Thursday, January 3, 2008

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...

In August last year I posted something about spam and in the comments section someone put me on to a filtering system called Spamsieve which I've been using to help keep my inbox in order ever since.

But then, at the start of December I started getting insanely large amounts of spam. I posted something about that too. While Spamsieve coped with that influx of spam pretty well it was still hugely disruptive as it sent my computer into a kind of meltdown. It didn't matter that it all ended up in the spam folder, there were still 8,268 e-mails to process and at the very least that's time consuming.

Unfortunately things have spiralled since then. This is what my spam folder looked like one day between Christmas and New Year:



This shower of crud landed in less than 24 hours. I think we can agree that 32,125 e-mails in a day is just silly. That's an e-mail every three seconds. Except it doesn't work like that... it's more like 8,000 arrive in three minutes and then it goes quiet. As they say in the westerns, too damned quiet.

Huge amounts like that have been arriving every couple of days since. I cleared the spam-folder last night and today's total is already sitting at 22,702. Yum. Unfortunately Spamsieve doesn't seem able to cope with these kind of quantities and has crashed a few times under the weight of it all. Now when I check my e-mail I have little choice but to leave my computer to get on with it undisturbed. There's no point trying to ask the computer to cope with a secondary task and it's too depressing watching it collect e-mail number 326 of 16,573. It's even more depressing when I go downstairs, make a cup of coffee, putting my laundry on and then return to find that the computer is still only a quarter of the way through.

All of which makes me think I have little choice but to abandon the idea of a public domain e-mail address. There's simply no point in fighting against the tide. It's not going to go away and I'm not going to devote an hour a day to sorting my mail before I even get round to reading it.

I've always thought that making my address available on my website was the right thing to do on principle. Sadly that's no longer going to be possible. Which is a shame.

I guess I should try and replace it with an e-mail form of some kind... something that will allow humans to send an e-mail without revealing an address to anyone. Or anything. If you know how I can go about doing that do let me know. But don't e-mail me with it. That would be silly.

UPDATE: I'm really grateful for the replies and the advice offered... but it's become apparent that some people are just scrolling to the bottom without reading the other comments. If one more person tells me how to hide my e-mail address on my site, I might just scream. I know already and it is hidden. Part of the problem is that other people post my e-mail address on their sites... and I don't know how to effectively stop them from doing that.

Oh, and I know about Gmail and it doesn't work for me. It's just not effective enough at filtering the spam. When the quantity gets this high, even letting 1% through is ineffective... and in my experience Gmail lets more than that through.

UPDATE UPDATE: Thanks for all the suggestions. I think a solution is just around the corner...

56 comments:

Matt said...

Hi Dave,

I get all of my public email forwarded to a gmail account, let them remove all the spam and then download it to my computer. This takes away the 'downloading 2,000 messages' thing, but leaves the spam in a place that I can occasionally check (and search) through.

Matt.

Honeysuckle Rose said...

That's just ridiculous. Wish I was a techie and could help out!

Ian : Geek said...

Hey Dave... yep, theres been some kind of Spam overdrive over the past few weeks. Not sure why, but I've noticed it with a lot of the sites I administer too (I get all the webmaster emails from them..)

I'm sure there must be a workable solution, like the form (although these can be abused too - we'd have to work around that) but if you want a hand in setting something up, or digging around some options, feel free to drop me a line with an alternative way of getting in touch on the email address I used for the javascriptin' thingy...

murdoness said...

You can have my email address if you want.

Paul said...

There's a handy tutorial on adding a contact form to your Blogger site here:

http://blogosquare.com/2007/02/06/how-to-contact-form-for-blogger/

Shouldn't take too long to set up, but contact forms can be spammed, so you may have to look into adding a captcha to the form.

Happy new year,
Paul.

Anonymous said...

As someone has already said, you should maybe consider using web-based email such as Gmail. That way you don't have to download the messages.

PaulBrads said...

The way those annoying spammers work is scanning the net for your address, they have robots that looks for something in the format of

word@another_word.com

Humans are clever though, two solutions would be to set up a new address but post it on your site as

davegorman "at" davegorman.com

it's a hassle but can work.

A better idea might be to make your email address into an image. So right it out as normal but rather than text on your page that the robots can read, make it into a jpeg image in Paint or something and then all us humans can read it, but the robots think it's a pretty picture.

