Calling All Spammers

I get a lot of spam, between 1000 and 1500 per day, but I wonder: is that really a lot of spam? I checked the Guinness site and there are no records listed related to spam so that didn't help answer the question. Failing there I decided the only reasonable thing to do at this point was to write a little program, collect some statistics, interpret the facts through a pair of specially designed rose colored glasses, and then draw some questionable conclusions.

Here's the script:


set +o posix
trap "rm -f $tmp" EXIT

find ~/Maildir/.Junk ~/Maildir/.Spam -type f | \
	while read file
		grep '^To:' $file
	done >$tmp

cat \
	<(grep '^To:' $tmp | grep '<' | sed -e 's/^To: [^<]*<//' -e 's/>.*//') \
	<(grep '^To:' $tmp | grep -v '<' | sed -e 's/^To: //') \
		| sed -e 's/@.*//' \
		| sort --ignore-case | uniq --ignore-case --count | sort --numeric --reverse | head -n 15

This baby looks thru my spam folders (Spam and Junk) and extracts all the To: lines (my account is a bit of a dumping ground for email addresses), it then normalizes the email addresses, sorts them, counts the number going to each address, and finally outputs the top 15.

Here's the result for a low volume day:

140 webmaster
75 postmaster
63 bin
59 mailman
58 mailer-daemon
57 root
56 nobody
54 linux-list-owner
50 mail
47 denial
47 games
46 2122179898h
44 ftp
41 sysadmin
40 support

LJ has been around for a while and so we can assume that we are a High Value Spam Target (HVST). Continuing with our Assumption OverReach (AOR) lets assume that each address gets spammed only once per day per spammer, meaning that at most there are 140 spammers in the world causing all of these problems?

This is most distressing, only 140 spammers??? Our universities are falling down on the job. Industry is failing to train new spammers. Old spammers are not mentoring new spammers.

This is a call to arms: Spammers of the World Unite! As a first step I'm going to organize a conference, spam me for details.


Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.


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Announcing SPAM-CON 2008!!!

Gumnos's picture
All spammers are invited. Phishers welcome too.
August 1-31, 2008
Beautiful Uninc Nye County, in Nevada halfway between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park (map)
What to bring
Just bring a tent, a sleeping bag, your favorite products and your best sales-pitch. We'll provide food and water (and koolaid). Really. ;)

Come hear our keynote speakers, the esteemed U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who co-authored the Can-Spam Act of 2003.

Sessions include

  • Improving the grammar of your spam
  • Messing with the mind of a Baysian filter
  • The joy of open wireless access points
  • Beyond email: SMS, text-messages, blog-spam, unsolicited phone calls, and faxes
  • Roundtable discussion on the benefits of natural enhancement methods

To register, submit your email address to our 100% confidential registration process by cross-posting on 30-100 unrelated newsgroups with

  1. your product information
  2. two or more forms of ID:
    • SSN
    • drivers-license
    • government ID
    • passport number
  3. and your preferred form of payment
    • major credit-card number and verification number
    • bank-account number and PIN
    • PayPal login and password


Shawn Powers's picture

Maybe they're just shifting medium... Today, I was inundated with IM SPAM in yahoo messenger. I'd never had that happen before.


Tags: Nazi, Hitler, Godwin, Law

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

Mobile Spam

Anonymous's picture

They are gearing up for the mobile phone market