Want to be a Homeschooling Contact Person but Worried about Being Inundated by Spam?
by Beverley Paine
You'd like to offer to be a contact person but don't want your email address posted on a website, vulnerable for collection by a rogue 'robot' looking for email addresses to spam. It's a real worry, but one that can be overcome if you take a few precautions. My email address has been in the public domain on the internet for over a decade and, because I'm careful, I don't have problems with too many unwanted emails or sneaky spyware slowing down my internet enjoyment. And my computer has only ever been infected with one virus.
Spam emails are like the junk mail that lands in your letter box. That's annoying enough, but unless you fall for some of the slick advertising copy and send off money for something you don't really want, or respond to chain letters (which are illegal), there is a limit to the damage done. Spam emails, on the other hand, have the potential to do considerable damage to your computer's operating system by downloading spyware, viruses and other forms of malware.
You have two main strategies for fighting spam. The first is to become educated about how spam works. Like junk mail it preys on the unwary. Your best protection is to become aware of the tricks and techniques spammers use to get your attention. They pretend to come from authoritative sites, such as banks or credit card companies, or from websites such as Ebay or Facebook. They always ask you do to do something, and usually ask you to click on a link to fix a 'problem'. If an offer of easy money looks good to be true, it usually is. Some of these annoying emails are organised rackets for laundering money, or designed to steal your bank account details and password. A quick tip is to check spelling and grammar: many of these spam emails have incredibly poor English.
How can you have an online presence as a contact person and stay unharmed by spam emails? Try these tactics - they really do work:
You can also use technology to help filter spam emails. I filter my emails and that's why I only get two or three spam emails a day. Filters are easy to set up and personalize - click the 'help' file in your email program if you have any questions, or search for an answer online. Hundreds of free or low cost spam filters are available. Before downloading filter software check that it is compatible with your computer's operating system and do a search for reviews about it online. Find one that has favourable reviews - you'll know it is legitimate then. Although your ISP provider uses spam filters and other techniques to protect you from spam and unwanted or illegal internet content, you would be unwise to rely on their technology alone to keep spam away.
If you aren't convinced that it is a wise idea to have your email address published on the internet, another way to help new families or share your homeschooling experience is to join an online forum or support group. Privacy is protected in different ways. Some groups are closed and moderated. Most hide member's email addresses, or allow you to set the level of privacy you want. Being a member of an online community of home educators can be a rewarding experience.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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