Neither are ideal, and I agree with the GMail web based ideas above too.

Ian : Geek said...

I think the email address on the page in question is all nicely javascripted up now, so new bots ain't gonna get hold of it. Its the ones that already have hold of it that are the problem :-/

Dave - its possible to set up spam filtering at some web hosts before the emails even get through to you which would seriously prune things down, even with the lowest security setting.

It looks like your ISP offers this services. If you go to their site, click on "Support" at the top, and scroll down to the "Hot Topics" you'll see a thread for "Setting up Spam Filtering"...

Gavin Cooney said...

the davegorman [at] davegorman.com thing works most of the time... as does some image based and javascript based solutions. The problem is if your email address is already out there (and it clearly is), it'll not do any good.
As I commented on your last post, I think gmail is your solution. No more downloading spam. The problem is not the filtering of mail, it's the downloading of a gizillion mails that's the problem. Using Gmail avoids that. It also has some other features that help when you get a quadrebillion emails a day- like the conversation view. I don't for Google or anything- I'm just a fan! Happy New Year.

adambowie said...

The problem is that your email address is out there, and the spam will continue to come even if you do hide it away now.

Like others have said, an easy option is to use Gmail to do the spam cleaning for you.

You can point Gmail at your current POP3 email account, and then collect its output via your usual email client, so you don't even have to log on to a web-based system if you don't want to. Indeed since Gmail added IMAP, you can use Thunderbird and keep the email burden on your home computer quite light.

You can continue to send and receive your email via your current personal email address.

The only problem I ever have with this is that I get a handful of false positives - the odd mailing list email or commercial email newsletter that I have subscribed to being dumped. I tend to get around this by quickly scanning the spam subjects before deleting them. That's not really a workable solution for 32,000 spams though...

Ian : Geek said...

Gmail option will work, but its an extra level of faff if your ISP can do the spam blocking for you. It took mine down from around 5000 a day to 300, which is much more manageable. It means some still gets through, but I'd rather it let through some "maybes" and let me decide, than lop off potentially legit emails.

PT said...

Hi Dave,

Yes, GMail is VERY good at filtering out spam.

You could also consider switching ISP to someone who offers "greylisting" (34SP.net are a pretty coll British ISP who offer this).

I'm webmaster for a small website and we used to be deluged in spam. We switched to greylisting and that got rid of most of it.

I auto-forward my mails to my GMail (now Googlemail) account and Google removes the ones that aren't caught by the greylisting.

I now get around 10 Spams per day (which I can ignore) at GMail and NONE for my webmaster account.

As others have said, you can then just configure your mail client to download from your GMail inbox and every now and then (once a week maybe) scan your GMail spam folder for anything that's been flagged as spam incorrectly...

Tony Ruscoe said...

Yep, like many others already have done, I was going to suggest forwarding to Gmail too. Although one step better than that would be to move your email to Google Apps (assuming you have full control of your DNS) and then let them catch your Spam before you download via POP3 or IMAP.

If you want to know more, click my name here and contact me through my Blogger profile page.

Tony Ruscoe said...

(Sorry... I forgot to say that the advantage of moving to Google Apps rather than just using Gmail is that you can keep your domain instead of using an @gmail.com email address!)

Dave Gorman said...

I know about bots farming for addresses and my address is already hidden.

Part of the problem is that my domain seems to be increasingly used as part of a fake 'from' address on spam that's being sent out. So spam is being sent to thousands of people from a made up address, like, JanetSmith [at] davegorman.com

Inevitably thousands of these bounce and thousands more are rejected by other people's antispam software but they all end up bouncing into my inbox.

I don't think there's someone making these addresses up, I think they're autogenerated. A lot of trojans work by automatically sending out e-mails to everyone in your address book and making fake 'from' addresses out of component parts that they find there. Whenever one of the big pc viruses has taken hold I've had a sudden influx of mails like this because my e-mail address can be found in the address books of thousands of strangers.

One of the other problems is that no matter how I hide my address it is still eventually given to strangers and while our friends and families might treat our addresses with respect, strangers - even well meaning strangers - don't.

You know those e-mails that say, "MSN are tracking this mail and every time it's forwarded they're going to donate 5cents to a girl with leukemia"... I get sent four or five of those a day because some well-intentioned idiot has fallen for it and sent it to everyone in their address book. On two occasions I've discovered my e-mail address on someone else's website/blog where someone has posted something like, "So my friend e-mailed me and I saw this address in the CC list, I wonder if it's him?" There's not a lot I can do to legislate for that.

