Kevin Gunn posted a simple email address hack for Gmail users.
He discovered that by adding +ebay after your Gmail user name (e.g. email@example.com) you could create a quick and disposable address for dealing with eBay or Amazon (+amazon) or the Hot Dates service (+hotdates) or whatever.
Replies to these disposable addresses can be marked with a Gmail label on arrival using a filter. This enables you quickly to see all messages relating to a particular service and to track any potential on-selling of your address to spammers while protecting your real email address from abuse.
Simple, flexible, useful. Pretty neat.
After the jump you will find two things that make this an even better idea and one thing that makes it a fairly bad idea.
Two things that makes this hack even better
First, this is not a hack that is restricted to Gmail addresses. It works in .Mac accounts, with my Hawk Wings email address and with the underlying Fastmail address over which that runs. That means you can use it to your advantage even if you don’t have a Gmail account.
Secondly, anything you can do with a Gmail filter you can also do with a
One thing that makes this a bad idea
Aside from the fact that some mail servers will not accept the plus sign in email addresses, one more thing about this hack diminishes its usefulness.
As one commentator on the original post colourfully puts it, “Spammers are assholes but not idiots”.
The simplicity of the idea counts against it; it’s doubtful whether this method provides robust protection from spammers. It is easier to strip out the modifier than to add it, and then sell on the real gmail address.
This is no way diminishes the cleverness of the idea as a way of sorting your email painlessly and quickly.
But if your primary desire is protection from spam, you will be better served by using an alias in your .Mac account, by getting your own domain name and creating specific addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by using a service like Mailinator.
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Tags: Apple Mail, mail.app