Industry Terms for Email List Hygiene Part 2


Email abuse fighters use all kinds methods to catch illegal activity. One way to find spammers is to set honeypots. A honeypot is a mechanism used to detect, deflect, or counteract attempts at spam. According to Wikipedia, “Honeypot(s) can reveal the apparent IP address of the abuse and provide bulk spam capture (which enables operators to determine spammers’ URLs and response mechanisms). For open relay honeypots, it is possible to determine the e-mail addresses (“dropboxes”) spammers use as targets for their test messages, which are the tool they use to detect open relays. It is then simple to deceive the spammer: transmit any illicit relay e-mail received addressed to that dropbox e-mail address. That tells the spammer the honeypot is a genuine abusable open relay, and they often respond by sending large quantities of relay spam to that honeypot, which stops it.[6] The apparent source may be another abused system—spammers and other abusers may use a chain of abused systems to make detection of the original starting point of the abuse traffic difficult.” This term, however, doesn’t fit the actual activity. Maybe the word “Radar” would be a better fit. We will see.


Email abuse fighters do not like this word. If you are an email marketer or list hygiene company and state that you remove traps, it upsets the fighters. Not because of the actual word, but rather, removing their work, or eye on the sky. Some fighters create bots that fill out any form page it can find and match the domain to any email that comes from it. If the domain doesn’t match when they receive an email, then the fighter is alerted and takes procedures. Fighters also hide email addresses behind websites that are simply not visible and can only be found if a spider or harvest program pulls it out. The term “trap” most definitely addresses this type of situation, but using that word causes issues. Fighters will not say that they set traps so why are we calling them traps? In their minds, why call them traps if you’re spamming illegally? This is a term coined by emailers and it should be changed. A better word for trap would be “decoy” or “bait” or “seeds”.


Seeds are emails that are being monitored for one reason or another. Emailers use seeds to send their advertisement to before they deploy to their entire list. This is to find out if the advertisement in itself appears “spammy”. All email marketers do this regardless of optin or not. Since there are over 30,000 ISP’s worldwide and each one has a different way of tracking inbound email, you simply are not going to get your message delivered to all networks. Some seeds would be considered bait. Like traps above, fighters set seeds inside real optin email lists to monitor if an email marketer sold or traded their email list to a second/third party. This way, they can justify illegal activity. This term doesn’t match up if a seed was planted on a list secretly with a false name to be monitored for illegal activity. Informant would be a better term.


Fighters come in all different shapes, forms and sizes. They all have an opinion and do not all agree on everything. Labeling an abuse fighter as an anti doesn’t qualify logical thinking. There are some types of antispammers who actually work directly with email marketers to help them clean up their act. Would they be considered an “anti” if they work with a bulk emailer? The term email abuse fighter works well here. Most fighters do not hate bulk email marketing. They just hate unsolicited spam clogging up their servers and network bandwidth. Honestly, the less spam that comes in, the more room for their customers to work, surf and play. Abusing their networks creates animosity towards the perpetrator and an act of retaliation. Abuse fighters are just like you. If you understand their circumstances, then perhaps you would think twice about the way you mail.

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