I spent a while explaining Spamgourmet to some coworkers today. It amazes me a little that more people aren’t aware of it, and that it gets mentioned so seldom in the popular and trade press.

Lots of people understand the benefits of having multiple email addresses; one that you keep to yourself and give only to trusted friends, and another that you use more widely (for site signups and for doing business with companies that you know are likely to spam you). Spamgourmet takes this concept further and allows you to create a basically-infinite number of disposable addresses. Instead of just having one ‘untrusted’ address, you can have one for each skeezy company you have to give a working address to.

This is pretty cool, because it allows you to turn addresses on and off at will. You can have an address that only allows emails in from one domain or address, or only works for a specified number of messages, silently ‘eating’ everything else.

The best part is that Spamgourmet lets you look at your list of addresses and see which ones have recieved the most spam. If you give out unique addresses to each company, it’s trivial to see exactly who sold you out. (Worst offenders: sketchy PayPal clone “ChronoPay,” followed by a litany of UBB-based forums. A plague on both your houses.) It’s pretty awesome to look in and see that you’ve been spared 50,000 spam messages over the course of 4 years, thanks to the service.

Did I mention that it’s free? (Really, no-strings-attached, no advertising, we-don’t-want-your-money kind of free.)

It’s one of the few things that I flat-out recommend to everyone. It really has no downside. It takes a few seconds to set up, and can keep your inbox from being overrun for years to come.