Friday February 1, 2008

Joe Job

Today in a thread on Ask MetaFilter, I learned a new word (well, lexical item): joe job.  That's when someone sends out spam with the return address of another person they want to make look bad.  The AskMeFi poster actually uses it in a slightly broader sense that lacks the malicious intent.

This has happened to me a couple of times in the past, almost certainly by accident—my primary email address is [three home keys]@[medium-size ISP].com, so it's easy to see how a spammer might choose it by accident.

True story: the first time this happened, I was getting waves of a couple dozen bounce messages every night after midnight PST.  Although the spam messages appeared to be from me, I was able to poke around in the headers and find out they were really sent by some randomly-generated address at, a different one every night that was already gone by the time I received the bounce messages.  Crossing my fingers, I sat at my computer right at midnight a couple of nights running, trying to squeak in a message to that night's address that said, "Hey!  You're using a real email address!  Please stop!".  It took a couple of tries, but eventually one of my messages didn't bounce back with an "unknown user" error.  Lo and behold, the messages stopped immediately.

An ethical spammer, or just a coincidence?  There's no way to know, so choose whichever one better suits your preconceptions.

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
09:29 PM in Linguistics , Web/Tech | Submit: | Links:


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"Ethical spammer" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Q. Pheevr at Feb 2, 2008 11:21:52 AM

Scared that if you could track him down, then you could sic someone on him.

Posted by: The Ridger at Feb 3, 2008 5:57:30 AM