STOP NEWSGROUP SPAMMING! (Or at least help slow it down!)

This page has been accessed times since March 11 1995.

I've seen lots of Spam in Newsgroups since I've been on the Net. Yes, I'm sick of it too. Spam, for those who don't know, is (typically): - In its most basic and simplest definition, anything that is wasted bandwidth -- assuming that much of the Internet isn't by definition wasted bandwidth. :) - Excessively quoted material (ie. quoting the whole post then only saying "I agree") - A useless, stupid thread of meaningless junk (or "Make Money Fast" or "Please send me postcards" or something else bogus) whose most common attributes are that they are the very same post, or a series of bogus posts on the same stupid subject. - Unfortunately, the above isn't 100% accurate. Spam can also be a legitimate thread given an appropriate forum, but it's posted in the wrong newsgroup(s). The operative notion here is that it is misplaced and annoying to the readers of a group, and usually of many groups. - The same thread which can be found in dozens or even hundreds of newsgroups at the same time. - You often see a lot of responses to it, often unfortunately to the effect of "Please stop this nonsense" or "Please remove such and such a group from the newsgroups line." - And of course those annoying email spams. One of the real problems with spam is that the responses are also spam, despite perhaps in some cases being an otherwise legitimate continuation of a legitimate thread. These responses often actually constitute the bulk of the spam as many spammers realize that their little kernel will mushroom into the real nuisance in the form of hundreds of responses and perpetuation of the thread. THEREFORE DON'T RESPOND TO SPAM IN PUBLIC FORUMS; YOU'RE JUST AS BAD AS EVERYONE ELSE CONTINUING THE THREAD IF YOU DO! Or conversely, take a look at the "newsgroups:" line and edit it so that the appropriate newsgroups are targeted, and the unrelated ones aren't. - Spam also is junk, unsolicited email -- not to be confused with unsolicited but very welcome personal communications (ie. I'm a known "internet 'expert'" on winemaking; people who don't know me are welcome to write to me asking me about winemaking without invitation.) It also works along similar lines for other things like lists. It is quite annoying, and wastes bandwidth and system resources, having the effect of: - slowing down the Internet's response time to your requests - increasing the costs of your access to the net - increasing the amount of junk you have to wade through to find anything useful, reducing the productivity of your online time - reducing your enjoyment of the resources you do find useful - need I go on? Bottom line is that even if you don't see it wherever you go, it still affects you.
How to deal with spam when you encounter it: - IGNORE IT AND MOVE ON. Frustrating, but unless you know how to shut them down or report them to the right people -- if there is a "right" person to report them to (which often there may not be) -- or otherwise effectively do something about them, then you actually either do nothing by your actions, perpetuate the spam, or make it worse. Such is the nature of the net. - If your newsreader or email client supports it, use a kill file to screen out posts with given keywords. - If you use trn to read news and you want to ignore crossposts, put the following line in your killfile: /^Newsgroups: {newsgroup name without the brackets}$/HNewsgroups:+ - Ignore it until it goes away. Tell your friends to ignore it too. By responding to it, you are actually actively helping the thread to survive instead of helping to kill it. - Start posting relevant articles to your newsgroup. It won't actually do anything about the spam, but at least the signal to noise ratio will be higher. - Snip quoted material that you're responding to down to a minimum (especially the signatures) Remember that this will have a cascade effect when people respond to your responses but forget to snip. - If you feel compelled to respond to spam, edit the "newsgroups:" line, instead of just saying that "they" should have done so. - Conversely, if you are responding to an otherwise legitimate thread, edit the "newsgroups:" line so that your post goes to the appropriate forum. - Try responding to the spam, BUT change the "follow-up" line to something like alt.test. I really don't suggest this, as it actually continues spam. However it does redirect future spam originating from your posts to someplace useless, and it avoids having it proliferate all over. - Try to track down the originator, and spam them. Try organizing a mailbomb campaign on their account, and complain to their sysdamin. Usually they have addresses like - root@[domain] - sysop@[domain] - support@[domain] - admin@[domain] - postmaster@[domain] - info@[domain] - abuse@[domain] and so on, where [domain] is the spammer's domain, usually what is after the @ sign in their address. It may be fake, so some digging may be necessary. Sometimes these addresses will be the spammer themself, and therefore the message will go unheeded. But if you don't try, the spammer may try again. - You should also check the "Getting a complaint to the correct person" section of the alt.spam FAQ. - Suggest to the maintainer of your group's FAQ to have a section on spam policy, and how you wish to react to it (hopefully in a useful manner, of course!) - Using a newsreader that allows it, compare things like email addresses and news ID numbers. That often allows you to track down the spammer. That way a flame to them and/or a complaint to their sysadmin is more likely to get to the right party. - Link this page to your homepage, and direct others to it. Please use the following url: -- the different domain from what you see is just a redirection service so that you will always find it wherever it may be on the net. - Make and advertise your own campaign against spam that of course does not spam newsgroups. - Check: - the FAQ - the alt.spam FAQ and follow its advice - the ADComplain page. - For the US: David Medine, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and the Fraud Department at the Internal Revenue Service - Check: - the "Abuse of Usenet" page and its many links - the National Fraud Information Center Homepage - the Blacklist of Internet Advertisers - the Coalition Against Unsolicited Email page - Donna Troy's E-Mail Filtering Service (fee applies) - The Junkbusters Home Page - - the IEMMC FAQ - check Scambusters and subscribe to their newsletter - includes a page on how to reduce the junk email you receive - From Davide Kehoe ( - If the spammer is on AOL, call their 800 number, and AOL's "Terms Of Service" (pronounced "toss") department will quickly and happily toss the offending subscriber. The AOL TOSS email ID is -or- - If it's a chain letter scheme, print out a copy and send it to your local post office inspector. With respect to the USA, look in your telephone directory's "Blue Pages" for federal government offices, look in the US Postal Service section for the "Postal Inspector" office. Only larger cities have a postal inspector, so you may have to call your post office to find the closest postal inspector. Postal inspectors are federal police that investigate crimes committed by mail. Chain letter schemes are crimes. The url for the US Postal Service with respect to chain letters is: - If the person claims "I made $23,849 from this! Honest!", print out a copy and send it to the spammer's income tax office, suggesting they check if the spammer declared the $23,849 on their taxes. For the IRS, again look in your "Blue Pages" section, under the Internal Revenue Service. Look for the office of "Criminal Investigation". Mail to that address, or give them a call. - Hoaxes: - Big foot Anti-Spam defense: -
From 1) (For Make Money Fast articles) Make sure they know the IRS is on to them! 2) Send them to jail. Forward a copy of the original post to: the Postal service - the IRS - the National Fraud Commission - Click here for more on chain letters.
Please reference this page on your homepage or somewhere else appropriate. If you have any more suggestions, write me at malak& (&=@) Here are questions I've answered about spam.