Spam. What if you DON'T reply?

It is known that if you reply to the sender of a spam e-mail, that you are verifying to him that you have a valid e-mail address. What if you don’t reply to spam? Will you eventually be put on an “invalid e-mail list”? Or will the spammers keep you on their lists assuming that you just didn’t reply?

Is there any way to spoof a spam? That is, can you have an auto-reply that looks like an “invalid address, message undeliverable” message? Would a fake “undeliverable” reply do anything to get you off of spam lists?

FWIW, I’ve greatly reduced the amount of spam I receive by signing up with Eathlink’s Spaminator. I assume this only works with Earthlink accounts, but I don’t know.

Well, if you don’t reply at all, they’ll never know if it’s active or not - and would then keep on sending it until they knew one way or another. If their spam bounces back, then they know your email is inactive and (presumably) they’d remove the email from their list. If you respond (as you said), then they know your email is active, and they’d keep on spamming.

What if the server responded that the e-mail is inactive? Spaminator catches most of my spam without my ever seeing it. (I have the option of looking at it for ten days, but I don’t.) What if Spaminator said, “Okay, I’ve caught this spam. Now I’ll send a message back saying the e-mail address is invalid.”? That way, the “spoofe” doesn’t come from me, but from my server.

That sounds good in theory - can you modify Spaminator to do that? (Sounds like Spaminator works similarly to Yahoo’s Bulk Email box.)

I have not seen such an option on Spaminator. It’s something they would have to add on their end. Maybe I should send them an e-mail?

Oh, I meant “spoof” – Not SPOOFE! :o

I guess it can’t hurt - seems to me that the one downside of the bulk-email boxes like Spaminator and Yahoo’s is that they can clog up your allotted space rather quickly. As you said, you have 10 days to look at it (I think Yahoo empties mine every 30 days, but I could be wrong), but if you’re getting a ton of spam, it could fill up the box completely in no time.

I don’t look at my spam box. When I have, I haven’t seen anything that was there in error so I stopped looking. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if they purged the box after a day. If I were the programmer, I’d have boxes that say “Delete mail after __ [dropdown menu with numbers up to 10] days” and “Send ‘SpamSpoofer’ response”.

MailWasher from does this:

I don’t think they give a shit about invalid email addresses. Bear in mind that nine times out of ten, the spammer’s reply-to address is itself fake. Witness the time I had spam bounced back to my because some fukka used MY email as their reply-to.

Most spam - at least the stuff I get - requires you to click on a link rather than reply.

The other issue is that why would a spammer or bulk marketer want a slimmed-down list? They sell off lists based on their immensity, so being naturally unscrupulous would be just as happy to sell off a million-email-name list where half were inactive than a five hundred thousand one where all were working.

Hmm. An interesting thought has just come to me. I am no longer able to use my hotmail, due to spam (several hundred per week, if not per day).

I have to have the top security level - ie only people on my address list can write to me - as well as “delete instantly” - which makes the account more or less useless for anything to be honest (and spam is still getting through).

From now on, where a spammer does have an email address, I am going to reply to them with a Subject: filled with expletives. It will make me feel soooooo much better, and it doesn’t matter if it validates my email address, because I can’t use it seriously anyway. I only log in occasionally to keep the account open anyway.

Why keep it open at all?
Just sign up for another account with a name that isn’t likely to be guessed by a stranger like:

[number][your name][another number][your name backwards]

It’s memorable enough for you and friends who don’t use address books/reply function while being unlikely to be guessed by a spammer doing “dictionary attack addressing” which is very common with Hotmail.

That won’t help you if you get careless and use the address on a website/newsgroup/online transaction/ or heaven forbid, put it i your browser identity settings but I’m betting you know that already, that was just for the crowd in the cheap seats.

Damn, now I come to think of it, there are good reasons to keep an account open:

You might have a sentimental attachment to it if you’ve had it for years.
You might use .net Passport services on other sites.

Spam is a problem because it is just so cheap. I don’t think that replying or not replying to an email will do much to the list at all. It costs the spammer time and money to delete names based on the spam being bounced it basically costs the spammer nothing to send the email to an invalid address. I don’t think there is any incentive to keep the lists known good except for people are more conscientious than the people who spam me 15 to 20 time over the last few days telling me their mortgage rates are low. Same add over and over again it is really stupid. You think that guy is pruning his list based on bounces?