Address Munging FAQ:
Spam-Blocking Your Email Address

This FAQ is intended to be a concise discourse on "spam-blocking". Otherwise known as "munging", or breaking one's email address, this is usually done when posting to Usenet, for the purposes of avoiding junk email. An equally important purpose for this FAQ is to suggest ways to mung that minimize possible damage to third parties.

Contact the author/maintainer: emailfaq@aol.com


DISCLAIMER:

This document reflects the opinions of the author. This document is provided "as is" without any express or implied warranties.  While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author/maintainer and/or contributors assume(s) no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.


Table of Contents

1. Table of Contents

2. Basics
2a. Who is responsible for this FAQ?
2b. What is the purpose of this FAQ?
2c. When was this FAQ last updated?
2d. Where can I get it?
2e. Credits & Contributors

3. Definitions
3a. What does 'spam-blocking' or 'address munging' mean?

4. Actions
4a. Why should I mung my address?
4b. Why should I NOT mung my address?
4c. How should I mung my address?
4d. How should I NOT mung my address?
4e. If I mung, when should I be sure to use my REAL address?
4f. What else can I do besides munging to avoid junk email?
      (AOL members can try this)


2. Basics

2a. Who is responsible for this FAQ?

WD Baseley. Use emailfaq@aol.com to contact the author regarding this FAQ.

2b. What is the purpose of this FAQ?

This FAQ is intended to be a concise discourse on "spam-blocking". Otherwise known as "munging", or breaking one's email address, this is usually done when posting to Usenet, for the purposes of avoiding junk email. An equally important purpose for this FAQ is to suggest ways to mung that minimize possible damage to third parties. The author further intends that the FAQ be presented in a fashion that can be understood without need of a doctorate in computer science; those desiring more depth and/or technical information are referred to the sources listed in the the Email Abuse Resource List.

2c. When was this FAQ last updated?

December 14, 1997.

2d. Where can I get it?

This FAQ will be posted to news.admin.net-abuse.email once per month. The latest version is always available at:
URL: http://members.aol.com/emailfaq/mungfaq.html
TEXT: ftp://members.aol.com/emailfaq/mungfaq.txt
It will also be posted to other newsgroups, not all of which are known as of now.

2e. Credits & Contributors

The genesis of this FAQ was Gregory Byshenk's FAQ titled, "Help! I've Been Spammed! What do I do?" Sundry other folk who have discussed, harangued, badgered, cajoled, and otherwise assisted in bringing it to its present state, are held in grateful regard by the author.


3. Definitions

3a. What does 'spam-blocking' or 'address munging' mean?

Both terms refer to the same thing - from this point on, the author will use only the 'munging' term to refer to the practice.

Address munging is the act of modifying one's email address so that email sent to that address will not be delivered to the person doing the modifications. Typically, this is done in posts to Usenet, in order to avoid receiving unsolicited commercial/bulk email (UCE/UBE).
The Jargon File defines 'mung' as `Mash Until No Good', probably originating at MIT; sometime later the recursive acronym `Mung Until No Good' became popular. It means 'to make large changes to a file', or 'to destroy data either accidentally or maliciously'. It was probably derived from 'munge', which is why you will see both words used to describe the practice. Then of course there are the Chinese beans.


Subject: 4. Actions

4a. Why should I mung my address?

Junk emailers "harvest" email addresses from Usenet posts. Most address harvesting software used by junk emailers does not discriminate; anything with an '@' sign is considered an address. By changing what appears in the From: and/or Reply-To: headers of Usenet posts, the amount of unsolicited bulk/commercial email (UBE/UCE) received drops considerably.

4b. Why should I NOT mung my address?

(It should also be noted that munging does not automatically cause messages to bounce back to junk emailers; if you are considering munging for this reason, you would not accomplish your goal. Also, depending on what and where you post, a junkster *may* take the time to manually de-mung your address, just for spite.)

4c. How should I mung my address?

IMPORTANT! Make sure that modifications to your email address do not violate any of the policies of your service provider!

NOTE:  DO NOT put a directly usable address in your sig, because many harvesters collect everything with an @ sign in it.
DO: "Send email to myrealname; ISP is example DOT com"
DON'T: "Real address is myrealname@example.com"

4d. How should I NOT mung my address?

IMPORTANT! Do not make up domain names! Most of them actually exist, and your fakery could cause them a lot of woe. Certain domains are already virtually useless because of folks using them in mungs and forgeries.
DON'T: yourname@NOSPAM.com
DON'T: yourname@your-isp.ORG (instead of COM)

4e. If I mung, when should I be sure to use my REAL address?

4f. What else can I do besides munging to avoid junk email?

NOTE: Usenet conventions allow topical replies to posts, so if you choose this you should include a usable address somewhere in the message.
AOL members: as of this writing, AOL software does not allow munging of addresses in Usenet posts. A possible solution:

End of the Address Munging FAQ


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