Banish Foreign Language Email Spam

Can't read Kanji? Sick of Slovenian spam? Mailwasher lets you automatically filter and bounce email messages based on the character set they're written in.

Mailwasher is an email "preprocessor" that I've written about before. It's a tool that I find indispensable in helping to manage the torrents of email I receive, and it's especially useful for eliminating spam.

This tip is for Mailwasher users -- if you don't currently use the program, check out the profile I wrote about it (link below) and consider giving it a try.

After you've used Mailwasher for a while, it builds up your own personal blacklist for spammers, automatically bouncing email from known spammers who've previously sent you unwanted mail. A little known feature also allows you to preemptively filter out messages written in languages you don't read or understand -- virtually all of which are spam anyway.

Here's how to do it: When Mailwasher displays the headers of a language you don't recognize and want to block, double-click on the "subject" heading in the Mailwasher panel. The message is displayed, along with a box to "display the full header and message source."

Check this box. Somewhere in the header you'll see the word 'charset' followed by an equals sign and either the name of a language or a character code set. Highlight and copy the full 'charset="whatever"' text, and close the message.

Next, using Mailwasher's "Tools" menu, select "Options." Click on the "Filters" tab, then click "Add."

Using the first "Rules" drop down box, select "The Entire Header" and paste the 'charset="whatever"' text into the text box (don't change the "contains" rule). Then, depending on how annoyed you are with spam in that language, tick the boxes to "add to blacklist," "mark for deletion," or "mark for bounce." Click "OK" to save the filter.

That's all there is to it, allowing you to bid hasta la vista to all that spam that's just Greek (or whatever) to you.


Nuke That Spam!
SearchDay, Apr. 3, 2002
Mailwasher is a simple yet elegant email "preprocessor" that helps manage torrents of email and can even turn the tables on pernicious spammers -- sweet revenge!

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.