COMP 199
Paper 3


For this paper you will write a research paper, incorperating your own original research along with references to other people's writing about the subject.


The experiment:

You will investigate how companies collect email addresses to send spam email. You will create several new email accounts with free email services (yahoo, google, msn or where ever) and then use each of these addresses on different kinds of internet sites. You will need to keep track of the sites where you used each address and the amount of email that you are recieved in each address. You will also keep track of how many of the emails have attachments and track the types of the attachments.


  1. First, select a notebook or computer program to record your data. Use this to record all information, especially those that you are explicitly told to "note down" below
  2. Use free email services to create four new email addresses for yourself, make sure to use several different services. Do this in the next day or so. Note down when you created each address. Make sure that the address contains no distinguishing  information about you. You will be putting this information out on the web and I don't want some idiot out there to  get any information about you by looking at the address. If there is any spam or virus filtering on the email box, either turn it off or turn it to a state where the filter reports the emails that it deleted for you and tells you why it did so.
  3.  Go online and use each address at a different kind of internet site eg
    1. use one to register at some chatrooms or discussion boards. If there is sport you like, register at the chatroom. If you like to debate politics, register at a chat room there too. Use the address at at least 4 different discussion boards, find a thread to post on that you can post without being disruptive and post at least two messages on each board from one email address. If you get interested in the discussion, feel free to post more. Keep track of how many posts you make, and what days you make them on. (4 posts Nov 9th to is sufficient)
    2. Use one of the accounts to make accounts with relatively reputable businesses like ebay, Some newspaper like the Globe, the Times or what ever, and a couple of other accounts. You need not do business with any of these companies, but login once a week for the duration of the paper writing and experiment.
    3. Use the third addess to sign up at sites offering "free stuff". Don't go for sites that require a snail-mail address as well since I don't want you getting junk mailed because of this experiment. The free stuff can be offers for goods, services or information (e.g "get information about cheap concert tickets in your area here!") Again select at least 4 of these sites, enter your information and wait and watch. Again document when you entered the email addresses into these sites.
    4. Use the forth address for a purpose of your choosing. Select a kind of site or a place that will put the address out there publically and make sure to use it on a fairly regular basis over the next few weeks. Document how often you used it and which days you use it.
  4. At the end of each week, go to these email addresses and record the following data:
    1. How many email messages have arrived over the past week
    2. How many of those email messages contain attachments
    3. The number of each of these kinds of attachments
      1. exe
      2. pif/scr/com
      3. image files (jpeg/tiff/gif etc)
      4. document files (mdb/doc/xls etc)
      5. Anything else

The paper:

You are to write a research paper that details your findings. You will use an outline that is commonly used in computer science research papers (though it is by no means the only one used) The skeletal outline is below and will be discussed further in class:

The paper must be at least 7 pages with an additional reference page. You are encouraged to include tables and charts to more readily explain your findings, however these charts should be used for explination, not to pad your paper.

During your first draft of the paper, you will not have enough information to show the results of your experiment or draw conclusions from it. Just put these two sections of the paper in as section headings and have a one sentence place holder indicating that the body will be inserted later. The remaining paper should be about 5 pages long to make sure that you have a ballpark figure to work from. This draft is due two weeks from today on Monday Nov 21st.