How to Reduce Spam

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Sorting through massive amounts of daily spam can put a burden on the front desk and back office of a hostel. This page contains tips on how to reduce spam in your inbox.

Email Protection

Spammers use automated programs to harvest email addresses from Web pages. If your email address is publicly listed on Web pages, then it is probably getting harvested by spammers.

  • Don't post your email address online in plain HTML text format. In practice it is nearly impossible not to list your email address online, but it might be a good idea to limit the numbers of different email addresses that you list online, and to list them as rarely as possible.
  • Instead use one of the following options:
    • JavaScript
    • Embed the email address in an images
    • Use Web forms

JavaScript Email Protection

There are many ways to obscure your email address with JavaScript. Here is one simple example that your Web designer could use as a model:

<source lang="javascript"> <script type="text/javascript">

 var a = "name";
 var x = "@";
 var c = "example.";
 var e = "com";
 var y = "mail";
 var w = "to:";
 document.write('<a href="' + y + w + a + x + c + e + '">' + a + x + c + e + '</a>');

</script> </source>

The above code will output a mailto: link to [email protected] in JavaScript that cannot be read by typical email harvesting programs.

Image Email Protection

Email harvesting programs generally can't read text that is embedded in images. If you make a graphic with your email address in it, spammers probably won't be able to harvest it. An example is below -- notice how you can't select the text with your mouse:

This is an email address embedded in an image so that spammers can't harvest it.

Contact Forms

When building your Web site, it may be better for spam protection to have a contact form instead of listing an email address.

SpamAssassin Spam Filter

SpamAssassin is free software that may already be running on your Web/email server. Many Web hosting companies include SpamAssassin in their Web hosting plans, but it is usually turned off by default.

Thumbnail image of SpamAssassin settings for Site5.com hosting. Your SpamAssassin settings page may look different.

Some email clients like Thunderbird can automatically recognize spam that has been tagged by SpamAssassin and automatically move it into a "junk" folder. SpamAssassin is generally very accurate.

In the image below, the left highlighted column shows SpamAssassin's flags on the spam. Thunderbird has automatically moved the spam to a junk folder based on those flags. The right column is where you can manually train Thunderbird to recognize spam. Just click on the dot to set the spam "on fire" and send it to the junk mail folder.

Thunderbird email client working with SpamAssassin to fight spam.

Email Client Spam Filters

Thunderbird

Thunderbird is an excellent free email client that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. It can be configured to automatically sort your email based on SpamAssassin's settings.

In Thunderbird, go to Edit > Account Settings or Tools > Account Settings, depending on your operating system. You will see an image like the one below:

Thunderbird-junk-settings.png

If you check the boxes "Trust Junk mail headers set by SpamAssassin" and "Move new junk messages to... [choose your location]", you will have a very effective spam solution. None of the spam is deleted, but it will be moved to a separate folder where you can quickly scan it for legitimate email before bulk-deleting the junk email.

Outlook

  • Using Outlook is a security risk. Consider using a free mail client like Thunderbird instead. Thunderbird has calendar and task add-ons if you need them.
  • Add spam control tips here

Outlook Express