Typo Spam Traps Stink, Says Email Agency CEO
By Ken Magill
Maintaining typo spam traps is a reprehensible practice that amounts to entrapment, according to Dela Quist, chief executive of email marketing agency Alchemy Worx.
As reported here last week, some anti-spam outfits have spam traps with common typographical errors in their domain names. For example, if someone supplies an email address with two ls in Gmail.com, that mistyped domain may be a spam trap.
Hitting such addresses indicates the sender is not verifying email addresses before mailing to them.
But by accepting email at these addresses rather than bouncing them, typo spam trap maintainers are engaging in reprehensible behavior, according to Quist.
“First of all most ESPs would not send mail to that [typoed address],” he said. “Syntax errors are some of the easiest to spot. The second thing is even if they didn’t [spot the typo], and you uploaded that email, it should bounce and if it bounces you should never mail it again.”
Spam fighters, he said, “know that syntax errors happen. They know that if they hadn’t created an email address that would have bounced and they know by not bouncing it they’re denying me an opportunity to do best practices and not mail it.
“It’s entrapment,” he said.
If, rather than accepting email at typoed addresses, the messages bounced, “we would know who’s a spammer and who’s a legitimate marketer,” said Quist.
“The only advocates of [typo spam traps] are advocates of double opt in,” he added.
Double opt-in or fully verified opt-in as it’s also known is the email list-building technique where a new would-be subscriber must respond to a verification email in order to be added to an emailer’s list.
[Author’s note: I employ double opt in, but only because I make enemies and must guard against would-be list polluters.]
Most—if not all—anti-spammers are advocates of double opt-in. Many of them claim verifying new signups with a message that requires a response is the only acceptable way to verify that the new address was, indeed, supplied by the person who holds it. They also advocate it for keeping mistyped email addresses out of a marketer’s list.
Maintaining typoed spam traps, according to Quist, “is a refuge of the incompetent and the weak. They finally find an argument [for double opt-in] that no one can beat because it’s impossible to protect yourself against it.
“This argument is the last refuge for the advocates of double opt-in,” he said. “It falls into exactly the same category as me seeding your list maliciously with known spam traps. The idea of setting up traps that would bounce and a good person would take them off because of a syntax error caused at the point of collection, that’s dumb.”