February 18, 2007

+ Addressing

If you have an email account that supports plus addressing, it's trivial to create and manage unique email addresses that can be used for test purposes. Instead of asking your administrator to create multiple test accounts or aliases, simply format your address like so:

...and so on. Neat trick this, however, there are a couple things to be aware of.

While plus sending works with many mail transfer agents, Exchange users are presently out of luck due to a proprietary use of the plus symbol, and will have to use alternate accounts. One easy approach is to create a free Gmail account, which has just come out of beta and is now available to everyone. Webmail accounts like Gmail are also generally accessible from behind corporate firewalls.

Once you have an account that works with plus addressing, you may find that the application you are testing refuses email addresses containing the "+" symbol. Ask your developer to allow the "+" symbol in their validation code -- afaict, there are no security issues with doing so, and not allowing the character may actually result in blocking potential users.

I first came across this tip as a way to manage your exposure to spam. The idea is to use plus addressing whenever supplying your email address to sites or services of unknown integrity. If you use the site/service name as the second half of your plus address, and if that address then becomes overrun with spam, you can filter the account to your trash folder and know who to blame.

Posted by Lewis Francis at February 18, 2007 6:19 PM
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