Spam kills small websites. Especially, small sites that have a modicum of user feedback. Because the volume of user feedback on my site was small, and I’ve had a web presence for years, my site was (and is) particularly attractive to spammers.
They inundated my forum, so I closed it down. They spammed the comment area on my blog, so I have to approve any comments. But I still get so many spammed comments that the real ones sometimes get deleted along with the spam. Since I’ve started my site, I always allowed any email that is sent to my domain to reach my mailbox. Because it costs nothing for a spammer to send emails, even to bogus addresses, I would get hundreds of spam emails to addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Still, the filters in my email reader were good enough to reduce the amount of spam in my inbox to the dozens per day, which I could easily delete.
Recently, however, some enterprising spammer decided to put macphoenix.com as the reply-to in his latest spew. He forged the headers, illegal in America but hardly uncommon, to make it look as though these emails were being sent from my domain. Again, they were all random “users,” like my good friends firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. When a good portion of the spam was returned, because the addresses were false, or the domain had anti-spam measures put in place, it would end up in my inbox. Last Saturday, I had 2000 emails. I had to sort through them, for the needle in the haystack, and deleted the rest. On Monday I had 3000.
I had to stop accepting every email to my domain. For five years, I’ve accepted anything, in case someone misspells my name, which happens constantly. On the fly, I’ve been able to sign up for mailings on dubious sites, because I could always route the made up name into a spam filter. It made tracking those that sold my email address easy, since I know that firstname.lastname@example.org was the name I gave to BMG. But no more. Now, I’d have to sign into my sites control panel, make up a new email address, new password, then tell my email reader to check that account. Eventually, I’d have dozens of accounts, for the sole purpose of making sure my increasing worthless name doesn’t get shared with spamming lists, when my whole domain has been poisoned.
Because of the volume of spam that seeming has been sent by me, my IP has been blocked by certain hosts, so I can no longer grab the RSS feeds for the weather or the Word of the Day. So spam has crippled my site, my email, and my productivity. And I’m just a small, unregarded nobody out on the unfashionable end of the western arm of the Internets.