless cheaters who pitch trash out of car windows onto highways.


Spam is caused by spammers, right? Wrong.

Yes, spammers send spam, but think for a moment: Why do they bother? How can anyone make money at this? The answer is simple: spam advertising works. In other words, SOME IDIOTS RESPOND TO SPAM ADVERTISING! It's true! They send money to spammers. And that's the only reason that spam exists.

Let me make it simpler. Suppose you receive fifty spams a week for crap that you would never buy. Then one day you receive an ad for a half-price CD from a band you like. Or maybe it's discount vitamins at a decent price, and so you go to their webpage and order some. BINGO, you are now the cause of spam. You have given money to one spammer, and justified the existence of all the others. "But what's the harm in buying something once?" Yeah, right, and hundreds of thousands of other people are thinking the same thing. If it wasn't for people like you, spammers could make no money at all, and email ads would not exist. All the spammers which are sending you crap are only doing so because SPAM WORKS! Spam advertising works really well. Send out billions of messages for free, selling cheap cameras and eBay books and even fake Viagra... and a few idiots will actually buy from you. Why should spam advertisers ever want to stop?

Even simpler: people who buy things from spammers are evil.            :)

A simple definition of "evil" is this: evil is doing something that, if everyone else did it too, this would ruin everyday life for all of us. People who pitch bags of greasy hamburger wrappers out of their car windows are "evil" in this way. People who buy products from spammers are "evil" because they are the sole reason that spam exists. Spammers themselves are "evil" because nobody wants ten million spam ads per day. Even the relatively few cheaters who send us only fifty spams per day are perpetrating the same kind of genuine evil.

Spam is not bulkmail. Spam isn't fly-by-night advertising. Spam is not unwanted emails. "Spam" has a simple meaning: it is unsolicited email advertising. Period. Why do I say this now? Because I've met many people who buy stuff from spammers, and they justify their action by insisting... that those advertisments weren't spam! They say that spam is *only* the ads for penis pills and pyramid scams. They think that "spam" means ads for crap, while the unsolicited email ads for interesting things are not spam. Wrong.

If it's an email ad, and if you didn't sign up with some sort of advertising service, then that ad is spam. That's what the word spam MEANS. And, if you respond to unsolicited email ads, then you are dealing with spammers, even if the spammers are selling products that you want to buy.


Companies with zero-tolerance spam policies

Give these fine folks your business; promote integrity on the internet.

Sending Complaints

I follow the advice given in SPAM-L FAQ above. I'm constantly using TRACERT (a dos command in win-95), the WHOIS page, and sometimes NSLOOKUP. If a spammer gives a webpage URL, it's particularly effective to find the spammer's internet provider via TRACERT and send your complaint there.


Someone sends you email (sometimes titled "MAKE MONEY FAST!") which describes a way to get rich without doing any work. You send money to a list of people, then you pass the email along to 10 friends or more, who will then send money to you. As the list of people grows, you make huge amounts of money. Only two little problems. It only works for the small group of people who start the list. This is because NO MONEY IS CREATED: many send their money to a few, and soon no one is left to send money to the many. It's like gambling: everyone sends out $10, and a few people get back $100,000. But it's dishonest because the email hides the fact that YOU won't be the one receiving the money.

And also, it is illegal, it is a scam, it is a lie. Since you must send your money through the mails it is classed as mail fraud, so it is A FEDERAL OFFENSE.

David Rhodes started the "MAKE MONEY FAST" pyramid scheme. He spent time in federal prison for it.

Go here for info about the illegality of "make money fast" chain letters, pyramid schemes, etc.

Unscrupulous spam-senders often send messages having false return addresses. In this case your complaint will do no good. However, if the unwanted ad contains a webpage address, it's usually possible to find the spammers' ISP (internet provider) and send your complaint there. Most ISP companies hate spammers and have policies against unsolicited ads. If you complain to the spammers' ISP, chances are that the ISP company will delete the spammers' entire website.

Use the WHOIS service to discover the spammers' ISP. For example, if the spam message contains this URL: "www.spamco.com," then go to the INTERNIC "whois" server here:


...and type "spamco.com" into the search form (NOT www.spamco.com, but instead just the last two words of the spammers' webpage address.) If the WHOIS search gives WEBMASTER@SOMEWHERE.NET as the admin/billing person for that company, then send your complaint there, and also send it to postmaster@somewhere.net, and to abuse@somewhere.net. Attach the original unwanted advertising to your complaint, and also attach the header of that advertising message.

Sometimes the WHOIS search reveals that the spammer is also their own Service Provider company. (This is frequently the case for larger companies such as computer discount houses and porno services.) In this case, the owner's email address will be something like INFO@SPAMCO.COM. Complaining to these people will probably do little. You can still do something, though. The same WHOIS search will give you the Domain Server for that spamming company (DNS, or Domain Name Servers.) This gives you a clue as to who connects them to the internet. You can send your complaint there. For example, if the Nameservers in the WHOIS report are something like DNS1.BIGCORP.NET, you can send your complaint to POSTMASTER@BIGCORP.NET and to ABUSE@BIGCORP.NET

If a particular unwanted ad gets you really ticked off, there's no reason to hold back, why not send a copy of your complaint to ALL of the above postmaster and administrator sites? The owners of the bosses of the ISPs of the spammers will then know who is misusing their services. If enough people complain like this, then even the somewhat-advertiser-friendly Service Providers might be persuaded to stiffen their User Regulations to ban those who send unsolicited advertising.

