Gnus Manual. Node: Thwarting Email Spam

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8.17: Thwarting Email Spam

In these last days of the Usenet, commercial vultures are hanging about and grepping through news like crazy to find email addresses they can foist off their scams and products to. As a reaction to this, many people have started putting nonsense addresses into their From lines. I think this is counterproductive---it makes it difficult for people to send you legitimate mail in response to things you write, as well as making it difficult to see who wrote what. This rewriting may perhaps be a bigger menace than the unsolicited commercial email itself in the end.

The biggest problem I have with email spam is that it comes in under false pretenses. I press g and Gnus merrily informs me that I have 10 new emails. I say ``Golly gee! Happy is me!'' and select the mail group, only to find two pyramid schemes, seven advertisements (``New! Miracle tonic for growing full, lustrous hair on your toes!'') and one mail asking me to repent and find some god.

This is annoying.

The way to deal with this is having Gnus split out all spam into a `spam' mail group (see Splitting Mail).

First, pick one (1) valid mail address that you can be reached at, and put it in your From header of all your news articles. (I've chosen `', but for many addresses on the form `' will be a better choice. Ask your sysadm whether your sendmail installation accepts keywords in the local part of the mail address.)

(setq message-default-news-headers
      "From: Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen <>\n")

Then put the following split rule in nnmail-split-fancy (see Fancy Mail Splitting):

 (to ""
      (| ("subject" "re:.*" "misc")
         ("references" ".*@.*" "misc")

This says that all mail to this address is suspect, but if it has a Subject that starts with a `Re:' or has a References header, it's probably ok. All the rest goes to the `spam' group. (This idea probably comes from Tim Pierce.)

In addition, many mail spammers talk directly to your smtp server and do not include your email address explicitly in the To header. Why they do this is unknown---perhaps it's to thwart this thwarting scheme? In any case, this is trivial to deal with---you just put anything not addressed to you in the `spam' group by ending your fancy split rule in this way:

 (to "larsi" "misc")

In my experience, this will sort virtually everything into the right group. You still have to check the `spam' group from time to time to check for legitimate mail, though. If you feel like being a good net citizen, you can even send off complaints to the proper authorities on each unsolicited commercial email---at your leisure.

If you are also a lazy net citizen, you will probably prefer complaining automatically with the `gnus-junk.el' package, available FOR FREE at
`<URL:>'. Since most e-mail spam is sent automatically, this may reconcile the cosmic balance somewhat.

This works for me. It allows people an easy way to contact me (they can just press r in the usual way), and I'm not bothered at all with spam. It's a win-win situation. Forging From headers to point to non-existent domains is yucky, in my opinion.

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