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spammed-mail-folder A KMail folder full of spam e-mail messages collected over a few days.

Spamming is commonly defined as the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail – that is, email that was not asked for (unsolicited) by multiple recipients (bulk). A further common definition of spam restricts it to unsolicited commercial e-mail, a definition that does not consider non-commercial solicitations such as political or religious pitches, even if unsolicited, as spam.

In the popular eye, the most common form of spam is that delivered in e-mail as a form of commercial advertising. However, over the short history of electronic media, people have spammed for many purposes other than the commercial, and in many media other than e-mail. Spammers have developed a variety of spamming techniques, which vary by media: e-mail spam, instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, and mobile phone messaging spam.

Spamming is economically viable because advertisers have effectively no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists. Because the barrier to entry is so low, the volume of unsolicited mail has produced other costs which are borne by the public (in terms of lost productivity and fraud) and by Internet service providers, which must add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming is widely reviled, and has been the subject of legislation in a number of jurisdictions.

Solutions to the spam problem

All manner of attempts have been made to curb unsolicited mass electronic communications. There are many solution categories in this constantly evolving field. Source-based blocking solutions prevent receipt of spam, while content filtering solutions identify spam after it’s been received. There are avoidance strategies, including disposable identities. Automated cancellation of netnews spam is ongoing. Contractual measures such as Internet Service Providers’ acceptable-use policies are also employed. Anti-spam laws such as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 have also been introduced to regulate or increase the legal penalties for spamming. Various vigilante and retaliatory tactics are also employed. Newer strategies include various cost-based and e-mail authentication and sender reputation solutions. The best means however is to be vigilant as to whom you give your email address. Constant distribution of your email address is bound to result in spam in some way. The best frame of mind is to decide whether the website can be trusted with your email address.


  • others in* hierarchy
  • alt.spam


  • IETF views on spamming can be found in RFC 2635.
  • Ursine:Spam – Spam article in The Jargon Wiki.
  • DMOZ Open Directory
    • Webmaster Forums at the Open Directory Project
  • CircleID: Addressing Spam
  • Spam Blocker Crawler Free public service for scanning guestbooks on link spam and send abuse in the Google and spammer’s hoster.

Anti-spam organizations

Anti-spam articles and publications


  • Spamusement A collection of humorously drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines.
  • The Incredible Spam Museum A search engine like site that collects and publish spam e-mails.
  • Spamradio Turns spam e-mail into online music streams.
  • Spam Eulogy A guy that lives in a world of spam.
  • WhamBamSpam Website that wants you to spam it’s forums, essentially free advertising, and spam discussions.

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

Video: Spam, Phishing, and Online Scams: A View from the Network-Level

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