What exactly is spam?
Spam, also known as junk mail, is more or less defined as any email you don't want and didn't sign up for. It is usually advertising something or promoting some kind of scam. Other terms for it include unsolicited bulk email (UBE) and unsolicited commercial email (UCE).
Spam is widely recognized as a serious problem facing ISPs and Internet users, since it eats up bandwidth, defrauds people, and fills up people's inboxes with junk. It has the potential to become much more of a problem than junk snail mail or telemarketing (phone spam) because it is so unbelievably cheap to send spam email rather than calling you or mailing you a piece of paper. Some people literally are forced to throw away their email addresses because they receive so much unwanted spam.
How can I get rid of spam, including getting spammed with pop-up windows?
WorldSpice now offers a spam blocking and virus protection product if you are interested. You can purchase this service if you have a hosted domain with WorldSpice. Currently this is not offered to clients who are not hosting a website with us. To learn more about our Spam and Virus Filter service, click here.
What's all this about opt-in and opt-out?
An opt-in list is one that you have to specifically request to be on - like signing up for a newsletter. If you opt-in, it's not really spam, because you requested it. There is usually a fairly simple way to get off the list in this case. (This is not a technique used much by spammers.)
An opt-out list is one where you are signed up for the list without your knowledge and you are responsible for removing yourself. Opt-out is usually a sign of bad intentions! Many people feel that any legislation which legalizes opt-out marketing is (almost) worthless.
Should I follow the instructions to remove my name from the mailing list?
In a word: NO!
Using the 'remove me' link (or email) is never, repeat NEVER, a good idea, unless you requested to be on the list in the first place (in which case it is not really spam.)
Most of the time, a remove request will just not work. However, when it does, it's even worse! It lets them know that you are reading and responding to their email - that is, you are a sucker for spam. (Don't feel bad, just about everyone has done it at some point in their lives.)
If they find out that you clicked 'remove me', you will probably be deluged with spam pretty soon.
How do I report spam? Who should I complain to?
You should complain to anyone who is hosting any of the spammer's email or web addresses. Decipher the headers of the email address and complain to their ISP; do a lookup on the web address and complain to the company hosting it.
This can be tricky as spammers usually try to hide where they are spamming from.
Some sites that will help you with the details of spam reporting include Spamcop and UXN Spam Combat. These sites make it easy even for a relative newbie.
Is there a U.S. government agency concerned with spam?
Yes, the FTC. You can send spams, and especially scams, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether or not this will do anything is hard to say, but it doesn't hurt.