Some unwanted ads have false "from" addresses and also do not mention a website address. If you really want to go after these sites, you'll have to read the message header to figure out the origin of the ad. More on this is below.

Spam-fighting information from NETCOM.COM

While NETCOM may have been mentioned somewhere in the headers of the email
you have received; those references to NETCOM's accounts and servers were
FORGED. Please do not try to email the accounts mentioned in the email, as
they probably do not exist. 

Spammers on the internet will guess at your email address. If it's easy to
guess at, ie "sam@domain.com" you will get 'probe' emails. They usually
state "Reply with REMOVE in the subject line to get off this list." If you
follow their instructions, YOU WILL NOT BE REMOVED. Usually instead they
take your now VERIFIED email address and sell it off to a premium mailing
list, making money. At that point the spam in your mailbox usually will
increase by a large amount. I highly recommend not replying to any spam
you receive, and I also recommend that your email address be something
unique, not being found in a dictionary helps. 

Please also realize the importance of contacting the original domain when
you receive spam. It's impossible for them to know it's happening until
someone forwards them a complaint. If everyone were to ignore spam, the
originating domain would never know it's happening. With your complaint,
NETCOM can always track down it's own user and disable the offending

Here is an example of spam originating from Netcom, even though it does
not have the word 'netcom' anywhere in the headers.  This is intended as
an instruction to people who do not already know how to read headers.  If
you know how to read headers, please disregard.

This is an EXAMPLE of junk mail headers. Please do not send to any of the
domains referenced. The IP numbers have been changed except the ones
referencing Netcom.

Received: from server1.fake (server1.fake [])
        by server2.fake (8.8.5/8.8.5) with ESMTP id VAA13218
        for <>; Thu, 1 Nov 1961 21:11:53 -0600 (CST)
Received: from internet.abc (server.internet.abc []) by
        server1.fake (8.8.7) with ESMTP id VAA06062 for <>;
        Thu, 1 Nov 1961 21:11:53 -0600 (CST)
Received: from 432BRxr9q ([])
        by internet.abc (8.8.7/8.8.6) with SMTP id VAA16385;
        Thu, 1 Nov 1961 21:54:25 -0500 (EST)
From: Nowhere@Nothere 
Received: from login_0246.whynot.spam (mx.whynot.spam[]) by
        whynot.spam (8.8.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id XAA02135 for <>;
          Sat, 13 January 1961 01:51:22 -0700 (EDT)
Date: 05 Nov 10 10:07:12 PM
To: friends@mine 
Subject: Generic junk mail example
Content-Type: text

Let's start reading this from the top. You reside somewhere in the
server2.fake domain. Let's see where you received it from.

Received: from server1.fake (server1.fake [])
        by server2.fake (8.8.5/8.8.5) with ESMTP id VAA13218
        for <>; Thu, 1 Nov 1961 21:11:53 -0600 (CST)

You received it from server1 []. Never go by what is in the
parenthesis. It could be forged, always go by the IP number in brackets.
Where did server1 receive it from?

Received: from internet.abc (server.internet.abc []) by
        server1.fake (8.8.7) with ESMTP id VAA06062 for <>;
        Thu, 1 Nov 1961 21:11:53 -0600 (CST)

This means that server1 received it from [], there are tools on
the web that will help you verify the name associated with the IP
number.  Let's keep going down and see if this IP was the originator or
if it was relayed through them.

Received: from 432BRxr9q ([])
        by internet.abc (8.8.7/8.8.6) with SMTP id VAA16385;
        Thu, 6 Nov 1997 21:54:25 -0500 (EST)

This means that it was relayed through internet.abc! It came from Now we go to one of our tools to find the name associated
to that IP number.  I use nslookup
on It tells me that it
is knx-tn7-03.ix.netcom.com. Let's go down one more time to see if this is
the originator, or if it was relayed through netcom also. 

Received: from login_0246.whynot.spam (mx.whynot.spam[]) by
        whynot.spam (8.8.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id XAA02135 for <>;
          Sat, 01 January 1914 01:51:22 -0700 (EDT)

If this was a valid Received line, it would show received by netcom.com.
Since it doesn't this is a FORGED header.

Conclusion: It originated at [] which is
knx-tn7-03.ix.netcom.com. It was relayed through [] which was

Remember, always go by the IP addresses in brackets. Never go by the From
line, Reply-To line, Authenticated Sender line, or the name of the domain
in the parenthesis. To find tools such as 'nslookup' on the web, use your
favorite search engine to lookup that word. 

Thank you

NETCOM Policy Management
NETCOM On-Line Communication Services, Inc.          abuse@netcom.com 
NETCOM Policy Management:   (408) 881-3499           M-F 9AM-5PM PST
24-Hour Technical Support:  (408) 881-1810         support@netcom.com 

Created and maintained by Bill Beaty