Friday February 1, 2008
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 yahoo.com, 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 yahoo.com 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.
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"Ethical spammer" is an oxymoron.
Scared that if you could track him down, then you could sic someone on him.