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[P]
Spam: Some people still Just Don't Get It

By Erbo in Internet
Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:15:07 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Barry Dennis, president of NetWeb, an Internet and offline marketing/PR agency, has written a piece for C|NET entitled "Why I love spam." Unfortunately, Mr. Dennis has completely missed the point as to why so many of us are annoyed--even infuriated--by the deluge of spam arriving in our in-boxes every day.


Quoting Mr. Dennis:
So, what's the big deal about spam? I think a few well-meaning but uninformed politicians and advocacy groups have decided what's good for us, and in their zeal, they are trying to establish a new and unwarranted benchmark for the marketing channel we call the Internet, and for one of its components: e-mail.

We really have to fight this intrusion. E-mail is no less commercial speech than other forms of communication; e-mail is a new and--in some cases--a better way of quickly identifying, qualifying and servicing customers.

Leaving aside for the moment the condescending nature of his characterization of anti-spam activists, let's examine the origin of Mr. Dennis' perceptions. His background is in the direct-marketing and mail-order business, and he sees spam as the modern-day equivalent of junk mail. This comparison falls flat in a number of ways.

First of all, there is a vastly lower barrier to entry for spam than there is for junk mail. A company doing a direct-mail advertisement has to physically print all those advertisements, and spend the money on postage required for them to be delivered through the mails...and these costs go up linearly as the number of advertisements increases. A company engaging in spam advertising, however, incurs no printing or mailing costs, just charges for Internet service, which tend to be fairly constant even as the number of advertisements multiplies. (This is true in the United States, less so elsewhere, but the marginal costs are still vastly lower.)

This makes spamming a much more attractive proposition for the kind of businesses usually labeled "fly-by-night," who would not normally be inclined to launch a direct-mail advertisement campaign for their dubious wares (whether due to the cost, or other reasons). This is also supported by the major categories of spam E-mail messages, which are:

  • Tools and mailing lists for generating more spam
  • Pornographic advertisements (to his credit, Mr. Dennis doesn't appreciate those)
  • Get-rich-quick scams: multi-level marketing, "debt relief," etc.
  • Products that almost certainly wouldn't live up to their claims if investigated by the FTC or Consumer Reports. Many of these are medical or health-related: human growth hormones, penis enlargers, diet drugs, etc.
  • Related to the above, advertisements offering easy ways to get access to prescription drugs such as Viagra without a doctor's prescription (which is illegal under US law, and no doubt under the laws of many other countries)
The fact that the number of would-be scam artists vastly outnumber the legitimate companies that might choose to use E-mail advertising virtually guarantees that Internet users will soon find themselves awash in spam.

Not only that, the expensive nature of direct-mail campaigns will encourage marketers using this form of advertising to closely "target" their advertising to their intended audience. For example, since I live in an apartment, I am unlikely to get direct-mail advertisements for roof repair, driveway maintenance, or other such products and services geared to homeowners. However, since I have subscribed to computer-related magazines and registered a number of commercial software products, I will get things in the mail like Dell catalogs. This incentive to target specific groups is nearly nonexistent for E-mail spammers, who will often send their junk to as many valid E-mail addresses as they can find, with little or no attempt to determine if their message is even appropriate. As an extreme example, I have personally received spam messages written in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean, none of which I speak or read. (In fact, my E-mail reader can't even display the Chinese and Korean messages properly.) Whatever message those E-mails intended to convey was completely wasted on me.

Mr. Dennis suggests that the Direct Marketing Association, or the Internet Advertising Bureau, or another such association could establish an "opt-out" list for E-mail, similar to the one the DMA maintains for direct mail advertisements. That might help, at least with advertisements coming from legitimate companies. But the "fly-by-night" purveyors are unlikely to be members of any of these organizations, and even less likely to honor any such "opt-out" list. And, since the shady characters far outnumber the people playing by the rules, the net effect would be a negligible drop in the total amount of spam in circulation.

