Chad discusses SPAM in this weblog entry and lists a couple of pretty good services to help block SPAM. I HATE getting SPAM and I’ve tried just about every service out there and, while SPAM blocking is certainly one element of a successful crusade, I find that separation of email addresses is crucial — i.e. discardable email addresses. There are many services that allow you to create discardable addresses and I’ve tried quite a few. The one that I swear by is Mailshell. I’ve been using this service for 2 years now, 1 as a user of the free service and 1 where I’m actually paying for it.
The idea behind Mailshell is that you “own” a subdomain and can create and “delete” addresses at will (I put delete in quotes because deleting an address doesn’t actually delete it but causes the service to bounce mail back to the sender). So, you could sign up for, say, ts-links and you would get ts-links.mailshell.com. When you sign up for a newsletter from ZDNet and they ask you for an email address you can give them email@example.com. Mail comes in to that address and you can send email originating from that address. If someone else uses that email address to communicate with you, BANG! — you know where they got it. Naming follows whatever standard you want cause you pick each and every address you want to use. Make ’em meaningless if you want or as meaningful as you care to get. Me, I try to use the name of the service it’s related to so, yes, I have a zdnet and a cnet and a blogger.com.
Mailshell also has a great feature called “remote compose”. With this feature you can compose email on your “home” account (AT&T, AOL, MSN, whatever) and send it through your ISP to Mailshell. When the service receives the message it throws away all the mail headers and creates a brand new set that only reference mailshell servers — et voila! — no indication that the message originated anywhere other than Mailshell. And if you own your own domain they will, for an additional fee, be your mail exchanger (MX records for the DNS literate).