Thursday, November 2, 2006

Moving Incoming Newsletters and Alerts to RSS

Spam and inbox overload is one of the unavoidable pains of an active online life, right? Well, not necessarily so. There are a few proven techniques for how to get rid of unwanted e-mail from your inbox. One of them is to be very restrictive about giving out your personal e-mail address, another involves investing in advanced anti-spam filters. But how do you go about signing up for newsletters and other information from sites that you are not trusting?

I am happy with my current setup for solving these problems and thought that I would share it with you.

The service I am using is free and called MailBucket. It is simply an email address with the suffix "@mailbucket.org" that is free for you to claim. Let's say you want to use the e-mail address joe@mailbucket.org - you simply type this address in the e-mail field when subscribing to for example a newsletter. Then add a subscription in your favorite RSS reader to http://www.mailbucket.org/joe.xml and read the incoming messages from there. Of course, this setup does not allow you to easily reply to messages but typically this is not anything you will do when subscribed to a newsletter. If you eventually decide that you don't want to receive their messages any longer you simply delete the feed from your RSS reader. To find a unique e-mail address I am building my username (the part before the @ in the e-mail address) by using a unique prefix, a dash ("-"), and the name of the service (for example joe-bookcrossing@mailbucket.org). You can find out more about MailBucket's excellent free service at http://www.mailbucket.org.

Of course it is not advisable to use a MailBucket address when signing up for a service where a secret password or other confidential information will be sent to you, because all feeds are public and unprotected. For a few months I have been a happy user, subscribing to news alerts from for example BookCrossing and TopCoder as well as various Yahoo Groups. It also automatically provides me with a convenient way of categorizing my incoming messages compared with using my regular e-mail address for everything.

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