Given how scant my renown actually is I wonder how those people who have an unpleasant degree of fame cope... I mean, if it's interesting to three people that one of their friends has my address, what would they think if they saw someone actually famous in the list?

Which is also why there isn't really a solution that works. Because even if I go with an e-mail form... the minute I reply to someone they have my address and can do with it as they please.

I really don't want to appear all up myself and precious about this... it's got nothing to do with what I do for a living... it's just about finding a way to allow two way communication to exist without it leading to this kind of chaos.

thedharmablues said...

I recommend the Google Apps approach mentioned above by Tony.

A less suitable alternative to email would be to setup something like Meebo Me chat widget.

Dave Gorman said...

@ian: geek: I'm not sure that my web-hosts do offer the service you describe. I'm not sure what page you were looking at but 'support' wasn't one of the options on the page I just scanned.

Tony Ruscoe said...

Part of the problem is that my domain seems to be increasingly used as part of a fake 'from' address on spam that's being sent out. So spam is being sent to thousands of people from a made up address, like, JanetSmith [at] davegorman.com

Inevitably thousands of these bounce and thousands more are rejected by other people's antispam software but they all end up bouncing into my inbox.


So part of the problem is that you're receiving bouncebacks for non-existent addresses on your domain? If so, that sounds like a configuration issue with your email. You should only really be receiving bouncebacks for emails sent *from* your actual email address (even if it is spoofed or faked) - that is, unless you have some kind of "catch all" address setup, in which case you will be receiving anything sent to anything-you-like [at] davegorman.com too, which could explain all the bouncebacks. Perhaps the first step is to try and disable that catch-all address (if you have it setup that way) and see if that helps...

Dave Gorman said...

As far as my mail program is concerned it is configured to collect mail sent to one specific address.

It's certainly not set up at my end to collect any variable @... but in practice it does do just that. But it's not something I can disable at my end and I don't know of any way of intercepting them before they get to me.

Gavin Cooney said...

Then it sounds like all the mail for the whole domain is being sent into your mailbox. Seriously, give Google Apps a try. It'll really solve your problem. Everyone commenting seems to agree.
You need to get on to easily.co.uk and get the DNS set up for it. It's not hard at all. Mail or call me directly (http://www.learnosity.com/go/contact-us) and I'll help you if you want. It's not a big job.

adambowie said...

As far as my mail program is concerned it is configured to collect mail sent to one specific address.

It's certainly not set up at my end to collect any variable @... but in practice it does do just that. But it's not something I can disable at my end and I don't know of any way of intercepting them before they get to me.


It's not your email application that you need to look at but your hosting company's "Control Panel."

The company I use has an Email Settings section which determines what happens to what names. I suspect that your account is accespting *anything* [at] davegorman.com which it just puts in the inbox they supply you with. Then your mail application pulls down everything.

The email settings with my company allow me to turn off "Catch All" which means that only correctly addressed mail gets through.

Of course, if people are passing your email address around and posting it online then there's not a great deal you can do about that! I suspect that Hollywood A-listers and the like regularly ditch email addresses and get new ones. Doesn't the same happen with mobile phone numbers? Wasn't there an instance a few years ago when someone hacked into some PDA/phone owned by Paris Hilton causing lots of fun and games to a certain class of celeb?

Gavin Cooney said...

Also, with or without Google Apps you should set up a few addresses for different purposes that all go to the same place. Then you can filter them as they arrive. each one would be [at] davegorman.com. Something like
friends_only@ would be given to personal friends
info@ would be on your website
genius@ would be anything related to that etc etc.

Tony Ruscoe said...

adambowie is right. It's a setting you need to change with your host. Since it seems like you're with Easily, here's how you do it, taken from their knowledge base article (I've made the important part bold):

_________________________

Log into My Account. Click on D to administer your domain names, then E to administer email next to the domain you wish to set up.

You will see a form which allows you to specify the forwarding aliases and the email address you want each alias to forward to. For example, if your domain is yourdomain.co.uk, then you can create user@yourdomain.co.uk to be forwarded to user1@otheremail.isp.co.uk. To do this, enter "user" under the 'Alias' column and the complete email address "user1@otheremail.isp.co.uk" under the 'Redirect to' column.

