// Internet Duct Tape

Avoid Prime Real Estate for Live.com Email Address Landrush

Microsoft’s live.com is offering email addresses, and the usual land grab rush is on to “secure” your identity on the service. What most people don’t realize is that securing a “prime real estate” email address is probably the LAST thing you want to do.

An obvious email address suffers from an insidious kind of spam you’ll never be able to properly filter or get rid of: I’m talking about wrongly addressed email.

(photo by planeta)

As a gmail beta tester I was lucky enough to grab several firstname@gmail.com accounts and a couple of firstinitiallastname@gmail.com accounts. It was fine for the first year, but it has rapidly gone downhill as Gmail has risen in popularity. Now when I check my primary email account I’m lucky if one in four emails were intended for me.

I’ll get university class mailing lists, church lists, hotel bookings, and account signups by the handful. [1] It’s the digital equivalent to rifling through the magazine rack for subscription cards to sign up your ex. Except there’s no malice behind it; only ignorance and carelessness.



jqpublic@live.com john@live.com
jpublic77@live.com jpublic@live.com
johnqpublic@live.com johnpublic@live.com

Possible email address for John Q Public

What makes it doubly-worse is that with many email programs automatically collecting any correspondence to your address book means that telling someone they have the wrong address might be enough to get you added to their address book forever. If you choose an email address with your last name, chances are that the people emailing you might have the same last name — automatic address collection means that you’ll be on the receiving end of each other’s Christmas newsletters for who knows how long.

I know I sound ridiculous, but you really can’t appreciate the number of similar email accounts on services like @gmail, @hotmail, @yahoo and now @live until you get a popular email address and start seeing the effect of several people who give out the wrong account name — yours.

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[1] And out of all those wrongly addressed emails there was only one mis-sent dirty letter.

43 Responses

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  1. Ross said, on November 07, 2007 at 4:14 am

    That and spamming software. Most of it assumes that if jdoe@hotmail.com exists, so does jdoe@yahoo, jdoe@gmail, jdoe@live etc. So all it takes is someone to have had that address w/ another popular service, and you’ll get “their” spam.

  2. Michael Woo said, on November 07, 2007 at 11:02 am

    There’s another email rush to register again huh?

  3. engtech said, on November 08, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    @Michael Woo:

    Yeah, there’s always another one. I’m happy with gmail though, so I don’t think I’m going to bother. I think I’ve finally realized that I have too many email accounts to maintain.

  4. engtech said, on November 08, 2007 at 5:36 pm


    Very good point that I forgot. That’s also the cause of some of the misdirected emails. People type out the account name, but leave out the domain. So their email to hawtdood@hotmail.com goes to hawtdood@gmail.com instead.

    What’s funny is all these “fake” email addresses we’re posting probably belong to someone — and these email addresses are being harvested by spam bots as we speak.

  5. David Bradley said, on November 13, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Here’s a little tip for anyone outside the live.com area who would prefer to be @live.com as opposed to, e.g. @live.co.uk


  6. Alex said, on November 15, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    ReachBy.com is a website where one can create a clean online address, something like yourname.reachby.com and share it instead of email. This is like online business card that has contact form with spam protection.

  7. Veky said, on January 20, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    [1] Gmail has a “feature” that almost guarantees even more spam for a prime real estate email address: address matching. If jpublic77@gmail.com doesn’t exist then the email will go to jpublic7@gmail.com (or jpublic@gmail.com — you get the idea).

    It doesn’t, of course. Read about “plus addresses” a bit more carefully.

  8. engtech said, on January 21, 2008 at 11:17 am

    @ Veky:

    I stand corrected. What through me off was spammers who must have put in the a variation of my email address in the To field, with the correct email address in a BCC.

    I tested it out and the only address matching that works is + and .

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