Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Disposable Email Addresses: Just a Geek Thing?

I was describing to my two sisters the merits of temporary email addresses over Memorial Day weekend. It’s like using a fake middle initial in your name when you buy things, then when you get catalogs in the mail with that initial, you know who sold your address (always an interesting experiment!).

Web email now supports sub addresses (also called “plus addressing”), from back in the day with sendmail. Yahoo & Google make it possible for you to extend your email address in various ways so you can track how your email gets picked up. Next time you register for something, use “” instead of “”. If you end up on some random mailing list with that to: address, Pottery Barn has sold your list. I should have done this when I registered to vote! Yahoo has a more convoluted method, called “disposable emails,” using AddressGuard, that probably won’t be embraced by non-Geeks.

If temporary email addresses ever get widespread, I can see consumers using it to further identify and opt-in to communication that they want. If they’re getting a Pottery Barn email, and their To Address is “username+potterybarn” they are going to be more likely to access and view. They could inclusively filter select mailers into folders based on the “To” address.

I see on message boards that the tendency is for marketers to filter out anything with “+” in it, as most folks who are currently using this are using it as a manual spam filter, and to weed out the bad promotional lists that aren’t using opt-in processes, or loosely define opt-in. I would like to see some usage metrics on this- if more people are using the “+” sign as way to narrowly filter their email, or if it’s just a geek thing.

Temporary Gmail Addresses
Yahoo information on AddressGuard
From lovely wikipedia on Email Addressing:

Disposable addresses of this form, using various separators between the base name and tag are supported by several email services, including Runbox (plus and minus), Google Mail (plus), Yahoo! Mail Plus (minus)[1], and FastMail (plus)[2].

Great post by Laura at Word to the Wise- wish I’d read it before I posted! Disposable or Temporary Addresses

Written on Wednesday, 28. May 2008 at 01:42 In the category spam, techniques, technology. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. External email temporary addresses are generally more effective (Such as or my favorite htttp:// ). Yahoo address guard feature is nice but gmail’s “+” feature is not so good. WIth gmail, you are essentially giving away your real email address and anyone can write a script to remove anything before the plus sign.

    I have also found that external temporary email address are easier to understand for non techies…

    Comment: Jim – 28. May 2008 @ 10:33 am

  2. Thanks for the link to maillinator, I’ll check it out.

    Comment: banane – 28. May 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  3. There are tons of temporary email services coming and going. I am using for years. Seems to be very reliable.

    I have seen tons of such services coming and going. Guess they have to eat millions of spam each day.

    Comment: Beni – 28. May 2008 @ 6:47 pm

  4. I do this, only I use a .

    I have Google Apps for my Domain.

    Each person in my family as

    And then I have a “catch-all” address set-up to catch any email that goes to but doesn’t match one of the existing addresses.

    In it, I’ve set up filters, so if it sees, it bounces the mail to

    GMail retains the original To: for the purposes of filtering, so each family member can create filters in their inboxes.

    Of course, is also an email address, so I can filter stuff in there if need be and completely protect my family from seeing it in the first place.

    It’s been wildly useful. But I’ve also not had anyone sell or steal my address in the year I’ve been using it, it’s all my older, and addresses that forward to my account that contain the spam.

    Comment: James – 31. May 2008 @ 11:15 am

  5. Ever heard of litedrop?? No signup, rss feeds, easy access, very nice clean and fast! :P

    Comment: wing defender – 12. June 2008 @ 9:45 am

  6. Hi,

    there is a new service at useful especially for e-marketers: It helps to detect fake-email domains. Currently > 1.500 domains.


    Comment: Gerold Setz – 20. April 2011 @ 10:36 am

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