For this paper you will write a research paper, incorperating your own
original research along with references to other people's writing about
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
- 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
- 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.
- Go online and use each address at a different kind of
internet site eg
- 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
chattyfolks.com is sufficient)
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- At the end of each week, go to these email addresses and record
the following data:
- How many email messages have arrived over the past week
- How many of those email messages contain attachments
- The number of each of these kinds of attachments
- image files (jpeg/tiff/gif etc)
- document files (mdb/doc/xls etc)
- Anything else
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:
- Introduce your topic and present your hypothesis
- Related work
- describe work other people have done in this field. Show how
their work is related to yours, but how they didn't do what you did.
Ideally you want to show how the rest of the field has done research
work that leads up to your own.
- Describe your experiment
- Show your results.
- Draw conclusions from your results and discuss their meaning in a
- Summary and conclustion.
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.