Do Zebras get more Spam than Aardvarks?
September 3, 2008 3:45 PM   Subscribe

"Analysis of traffic logs (PDF) of email received by a large UK ISP shows considerable disparity between the proportions of spam received by addresses with di fferent first characters."

A quick overview by the author, with a follow-up.
posted by Knappster (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Conclusion: common email names are easier to guess. Am I missing something profound here?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:16 PM on September 3, 2008

I have an easily guessed email address.

I collect spam. I get a lot of it. It gets forwarded and archived on an alternate gmail account. Thousands of emails per day. Every month or so I download it all and "write" it into water using a scanning ion beam. At first the water just started getting cloudy, then black - now it is a viscous, sentient substance resembling crude oil that flickers with light and moves and pulses on its own.

I'm not really sure what it is, yet, but I suspect it's essentially concentrated evil. It whispers terrible things. But it promises me that soon there will be enough.
posted by loquacious at 4:42 PM on September 3, 2008 [26 favorites]

@loquacious - it's concentrated v1@gra, c1al!s, low-i nterest rat es, male enh@ncement pills, x@n@x, bootleg videos of k1m kard@sh!an having sex!!! with farm animals and requests to help the sons of Nigerian diplomats smuggles millions of dollars out of the country xhkjay elevation urgent endtable
posted by kcds at 5:39 PM on September 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Any attempt to block spam by statistical analysis will just result in spammers changing their statistical approach. I remember someone's comment about Paul Graham: He came up with "A plan for spam" . That ended up increasing the amount of spam on the internet by ten times.

of course using an email address that spam harvesters wouldn't 'believe' will help you avoid it, since trying to get edge cases to work is never going to be worthwhile for a spammer.

I remember a poster on Slashdot who actually used the email address 't@cx', and never got any spam.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 PM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

According to this theory, how much spam does angrybeaver get?
posted by lukemeister at 6:31 PM on September 3, 2008

kcds totally screwed up the markov.
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 PM on September 3, 2008

delmoi: I don't think it's a plan so much as an observation.

I have a throwaway address that begins with an underscore. I've used it all over the web for... must be getting on for ten years now. Usenet too. It receives a trivial amount of spam in comparison to my "real" addresses.

I suspect that the lists get scrubbed by poor regexes before they're resold.
posted by Leon at 2:31 AM on September 4, 2008

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