When my wife and I were first dating about 11 years ago, I was like any other guy in my efforts to impress her with my superior knowledge of everything. Name a topic and I had all the answers and when I didn't have a clue, I faked it. I once told her that sandals have a built up ridge just behind where your toes lie to give you a solid base to propel your forward movement. I backed up that claim with a brief discussion on the physics of walking and finally, when I had painted myself into a corner so to speak, I confessed that I had no idea why there was a ridge in a sandal and everything I had said was bull. This became known as The Shoe Thing around our house.

I have been telling my clients for many years that if you block or reply to "Spam" in an effort to get off a list, it will create a lot more Spam than you had bargained for. Spammers have banks and banks of computers sending their junk to every possible e-mail address the computers can generate. Granted, 99 percent of the e-mail addresses are invalid, but they are unconcerned about the invalid ones. They are looking for the ones that get delivered and those that generate a response; any response. A "Block" is great; a "Click here to remove" is golden; a reply asking to be taken off the list. All of these are instant money to spammers. They tell the spammer that the e-mail address is valid. They can, and do, sell e-mail lists to other spammers.

Mailing lists are huge business. I get offers (Spam) every day for mailing lists of doctors, nurses, golfers, about every occupation and section of our culture you can list. These are validated e-mail addresses that actually work. So what jerk volunteered for these lists, you might ask? You, if you blocked, "Clicked here to remove," replied or did anything but delete.

"So is this blocking senders speech you give, just another ‘Shoe Thing,' Mike"? Recently I started sending out periodic newsletters to my computer clients. These are clients and friends who have expressed an interest in getting a monthly e-mail filled with random thoughts and occasionally a useful tip on computers. I use a service that has a tracking feature similar to what any spammer uses, except probably way less sophisticated than the spammers. On a recent mailing, I got a report saying one of the newsletters had been blocked as "Spam." At first I was a bit disappointed that someone would consider my newsletter Spam, but then it occurred to me that this was an example of what I have been saying for a long time about deleting unwanted e-mails and how these spammers get your e-mail address. This proved my blocking sender's theory was not a Shoe Thing. Had I been a spammer and had randomly generated your e-mail address with my computer and you had blocked my newsletter, I would have added your e-mail address to the "Clean List." This is a list of verified e-mail addresses that are compiled and sold to other spammers for big bucks. This proved my Spam theory.

So when you get Spam, there really is only one way to safely dispose of it; delete it. By the way, if you want to either get on my newsletter list or get off it, please e-mail me. Don't block me.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.


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