Q-C Online support pages
Technical support article
Quad-Cities OnlineŽ does not sell, publish, or distribute lists of our
customers, their personal information, or their E-mail address. We
may use your address as a means of contact for QCO related offers and
announcements, but will not make this information available to anyone
else. If the junkmail problems you are having cannot be resolved
using the help and tips below, there is nothing our service or staff
can do to prevent E-mail from coming to you.
At Quad-Cities OnlineŽ, we have a basic junkmail filter that looks for
common spammers and common spam headings. This filter removes the majority
of junkmail that hits our servers, but does not remove all of it. No spam
software is perfect, and therefore we use what he have to stop what we can.
In order to have software that prevents all junkmail, we would have to
block the services of major companies includings those like AOL, Yahoo, and
Hotmail. Doing something this extraordinary would prevent alot of our
customers from being able to send and receive
messages from friends and loved ones who happen to use these other
services for E-mail. We keep our spam filter up to date
with the latest updates from the company that publishes the software.
This company keeps a large registry of known spammers and spam
messages on file so that Internet services like QCO can subscribe to
it and block some of the more notorious abusers.
Because we cannot block all messages, it is up to the customer to
keep track of who is given their contact information and filtering
out the remaining spam messages from their machine. This is not always the
easiest to do as there are many types of spammers out there. Below is a
description of the two most common types of spam.
First, is plain old unsolicited/junk e-mail messages. Unsolicited
means that you lack affirmative consent from the recipient. If you
found an address on a web page, on a mailing list, or on Usenet, you
don't have consent. If you acquired an address during a gift receipt, sale
or trade, you don't have consent. If someone gave you an address for a
purpose (for example, a commercial transaction, information about
your products, or after-sales support) you only have consent to use
it for that particular purpose. Use for any other purpose requires a
new consent. Many people also include messages such as chain letters
and pyramid schemes into this category as well, even though the
sender many times is someone known.
A second type of spam is when someone sends messages (usually in
bulk) to a multitude of addresses. Bulk means that you sent a
basically similar message to a large number of address at the same
time. A message that differs from recipient to recipient only by
details (e.g. the recipient's name, account number, blocks of random
words, characters, numbers, or non-rendered text) is still the same
message. A message that uses different wording to express the same
idea is the same message. Although most spamming is done
deliberately, sometimes it can be accidental. Many times someone will
need to bulk email a list of friends or business associates for non-
spam reasons. Since it is difficult for a server to determine whether
what you are sending is a letter to many friends or actually
spam/junkmail, there are instances where you may find your messages
blocked because of spam related errors.
Because there is no list of QCO customers that we distribute, sell, or keep online
that spammers have or can ever get access to, when you see a list of QCO
users along with your name on a list of E-mails, most of the time that is
because of what is called "Alphabet Spamming". Spammers scour the Internet
looking for addresses to send their junkmail. The spammers then take that
list of people and put them in alphabetical order
according to the Internet Service Provider the customers subscribe to
(everything after the @ symbol in an address). We can only assume they do this
mainly to make sure that they dont have duplicates of addresses, but cannot
really say for sure. They then send out their junkmail and when you get
the message, all the others in the header will tend to be alphabetically right
before or after you.
Many times they even try to put your E-mail address in the subject line in
hopes of grabbing your attention, but mess up and put in the address of the
next alphabetical person from your ISP.
If you wonder how the spammers find you, there are some simple ways
that they get ahold of your email address:
- 1. You have entered your E-mail address somewhere on the internet
or on paper. Any time a website or form (paper or electronic) asks
you to fill in your E-mail address, you are giving them the
opportunity to sell your information to those sending Spam. Do not
fill in your E-mail address on anything unless it is necessary.
- 2. Someone you know has entered your E-mail address somewhere on
the Internet or on paper. It may have been a harmless Refer-a-Friend
program or a funny holiday E-card, but if someone gives out your E-mail
address, whomever they gave it to may have the right to sell your address
to those sending Spam.
- 3. You have a common E-mail name. Choosing an E-mail address
of "firstname.lastname@example.org" or "email@example.com" may be easy for
people to guess. Many Spammers will find a domain and then try
out different common names at that domain to see if they are valid
mailboxes. This is also known as alpabetical spamming. They pick
common words or random letters and then hope to get a hit off of the
E-mail. Picking an address that has numbers and/or is not a common
word, name, or set of initials many times can reduce spam to almost
- 4. Someone had the username before. when someone cancels their
account on our system, the username and E-mail address they had
becomes available for anyone else to use within 24 hours. If you pick
a username that is common, such as "tigger" or "pookie", someone may
have had that E-mail name before and subscribed to lists. If the list
does not remove the name, it will keep trying that E-mail address
over and over until the account is reactivated, whether by the same
customer or a new one.
