Avoid spam from your online communities

Avoid spam from your online communities

Whether it’s parenting, politics, or ping-pong, chances are there’s an online community out there where people are chatting about something you’re interested in.

There are several different kinds of communities, including e-mail distribution lists, message boards, newsgroups, and even blogs like this one.

When you post messages to these groups you might also be required to post your e-mail address. Or you may want to post your address so another member of the community can respond. But what you might get in return is an inbox full of spam.


To help avoid spam when you post your e-mail address online, you might want to use a technique called “masking.”

Masking involves inserting a word or phrase in the middle of your regular e-mail address to help foil automated e-mail “harvesting” programs that will send you spam or sell your address to someone who will.

Let’s say your e-mail address is someone@example.com. When you post it online, write it as someone@nospam.example.com. And then add in your message that people should take out the “nospam” if they want to e-mail you.

However, some newsgroup and bulletin boards services don’t allow masking, and as spammers become more sophisticated, their harvesting software might be able to recognize a masked e-mail address.

— Marcelle Amelia

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Tagus

    The coolest method of masking I’ve seen is listing your email as someonegum@example.com, and adding in the signature line "Remove gum before sending. ;-)"

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