|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2010)|
|Type of site||Disposable email addresses (multiple email aliases)|
|Content license||Artistic License|
The Internet service spamgourmet has offered disposable email addresses since October 29, 2000, as protection against spam. The service is free, and is supported by donations (and until April 2013, also advertisements on the website ).
If a user requires an email address to give to a third party, but does not want to use a "real" account, a new "disposable" address can be constructed on the fly using this service. Assuming the user has registered an account at the spamgourmet website (or an equivalent service provider), emails sent to the disposable address will be automatically forwarded to the forwarding address in the user's account. Each disposable address automatically expires (stops forwarding messages) after several messages are sent to it.
The user can set the default expiration count for each new disposable address to any number up to 20, and can restart the expiration count at any time. When an address expires, messages sent to it are discarded rather than forwarded, and the sender receives no indication that the message was unsuccessful.
After the initial account registration, users do not need to revisit the website (unless they choose to use "advanced" features or change their forwarding address). They can use the service merely by giving out new addresses when third parties ask for an email address. (The service will automatically create the new address when the third party, or anyone else, first sends email to it.) Each user can give out as many disposable addresses as desired.
Each user can maintain a whitelist of "trusted" senders (or domains), and for each disposable address the user may whitelist a single "exclusive" sender (or domain or regular expression match pattern). Messages from whitelisted sources do not decrement the expiration count and are always forwarded (unless the user deletes the forwarding address from the account).
To prevent third parties from arbitrarily creating new addresses that will forward to the user, the service allows users to configure particular patterns that a valid address must contain. (See "Watchwords" below.) Regular expression matching is used for this function.
Another feature of the service allows users to reply to received messages without revealing their true email addresses.
Structure of addresses
Spamgourmet addresses are generally specified as follows:
[ prefix .]word.[ numberOfMessages | expireDate .]userName@spamgourmet.com
- word can be any character string made of numbers and letters. If one or more special code words ("Watchwords") was specified by the user, then the word must contain one of them.
- numberOfMessages determines how many messages will be forwarded through the address, and may be omitted, for the default number (normally 3). The number may be 1 to 20 or another word, the first letter of which will determine the number of messages by its position in the alphabet. If the user specifies an expireDate in the form of YYYY-MM-DD, then the address will stay active and forward all email until the date is reached.
- prefix is optional and normally not necessary. The userName is what was specified by the user during registration. Watchwords, which are not a formal part of the address, but must appear somehow in the word for new addresses, are also optional. Both of these options are configurable on the website.
- userName is the name registered on the spamgourmet site.
Applications and issues
Spamgourmet provides disposable addresses which are also customizable according to user preference. Typical applications for such addresses are forums, software registrations, newsletters and the like. Due to the configurable email addresses, spamgourmet addresses are also useful for routine use when personal email addresses are requested, e.g., by businesses and others with whom the user is circumspect about providing a personal address.
If the user replies to a message received through spamgourmet, the user's "from" address is that spamgourmet address. Spamgourmet also permits users to send email from a spamgourmet address to a recipient by using a code obtained from spamgourmet's web interface, under "send a message from one of your disposable addresses"
As with other customizable or disposable address services, it is possible to identify who provided address information used for email abuse or spam. This permits the user to terminate email access upon receipt of non-transactional email from a business or other email abuse.
Issues may arise in the situations where spamgourmet ignores email at expiration of the address without comment. Also, the service should not be used for important correspondence. The lack of errors sent back to senders for undelivered messages is a significant departure from what is normally expected of the email infrastructure.
A similar error occurs when a user inadvertently provides an address which is non-compliant with the spamgourmet account. Examples include
- missing username
- missing "watchword" (name permitted by the user)
- spamgourmet email address exceeding number of permitted characters (20 per field)
Due to the versatility of spamgourmet's email configurations, it is helpful for the user to send a test message (to the user's account) before giving it out, at least until the user is familiar with spamgourmet's address configurations.
The user can set a number of permitted emails to a particular address. If the number of emails at a specific spamgourmet address exceeds the maximum number set by the user, the email will be lost. The maximum number can be increased, but the user must keep the spamgourmet address list updated in order to avoid email being lost.
The user can set a trusted sender ("exclusive sender") who can send unlimited emails to any of the user's SpamGourmet addresses.
Since the service has over time achieved some notoriety, spamgourmet addresses are not accepted by some Internet services, normally those which finance themselves by the sales of email addresses. In addition, numerous Internet forums with registration obligations prevent the use of spamgourmet addresses, in order to prevent the registration of fake accounts. As with other disposable email services, spamgourmet provides alternative domains for use by its users, some 25 are published, and others unpublished.
Facebook does not accept some or all of spamgourmet addresses. Spamgourmet did have a Facebook page at one time, however it was removed by spamgourmet due to concerns over Facebook's use of users' private information and rejection of spamgourmet's addresses.
Available via an Artistic License, the source code of Spamgourmet is downloadable on SourceForge. While the code is available in its most current state from the SVN repository, the Spamgourmet team has not made a formal release of the code since 2007.
- "pulled the ads". Spamgourmet. 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "they haven't really "performed" very well for a few years."