- 5. Someone has a similar username. If you have the username
of "sam" and another person as "san", they may accidentally mistype
their username when subscribing to items on the Internet. If they hit
the M instead of the N, it would go to the wrong customer. This is a
- 6. You have posted your E-mail address on your personal website or a
company directory listing. If you have a website with QCO, or any other
company, most likely there is a link to your mailbox there. This is an easy
way for spammers to get addresses.
- 7. You have used a chat program that asks for E-mail information.
If you use applications such as AIM or mIRC, it will ask for your E-
mail address. This will become public information as soon as you log
on to their server.
In order to prevent getting junkmail, here are some tips.
- 1. Do not give out your E-mail address unless you know the person
you are giving it to.
- 2. If you must give out your E-mail, get a second mailbox to use
just for that occassion. That could be another QCO mailbox or it could
be a Hotmail or Yahoo mailbox.
- 3. Try to pick a unique E-mail address. Pick something you can
identify with but that is not easily guessible and most likely was
not used before. Try using your initials with numbers, your first
initial and last name (if your last name is uncommon), or first name
and first initial of your middle name and then your last name. Add
numbers if need be.
- 4. Try to limit E-mail address use on the net. Use it only for
friends. Do not use it as your contact when playing games, chatting, or
requesting information from a company. Set up a second mailbox on QCO,
Yahoo, or Hotmail and use that for contat addresses on online forms. All
junkmail will then go to that address which you can clear out and go through at random without
fearing that you may delete important E-mail.
If you are getting junkmail already, there are some steps you can
take to try and reduce the spam.
Although we do have a spam filter on Quad-cities Online, it is difficult to
block all spam from coming through our server because
the spammers tend to change e-mail addresses frequently, don't use valid
reply addreses, and use internet services such as Yahoo/Hotmail/AOL which
all have a valid customer base and therefore us blocking the whole provider
would prevent real people using that service from contacting our members.
The filter we have does a good enough job to keep some of it out, but with
spammers hiding behind different fake addresses and names all of the time,
it is nearly impossible to prevent it all.
If you are getting overwhelmed by email from some type of "message of
the day" or "joke of the day" list that you subscribed to or a friend
subscribed you to, try to get yourself removed from the list. Most
good companies will have a REMOVE or UNSUBSCRIBE option at the bottom
of the letter. It will either be in the form of an address to E-mail
to or else a link to a place to Unsubscribe. If the link or the
address does not work, try hitting your REPLY button and complaining
directly to the person who sent it to you.
If it is a company you are not familiar with, look to see what domain
it is from. The domain is everything past the @ symbol in an E-mail
address. Try sending a complaint letter to "webmaster" at the domain
list. For example, if the letter was from firstname.lastname@example.org, you could
E-mail email@example.com to complain. Most services have a webmaster
account. Also try e-mail to "support" and "info" as well as "sales".
Many times an internet service does not realize that one of their
customers is spamming and if they receive complaints they will take
You might also be interested in the Coalition Against Unsolicited
Commercial Email (CAUCE, http://www.cauce.org). CAUCE helps offer tips/tricks to eliminating spam and has links to anti-spam laws.
As an alternative, you could try blocking these messages from your
home machine. If you use Outlook Express or a similar e-mail client, you can use the Block
Senders feature to have the junkmail deleted immediately on receipt. If you wish to learn more about this feature and how to set it up, open your mail application, click on Help and Contents/Index and then type in "filter" or "block sender" and the appropriate documentation should appear.
You could try a program called MailWasher
(http://www.mailwasher.net). It downloads only the header portion of your E-mail and lets you remove the spam before you even need to
download the full message.
Finally, as a last resort you can change your E-mail address. If you
decide you want to change your email address, you can contact our
office and we can take care of that for you. You also have the option
of keeping your existing address and just adding a second one that
can be used for personal letters to friends and family. Doing this
allows you to still have the old address in case a company out there
still uses it for contacting you regarding purchases online and you
can also give that one out each time you have to fill out an online
form...to avoid junkmail on the new, personal, address.