- Munge your address for Usenet posting
Please be aware that munging is somewhat controversial&;mdash;some people consider it net abuse. And it won’t do a thing if you aren’t using a virgin address that you have never used for any Usenet post, mailing list, web site, software registration, etc.
Change the settings in your newsreader so that your email address does not appear in the headers of your newsgroup posts. You can use something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or whatever you like. Please be careful to be sure that whatever you put after the @ is not a valid domain, as the spammers will add this invalid address to their list, and the UCEs they send will go to that domain and put a strain on its mail server even in bouncing the messages. You can safely use “invalid.foo” because it will never be a valid domain. If you use a common pattern when munging your address, it isn’t too hard for the spammers to write a script to de-munge your address. Some news servers will not allow posting without a valid (or valid-seeming) email address in the headers, and if you post to any moderated newsgroups you will probably have to use a valid email address there.
I recently learned that the spambots seldom look for the address that’s in the reply-to header, so it’s supposedly fairly safe to put your email address there. I’m not entirely sure of this, as I know there is address-collecting software that’s designed to work specifically with archives at Google Groups (formerly DejaNews), and I don’t know if that software scoops reply-to headers or not. I’ve stopped putting my email address in regular form in the body of the post, as there are automated methods of grabbing addresses there, as well. I used the phrase “send email to cynthia at mindspring dot com” in my sig line at one time, which seemed to work quite well back then. (If you do munge your email address, please provide your email address in some form in your .sig line or somewhere—it’s simply polite to let people know who’s speaking.) “Munged” addresses truly annoy some people who don’t like the extra trouble needed to reply to a post. If I were seeking email in response to my newsgroup posts, I suppose that would bother me—but I prefer to discuss posts in the forum to which they were posted, so I don’t mind. If you are looking for email responses to your posts, it probably isn’t the best tactic for you.
- Instead of munging your address, you could use a throwaway address to post to Usenet.
Don’t do this unless you are sure you don’t ever want to see any email from someone who saw your postings—in fact, I think it’s only polite to note, possibly in your .sig line, that the address given functions solely as a spam catcher and that you do not read anything sent to it. Most people set up an account with one of the free web-based email services to use this way. I use an address on my domain that is configured to go straight to the bit bucket.
- Use an X-No-Archive: yes header for Usenet and mailing list posts
The X-No-Archive: header tells the scripts for archives like Google Groups to ignore the message so it won’t be archived. It’s an honor system, though—there are almost certainly archives that ignore that header. Since some spammers do harvest addresses from Google Groups, it’s a good idea to use this header. It won’t be perfect—people who reply to your post and quote it, but who aren’t using the x-no-archive header, will cause some of your post to show up in Google Groups. The headers, at least, won’t be there, and your email address probably won’t be there if you munged it in your from: header.