Please note - line 1 in the email forwarding section (with alias "unanswered") is the default forwarding address, which is a catch-all for all mail sent to the domain name that is not governed by the aliases specified in lines 2-20. To help cut down on spam email you can set your catch-all to nospam@easily.co.uk.


_________________________

That should help filter out all the non-existent email address at the very least...

Dave Gorman said...

easily.co.uk is the site that I used to first register the domain but not the hosts.

I've just looked at my hosting company's website. They don't have a place for me to log-in, let alone a control panel. I have e-mailed them to ask.

I did ask a similar question of them some time ago and at the time they were unable to do anything. Since then they've clearly had an overhaul - I had no idea they'd even changed their business name - so maybe they will now.

If not, I may be changing hosts.

Lloydie said...

I have to agree, GMail is definitely the way to go, epecially with their "Google Apps for Your Domain" thing.

Spam is still a complete pain in the proverbials though. Why do spammers have to ruin it for everyone else? There's always one, eh? Oh... ok... there's always 32,125.

Tony Ruscoe said...

(Sorry for the double-posting today... I really should think before I post comments!)

I've just realised that those instructions are only for mail-forwarding. And having checked your domain's MX records, it looks like your email is pointing elsewhere anyway (Hey Media perhaps?) so they may not be relevant at all...

adambowie said...

And having checked your domain's MX records, it looks like your email is pointing elsewhere anyway (Hey Media perhaps?)

...in which case, this might be the page you want to access.

http://hey.co.uk/s51.html?ref=S51REDIRECT

I'd expect that your username and password will be with your original set-up documentation.

Josh(ua/y) said...

Prevention is better than cure. If you link to Spam Poison (using the code provided on said website) on all your web pages, spambots should crash before harvesting your e-mail address. That way you can stop spam happening rather than filtering it out.

Another thing to do is 'encrypt' your e-mail address using, say, this program.

And of course, you can do

Dave Gorman said...

@josh(ua/y): yes, but it's a bit late for that. My address is hidden but it's not stopping people from sending me 30k spam e-mails a day. The genie is out of the bottle as it were.

And as previously discussed, I live with the unfortunate situation where complete strangers think it's okay to put my e-mail address on their sites.

Here's an example from someone else's blog: http://thechamberpot-friz.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_archive.html

Ironically it's a post that starts off complaining about spam... and then reprints my e-mail address twice. Which makes things kind of impossible... and of course I've just created yet another link to the page that links to my address so now I've gone and made it worse again.

rstonehouse said...

Another vote for google mail.

With a normal account you can have google collect yor mail from your current POP3 sever and then either read it online or get it back into your current mail client using POP3 or IMAP

w.r.t. e-mails being spoofed from your domain you can setup an SPF record (this is likely be done in the same control panel that you might be hunting for to remove your catch all e-mail forwarding). This will help some e-mail servers reject these fake e-mails but AFAIK there is no good solution.

adamwilcox said...

You could use the solution I came too, basically saying that your name is, (in my case), Adam and that my website is wilcosworld.co.uk, and if said visitor is unable to work out what your email address is then it probably wasn't worth reading.

From this I have received much correspondence from visitors to my site, and almost no spam, (and I suspect that came from a 'friend' who signed me up on some stupid myspace-type site).

/ Adam

Dave Gorman said...

I know everyone is trying to help... but for the final time... telling me how to hide my address isn't going to work. My address is hidden. Spambots cannot find my address on my site... but for some reason other people seem happy to throw my address around all over the place so it doesn't matter it can still be found and there's not a lot I can do about it.

Sall said...

Hi Dave
"I don't know of any way of intercepting them before they get to me"...

Get yourself a virtual PA. I would gladly volunteer to sort out your spam.

I'm a good sorter.

JonnyB said...

I found this to be more of a psychological problem than a technical one.

Gmail (sorry to be boring, but I agree with everyone else) filters out the spam and puts it in a nice folder without you having to download it. And - as an aside - means all your important stuff is backed up off site.

So the real issue for me was coming to terms with not looking through all that junk. I get, I guess, 500 a day and now just delete it all unread. Clearly I spend my life in a neurotic frenzy that there might be, like, a REALLY IMPORTANT GENUINE MESSAGE that has been mistakenly filtered out. But the alternative just isn't practical.

fledermaus said...

