08/06 2003 – Spam has become such a big thing it is almost killing itself. Not many spam messages get past my mail.app junk filter today, and when they do, I can almost always tell that it is a spam mail and Junk stamp it (to teach my junk filter that this is something I never want to see again). The spam keeps clogging up the networks, but it isn’t until something different is sent out, like Time Traveller Bob‘s mails where he wants a Dimensional Warp Generator, that we stop to read them, discuss them in web forums, talk about them around the coffee table and investigate what might lay behind.
Yesterday, I received a mail from Jon Etherton in Spokane, WA, who has a quite horrifying point:
Given the low cost of spamming, I’m surprised that I don’t see more political, religious or just plain psychotic ranting in my inbox.
And I guess it has already started. If religous freaks, cults, political niche groups, or otherwhise delirious people would start using spam techniques it would be somewhat harder to sort out the spam from the legitimate mail we get. Especially if such non-commersial spam is as cleverly sent as those from Bob. We can root out html mail, we can set up server side software such as Spam Assasin to block suspicios mail and we kan continue teaching our mail.app or Outlook software what mail is unwanted, but when long text-only mails start arriving using efficient spammer techniques, we will get in trouble I think.
Today, I noticed that my articles about Time Traveler Bob was lined with Google Ads for spamming services and software. My first thought was to block these from my Google Adsense program, but I guess that would be almost as as much of a sifyfos process ass the spam blocking itself. So instead you can just regard those ads as sources to blame from at least some of the junk you get in your mail. It will probably show up on this page as well…
Spam is killing legitimate mailings
Being a CMS developer and also the administrator of a true opt-in mailing list with 45,000 Swedish wine and cocktail interested subscribers I know that many legitimate companies want to use mass mailing techniques for their customer communication. I frequently get questions from companies who own a large database with customers or would-be customers and want to emply my services to communciate with them. My first question is of course if their customers has said they want to receive any mail from them. And, as you might guess, very few companies have ever asked the question. I then tell them about the bad-will they will get by sending out spam, and even then, they rarely understand me. ”This isn’t spam. It’s just news about our products, that we want to send to people who need those products.” And that is what the spammers are doing as well.
More disturbing to me, is when the opt-in mails get caught up by corporate anti-spam software. It’s impossible for the software to tell if this is a legitimate mail or not. Originally, we sent out our mails on thursday mornings, but it turns out thursdays are the hay-day for spammers as well. Some sources say that as much as 30% of all spam is sent out on the night between wednesdays and thursdays. So we switched to wednesday afternoons and friday mornings, so that our mail wouldn’t become invisible withing the enourmous heaps of spam.
So what can we do about it?
In my opinion, there is only one way to stop commersial spam: never buy a product through a spammer! Even if it is incredibly cheap to send out spam, it does take at least some resources and at least somebodys time. The spammer sends out his/her stuff to get a return on his/her investment, and the only way we can get them to stop it is to never give them that return.
I don’t say that the professional spam hunters work is in vain, only that if we, the receipients of the spam keep incouraging the spammers their work will never be truely effective.
Banning all unknown addresses
There is also various mail server solutions that bann all unknown email adresses from sending mail to the receipients. A very bad idea. When I get those requests to confirm that it is I who has sent a mail, I stop communcating. I don’t want my email stored on a server containing millions of valid addresses. And if I would use these, very many of the legitimate mails I get, from friends who have got themselves a new (more spam safe) address wouldn’t show up in my in basket.
I want mail. I want my opt-in mailings. I want feed-back from my readers. But I don’t want the spam. Please help me by not buying anything from a spammer ever again. OK?
Get your printer ink from a known source; stop dreaming of having a larger you-know-what or bugger you-know-what; just stop drinking as much soda and eating snacks and go out for a walk now and again instead of dieting; and contact your bank if you want cheaper housing loans! Get it?