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FAQ Entry: Removal, Unsubscription, & Listwashing

Jeff G.

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A mailing list that contains the addresses of people who did not request to

be on the list is called "dirty". Spammers "wash" their "dirty" lists by

removing the addresses of people who complain. This process is called


Also, please see http://www.spamhaus.org/removelists.html for more info on

how they try to get you to help them listwash by using global or unified

remove lists or sites.

As Larry would write:

NEVER unsubscribe from something to which you did not subscribe.

There is no reason to believe that someone so unethical as to

subscribe you without permission would behave honorably with

regard to unsubscription.

No major provider suggests its customer should reply to spammers

but many advise against it.

Listwashing is never the appropriate response to spam.

Some spammers act like they don't understand the concept.

Some spammers test the person who reported spam trying to trick them into

revealing the email address that received the spam.

Some spammers will use the information supposedly gathered for listwashing

purposes to sell that address at a higher price to other spammers, since it

is known to be "live".

Some spammers may actually use an email address just to wash the list, but

even this just cleans out "troublemakers" rather than stopping the spam that

is going to other victims who may lack the technical sophistication to

complain to the responsible providers.

Given the ethics already demonstrated by a spammer, there is no way for the

spam victim to tell the difference, but none of these can be considered


The appropriate response to spam is to remove all names from any mailing

list which meets one or more of the following conditions: no confirmation is

on file; the confirmation on file lacks a unique identifier to guard against

forged subscriptions; or the confirmation on file was given to a different

organization or for a different purpose.

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