The Story of "Nadine" -- A Tale of Mailing Lists
May 10, 2002 12:45 AM   Subscribe

The Story of "Nadine" -- A Tale of Mailing Lists This is an account of what happened after an Internet user accidentally gave a wrong email address when she visited a web page and signed up for a sweepstakes. It is a story about how Internet email lists can go horribly wrong. ( Via USS Clueless )
posted by Zool (7 comments total)
The most amazing part of this story is how all the sleazy mailers pass addresses around among themselves. Permission is not transferrable. Even the strongest opt-in permission is stretched beyond breaking the 10th or 20th time a name has been passed around.

Most of the opt-in email direct marketers (*cough* bullshiat *cough*) documented here have long been blocked at my server, due to their abusive practices.
posted by chipr at 2:59 AM on May 10, 2002

What's rediculous is sometimes you get admins or whatever for these guys bitching on slashdot about people who get upset at em. Opting-in on one of your 'partners' sites does not mean 'opting-in' for your crap...
posted by delmoi at 4:11 AM on May 10, 2002

I like it when people do research like this into spam. It's funny to see how things filter through even the most reputable companies (Topica, in this example) and how everyone can get a hold of your e-mail address.

However, and this was also the case when this posted to Slashdot yesterday, 'a story about how Internet email lists can go horribly wrong' is a little misleading. Nothing went 'wrong' as such.. it's just a case of how giving your e-mail address away can result in a deluge of spam.

All of the replies at Slashdot are here.
posted by wackybrit at 5:40 AM on May 10, 2002

This is a fantastic display, and mirrors much of my experiences. Recently a web service I signed up for years ago sold my name to a list, even though I explicitly never gave permission for releasing my name. In a matter of days, i began to get blasted from numerous partners of the original service.

This site drives home how expensive spam really is. You have all the flooded email servers used as open relays, and then all the time recipients have to sort through and delete or deal with the cruft. I would love to see this site presented in a "for dummies" context and shown to lawmakers.
posted by mathowie at 8:30 AM on May 10, 2002

I've had the same email address since 95 or 96...and I can guarantee that I spend more than an hour a week deleting spam. I went on a trip recently and didn't check email for 4 or 5 days...when I came back, I had over 1000 messages...and of those, only 53 were non-spam. It's extraordinary how much spam I get. I have filters out the wazzoo, but without control of the mail server itself, I don't have any idea how to put an end to it.
posted by dejah420 at 2:16 PM on May 10, 2002

Heck, bite the bullet and get a spamcop account -- at $30 a year it's quite affordable, and at least in my case the filters have been 100% effective so far. Those who use it, as I do, generally swear by it. Check it out at
posted by clevershark at 8:46 PM on May 10, 2002

When I was a student at Deakin University many years ago I had the email address from about 1989 to 1994.

I contributed to mailing lists and so on at the time. I had started to receive some spam back then, in the early days of the phenomenon.

In late 1990 I was employed by Deakin to do some work for them, and I was given an email address for internal communications which, coincidentally was the same address I'd had six years before.

Within the first hour of initialising the account I received half a dozen spam emails.

I can only presume that spammers had been sending email to an account that had been dead for six years at the same furious rate.

Of course, if a company can charge money for selling dead email addresses, I don't see why they'd stop. I doubt many spammers have a QA department.
posted by chrisgregory at 2:47 AM on May 11, 2002

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