Note: this page is out of date. The general advice is still valid, but any names and addresses contained herein are likely no longer correct. No idea when it will be brought into the 21st century -- ef

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. Contribute to SpanCon.
  3. Ask your system administrators shun rogue sites.
  4. Ask your system administrators to filter their feed.
  5. Ask your system administrators to use the MAPS Real-Time Blacklist and the Dial-Up-List.
  6. Discuss the subject on your local newsgroups.
  7. Make sure your own site is not a spam-haven.
  8. Complain, complain, complain.
  9. Call the advertiser and complain.
  10. Close your open gateways.
  11. Install wpoison on your web pages.
For more ideas, visit Reporting Spammers - Step-By-Step, 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: a link to the entire law (as passed) is linked from this site (it's the AG site)

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:

You can look up specific laws (Revised Code of Washington) at:

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 has anti-spam rules. If you receive spam, and upon further investigation, find that the spammer has a Link Exchange banner, report the abuse to

Ask Your System Administrators to Shun Rogue Sites

There are a number of
rogue sites on the internet. These are sites from which the largest amount of spam comes from. Your system administrators could alias these sites out at the newsfeed level and make them disappear.

For an idea of which sites are prime candidates for shunning, visit the Spam Statistics page. For more information on how to alias a rogue site, visit's news blocking info page. has an excellent list of sites that should be banned from Sendmail access. See The "LOSER" Filtering System.

See the How-To's list for more information.

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
how-to list.

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

The MAPS (
Mail Abuse Protection System) 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 and

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

Similar to the
, the MAPS Dial-Up-List 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
list of sites being monitored 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):

then your site is part of the problem.

If you find that your own site is a problem site, there are lots of things you can do. First, make sure that your fellow users realize that there's a problem. Many voices are more effective than just one. Agitate in your internal newsgroups and to your system administrators. Ask them to adopt and enforce anti-spam policies.

If your ISP won't change its policies, consider leaving. Remember that your ISP is quite likely shunned at other locations. Your email and netnews may not be getting through, and you won't even know it. Also, your ISP won't be allowed to join Usenet 2 unless it cleans up its act.

Also, your site might be providing a usenet feed to a problem site. If this is the case, ask your providers to cut that problem site off.

Remember: ISPs listen to their customers. If you're a customer of an ISP with a spam problem, you can do a lot to bring about change.

Complain, complain, complain

If spam annoys you, complain about it to the spammer's provider. Many providers won't stop a spammer until they receive a lot of complaints from a lot of people. Don't just assume that someone else will take care of the problem. Sometimes you have to be part of the solution.

Complaining properly is a bit of work. You need to find out where the spam came from in order to know where to complain. Don't complain by hitting "reply" or otherwise sending your complaint to the person named in the spam's "From:" line. This is almost always a forgery and will result in a bounce at best, or your complaint being sent to an innocent person at worst.

Here is a list of the worst offenders. Your spammer is probably in this list:

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 HOWTO list.

There are also some excellent online tools to help you. See the Get That Spammer! web page at and the Sam Spade, Spam Hunter web page at

There are more links that may help you at the links page.

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

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 list of such phone numbers 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 HOWTO list.

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: "SPA can't resist sending spam"

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 wpoison home page and Wired magazine's coverage of it.

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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 for hosting this web page.

This page maintained by Ed Falk