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New Firefox extension: Spam control

Tags: — Allan @ 11:51 pm

I have been working on a small Firefox extension for the reason I guess most people do it: to scratch an itch. Nobody else seemed to have solved this problem, and at some point you then have to just bite the bullet.

The problem I have is that I don’t want to give my email address to anyone, because some of the people I give it to tend to send me spam or somehow get it into the hands of people that send spam. LOTS of spam. On the other hand, I do quite like to receive email, and since almost everyone requires an email address in order to send me the stuff, I had a quandary.

The good news is that there are lots of solutions to this; the bad news is that I can’t remember them when I need to give someone an email address. And so I tend to give them the real one, with the result that I get lots of spam.

Spam Control preferencesThe solution I have come up with is called Spam Control, and it’s really very simple. Once installed, it adds a toolbar (which you can disable if you like your screen real estate) and a pop-up menu to Firefox. Whenever an input field has focus, you can click one of the buttons and an email address is added to the field, saving you having to type it or remember it.

The clever part is that Spam Control gives you lots of choices of email address to use:

  • Your personal one. This is the one you don’t want anyone to send spam to, so use it sparingly.
  • Your work one. Similar to the personal one, but at least your work might have a good spam filter. Or not 🙂
  • A site-id one. If your email provider allows you to be creative with email addresses, you can use this. Gmail for example allows you to add a plus sign and then any text to your email address – and it’s still yours. So if your address is bob@gmail.com, then you could use bob+hammocks@gmail.com to register with hammocks.com, and block just this address if it starts getting spammed.
  • A spamgourmet one. This one requires that you create an account with spamgourmet.org, but since it’s free and very convenient, you should consider doing it. A spamgourmet account allows you to create email addresses on the fly, and have each one forward the mail to your real email account. Each spamgourmet email address lasts only for a few emails, after which it becomes invalid, so you can use this for those things where you want to make sure you don’t get spammed after the first couple of emails.
  • A temporaryinbox one. This is another great, free service that doesn’t even need registration – each email address you create (on the fly) lasts just a few hours, after which it’s history. Long enough to get that email confirmation through, so perfect to sign up for lotteries and such stuff.
  • A temporaryforward one. This is offered by the same guy that does the temporary inbox and is almost as simple although it does require registration.
  • One of any other address you might have. For example, you might have a throw-away Yahoo address, or a secondary GMail address that you don’t care very much about. Type it into Spam Control, and it’s available at the press of a button.

Spam Control toolbar

It may seem like a lot of choice, but it takes just a moment to install and configure, and should make it much easier to make sure you don’t get too much spam in your regular inbox. The one you care about, at least, and that is the whole point!

The extension is brand new and I’m sure can be improved in lots of ways. Let me know if you find it useful, or if there is something you think needs to be added!

Download and install the latest version here. I look forward to hearing from you.