Mr. Dennis also conveniently ignores the fact that, with E-mail, the primary cost of delivery is to the recipient, not the sender. This is more true in countries outside the US, where local phone calls, and hence Internet access, are often metered; still, the cost in time of downloading 50 E-mail messages, 40 of which are worthless spam (the equivalent of Mr. Dennis' "recyclable materials" in the junk-mail world) should be considered. (Specialty E-mail providers, such as wireless networks, may also impose per-minute or per-kilobyte charges for downloading E-mail.) Receiving advertising I don't want is already annoying enough; being forced to pay for receiving advertising I don't want is something else again.

In addition, many providers impose fixed-size limitations on E-mail boxes. With postal mail, if your mailbox fills up with incoming mail, the post office will take appropriate action, such as holding your excess mail at the post office for later pick-up. E-mail servers, however, will either bounce or discard mail that can't be delivered to a full mailbox, meaning that important messages may be lost. If I am, for any reason, unable to log on for several days, my mailbox could easily overflow with spam, and people attempting to send me important messages would have no recourse. In addition, if I subscribe to mailing lists that start receiving "bounce messages" because of the spam choking my in-box, they may choose to silently drop my subscription--an effective "denial of service attack" on the part of the spammers.

No discussion of spam would be complete without an examination of the underhanded tactics used by spammers to push out their "information and opportunities that e-mail marketing provides" (as Mr. Dennis puts it). Spammers "scrape" many E-mail addresses from Web sites, Usenet posts, and instant-messaging systems, making anyone participating in online discourse a potential target for unsolicited E-mail. They put bogus "removal instructions" in their messages, which merely serve to confirm the "live" status of an E-mail address, making it more valuable as a spam target. They hijack third-party servers, use throwaway ISP accounts, and employ other dirty tricks to get their spam in circulation, many of which can be construed as "theft of service." They label their messages with misleading Subject: lines and senders, in order to fool message filters. They forge their return addresses, making it difficult to trace the origins of messages. Many of these tactics, if tried using ordinary postal direct-mail advertising, would quickly bring about charges of mail fraud.

It has only been within the past couple of years that lawmakers have started to realize the greater potential that E-mail marketing has for these kinds of abuse, and hence the greater protection that is required for consumers. Mr. Dennis would have us throw that all away in the name of the spam he loves. He suggests that those of us who receive spam we don't like just "hit Delete."

Well, Mr. Dennis, my Delete key is getting pretty worn by now. I employ two independent spam-filtering systems for my incoming E-mail (a commercial service through my ISP, and a procmail-based solution for mail downloaded to my workstation), and still some spam messages make it into my in-box. Changing my E-mail address is not an option; it would disrupt my communications and my life to no end at this point. And I know I'm not alone.

Tell you what, Mr. Dennis: give me your E-mail address, and I'll just forward all my spam to you, since you seem to like it so much. No? Unacceptable, you say? Then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to force it on the rest of us.

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Poll
How do you feel about spam?
o Spammers should be sued for their underwear, imprisoned, tortured, and shot. 62%
o Oh, Christ, not ANOTHER dozen Viagra advertisements.... 13%
o I'm a little irked at all these mortgage spams...I don't even OWN a house! 5%
o Ho hum...just another day's load of 2000-year-old bread recipe ads. 0%
o I kind of like reading the porn spams.... 1%
o Bring it on! Gimme MORE! I can't WAIT to enlarge my penis by 3 or more inches TODAY! 9%
o This article sucks...can't you write something about the Stanley Cup playoffs? 5%

Votes: 303
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Why I love spam
o Also by Erbo


Display: Sort:
Spam: Some people still Just Don't Get It | 209 comments (207 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Barry Dennis (4.65 / 26) (#1)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Thu May 16, 2002 at 08:35:22 PM EST

Tell you what, Mr. Dennis: give me your E-mail address, and I'll just forward all my spam to you, since you seem to like it so much.

