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Viking-12 Junk E-mail Blocker

Viking-12 Junk E-mail Blocker

If you're reading this page, some E-mail you've sent has been held pending confirmation that you are not a junk E-mailer or "Spammer." If you're just an ordinary person trying to send mail here for the first time, we're very sorry to have had to delay your E-mail.

The Viking system filters all incoming E-mail for the user or site you mailed. If mail arrives from a user it doesn't know about, it holds the mail in a queue and mails that user a special message explaining this.

That message explains that if you're not a junk E-mailer, all you have to do is reply to it with any message at all. That reply will of course contain your E-mail address, and the system will read that out and find any mail held in the queues from your address, and forward them on. In a way it's like a secretary screening somebody's calls. If it doesn't know you, it asks what the call (E-mail) is about.

It also remembers you so that in future when you mail, your mail goes right through without being held. This reduces the burden to normal users. You will get a reply to your reply, noting that your mail was forwarded, and of course you may eventually get a human reply from the recipient if one is called for. You can avoid the reply-to-your-reply by appending "noreply" or "bloody vikings" to the end of the Subject: of your reply.

The program is known as Viking-12 after the group of Vikings in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Spam" sketch. The Vikings sing "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam..." They love to eat up spam, and so does the Viking-12 program. However, we do not refer to Hormel's SPAM processed pork product here, but unsolicited junk E-mail. (Perhaps the program should be named after Mrs. Bun, Graham Chapman's cross-dressed character who didn't like spam, but nobody knows her name.)

What's Junk E-mail?

If you reply to the Viking, you're confirming that you never send junk E-mail, and that in particular the message you sent that the Viking is holding is not junk E-mail. A message is junk E-mail if:

  1. I didn't explicitly ask for it, and,
  2. You are a stranger to me -- I've never had personally dealings with you, and
  3. You're sending it, or messages similar in theme to it, to other people.

Note that it does not have to be an advertisement.

Here are some things that are not junk E-mail:

  1. Mail composed specifically for the moderately small number of recipients to which the mail is addressed. Ie. not a bulk mailing, but a message written completely for the recipients.
  2. Specific replies to public comments by the sender relevant to the public comments, or other material known to be of specific interest to the recipient.
  3. Replies to mail we sent, or mail from parties with whom the recipient has an existing relationship of significance.
  4. Mail from mailing lists the recipient has asked to join and other directly solicited mail.

Examples of junk E-mail include:

  1. Bulk mailings to dozens or more number of recipients other than mailing lists which the recipients explicitly requested to join. The one exception is "personal" mailing lists from established friends and associates, where somebody makes up a list of their friends to mail something like a party invitation.
  2. Mailings where the primary way the recipient got on the addressee list was something not related to a desire to receive the mail. Ie. Mailings with addresses 'harvested' from USENET postings, mailing list messages, web pages, net directories.
  3. Unrequested solicitations for commerce or donations, or unrequested political, religious or other similar writings -- in short anything that might be viewed as advertising or promotional material unless the recipient very explicitly requested it.
  4. Solicitations for charity. We prefer to find and select which charities we will donate to on our own, and boycott any charity which attempts unrequested soliciation.

Don't reply to the Viking if you plan to send any of those. While most junk E-mail is commercial, money doesn't have to be involved. Note however that if money is involved, and you lie and confirm to the Viking that you are not a junk E-mailer just to get your E-mail past it, that may constitute fraud, which is illegal.

Note as well that our system lets users easily tag junk E-mailers that get through, so that your address or site can be marked as a known junk E-mailer. In that case all mail from you will be permanently blocked, and at most one message will get in. Deliberate attempts to get past these systems contsitutes unauthorized access to our computer systems and may be both fruad and illegal criminal computer intrusion.

Bloody Vikings

Mailing lists

Note: If you sent your mail to a mailing list that a user here requested to be on, and got this message, it's because the user forget to record that mailing list as a valid mailing list for incoming mail. Please contact the postermaster at this site ( to get that problem fixed. Usually the program doesn't reply to bulk mailings -- if you got a reply your mailing list isn't set up right or is a small custom one.

Legitimate mailers

If you are a legitimate E-mail user simply attempting to contact us for the first time since this sytem was installed, we apologize for delaying your E-mail. If, like us you've seen the serious problem that exists in junk E-mail, we hope you'll be understanding.

Is this too strong?

You might conclude that if you've done some research to identify the recipient as a valid sales prospect that this system doesn't let you do what you could easily do by the phone or with a paper letter. That's true, because otherwise E-mail makes bulk-mailing so trivial and cheap to do that people's mailboxes get flooded and it interferes with their real purpose. There are inherent limits on outbound telemarketing and even bulk postal mail because of their cost.

If you've composed a commercial solicitation personally for the recipient and not just taken a form letter, then you can send it.

Getting the Program

P.S.: If you are looking for this program, it's not yet ready to release, and it's a Unix-based Perl program when it is. I'll announce it on this web page and my web page when I do.

Anti-spam banner

HTML E-mails

The challenge you got may have given you a warning because you sent an all-HTML E-mail. I prefer plain-text mails, as do many people, and you should never send an all-HTML mail to somebody you don't know wants one. You should instead send plain text or a message that has both. (While that's not very efficient, just about everybody can handle it.)

One important reason is that if you send such mail, and don't respond to my challenge, I probably won't see your mail. Most spammers send all-HTML, and because of that, when I review the mail that was challenged and not responded to, I look first at the plain text mail. Sometimes I never even get to the all HTML mail.

Most mail programs have settings to help you. In Netscape/Mozilla, go to Edit/Preferences, then seek out the "mail & newsgroups" section and the "send format." In MS Outlook, go to Tools/Options, and check "Mail Format."

Find out more

You can find out more about efforts to stop junk E-mail and junk postings to newsgroups at the Anti-Spam web site. There are other systems to help stem the tide there.

You can also read my Essays on Spam.