22 August
2007

I am regularly contacted by people who want to hide their email address on their web page. This comes up regularly in discussions of web-page policies. For those who are new to the internet, this might be a good way to hide from spammers. For graduate student, professors (like the members of CIM) and software or web developers, there is often no real point. This is because if you have published academic papers or participated in other public activities, your address is probably already floating around the net in quite a few other places, so one more appearance on your home page will hardly matter. For me, for example, the appearance of my address on this pahe adds just one per cent more to the availability of my address.

You can check this out yourself using google. Just search for your full email address in quotes (e.g. "mailme@example.com") and if the number of hits is more than 10, your own homepage is only a minor contributor to the availability of your address. Moreover, your home page is probably one of the most useful pages for it to occur on, so why hide the most useful occurrence? The solution to spam has to come from someplace else.

That said, it explains why I get so much spam. I wrote a program to check the addresses of myself and some colleagues and notable names. Here are a few of the results from google.ca, just for fun.

Note that these are not good estimates of the google rank or popularity of the actual people involved. Bruce Willis (famous actor) is at the bottom of the list, Robert Sim (a researcher) had a comparatively few (37) email address hits, but a google search for "robert sim" returns a whopping 24000 hits; only half the number for Luc Devroye whose email address returns over ten times as many hits. Wozniak is close to the bottom of the list.

' (Addresses have been obfuscated by putting them in the Tuvalu (tv) domain.)
Number of hits    Address

137000 ['xxx@xxx.com.tv']
122000 ['president@whitehouse.gov.tv']
93700 ['abc@abc.com.tv']
44600 ['xxx@hotmail.com.tv']
42500 ['bill@microsoft.com.tv']
21600 ['pm@pm.gc.ca.tv']
20000 ['xyz@example.com.tv']
17400 ['spam@hotmail.com.tv']
14300 ['abuse@aol.com', 'abuse@aol.com.tv']
13600 ['xxx@com.com.tv']
13200 ['abuse@hotmail.com.tv']
12800 ['xyz@abc.com.tv']
10400 ['billg@microsoft.com.tv']               supposedly the correct one
9860 ['bill.gates@microsoft.com.tv']
6910 ['bugs@microsoft.com.tv']
5780 ['senator@clinton.senate.gov.tv']    Hillary Clinton
3360 ['abuse@microsoft.com.tv']
3010 ['spam@aol.com.tv']                             Automated distribution?
1670 ['nobody@hotmail.com.tv']                Is nobody listening?
1180  ['root@whitehouse.gov.tv']              Here's the boss.
878 ['george@whitehouse.gov.tv']             not even the correct address!
712 ['person@example.com.tv']                  not a real address
579 ['george.bush@whitehouse.gov.tv']   it's actually president@whitehouse.gov
574 ['somebody@example.com.tv']            an example of an address
566 ['luc@cs.mcgill.ca.tv']                      one of various notable professors
515 ['tonightshow@nbc.com.tv']
487 ['@dudek.org.tv']
452 ['hottie@hotmail.com.tv']
353 ['prakash@cs.mcgill.ca.tv']
279 ['leo@leoville.com.tv']       Leo Laporte Journalist, podcaster
229 ['sue@cs.mcgill.ca.tv']
220 ['info@belinda.ca.tv']         well known  Canadian government figure
201 ['denis@cs.mcgill.ca.tv']      
200 ['godfried@cs.mcgill.ca.tv'] 
184 ['dudek(various alternate addresses).tv']
167 ['dudek@cim.mcgill.ca.tv']
150 ['hayward@cim.mcgill.ca.tv']   
110 ['jenkin@cs.yorku.ca.tv']            
94 ['xyz@xxx.com.tv']
85 ['ferrie@cim.mcgill.ca.tv']
64 ['newborn@cs.mcgill.ca.tv']
62 ['seinfeld@nbc.com.tv']               Jerry Seinfeld
61 ['tsotsos@cs.yorku.ca.tv']
56 ['@recommendz.com.tv']
43 ['levine@cim.mcgill.ca.tv']
37 ['simra@cim.mcgill.ca.tv']    older address [Note: still effective, as per comment below]
27 ['woz@woz.org.tv']
5   ['BruceWilis@aol.com.tv']      yes, it's really supposed to be legit


By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
Comments
Hey! Who says I'm obsolete?

LOL. My simra@cim address is still active and my biggest source of spam. I'm surprised it yields only 37 hits after all those ill-spent years on usenet.

The irony is that my .forward file at cim is owned by root and I can't edit it or even read it. I assume it forwards to simra@UBC/CS but only Jan knows for sure...

Nowadays, I use throwaway emails for nearly everything that smells spammy. goaheadmakemyday@simra.net has a nice ring to it. :-)

Posted by: Rob at August 23,2007 01:05
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