In the article, Mr. Dennis said he liked all his spam except pornography and credit card offers. So I guess he won't mind if everyone forwards a bunch of their spam to him at BDennis410@aol.com. Remember--add a personal note to your forward saying how you read his article and thought he might be interested.

By the way, it appears that the homepage of Netweb, his company, is a geocities page.

Meh (3.00 / 5) (#8)
by vadim on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:53:02 PM EST

What a pity. I just had emptied my spam folder :-(
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Done (3.28 / 7) (#32)
by sticky on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:40:46 AM EST

I just sent him about 20 "great offers". I'm sure he will appreciate the effort. Maybe I should do him a real favour and sign him up to a few mailing lists too.

[ Parent ]
Revenge is schweet! (2.60 / 5) (#34)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:02:10 AM EST

BDennis410@aol.com has been added to my address book under the name "Want Spam". Then I know who to forward it to...
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Spam galore (1.33 / 3) (#48)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:17:53 AM EST

Ahh, just sent him 19 junk mails from my hotmail account...
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
re: Spam galore (2.75 / 4) (#92)
by Maserati on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:51:07 AM EST

I have a group in my mailbox, it has spamcop, the ftc, and now.... BDennis410@aol.com

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

netweb.com? virus... (2.75 / 4) (#40)
by kimpton on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:15:10 AM EST

Is it netweb.com? I just went there with ie and my virus scanner popped up with virus alerts...vbs/haptime.gen....



[ Parent ]
An email virus! (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by bugstomper on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:08:05 AM EST

Well, he could have caught it by browsing to an infected site, but:

"Method Of Infection:

VBS/Haptime exists as embedded VBScript code, hidden in the body of HTML formatted email messages and webpages [...]"

It would be fitting if that is his site and he got bit reading mail on the server machine.

[ Parent ]

Not very clever (1.75 / 4) (#68)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:55:53 AM EST

You want to be a spammer too? Fine with me. I just hate spammers.



[ Parent ]
nope (3.25 / 4) (#75)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:21:27 AM EST

SPAM vt.,vi.,n.:

To mass-mail unrequested identical or nearly-identical email messages, particularly those containing advertising. Especially used when the mail addresses have been culled from network traffic or databases without the consent of the recipients."


From The Jargon File
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Too often... (3.66 / 3) (#79)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:29:02 AM EST

The zealots forget about the consent of the recipients part. And they often have the misconception of the end justifying the means.



[ Parent ]
Implicit consent by recipient (4.20 / 5) (#86)
by fraise on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:05:39 AM EST

While I'm tempted to agree with you (you make a good point), nonetheless, this guy is implicitly asking for it. To support this, here are some quotes from Mr. Dennis' article: "I love spam!", " My spam is important to me. In this new age of the Internet, I need the information and opportunities that e-mail marketing provides," "As for the rest of my spam: Keep it coming!"

Sure sounds like the guy wants it.

[ Parent ]
OK (1.66 / 3) (#88)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:27:48 AM EST

So Mr. Dennis wants spam.



[ Parent ]
I have just found... (2.50 / 2) (#87)
by tekue on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:23:37 AM EST

...a new address to input in all those forms you have to fill everywhere on the net. I might interest him in a couple of newsletters and such as well.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
Spam: Some people still Just Don't Get It (4.83 / 12) (#2)
by dram on Thu May 16, 2002 at 08:49:34 PM EST

Capitalism dictates that spam will continue until people start to understand that they shouldn't buy things from spam. Companies make money off of spam, so they will continue doing it. Spam, unlike paper junk mail, costs next to nothing. If a company gets 1 sale for every 100,000 emails they send out they will make money. If we want to stop spammers we need to boycott the companies that send us spam. I don't think we should expect them to regulate themselves, after all the markets have no morals.

