The Never Ending Battle Against Spam


My personal email address is a mess.

A big, stinky pile of spam – most of which I never opted in for – crowding out the messages from friends and family that I really do want to read.  So I recently spent almost an hour unsubscribing from marketing emails from dozens of brands and organizations – everything from political candidates and non-profits to retail stores and media companies. I was brutal about it.


We’ll see if it actually helps get my personal account to a reasonable place.

Unfortunately, my work email is just as bad. For every useful (i.e. important) email I receive from a client or a colleague – I get a dozen more from vendors (I don’t think there is a social media analytics or conference that hasn’t written to me at least one hundred times) and other spammers.

But spam is no longer just for email anymore. Let me count the ways I’m being inundated by marketers:

  • Facebook. My Facebook page has turned into a newspaper circular.  The amount of ads on the right side rail is now up to seven and the number of sponsored content inserted into the News Feed has become too much. If you are wondering why so many younger people are opting out of Facebook – this is one of the reasons.
  • HighTalk. The fight with spammers in my blog’s comment section is truly frightening. I get at least 25-30 spam comments a day. Most of these are captured by my WordPress spam filter, but the comment spammers are becoming sneakier and more of the spam comments are getting through the filters. So I need to stay on top of this daily.
  • My phone. My iPhone is a valuable resource, but the number of applications that are featuring ads is getting annoying. Yes, I know if I’m willing to spend more money then I can opt out of a lot of the advertising supported free ones, but still… The pre-roll videos and in-game/in-app ads are beginning to interfere with the experience of using the apps.
  • Twitter. My DM feature is a spam magnet. It generally comes from people I’ve recently followed. They hit me up to buy their ebooks, go to their websites, visit their blogs, buy their products or download their white papers. My general rule is if you hit me up with a marketing messages as soon I follow you – then I immediately unfollow.
  • LinkedIn. It’s getting bad over at LinkedIn. My inbox there is almost as bad as my email inboxes – filled with marketing messages and requests for meetings and webinars that the delete button is my new friend. Call me crazy, but unsolicited spam on LinkedIn bugs me more than any other of my spam problems.

How do you deal with spam? Does it drive you nuts? Are you seeing an increase in unwanted noise in your streams? Any advice you want to share?


Is Farmville the New Spam?

R.I.P. Follow Friday

5 Responses to “The Never Ending Battle Against Spam”

  1. I’ve gone back and forth on this issue, as I’ve worked in marketing, and in particular email marketing, helping businesses build email marketing plans that communicate relevant news to opted-in audiences. But have also dealt with “inbox fatigue.” So my question to you is: how would you prefer to receive information about companies you’d actually like to get information from? What lists are you actually opted into, and why do you stay subscribed? Everyone gets sick of inbox inundation, but the question remains for marketers at a time when mass media no longer exists: how do you actually reach the people who want to hear from you?

  2. Hi Katherine:
    That’s an excellent question and the answer – at least for me – is complicated.

    I like to opted in for information. So I get most of the answers to my questions via search. So the best way to reach me is to provide valuable content that I can find through search engines. I will go to many corporate/brand website and find they are busy selling and selling and not providing good content. Give me informative and entertaining content that helps me and I’m likely to stick around and buy.

    The next best way is social media. I follow the brands I like on social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. That way when I see something of interest, I can click to get more information. This let’s me ignore anything I don’t want to see or doesn’t interest me.

    The last way is via email. But the content better be really good. If all you are sending me is advertising – then I’ll eventually drop you because you’re cluttering up my inbox with spam. Send me good and valuable content – when you have it – and I may stick around.

