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Here are some frequently asked questions about
Spam and how to avoid it.

What is "Spam"?
    "Spam" is an Internet term that refers to any repeated unsolicited commercial electronic mail, newgroup posting, or any other form of communication on the Internet. For the purpose of this FAQ, we will deal with e-mail spam, which is by far the most intrusive.

Why is it called "Spam"?
    The term originated with the British television program "Monty Python's Flying Circus", where in one episode, the word "spam" was farcically repeated again and again. Internet denizens at the time adopted the word to describe unsolicited commercial advertising on the Internet, which is equally irritating.

How do I avoid Spam?
    You can never completely eliminate unsolicited e-mail. Like your mailbox, your e-mail address will receive some junk-mail. However, there are many steps to help prevent the bulk of unsolicited electronic mail. Please use the following tips to help elimitate unwanted e-mail:
  • Free isn't always really free:
    The Internet contains a wealth of offers for free products and services. The vast majority of these "free" services are simply a way to acquire contact information, which the company can then sell to advertisers. Free e-mail, or mail forwarding services are offered for the purpose of compiling e-mail mailing lists which are then sold to commercial advertisers. Any free service that requires your e-mail address should be approached with caution. If you don't want others to have your address, then don't give it out.

    We actually recommend signing up for one free e-mail service (such as HotMail, or Yahoo Mail). You can then use that e-mail address to give to potential spammers.

  • Beware of Robots:
    Many advertisers have a very efficient way of compiling mailing lists. By using a program called a "robot" to search the Internet, companies can compile a wealth of e-mail addresses that may appear on web pages, bulletin boards, and Usenet News. There are a few ways to avoid this sort of problem.

    Firstly, treat your e-mail address much like your telephone number, and try to avoid posting it in public forums. When soliciting e-mail replies in a public forum, try sabotaging your e-mail address. For example, you can post your e-mail address as, with advice in the message to remove the "NOSPAM" in order to reply. This causes very little inconvenience to those who genuinely want to e-mail you, but avoids robots from extracting your real e-mail address.

  • Tell your friends:
    Let your friends or associates know that you do not wish to be signed up for any free services. You may be very careful at avoiding spam, but it won't do much good if your well-meaning friend signs you up for several mailing lists.

How do I get rid of Spam?
    If you're already receiving unwanted commercial e-mail, here are some tips to help resolve the issue:
  • Step One: Delete
    Many spammings are a one-time problem, and can best be resolved by simply deleting the message.
  • Step Two: Look for an out
    The vast majority of spam originates from the United States, a country that has enacted laws regarding unsolicited e-mail. Many commercial e-mails contain instructions on how to be removed from their mailing list. Be aware, however, that in some cases this is simply a way of confirming your e-mail address. You may go on to step three, however, if that is the case.

What about chain-letters?
    Chain-letters, although often non-commercial, are also considered Spam. Any message that invites you to forward it on to others is considered a chain-letter. Many are often cleverly devised, containing "important information", promises of rewards, or claiming to be some well-known organization. For more information on chain-letters and how to identify them, visit the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC)

I have more questions. Who do I call?

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