-dram
[grant.henninger.name]

no, no.. (5.00 / 5) (#5)
by Rainy on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:33:41 PM EST

That won't happen in foreseeable future since internet population is growing and new ignorant people are pouring in all the time. As old ones keep learning, new ones keep making the old mistakes, and so it will continue for a long long time. The way to stop it *now* is by making it expensive for spammers to spam. If only 1 out of 5 thousand people who get spam sues 'em, they may already lose more than they make.

By the way, I recently started getting much more spam than I used to. I'm accustomed to 3-5 emails per week, now I get 7-10 per day. That got me thinking.. a good revenge is letting bastards taste a piece of their own pie.. Why not find all spam companies emails and submit them all to each other's databases? Subscribe them to all sorts of lottos and what not that immediately get into spam lists..
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

spam companies emails (4.66 / 3) (#90)
by janra on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:46:11 AM EST

The problem with that, is that they keep changing. Their ISPs cancel their accounts, and they get new ones.

And please don't just use the From: address in the header; my yahoomail was once filled up with bounces from a sending of porn spam that I didn't make. Somebody forged the headers and put my email address as the "From".


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Spam will continue even if it doesn't make money. (4.85 / 7) (#7)
by cyberformer on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:52:03 PM EST

The spammers won't go away, even if nobody buys from them. Sure, a fat profit would increase the incentive to send spam, but it isn't really necessary.

Spammers just have to believe there is a chance that someone will buy into whatever scam they are promoting. It's all about spammers' perceptions, not reality. I'm sure that many spammers do in fact lose money, but there is an ample supply of idiots to replace them. Why else would so much spam be promoting email databases or bulk mailing software?

[ Parent ]

Right (4.40 / 5) (#15)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:29:52 PM EST

I'm sure there are tons of small-time spammers who buy the $500 software, the addresses, send out a round of e-mail and get castrated by their ISP.  They don't make any sales, and they stop.  The people who make the real, steady money are the spamhauses - selling spam software, addresses, "bulk friendly" ISPs.  So as long as there are suckers to send it out, there will be spam.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Yep (none / 0) (#202)
by Steve B on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:01:18 PM EST

The successful spammers are simple con artists, selling "Internet Advertising Services" to people who have some vague notion that the Internet is a Big Important Thing but don't understand it well enough to realize that spamming is a really bad idea. The fact that the sucker gets flames and pulled homepages instead of orders doesn't matter to the spammer, who already has his money and practices the First Law of Acquisition.

[ Parent ]
you are wrong (3.33 / 3) (#91)
by tps12 on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:50:49 AM EST

That makes no sense. If that were true, then everything would "continue even if it doesn't make money."

Example: the advertising technique wherein a flyer is wrapped around a rock, and the rock is dropped on people's heads from the tops of buildings.

Why doesn't the "ample supply of idiots" utilize this technique? The answer is, because even those "idiots" will react to market realities.

With spam, it is possible to see exactly how many responses you get. So it is pretty obvious that companies are saying, "hey, every time we spend $100 on addresses, we get responses that amount to $200 on average...let's keep it up." When that is not the case, they will stop.

The best way to avoid spam, aside from changing the way everyone else responds to it, is to remove oneself from the target population. Just do not have an email address, or do not check it.

[ Parent ]

Flawed logic (3.33 / 3) (#109)
by Dephex Twin on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:09:39 PM EST

If that were true, then everything would "continue even if it doesn't make money."
Well, in a way, everything does continue. The same scams and "opportunities" and whatnot occur over and over.
Example: the advertising technique wherein a flyer is wrapped around a rock, and the rock is dropped on people's heads from the tops of buildings.
That example is flawed. The important thing is that it has to be plausible to someone. Absolutely nobody would believe that dropping a rock on someone's head from the top of a building would be an effective means of advertisement. Plus it's obviously illegal and sounds like a lot of work.