  3. Can I just say thank you for posting this? You are definitely right my yahoo email has like 3000 spam message. Spam is everywhere, the goal of it is to buy, or infect your computer with a virus. I think there should be a law that ban spams, but how can that happen? It is like no body knows what is the source of spam. Anyway, I really enjoyed your post, so thanks

  4. george,


    1. change your email address.
    (sucks but if you have had it longer than a year, it is on a list of 10,000 email addresses for only 14.95)
    2. remove your “friends” who send you email with 50 names in the To, or CC line.
    (All a spammer has to do is catch one of these emails and your ass is on the list. As well as every one else on the To /CC lines.Trust me, it is too late to educate them on using BCC.)
    3. ALWAYS use BCC for every email you send out. It presents a much smaller intercept target.
    4. Kill off the folks who send you emails with 30 image attachments all the time. Any one of them can trigger a javascript harverster, data miner etc.
    5.Send and receive email in plain text only
    (remember the Mellisa Virus? came through in an HTML email)
    6. Setup different email accounts or aliases for various lists, inquiries, etc.
    (this is a twofer- a. you can sort information by email address. b. you can see if they are selling your ass down the river when you start getting more money saving offers)
    7 Delete any online Email accounts like GMail, Hotmail,Yahoomail, and the rest. You may have a small measure of control over what you see, but these folks still deliver money saving offers to those accounts. None of them that I am aware of allow for plain text reading only. (see 5. above)
    8. Use Thunderbird for email. You can automatically force plain text and block images that phone home.

    Facebook,Linkedin,Twitter, et al.

    When I was much younger post puberty and pre internet, my mother once remarked how I never wrote her. Being the wiseass I was , I sent in about 10 bucks to those ads in the back of Popular Mechanix, and similar magazines that would put your name on a 100 Mail Lists for only 1 dollar. About two weeks later, the mailman started mentioning that the mail volume was getting out of hand. In a month she was getting crap by the sack.
    This continued for years even after she died.

    Facebook,Linkedin,Twitter, are the internet version of those ads and all you need is an account!

    High Talk.

    1. Find a wordpress friendly host and move your site ASAP!! Unless you are doing obscenely high traffic volume, a shared server hosting plan will work just fine.
    There is good news and bad news.
    Good news is Askimet is a pretty good spam filter.
    Bad news is your blog is hosted at and you are using WordPress stats.
    WPStats leaves a lot to be desired. Because of using it, you are data mining for “them” with Quantcast, KissMetrics and WordPress stats.The Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter buttons you did. Probably using one of the “Features” in wordpress. This is a bug and not a feature.

    WordPress stats gives you only a small sliver of the real site activity that is happening to your site. Here is an example
    I have a blog on one of my domains, as a sub directory. /rfg/
    According to wp/ I am getting around 150-160 views a day
    Last week according to WP i had 928 views.

    (A View is a completed request, for the entire page and not the nonsense ‘hits’ number which is the number of requests for the individual text and images that comprise a page.
    This is one page view, which is comprised of a number of hits, which is the sum total of the images, buttons, and text that create this page.)
    So when someone tells you about the millions of hits they get, put on your waders ’cause its gonna get deep)

    The stats package that is part of my hosting plan tells a different story
    Last week there were 14,480 page views

    Last week these were the top three pages accessed.
    /rfg/wp-comments-post.php 3,633 views

    /rfg/index.php/2010/05/01/glidden-gripper-primer/comment-page-1/ 3,571 views

    /rfg/wp-login.php 941 views

    These three accounted for over 50% of the traffic to my site. This is not popularity but concerted dictionary and spam attacks.

    My stats package also let me know the IP addresses for my new found popularity.
    (Its not new found, I have been battling this for years)
    There were 8 IP’s responsible for 13,000 of these, which according to various spam lists are spammers and script kiddies trying to gain access to my site.

    The problem is not that they will deface your site although that is a possibility, but gaining access allows them to harvest the email addresses that are in you database.
    Which ‘is’ a spam problem.

    My ISP allows me to list and block these IP addresses. does not.

    Also once in. they can go to Tools > Export> and copy your entire database.

    By now you are probably you asked for advice. Welcome to the 21st century Internet!

    p.s. you probably owe me 49 bucks as this is probably 400 words:)

  5. Whoa Flopoke:
    I owe you more than that! Awesome insights and advice. Thank you!

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