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If you are someone who is very active online, then you will probably know what I’m talking about when I say e-mail validation. The process goes like this: Every time you sign up for a new account on such sites, like social networks, online file storage, forums, etc., they always send you an e-mail that contains a link in which you are supposed to click to activate your particular account. Sound familiar now?

Most of us gladly go ahead and give our e-mail addresses every time we go sign up for a new account on these particular sites, because it sounds harmless, right? Everyone thinks the same and we keep giving our e-mail address out. That is until there comes a day when we can’t figure out why we receive so much spam in our Inboxes. Aha! Yes, as you must have guessed by now, this harmless giving out of your e-mail address also brings along a lot of spam e-mail with it. Excluding a few responsible ones, most of these Web sites and forums will either spam you with their “informative e-mails” or they’ll give your e-mail address out to other similar sites.

In fact, most of the social communities that you sign up for will have the option to send a weekly or daily e-mail, which is defaulted in their settings. They know that most users won’t take the time to change the settings. So, what can we do about this? First, let’s give an example. Let’s say you’re in a situation where you want to access an article on a Web site, but they need you to create an account in order to access the information. You, of course, don’t want to give out your e-mail address for the reasons we discussed above, but on the other hand, you really want to read that article. But then again, you don’t want to go through the trouble of creating a new e-mail ID just for this purpose either. So, which side wins? Well, maybe you can have the best of both worlds.

A service called Mailinator comes to the rescue. Mailinator.com provides users with a disposable e-mail address. You can use this e-mail address to receive temporary e-mail, which is deleted automatically after a few hours. This service doesn’t require any sort of a sign up. It is instantly created and absolutely free of cost. In fact, an e-mail address is created for you automatically as soon as you visit the Web site.

How does it work? Say you want to go to spam.com and access their latest article on alien spaceship sightings. However, spam.com requires you to create an account and activate your account by clicking on the link they send to me in an e-mail. So, what do you do? Well, just simply go to Mailinator.com, pick up a new auto-generated e-mail address and give that to spam.com instead of your real one. You’ll then receive the spam.com validation e-mail and continue from there to access that article that you wanted to read. No need to worry about giving your real e-mail address out and worrying about spam. The mail that you receive from spam.com on your Mailinator account will be auto-deleted a few hours later. Is that cool or what?!

You don’t need to do anything extra apart from this. Of course, it goes without saying that you should not use it for personal e-mail or for e-mail that contains sensitive information. A good time to use this, for an example, would be if you stand a fair chance at getting a free copy of Reader’s Digest just by providing your e-mail address. If something like that comes about, go ahead and make up any e-mail address and put it to the @mailinator.com ending. (For example, yourname@mailinator.com).

There’s also another way to use this service. Simply make up any e-mail address pointing to Mailinator.com. Even if the e-mail address doesn’t exist, it will be created as soon as an e-mail arrives in your Inbox.

There’s no password. All you have to do is remember the fake e-mail address that you provided. You simply have to enter your fake Mailinator e-mail address in that little box that you see on the Mailinator.com Web site and it will show you all the mail that has been received for that fake e-mail address. Remember, this is an open box. If 10 other people use bob@mailinator.com, then all of their e-mails would show up together.

Another similar service is www.10minutemail.com, which simply gives you an e-mail address that self-destructs itself in 10 minutes, which is where their tag line comes from. You simply generate a random e-mail address, do whatever you want to do with it and it will auto-delete itself in 10 minutes. However, if need be, you can chose to extend those 10 minutes.

Again, use these services when you receive a validation e-mail from someone. This is by far the easiest way to get rid of spam. Spammers keep inventing brand new ways of spamming your Inbox and it’s about time we give it back to them by being smarter than they are. Give these services a spin and you’ll see what I am talking about!

~ Yogesh Bakshi