On the other hand, an ad to make money from home by purchasing a CD of emails could fool people, and it seems easy and what do I have to lose?

Think about pyramid schemes. Do you think any of the participants at the bottom actually make money? Why do pyramid schemes continue to exist then? It sounds like there is a possibility to make money, and if it doesn't work, well it wasn't a big investment anyway.

mark


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
hyperbole (4.00 / 2) (#128)
by tps12 on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:30:13 PM EST

Yes, I was just exaggerating to demonstrate that the claim that "it has to be plausible to someone" is not enough.

Just about anyone is going to notice when their get-rich-quick scheme isn't panning out, and go spend their time and money on something more worthwhile. Yes, if spam didn't work, there would still be isolated incidents of people trying it anyway. But it would not be the widespread problem that it is now. Because it works.

Think about pyramid schemes. Do you think any of the participants at the bottom actually make money? Why do pyramid schemes continue to exist then?

Because the people at the top make money, and there is no way of telling "how high" you are in the pyramid. So people participate hoping that they are in the first few layers (which is statistically improbable, since each layer is on the order of 10x the size of the previous). If no one made money on them, you are right, they would not exist.

[ Parent ]

Well (3.00 / 1) (#140)
by Dephex Twin on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:54:16 PM EST

Yes, I was just exaggerating to demonstrate that the claim that "it has to be plausible to someone" is not enough.

But this isn't plausible to someone.  A person who would truly be convinced this would work would probably be mentally incapable of carrying it out.  Or the person would be so rare that it might be one in 10 billion people.  Maybe over the past several hundred years there was one person who tried this?  Basically, these spammers trying to make money are using models that are pretty hare-brained, but they aren't just plain ludicrous to Joe Sixpack(like your example).  I think that's an important distinction.

I would guess that 90% of spammers actually are unsuccessful (ie don't make money).  I think the people who really make money are the ones who sell tools and info on how to spam.

I could be wrong, but I think this could be the case and we'd still have this widespread problem.

You know that herbal pill company that is behind all those "WORK AT HOME"/"MAKE $5000/WK" signs?  Basically none of the people who put up those signs all over the place are making money.  Only the original herbal company that sells the manuals and starter kits is making money (and the companies that sell those signs).

My point is, I think it could be that spam generally makes money, or it could be my scenario.

Either way, though, the result is the same =)

mark


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]

oversimplification (none / 0) (#183)
by tps12 on Sun May 19, 2002 at 10:54:10 PM EST

I would guess that 90% of spammers actually are unsuccessful (ie don't make money).  I think the people who really make money are the ones who sell tools and info on how to spam.

And 90% of all businesses fail. 10% is par for the course in business. Doubtlessly, about 10% of spam tool makers "really make money", and the rest go belly-up.

You know that herbal pill company that is behind all those "WORK AT HOME"/"MAKE $5000/WK" signs?  Basically none of the people who put up those signs all over the place are making money.  Only the original herbal company that sells the manuals and starter kits is making money (and the companies that sell those signs).

Well, what do you expect? How many companies can you name that make money by photocopying signs? The people at the bottom of that business are lazy, and trying to get something for nothing. I know people who have worked in Amway (which is structured similarly to HerbaLife), and if you take the recruiting part seriously (and already have a good network of ambitious and hard-working people) then it can definitely work. The people at the top of these businesses are working hard and investing time and capital into the business. They are no means pyramid schemes.

Which brings us back to the fact that, as you admit, spam works maybe 10% of the time. And 1 in 10 is pretty good odds for a relatively small investment. For spam to stop, the success rate will need to drop down at least another order of magnitude. To do that, most people are going to have to stop responding to spam.

I don't think this is likely. More likely, spammers will develop the ability to better target those who actually would ever respond to spam, while those spammees who hate it will develop ways of blocking spam and be spared the inconvenience.

And anyway, phone solicitors and junk mail cause me more grief than spam. There's never the possibility of an email from my mother getting hidden in between the pages of a penis enlargement ad.

