One of the key ways I get around the spam scourge is to use a separate email address for close friends, family and important business contacts. I don’t use this address for anything else. As a result, the people closest to me don’t have to worry about their messages getting caught in spam filters and I can easily zero in on the most important messages.
I’ve started getting spam to this address. It’s a complex address, so it’s not really prone to dictionary attacks. As far as I can tell, someone entered my address on a third-party site.
A lot of sites are pushing users to email a link or to invite their friends as part of the sign up process. Some even go so far as to offer to import your address book from Outlook, Gmail or AOL.
Please just say no. When you’re signing up for a service, you often have very little information about how that site will use the data. If you want me to read a story or sign up for something, just shoot me an email or IM the old-fashioned way.
You wouldn’t write your friend’s email address on a bathroom wall, would you? Giving it to a Web site operator is even worse. You don’t know where that address will end up.