Academic spam is a real problem.  Every day I get many emails inviting me to fake conferences and pretend journals.  This junk mail is clever enough to pass through automated filters, and to fool just enough students and researchers into paying for their useless services — or tempt them into trying to fool employers with a puffed-up CV.

It takes time and attention to distinguish fake from real.  Much has been written about the problem.  The pioneer effort is Beall’s list, followed by other efforts to stop predatory journals and help people choose better outlets. The pay-to-publish and pay-to-attend industry even puts out their own guide to using their services, encouraging people to think and check before submitting.  Some academics are really into this, with fun blogs about flaky conferences and flaky journals, or this fancy Christmas joke.

This year I started building my own blocked senders list of sites that have sent me academic spam.  It’s pretty easy:  instead of deleting the junk, I add the sender to my blocked list.  This takes a couple more clicks, and I’ve ended up with a list that looks like this:

My list of about 400 senders now catches about two-thirds of the incoming spam, sending it directly to the junk folder.  The filtered ones are in bold, unread, in case you want to check what was blocked:

I did this partly for myself, but also to share the list online so others could import and add to it, here:  http://bit.ly/academicspammers.

With a little crowdsourcing, we could all enjoy a less spammy future.

 

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