[ Parent ]

They Do It Because They Can (none / 0) (#201)
by Steve B on Tue May 21, 2002 at 10:57:51 PM EST

Example: the advertising technique wherein a flyer is wrapped around a rock, and the rock is dropped on people's heads from the tops of buildings.
Why doesn't the "ample supply of idiots" utilize this technique? The answer is, because even those "idiots" will react to market realities.

Silly me -- I thought they didn't do it because even idiots know that if they did that the police would take them off to jail. Unfortunately, this hasn't yet happened to spammers.

[ Parent ]

Spam auto-forwarder (4.42 / 14) (#4)
by jesterzog on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:26:18 PM EST

Tell you what, Mr. Dennis: give me your E-mail address, and I'll just forward all my spam to you, since you seem to like it so much. No? Unacceptable, you say? Then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to force it on the rest of us.

Good idea. Let's create a system similar to spamcop (but distributed) that redirects all forwarded spam to a list of people who have openly declared that they want to receive it. They can always hit delete if they decide they don't want it. It'd be like helping the "marketers" find customers who want to read their commercials.


jesterzog Fight the light


I like it (3.25 / 4) (#6)
by Erbo on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:47:59 PM EST

Trouble is, who besides Mr. Dennis will admit to liking spam? :-)

And of course, you'd have to avoid feeding him pr0n spam, 'cos he doesn't like that...
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Mr Dennis (2.33 / 3) (#42)
by sangdrax on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:47:52 AM EST

Well, everyone can just forward your spam to Mr. Dennis i guess.. He seems to like it.

[ Parent ]
That's not a problem at all (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by jesterzog on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:56:41 AM EST

Trouble is, who besides Mr. Dennis will admit to liking spam? :-)

Naturally in that case, there will be more to go around a smaller number of people. Mr Dennis will be privileged to get a more highly concentrated flow of unsolicited email.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
Pandora's Box (3.50 / 2) (#89)
by The Turd Report on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:35:26 AM EST

Some time back some people in news.admin.net-abuse-email claimed to have a program that did just that. It was called Pandora's Box.

[ Parent ]
The Pandora project (3.00 / 1) (#153)
by jesterzog on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:58:29 PM EST

Thanks for that. I've just done some research in the archive and came up with this nice description from Alun Jones in April last year.

Pandora is for such a time as the Federal Government deigns to impose upon systems administrators that any and all email must be accepted. At which time, the government will have declared that such email is not abuse. Therefore, neither Pandora, nor your email bombs, will be considered abusive, and you and Pandora will both fire away.

Until such time, both Pandora, and email bombing someone that you _think_ might be the spammer, are definitely abusive.

It looks a lot like it's supposed to be a cold war style deterrent.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
Of couse he gets it (3.61 / 13) (#9)
by Hong Kong Phooey on Thu May 16, 2002 at 09:58:50 PM EST

But he's a greedy capitalist pigdog and he don't care if he makes life worse for millions if he makes a cent.

should have gotten Earthlink (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by disney on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:46:20 AM EST

from what I hear Earthlink users don't get any spam.

[ Parent ]
Not true (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:50:17 AM EST

My wife has an Earthlink account and gets spam on that address all the time...

It's just everywhere, man.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

really? (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by disney on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:51:20 AM EST

is there any safe ISP at all? Seems like it shouldn't be too hard for them to block the spammers at that level.

[ Parent ]
I don't suppose so (4.00 / 3) (#31)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:12:37 AM EST

The ISP my mail comes through tries...they have a Postini spam filter as a first line of defense, which redirects potential spam messages to a Web-based E-mail box (which allows whitelisting, so you can teach it to ignore your mailing lists and so forth). I have it set on "Aggressive," its highest level of filtering, and still it lets some through.

