Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rootsweb Restricts Use of Your Email Address in Mailing Lists

In several of our classes we promote the use of mailing lists to reach out to other researchers and potential family members. is one of the providers of mailing lists that we talk about. Needless to say, mailing lists have email addresses floating around all over the place and several of our class attendees have expressed concern about spammers getting use of them.

In a recent edition of "Rootsweb Review," that very issue was addressed. The following is a quote from that publication that should put most fears to rest:

"RootsWeb mailing lists use several methods to protect the e-mail addresses of subscribers who post list messages as well as any addresses included within a message. Obviously, when list mail is distributed to all subscribers those subscribers can see your e-mail address and could contact you privately. Since all lists at RootsWeb are closed, meaning only subscribers can post or receive list mail, the lists themselves are safe. High volume address harvesters would not take the time to subscribe to a mailing list to gather addresses.
"List archives may appear at first glance to be vulnerable to the "spiders" (spam bots) used by address harvesters to gather the thousands of valid e-mail addresses of unsuspecting list posters for resale to mass e-mailers. But what you see in the archives using your Web browser is not what a spider would see. Spiders view the raw source code which RootsWeb encrypts. To see how this is done, go to any message in the list archives and right click within the page to bring up a menu. Select "view source" from the menu to see the raw code. Note that wherever an e-mail address is included in a message or in the address headers it is encrypted. Addresses in the raw code look like this:DisplayMail('
"The above method isn't foolproof and harvesters could use means to decode the addresses. Since their goal is to quickly and easily grab as many valid addresses as possible they seldom bother with time consuming processes. For greater protection, RootsWeb uses additional methods to deter harvesters. Notice the word Flybait in the raw code. Flybait discourages harvesters by sending them worthless invalid e-mail addresses. This also helps to ensure they won't return.
"Additionally, RootsWeb watches the traffic of spiders on their servers to see if any excessive activity is taking place. Keep in mind though that not all spiders are bad, you want Google to be able to spider the archives. Suspicious spiders can be blocked by RootsWeb while beneficial ones can be allowed to do their job."

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