I think you have 2 problems here: 1. Getting a better spam filterer 2. Setting up a new, better e-mail address so that over time the old address is only used by the spammers.

1. Probably means moving into some sort of enterprise spam managers and there have been a number of suggestions around that

2. Is slightly more interesting. The obvious approach is just to change your address slightly, but that will eventually result in the same situation as now. Alternatively (and slightly more secure), set up a feedback form so that no-one knows what the address is (but this then requires most of the world to use the form to communicate with you.
Most secure of all is to use an i-name. This locks things down about as far as they can go and is built on services offered by e.g. 2idi.com but may also offer some possibilities for forwarding of the old address in the future.

Fortunately I took the decision a year ago to have a 'public' address from a major webmail providor and my true address that only real people ever get to know. It seems to work for me, but has taken quite a while to see the effect.

Dave Gorman said...

1: actually the spam filter is amazingly accurate. The problem is that it's being overloaded with content and it just takes forever to process. It makes almost no mistakes... but even getting 32,000 things right takes ages. The solution is going to be to do with putting the filters server side instead of at my end.

2: the current address is actually the second address I've been through with this problem - although the first address didn't get to these levels of spam. That was an old virgin.net account. When I look at the way people share my address with the world I can see that they just don't think that I'm just a bloke with a computer in his house like pretty much everyone else. There's one site that lists it in a "hey, here's some people we think you might want to e-mail" way. They then list about 15 or 20 addresses. There are a couple of formula addresses @bbc.co.uk for some Radio1 DJs but all the others are either people as disconnected from the e-mail address as George Bush or organisations like New Scientist or whatever. Mine is the only one they've listed that's just a personal e-mail address without any company servers and the protection they afford.

And presumably this distinction isn't immediately obvious to them. Which makes sense because about 10% of the regular e-mail I get starts with something nonsensical like Dear Dave or whoever reads this for him or Dear Sirs, can you please pass this on to Dave or whatever... so obviously they just think there's some kind of davegorman inc that I'm the boss of.

(These are invariably the same people who think I'm rude when I give them an honest answer to their question instead of the answer they want to hear. Oddly if they got no reply at all they'd just assume that my mythical secretary hadn't passed it on to me and wouldn't think I was rude at all... odd how it's reading and replying that's rude.) (Sorry that's a sidetrack rant)

It seems to me that changing and hiding my address will just put the problem off for another day because the minute I reply to someone the address is given away again and the same cycle starts again.

Also... in reply to all the googlemail suggestions... I have used it before and it was nowhere near as accurate a spam filter as spamsieve. I'm happy to delete mails unchecked if it thinks it's spam, that's not a problem to me. But it only needs to decide that 1 or 2% of spam mails are okay for it to be an ineffective solution when the amount of spam is this big.

I'm still looking into Google Apps and I've e-mailed my hosts to see if they can help me with some server side filtering. If they can't I'll look into changing hosts to someone who can.

murk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mike said...

Hi Dave,

More of an observation than anything else, but it does seem that this commenting process is allowing you to communicate with people relatively effectively. Obviously it doesn't allow you to communicate privately, but perhaps you should just use a personal email address for your close personal friends, and then something like this for fans/ people who like your work.

Of course, the best way I think would be a web based client. I know you say you've used gmail and found in effective, but the point of is that its web-based, so there is no downloading of emails to your computer. Thats whats using your computing time for an hour or so a day.

That I think is the most sensible option.

However, there is one other thing you could do which is to outsource it to another person - a "virtual" PA for say an hour or so a day, that is to say, another physical person who organises and manages this sort of stuff for you. I'm sure you could organise something like that for around £10 a day.

Dave Gorman said...

@mike: I do have a private e-mail address which I use for friends and family etc and yes, this is a fine way to communicate with people... but only if someone wants to talk to me about this.

I know that webmail saves time with downloading... but it costs time with ineffective spam filtering. If it lets 1% of spam through that's 3000+ e-mails to wade through. Also webmail is, in my experience, just slower to open/reply/deal with. I often get 500 regular e-mails a day also and webmail just isn't efficient for that.

Having a PA isn't the solution. For a start, it would make all the people who start their e-mails "Dear Dave or whoever reads this for him." right... and that can't happen.

It's people assuming that I'm some kind of industry and not just a bloke with a computer just like them that makes them think putting my address on their site is okay... and really, a large part of what I do depends (in my head at least) on me not having those barriers and not making those assumptions about myself. I don't want to behave like davegorman plc because the minute I do, davegorman plc exists.

