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Help us get rid of 'spam'

July 24, 2003

When The Herald-Mail first began accepting e-mailed reader letters, we looked at this new technology as a great leap forward.

Readers could react instantly to news stories and commentary, and because the letters didn't have to be re-typed, there wasn't as much delay in getting them into the paper and onto our Web site.

Well, somebody's trying to foul up this good thing. A lot of sombodies, actually. They're people who are trying to sell us everything from pornography to lawn ornaments. And because they don't have to put a stamp on each e-mail, they can send a lot of them very cheaply.

The Editorial Page editor's mailbox once contained 25 to 50 e-mails each morning. Now it's more than 200, and the process of sorting them out has become very time-consuming, yielding two or three reader letters for every 100 sales pitches.

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Some papers have changed their e-mail addresses, but we've been told that a better "spam" filter is coming this fall.

So in the meantime, here's how you can help. If you're e-mailing a letter to the editor, please put "To the editor" in the subject line.

If you're sending a note to Bob Maginnis, the editorial page editor, or Tim Rowland, The Herald-Mail's columnist, put their names in the subject line.

We'd like to promise that even if you don't, we'll still get your letter. We probably will, but the spammers have become adept at putting misleading subject lines on their e-mail.

So please put "to the editor" in your e-mail's subject line. Thank you.

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