Friday, June 06, 2008

Gourmet magazine: world's most successful spammer?

There are three classes of true spam, by which I mean spam for which unsubscribe requests don't work.

There's fraudulent spam with fake email addresses. That's 95% and it's hard to stop.

There's political spam with valid, albeit fungible, email addresses. It's legal. Congress always exempts itself from its own laws.

And then there's Gourmet Magazine and Conde Nast. Valid email addresses, but unsubscribe doesn't work. They're breaking the law, but the spam keeps coming ...
Nast and Spam: what's the deal here?

... It's easy to eliminate -- I just block ''. Still, it's weird. I suspect a good portion of the middle class doesn't mind getting spam from Gourmet ...

Update 10/14/07: Judging from a helpful comment, this appears to be a business decision by Conde Nast, not a technical error or a fluke. I think there's a strong case to be made for blacklisting the domain.

Update 1/18/07: I got another Gourmet magazine spam -- but the domain was Turns out this is not a Gourmet spam after all; it's a phishing email. I suspect even Conde Nast hasn't fallen that far. It's a measure of how low they have fallen, however, that phishers are now riding their spammy coattails."
Today they started using I noticed because I had to add that to my 'delete on receipt filter'. (Note to Gourmet, if you want to comment email won't work, your domain filters to the trash.)

So how and why does a theoretically legit enterprise become a unique category of spammer?

It must be working for them. There's evidently something vulnerable about a significant number of people who subscribe to Gourmet magazine (cough, not you Emily). They must be somewhat lonely or bored, and they must be uniquely easy to sell to. Gourmet probably makes a good bit of change selling these email addresses to crooks.

If I were an IRS agent with time on my hands, I'd be auditing Conde Nast. A company that does this sort of thing probably has other shady practices. You may know them by their deeds ...

Update 7/31/08: Phishers are leveraging Conde Nast's penchant for spam and various email addresses, today a phisher used". If you hand out in the swamps, you tend to attract alligators ...

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