The unbelievable deluge of spam is the hot topic in the tech industry, in the legislature, in the policy thinktanks, in magazine columns and editorials and online forums – everywhere.

And there’s no good answer. Many people are frantically working on techniques to control it. There are online services that will filter your mail for a price. There are software packages appearing left and right that will try to filter your mail on the way in to your system.

But they’re new, they’re unproven, they’re buggy, and they’re typically either ineffective – or overly effective, blocking mail that you want to receive.

Lots of people are trying to think of how in the world a piece of legislation could be put together that might help. It’s one of those problems that looks obvious on its face, but turns out to be very slippery when you try to pin it down. I don’t foresee much help from the legal system.

Your address is being picked up because it’s on your web site. It’s being picked up because you’ve used it in online transactions, or in public forums of some kind. It’s being picked up because it’s listed in the records for your domain.

But – and you need to understand this deeply – you’re also receiving spam that is not specifically directed to you in any way. The spammers are using software that generates random addresses by the tens of millions.

DO NOT RESPOND TO THE MESSAGES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Do NOT click on the line, “Click here to be removed from this list.” They are lying! They have no intention of removing you from anything. Instead, when you respond, you confirm to them that they have identified a live e-mail address – and that makes the address far more valuable to re-sell to other spammers. Every time you respond, you increase your flood of spam.

The delete button is your friend. You might also turn off the preview pane in Outlook until you’ve done a pass thru the mailbox to delete the day’s junk.

And don’t forget to use the Rules Wizard in Outlook to set up a simple rule: After a message arrives, look in the subject or the body for certain words and move the message to the Junk Mail folder if any of the words are there. “Viagra,” “teens,” offensive terms – you can take it from there.

A web site named has some useful advice, a lot of information about the spam industry, and a wonderful map of the relationships between the various companies that are responsible for this unwelcome flood – an incestuous group indeed.

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