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Monday, August 29, 2005


MAILINATOR: Great Temp-Email Solution to Avoid Spam

I just discovered this free service called Mailinator; they provide users with free temporary email addresses -- a web based solution to getting email you don't need to keep forever, in a safe spam-free way. Its main appeal: a way to avoid spam and stay incognito while safely getting email from someone you just met, or from a business you don't know that much about.

Go to www.mailinator.com for more info, but here are the basics of how it works:

Say someone you meet (in the real world, or online) wants to email you something. If so, make up a Mailinator address on the spot, that you can remember, like, for example, peachy@mailinator.com . Give that out. Now, if someone sends you email at that address, an emailbox is created for FREE at Mailinator, which holds the email for you to read. When you go to the Mailinator website, you would type "peachy" in the proper field, and voila, you are sent to that temporary "peachy" mailbox to see your email. Any mail you receive is stripped of images, scripts, etc, it just appears as text. Your email eventually gets auto-deleted, after a few hours.

The key here is that you can just make up the mailbox name ON THE SPOT and give it out immediately; with Yahoo or Hotmail or other free web email, you have to register online and THEN you can give out the address to people. With Mailinator, you can give out the address FIRST, and then LATER it is created automatically for you. And, Mailinator asks NO info about you, you stay totally anonymous.

Their website says Mailinator was "created out of frustration over spam" and is "a spam solution that approaches the problem differently. It focuses on only one niche of the spam problem. However, what it does, it does well. Mailinator solves the problem of handing your email out to just anyone. You've always got a new spam-free email address ready-and-waiting." Mailinator is designed for folks who "need an email address right now ... that they know they won't need later." The site summarizes its appeal well: "It's free, never asks anything about you and is always ready to go. It fills a real gap. ...Mailinator lets you choose who you are."

The only possible problem I see: what if someone ELSE is using the name you come up with for your emailbox? One solution: always use a name that is either wacky or complex or both, and easy for YOU to remember -- a combo of letters and numbers meaningful to you. That should, I believe, solve this one potential issue.


Mailinator is, of course, not a perfect catch-all solution, just one way to avoid spam and get temporary email in an easy way. See the FAQ section on the Mailinator site for more details (one of the funniest FAQs I've ever read, as you can see from this brief snippet):

So if the government issued a subpeona to Mailinator to divulge emails or logs, you'd rat me out?
Holy crap, yes. I'm not going to jail for you, I have a boyish face and very, very supple skin.
....We think Mailinator provides pretty decent privacy, and we want to keep providing that and even improve it, but we can't promise it. A promise would require lawyers, money, and probably guns - and we don't have any of those.

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