Ever since your company decided to post its email address on its website, junk mails keep finding their way into your mailbox. The mails come from unknown sources with odd addresses, for example efxssX12@kohotjuu.com addressing you by your full names and asking you to buy one thing or the other. You spend a huge chunk of office time deleting these mails, sometimes deleting legitimate emails by mistake in the cleaning process. Your office is complaining about inability to send out emails. Every time they try, a notorious message: ‘this server has been black listed, unable to send message, please try again later’ pops up. This has been the situation facing many businesses in Africa with no recourse. Someone somewhere either genuinely or out of malice is trying to pass you a message. This is a form of direct marketing and advertising whose effect is to flood mailboxes with spam or junk.
Has it ever occurred to you that you may be part of the reason as to why you receive so much junk? By displaying email addresses on web pages as plain text, webmasters unwittingly expose the addresses to spam bots and mailer bots that crawl web pages to collect addresses that are then used for spamming. The result is not only lots of mails to your mailbox but also your address may be used for spamming - sending mail to other addresses. Your address may then be identified by mail servers as a spam-source and get blacklisted, meaning you shall no longer be able to send even legitimate mails. Your mail service provider could also close your address, which may cost you when reclaiming.
One way of reducing such mail is by using junk mail filters which are available in almost all email management applications such as Microsoft outlook, based on Windows computers (PC) or Mail based on Macintosh Computers. Whatever email application you use, it is possible to train your computer on what action to take when junk mail is downloaded from your mail servers. Using the mail preference command, you can instruct your computer to direct what it considers junk into a junk mail folder. There is also an option of deleting such mail on receipt meaning that you will never set your eyes on any junk mail. One disadvantage with the latter option is that you risk losing legitimate mails, which may be wrongly indexed as junk and trashed on receipt. The other downside is that it DOES NOT STOP spamming using your address.
Secondly, avoid posting email addresses on the internet through any of your company’s website. Simply display your addresses as: info[AT]mycompany[DOT]com and the spam bot will not recognize the address. However, you will then have to inform the less tech-savvy users to replace the words in brackets with symbols.
Thirdly, you could use a scripting language, where the destination email address is well hidden from most spam bots, as it is usually located in a file not accessible to the public. You may use a PHP file, which is primarily used in scripting or a command line interface among other applications. Developing such a script file is best used when involving a contact form.
Proper mail management is crucial and can save a lot of company time usually wasted in deleting tonnes of junk mail. Imagine a company with 20 employees each consuming up to 10 minutes reading or deleting junk mail every day. This totals to around 15 hours a week: longer than a typical 8-hour working day. Put into perspective, your company is a net looser of approximately two working days due to spamming. What you thought was a 6-day working week is reduced to a mere 4-day working week by spam bots. Isn’t it amazing?
By Ken Teyie
Ken Teyie works for All Times Media, Nairobi Kenya
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