Green Midget Cafe
Oake Communications

This is our anti-spam section, which we update each month with advice, spam stories, anti-spam products, and more. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for items to include, please let us know.

Why the strange title? The Green Midget cafe, Bromley was the fictional location for Monty Python's famous sketch* in which a group of Vikings drown out all other communication by loudly singing their "spam" song. The term "spam" for unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) has been adopted because UCE similarly threatens to drown out legitimate communication on the Internet. It has nothing to do with the famous luncheon meat, which is extremely delicious, and which in any case should be written in capitals.

On a more serious note, spam is extremely annoying and is only used by amateur or incompetent marketeers. Acceptable, permission-based e-mail marketing is a valid communications medium however. In fact, advising our clients on its effective and professional use is one of our services.

So what can we do to reduce the amount of spam we receive? Oake Communications thoroughly recommends SpamCop. They provide a great service that helps victims of spam punish perpetrators for sending them their junk mail. SpamCop complains to the spammer’s Internet provider or system administrator on your behalf. It does take a minute to copy and paste the spam message with its full header into the box on the SpamCop website, but within seconds you’re provided with detail of who was behind the spam you were sent and are offered a number of reporting options. The minute’s investment is not only rewarded by being ableSpamCop to get back at the abuser, but it’s also been our experience that the volume of spam received is reduced enormously. Once you register with them, you may use their reporting system for free or pay a small fee to remove banner ads and delays from the reporting process.

Spammers reported by SpamCop often lose their accounts and even get charged "cleanup fees" by their Internet providers. In addition, reporting spam to SpamCop results in blacklisting the sites responsible for allowing it to be sent. Unfortunately, life is still too easy for the spammer. They sign up with new accounts as fast as they’re shut down. As the people at SpamCop say: “By reporting spam, you can help to turn the tide. SpamCop makes this otherwise slow and technical task quick and easy.”

One of a number of ways in which spammers collect e-mail addresses is by taking them from website pages. An obvious strategy for foiling this is Monty Python and spamnot to include any e-mail addresses on your website. This works of course, but it also defeats the main reason for which most people set up a website in the first place. Some webmasters and mistresses adopt a slightly less drastic approach by showing addresses as 'monty at' rather than

This means that visitors who wish to send Monty an e-mail will have to note his address and enter it correctly in their e-mail program. Making a small graphic of the e-mail address also works, but not if the graphic is linked to a "mailto:" address, because the full address in the link will also be picked up by spammers. An inexpensive program called 'Spam Vaccine' neatly deals with this problem.

By the way, don’t visit expecting to find SpamCop. This page will lead you to a site marketing anti-spam software for AOL, Outlook and Outlook Express users for $29.95 a pop. It's called 'Spam Inspector' and might work fine, but their use of the spamcop name to get you to their site might make you a tad suspicious.

Other anti-spam / spam-filtering programs include:

- SpamKiller from McAfee

- Windows only & $ 39.95

- MailWasher from New Zealander Nick Bolton

- Windows only, but freeware

- SpamEater from High Mountain Software

- Windows only, but both freeware and ‘pro’ versions, and offers integration with SpamCop

- Email Control (EmC) from Brazilians @breuRetto Consultores Associados

- Windows only, but freeware

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