Occasionally I will opt into a mailing list – but very very rarely will I do so with a real e-mail address. 1 One of the domains I own allows me to specify a “catch all” e-mail address where mis-addressed e-mails will be sent. The most useful part of this is that I can give out an e-mail address of any sort I want @mydomain.com and the e-mail will be redirected to the account I actually check. Later if I discover that it wasn’t such a good idea to have given out an e-mail address like that, then I can always forward all e-mail to that address to trash.
For the most part as long as you’re not giving your e-mail address to really sketchy websites or posting them in plaintext somewhere, I’ve found many newsletters/e-mail marketers are pretty ethical. What’s interesting are those companies that have passed on my (fake) e-mail addresses. What I’ve found is that they tried to market to me at that address for a few years – and then apparently gave up – at about the same time that I began receiving spam to that address.
Which brings me to a minor rant. The company I work for2 posted all of the employees’ e-mail addresses online in plaintext. What a colossally bad idea. Although I’ve asked the IT guys to at some level of obfuscation3 to our addresses, the requests have gone unheard. My work e-mail, which is managed by Gmail, does a pretty good job at catching spam – but this seems an unnecessary step. Even with these protections, I’m still getting phishing e-mails, Nigerian scams, “medications” over the internet, offers to purchase plaques commemorating awards, and all kinds of nonsense.
Uh, yeah, I don’t know where I was going with this one. :)