12 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Internet

If you are reading this page, chances are that you're already aware of the growing spam problem on the internet and are sick of it.

You are not helpless. Here are just some of the things you can do to help get rid of the spam in usenet and in your mailbox.

The most important thing to realize is that waiting for someone else to fix the problem for you won't help. It takes many people working together to stop spam.

If one person complains to a provider about spam, they're considered a crank, and ignored. If two people complain about spam, they're considered a couple of cranks, and ignored. If several people complain about spam, they're considered a cabal, and ignored.

But if a lot of people complain about spam, something may get done. We all need your support.

Here are a few simple things you can do to stop spam:

  1. Sue Spammers
  2. Register complaints with LinkExchange.com.
  3. Ask your system administrators to joinUsenet 2.
  4. Ask your system administrators shun rogue sites.
  5. Ask your system administrators to filter their feed.
  6. Ask your system administrators to use the MAPS Real-Time Blacklist and the Dial-Up-List.
  7. Discuss the subject on your local newsgroups.
  8. Make sure your own site is not a spam-haven.
  9. Complain, complain, complain.
  10. Call the advertiser and complain.
  11. Close your open gateways.
  12. Install wpoison on your web pages.
For more ideas, visit , by Leah Roberts

Sue Spammers

If you are a resident of certain states, you can sue spammers who send you email spam without permission. See

In short, the Washington law forbids sending spam using forged headers to or from a system in Washington state. Under the law, you are entitled to sue for $500. Other state laws are not as effective but may be useful.

How to Sue (copied from netnews):

First, make sure the spam violates the law.

Check out: Make sure your e-mail address is registered in the Washington State database (this is NOT a requirement - nice to have for more ammunition in your case)

Go to the district court in your county and fill out a small claims action. If they question it because the business is out of state, say they are doing business in the state when they send you the e-mail. Filing cost is $25. or less - depends on which county you are in and if they have arbitration service. They can and will help you - the court clerk will answer your questions. They also have handouts on small claims court - you can also get information at: http://198.187.0.226/courts/scc/home.htm

You can look up specific laws (Revised Code of Washington) at: http://www.mrsc.org/rcw.htm

The RCW for serving papers is at: RCW 12.40.040

Success Stories

For examples of dealing with spammers who send mail to or from Washington state, see netnews articles

File complaints with LinkExchange.com

[email protected].

Ask Your System Administrators to Join Usenet 2

Usenet 2 is a new network comprised of sites that don't want spam and are willing to cooperate towards this end. Usenet 2 sites connect only with other Usenet 2 sites, and are connected to the rest of usenet through special gateway systems that filter out the spam as it comes in. The result is a full Usenet feed without the spam.

Usenet 2 is still in the experimental stage, but the time is ripe for you to ask your admins to join. More information on Usenet 2 can be found at www.usenet2.org and Sol.net.

Ask your sys admins if they can move your site to Usenet 2. Bring up the subject on your site's local newsgroups.


Ask Your System Administrators to Shun Rogue Sites

There are a number of
For an idea of which sites are prime candidates for shunning, visit the page. For more information on how to alias a rogue site, visit Abuse.net's page.

Radparker.com has an excellent list of sites that should be banned from Sendmail access. See .

See the


Ask Your System Administrators to Filter Your Newsgroups

Some excellent filtering software is now available which blocks most of the incoming spam on your netnews feed. Ask your netnews admins to install one. For a list of such filters, see the

Ask Your System Administrators to Use the Maps Real-Time Blacklist

The MAPS (
) project is a site that keeps an up-to-date list of known email spam domains and relays. Your site can subscribe to MAPS and block incoming email spam as it happens.

If you receive email spam from a persistant spammer, you can nominate that site for the RBL. See web pages http://maps.vix.com/rbl/reporting.html and http://maps.vix.com/rbl/candidacy.html


Ask Your System Administrators to Use the Dial-Up-List

Similar to the
, the is a database of dial-up systems used by customers of large ISPs to connect to their providers. Systems on the Dial-Up-List are not necessarily rogue systems, or guilty of spam in any way whatsoever.

However, Dial-Up-Systems are frequently abused by spammers. To combat this, no system should ever allow a port 25 connection from any system on the Dial-Up-List. These systems all have their own email providers, and should be using them to relay mail.

Note that only email connections from these sites should be refused. Other connections are perfectly legitimate.


Discuss the subject on your local newsgroups

Many sites have internal newsgroups for discussion of various issues related to the net. Bring up these subjects, try to get a consensus among your fellow users. Try to get your fellow users to agitate for a relief from spam. The more voices that get involved, the better. Direct them to this web page.

Make sure your own site is not a spam-haven

Your own site may be a problem site and you don't even realize it. Visit the
and look for your own site there. If you find it, look at its page and see if it's been a problem lately.

In particular, if your ISP is in this list (last updated, April 1998):

  • Compuserve:
    SpryNet and Interserve.

  • Earthlink:
  • Look For: "earthlink" near the end of the Path: line.
  • Where to complain: Email: abuse@earthlink.net, Phone: 888-ELN-SPAM (888-356-7726)

  • Email Spam:

  • WorldNet:
  • Look For: "worldnet.att.net" in the headers.
  • Where to complain: abuse@worldnet.att.com

  • Linkus:
    Linkus is a major email spammer. Netcom attempted to disconnect them and they obtained a restraining order. It took Netcom months to get Linkus disconnected.

  • Cyberpromo:
    for more information.

  • Quantcom:

  • Nancy Net:

    Remember: phone calls are more effective than email.

    There are various tools and HOWTOs that can help you track the source of spam. For some basic information and tutorials (it's not as hard as it sounds), see the .

    There are also some excellent online tools to help you. See the web page at Monash.edu and the web page at Blighty.com.

    There are more links that may help you at the .


    Call advertisers and complain

    Advertisers often aren't aware that they're spamming. Often someone with something to sell will pay for advertising, not realizing that that the advertising agency uses email spam. Even Rutgers university fell into this trap in November 1997 when they advertised a seminar through
    Quantcom.

    Somewhere in the body of every advertisement is a way to get in touch with the advertiser. Give them a call and explain to them why spam is unwelcome and alienating. Explain that the only ones who make money advertising by spam are the spammers - the only thing the advertising client gets for their money is a lot of bad will. Be polite, but be firm.

    Many advertisers include a toll-free number in their ad. A is archived on the net.


    Close your open gateways

    Spammers often exploit insecure news and email gateways in order to broadcast their spam. This serves to "launder" the headers to make tracking more difficult, and to evade software blocks.

    Please close - or ask your system administrators to close - all open email and news gateways. More information is available in the .

    Note that you will be doing yourself a big favor by closing your email gateways. Spammers have been known to knock a site completely off the net through excessive relaying. See this news article for more:


    Install Wpoison on Your Web Pages.

    Wpoison is a cgi script designed by Ron Guilmette which generates a random page of random email addresses and links. Email address harvesters operated by spammers find the random web page and add the bogus email addresses to their address database, making it less useful. In addition, wpoison generates a number of links that just point back to itself, causing the harvester robot to become mired in the web page.

    For more information about wpoison, see the and Wired magazine's


    The opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ed Falk and do not necessarily represent those of any other organization, (although I hope they do). I wish to thank Rahul.net for hosting this web page.

    This page maintained by Ed Falk