Handling Spam

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I don't mind getting my hands dirty, but I personally feel that handling spam is over the limit for me. I don't like to open it; often just the message's subject line gives me much more information than I want.

My phobia about opening spam comes from the fact that I know how to make an HTML email message notify me that it has been read without the user knowing that this has happened. True, with HTML, it is trivial to write a message that will advise the sending organization that a specific email address has opened a message and displayed its HTML code.

This little trick is done with the image URLs HTML emails always seem to have. They tack on an identifier for your email address to the fetch of the image. This gives them your email address and the IP address of your computer.

Look at this URL, taken from a recent spam message:


It contains an interesting URL, and you can bet that the server at the other end knows exactly what to do with that 0xlb4j03tuiveal part, now they know they have a good email address. This is the reason for Thunderbird's Sanitize HTML option.

I'll be the first to admit that this is rarely done. Spammers usually do not have the time, or resources, to process this type of information. But it is common enough that I worry about it, and that's why I don't open any spam emails if I can avoid it.

After you have isolated your spam into the junk folders, the only thing left to do is to delete it. You can tell Thunderbird, in Junk Mail Controls, to automatically delete junk emails in 14 days. Or, if you're confident that Thunderbird is not incorrectly marking good mail as spam, you can even shorten that interval.


I have to wonder what kind of person would do business with a Chinese company selling drugs over the Internet? If people would stop responding to spam, we'd have much less of it. No reputable, or honest, company sends spam.

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    Firefox and Thunderbird. Beyond Browsing and Email
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 245

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