Sometimes someone shows you something so slick you don’t really appreciate it immediately for what it is. Such is the case here. So, bookmark this post… you’ll come back to it for a double take some day. Or Digg it or Delicious it… keep it close. It’s so stupid simple it’s almost elusive. I happened to be participating in a conversation today at AVC.com (GREAT blog btw, highly recommend Fred) and realized I hadn’t shared this little trick. Let alone blogged in while. So, consider me to have fallen back on the blogging wagon with this post.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop one day grumbling to an acquaintance about my email address getting a ton more spam than usual and suspecting it was due to signing up for one of a dozen or more services recently. He said, “You should have appended your email address.”
“Yeah, all you have to do is put a PLUS symbol after your actual email ID (but before the AT symbol) when you register for stuff and you’ll know who’s doing what with your email. If an email comes from someone unexpected with THAT appendage it was obtained… somehow… probably without your knowledge or consent.”
Bullshit! It couldn’t be THAT easy. I need a service or something to do this… I think those were my exact words to him.
“Oh, yes it is that easy and you don’t pay a penny to do it. Helps me figure out who I can trust and who I can’t. Try it.”
Hell if he wasn’t right (mostly). I’ve registered with a TON of third party services since as Gerald+SERVICEID@mydomainname.something… and it’s worked like a champ on my domain, on gmail but not on Dot Mac (or Mobile Me or whatever the hell they’re calling it this year… iMe?) Anyway, point being I’ve been able to isolate some offenders. I’ve been able to prioritize some actions based on the TO: field (AT&T, Apple, special vendors I really don’t want to miss messages from, etc).
Test it yourself. Not all email servers will behave with the + symbol in the ID area. If you send yourself a message with +TEST after your ID but before the @ symbol and it delivers… you’re in tall cotton. If it bounces your email server doesn’t play nice. Not sure why some do and some don’t. That’s just the breaks I guess. But, once you figure it out there are all sorts of things you can do from there. Have fun & spread it around.
If someone’s intent on doing you wrong they’ll be able to GREP that +TRACKING@ element out and THEN sell your information downstream. But, not all sleaze bags are that smart. Trust me, it’ll be eye opening and you won’t have to have a bunch of email addresses to keep up with.