Home / Blogs

Spamtraps Are Overblown… by Senders

One of the fascinating parts of my job is seeing how different groups in email have radically disparate points of view. A current example is how much value senders put on spamtraps compared to ISPs and filtering companies.

I understand why this is. In all too many cases, when a sender asks why they’re mail is going to bulk or being blocked, the answer is “you’re hitting spamtraps.” The thing is, spamtraps are almost never the only reason mail is being blocked.

In many circumstances, mail is blocked because the recipients don’t like it. They’re complaining to whomever is running the filter or they’re acting in ways that signal the mail is unwanted. Spamtraps are often used to confirm blocking decisions, rather than driving them.

When I talk to clients and colleagues and mention that spamtraps don’t drive most filtering decisions, they’re shocked. They are so conditioned that spamtraps are bad. And, it’s totally understandable where that conditioning comes from.

When asked why mail is blocked many filter maintainers will answer “because you’re hitting spamtraps.” The reasons they say this are mostly because they’re tired of arguing with senders about their mail. Spamtraps are hard to argue with. The mail is arriving at addresses that didn’t opt-in to receive it; therefore the mail is spam.

Now we have companies selling list hygiene services which offer to remove spamtraps. We have other companies selling “sensor networks” that most of their customers refer to as spamtrap feeds. We’ve monetized spamtraps. Great for the companies who are selling the services, but what does it get their customers?

Spamtraps are a signal. They are a sign that there is a problem with an address collection process or a problem with list maintenance. Removing every spamtrap on a list will not fix the problem. It won’t even stop blocks.

Blocks aren’t primarily based on spamtraps in most cases. Spamtraps aren’t the problem. Don’t spend time or money on removing spamtraps from a list. Instead, focus on sending the mail recipients ask for and want.

By Laura Atkins, Founding partner of anti-spam consultancy & software firm Word to the Wise

Filed Under


Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet



Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign


Sponsored byDNIB.com


Sponsored byVerisign

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

New TLDs

Sponsored byRadix

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global