Have the final say by getting rid of your spam

Posted on January 20, 2003

I've stumped myself with a recent philosophical discussion

I had with, um, myself. Who has the last word in an

email discussion?

It's pretty obvious in a face-to-face

discussion. The last person who talks has the last

word. Even if you

hold your ears and scream really loud, it's apparent

who said the last thing. In a phone conversation, this

is also easy to discern, unless Person A hung up without

Person B knowing. Another possibility is Person A fell

asleep, but snoring will more than likely follow. Sure,

there are some technicalities, but it's still usually

evident who had the last word.

An email discussion,

though, opens the door for who "spoke" last.

Even sending a final email may not necessarily mean

the final word. What if the person you're emailing

goes home for the weekend and doesn't read that particular

email? What if that person reads it and responds

without commenting about the initial discussion?

What if the person reads your email and then goes on


forward it to mutual friends and they respond,

letting you know that your ideas on cloning are preposterous?


there's another problem: spam email. It would seem

as if all spammers get the last word, even though

their rants about particular products are discarded

almost immediately. As spam email has grown, so has

the prevention against it. And it's much easier to

generate spam mail than create a human clone, and it

is much more believable too.

While the occasional spam

mail is harmless, a barge full a day is not. To start

your eradication of this

type of email, visit SPEWS.ORG. Spam Prevention Early

Warning System lists news, advisory systems, filtering

programs and links to additional Web sites concerning

spam. Some of the information is worthwhile for an

average email user, while some of the info is directed

toward your IT manager, or at least the person in charge

of your email server.

There are a couple of ways to

use SPEWS. On the outer level, the system can be used

to double check the credibility

of a sent email. What you need to do this is the full

header information of your email. The header contains

information from which IP address the email was sent.

Once you find the header, look for a line that says "Received:

from," which should be followed by a domain name

and an IP address. Enter that address at the top righthand

corner search on SPEWS.org. If the IP address is in

system at SPEWS, it will say so. If not, it's

possible the database will be updated soon to show

that particular

IP address as a known spammer.

Mail administrators have

the ability to use SPEWS IP address list in a variety

of ways, from completely

blocking emails from those originating IPs, bouncing

emails back to the sender, etc. There are details

on SPEWS on how to do this. As far as I can tell, none

of this involves genetic engineering, but it's quite

possible extensive programming could lead to a cloned


On the lefthand column of the SPEWS Web site,

there are links to many popular spam filtering and


systems. At least, I assume they are popular because

they look official. For the sake of looking at

sites with interesting names, try Dorkslayers or SpamAssassin.


could potentially help in filtering spam for your

business, but it most likely will not

help in

answering the age-old question regarding who

spoke last in an email discussion. Maybe the answer


never be determined. Getting the last word isn't

worth as much as it used to be anyway. Or, to

look at it

from a different perspective, send everyone in

your address book a piece of generated spam mail.


way, you are sure to never hear back from anyone!