Hiring a p.a. makes them right and means a little bit of me dies a tiny death.

Gavin Cooney said...

Dave,
While I don't agree that Google Apps would be less effective at SPAM filtering than your current solution, and I think the gmail interface is better for people who are trying to deal with a horse load of mail...

how about this:
-Use google apps.
-Dont have a "catch all" email address- just one, or 2 addresses that get to you
-Use POP to get all your mail from Google (minus what google see as SPAM) and handle it in the exact same way as you did before- including the SPAM filter.

This saves downloading 99% of your SPAM.

Tony Ruscoe said...

I've been racking my brains for a solution to your problem and I think Gavin Cooney's finally got the answer. Using his approach, you would definitely get the best of both worlds and your problem should be pretty much solved!

Anne Robinson's Wig said...

Hi Dave,

I have no practical solution but thought you might like to know that made sure that a certain someone's email address was passed onto some appropriate mailing lists and general spammage. Some seem to have no unsubscribe option and post many times a day. While I'm sure it won't hinder him too much it'll be a minor annoyance and made me feel better for all the rubbish in my spambox.

Stephen F said...

Dave - I deleted your email address off my blog. Actually, I deleted the entire blog as it was mostly pointless rants. Bit of a blast from the past that what with it being a post from years ago. I understand how annoying it must have been for you, and I thank you for being civilised about it :)

On a sidenote, I'm a bit confused to how you got my number. Still, it's a story for the pub. Well, a thirty second anecdote at best.

Simmo said...

Dave,
I think you should hide your e-ma.....

Only kidding :-)

Oh and just to be different, I don't reccommend Google Apps/Google Mail in any way. Don't use. Not for any particular reason mind, I just like being non-conformist.

Although no where near the same scale as what you are dealing with here, I was suffering from spam to my ISP-provided e-mail account, mainly because I was careless with it and used it to sign up to anything that required registration, forums and whatnot, where the e-mail address then becomes displayed as a mailto: link on the profile pages etc etc - in the end I just decided to get rid of it. I painstakingly went through all my old mail and picked out important e-mails/subscriptions/websites registrations that I belong to on that address and changed it to my Hotmail account (for stuff that I was likely to get harvested from), and to my other e-mail address (for important stuff) then just deleted the address. No more spam now.

I know this whimsical tale isn't probably any use to you and to be honest I'm not quite sure why I've just told you that, so...sorry about that.

But it does seem like getting rid of the account is the only way forward? Like you say, all the methods here are great for stopping direct spam in some form/dealing with the volume of spam but there is no real way of stopping people mention your e-mail address else where, and the fact that it's already out there. Maybe set up an auto reply that says "go away" ?!


Other than that, I think you'll just have to become less popular. I'm trying to think of a celebrity who has fallen off the "celeb" radar recently... then maybe you could emulate their actions?

Sall said...

"I don't want to behave like davegorman plc... Hiring a p.a. makes them right and means a little bit of me dies a tiny death"

Dave.. no - it doesnt make them right and it's nothing to do with becoming a plc. It's about having a Santa's Little Helper.

Hiring a Virtual PA is like hiring a plumber when you've got a leak. It's a service not a death sentence. And you can still retain your status of whatever you want it to be.

However, whether you like it or not, you have become more than one "bloke with a computer". You are a globally known as a writer/producer/presenter/philosopher/photographer etc, and by wearing your many hats, many people want to communicate with you.

Getting organised and getting a helper is no reason to die a little inside. They should be able to help you to live a little bit more.

/gets off soap box

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
raphaelburden said...

God, that's a lot of reading, I only went through it pretty quickly, but I don't think my solution has been suggested yet. just go back to snail mail, tell people on your website that's the only way they can get in touch with you and only use email with very few people you know you can trust. That would also probably help filter out messages that come from genuine people wanting to get in touch but aren't really worth reading as it takes a bit more effort to send an actual letter than write a quick (sometimes drunken) pointless note and then hit a button.

Stuart said...

Hey Dave...

I'm with some of the other suggestions... you need to turn off the catch all email.

After that however, I'm with you on the form... get that set up and it will drastically reduce the amount of span you get. I've had a similar experience for a popular site I designed.

