Typo traps

People make all sorts of claims about typo traps. One claim that showed up recently was that Spamhaus has just started using typo traps. I asked my Facebook network when people started using typos to detect incoming spam.

Two different colleagues mentioned using typos, both on the left hand side and the right hand side, back in ’98 and ’99.

The point is, typo traps are absolutely nothing new. They are, in fact, as old as spam filtering itself. And as one of trap maintainers remind me, not all of them even look like typos. It’s not as simple as or

I really think that focusing on traps is paying attention to the wrong thing.

The traps are not the issue. The underlying issue is that people are signing up addresses that don’t belong to them. Sometimes those are addresses that are spamtraps. Sometimes those are simply addresses that belong to someone else. Those addresses don’t belong to customers, they belong to random people who may never have heard of the sender. Sending mail to those people is sending spam.

Just trying to remove traps from your address lists isn’t going to solve the underlying problem. Instead, focus on improving your data process to keep from sending mail to random strangers.


  1. John L says

    What she said. It’s amazing (or maybe not) how many people with names similar to mine wrongly believe that my gmail address is their gmail address. And even more amazing is the people who argue with me when I tell them that, no, I did not ask for spam about houses I do not want to buy in a country where I do not live.

  2. Huey says

    A friend has an email address that’s an easy typo away from the email address of a Fox News commentator.

    Hilarity ensues.

  3. Shane says

    I speak with my clients about typo traps all the time and you hit the nail on the head. Verification needs to happen at point of entry


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