How to be totally spam-free, without a spam filter

Email spam is one of the great annoyances of the modern age. Sometimes it seems that no sooner have you created your new email address than it is deluged with spam.

Spam filters help to alleviate the problem, but they're far from perfect. They often miss spam and allow it through, whilst mistakenly filtering out genuine emails.

Yet spam is completely preventable.

The solution is called disposable email addresses.

The idea is to have an infinite number of email addresses which can be blocked at a moment's notice. Say, for example, your name is John Smith. You would set up a catch-all email address at johnsmith.yourcompany.com. This means that no matter what you put in front of the '@', it all goes to the same inbox. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it......

Then, whenever anybody asks you for your email address, you give them a new one. It's a good idea to give them something so that you can recognise where it came from. So if Joe Bloggs asks for your email address, you give them This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and if you're signing up for a Facebook account, you use This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

So how does this stop spam?

Well, let's say you receive a piece of spam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Only Joe Bloggs should know this email address, so either Joe Bloggs is a spammer, or he has broken the Data Protection Act and given your personal details to someone else (who is a spammer). More than likely though, he's just been a bit careless with his computer and got a virus which has stolen all of the email addresses in its history.

So, you can now block that email address so that you can't get any more spam from it. You can also give Joe Bloggs a telling off, or advise him to do a full virus scan, depending on how you feel.

The other thing that you may notice is that you start getting LinkedIn requests, and Twitter requests, and Facebook requests emailed to you at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This is a good opportunity to remind Joe Bloggs that it may be illegal under the Data Protection Act to enter people's email addresses into third party websites.

This method is not for the non-techies, it requires a bit of setup, and more importantly, it requires consistency and effort. There is no point setting this up if you don't stick to the system. It's not as trivial as just switching on a spam filter and forgetting about it (until it goes wrong). But the results are much better.

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