Finally the last piece of the puzzle seems simple to me. Ditch the current email address (it seems you've also come to the sad conclusion that you're going to have to) and in addition to the address that you use for family and friends have another that the form forwards to. Now here's the cunning bit. You currently have a note at the bottom of your email that says please don't reply, I wont get it (in your mailing list). Use a no-reply at davegorman... and have any email that is sent to it to be deleted or bounced. The just put a note at the bottom of your email that says all replies will be deleted/bounced and if you wish to reply please use the web form... not hugely helpful for long ongoing conversations, but I can't imagine there are huge numbers of them with fans.

Good luck!

bethmadethis said...

Why don't you hire a PA who's also called Dave?

Or ask the other Dave Gorman's to help you out on their one man with a computer set up, then when someone emails you saying "Hi Dave, or whoever this is.." you can still laugh in their face and prove the pessimistic masses wrong.

I'll change my name if you like.

xwd_fiend said...

I have a site that's got e-mail addresses undisguised on it. About 4 years ago the spam was driving me potty, and I was just about to do something drastic like changing ISP. My ISP then introduced spam filtering by a company called BrightMail. My understanding is that this works by setting up 'honey trap' e-mail addresses that exist on web pages, but are used _only_ to receive and identify spam. If a message to you matches one sent to a honey trap address, it's filtered out. It doesn't catch everything but it made a huge difference and I still have both the website and the e-mail address. So a public e-mail address with an ISP using BrightMail might be an answer.

Neil said...

I think Stuart hit the nail on the head with his last comment. I've been reading through this, thinking "yes, but.." to this solution and "no, but.." to that solution and basically came to the same conclusion as he did:

Yes, your current e-mail address has to go; the contact form is probably the best way for people to get in contact with you; and the best way for you to respond is with an outgoing-only address.

It makes sense that way, it's the least hassle and it's probably one of the easiest solutions to implement.

Ironically, I re-watched the Important Astrology Experiment for the first time since it originally aired last night and thought "I really should drop Dave an e-mail tomorrow..." :o)

Dave Gorman said...

Firstly... the catchall address has finally been disabled which is helping enormously.

Secondly, if anyone can point me in the right direction for whatever code I need to provide a (secure) e-mail form that would be appreciated.

Sall said...

Interesting links to read which may or may not be of any use...

http://www.typepadhacks.org/2006/09/a_new_spamfree_.html

http://formtoemail.com/

http://www.safalra.com/programming/php/contact-feedback-form/

http://www.osai.com/Newsletter/#Top


Though I'm sure one of your more technically minded readers will help with an ideal (and secure) solution.
Good luck

MarcPSummers said...

Hi David,

Your a Googlewhack.... oh wait you know that already!

The only way to rectify the current situation is to start a new address and reject mail from your old address.

I am an Internet Consultant (Monkey Design House) and have this issue with clients all the time. They have placed their email address on every site going to get business but the only business they get is offers of Rolex's and more interesting products.

The answer is to have your web providers reject all mail to your old address with an email saying...

"This email address is not longer accepting messages - to contact me please use the form at www.blahblahblah....."

Then the form with have HumanVerfication (like the form on this blogging comment site). This would mean that your contacts who have used your address for years will find that the first time they contact you they have to do some work.

However this solution is only effective until you reply and then some kind fellow lists your new email address on his site with something like - if you find a GoogleWhack email david at blahblah...

So that then leaves your email package to have an reply address of your old account - saying Nooooo please use my form to contact me.

Well - Not sure if any of this is of help - or if you want help sorting this out - let me know - happy to help - No-one apart from you yesterday has made me laugh so much on the M1 that I had to pull over to wipe my eyes and compose myself. (I was listening to your DVD on my iPod).

Regards

Marc P Summers

richard said...

Only other option, that might be simpler than setting up an actual web-form, would be to ask people who want to contact you to sign up for your forum and then use the private messaging function there.

You already have the forum software there, and that does the email authentication for you. You could always have a web-form as well for people who just want to shower you with praise with no response, while the forum PM option would give you the option to reply securely.

Hope that helps

Richard

Tony Slater said...

Dear Dave,

In response to your problem with SPAM, I find that picking up the computer and bashing it repeatedly against the nearest hard surface until it stops beeping, to be very effective at preventing all forms of spam from reaching you. It does unfortunately have a negative impact on the amount of genuine emails that you receive, but hell, that's the price of progress.

Tony
www.tonyjamesslater.com