My second layer of defense, procmail, catches some of that (it primarily filters out messages that don't have my address in To: or Cc:, which is a good indicator many times, and I have whitelists of my own to let known people and mailing lists through), but a few spam messages still get through to my inbox.

And you always have to wonder...is it possible that even an ISP that has implemented spam filtering might actually be on the take, accepting money from spammers to let their spam through that would otherwise be blocked? Chilling thought.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

They are a business after all (3.00 / 1) (#66)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:39:41 AM EST

I would not be surprised if some of them did. Since spam is so commonplace, no-one would (propably) notice anything -- unless, of course, they were too greedy.



[ Parent ]
He's right (sort of...) (3.57 / 7) (#10)
by leviramsey on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:06:56 PM EST

We really have to fight this intrusion. E-mail is no less commercial speech than other forms of communication; e-mail is a new and--in some cases--a better way of quickly identifying, qualifying and servicing customers.

Entirely correct. Spam shouldn't be banned, IMHO.

However, your free speech does not require me to listen to it. I run SpamAssassin/Vipul's Razor. I haven't gotten undetected spam in quite a while (a couple of legitimate bulk lists I'm on get tagged, though).



You still have to download it (4.50 / 6) (#11)
by Hong Kong Phooey on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:10:21 PM EST

And most of the spam I get is fraudulent anyway, so that isn't protected speech.  And furthermore, corporations shouldn't have the same rights to free speech as humans.

[ Parent ]
Bah (4.00 / 5) (#12)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:14:57 PM EST

It's harassment, plain and simple.  Entire ISPs have been DOS'ed by spam.  I've had to abandon mailboxes because they were completely overrun.  

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Free speech is one thing...but... (4.42 / 7) (#13)
by Erbo on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:22:32 PM EST

However, your free speech does not require me to listen to it.

And I shouldn't be forced to pay for it. That's the big point, or one of them: there may be free speech, but there's no free lunch.

If Mr. Dennis wants me to listen to his pitch, he should go buy an ad somewhere, not crapflood my mailbox in hopes that I'll look more favorably on him than on the other 499 spammers currently clogging the Trash folder of my Postini spam trap. I pay for my mailbox, not him.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Free email? (2.00 / 2) (#63)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:29:49 AM EST

Maybe we should unite and demand a legistlation be passed which grants eweryone free email account and free connection to that account. It would solve both problems; the spammers could spam but the receivers would not have to pay for it (directly that is).



[ Parent ]
But (3.33 / 3) (#67)
by wiredog on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:54:00 AM EST

I'm still paying for the bandwidth the spam gets downloaded to my machine on.

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
[ Parent ]
About SpamAssassin (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by carbon on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:41:04 AM EST

I believe you can whitelist certain addresses to allow all mail from them to get through. This would prevent SA from tagging your legit bulk email.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
I don't understand... (4.16 / 12) (#14)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:25:34 PM EST

I read this.. I can't believe it!  All the most common, ridiculous spammer arguments rolled up into one article.  I kept going back and forth.. "Is he serious?" "This has to be a joke by an antispammer.."

What world does he live in, where you can end all spam with one request to the DMA?  He claims to receive spam that is selling actual, useful products.. I take that to mean he buys a lot of diet pills and penis enlargement devices, since that's most of my spam.

And then we have the gold standard of spammer lines: "Just hit delete."  Catchy, but inconvenient.. why not say, "Just ignore the burglar!" or, "Kindly tell the flasher to close his trenchcoat."  As far as I'm concerned, he's pumping electronic shit into my house, through a wire I pay for.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

That's the scary part.... (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Erbo on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:31:00 PM EST

I don't think this guy is trolling. I think he actually believes what he's saying.

Which makes me want to revive the "Information Superhighway" metaphor long enough to have the Information Superhighway Patrol pull him over for DWC--"Driving Without A Clue."

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Nah (4.00 / 7) (#17)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:38:38 PM EST

I'll just run over his Information Dog with my Information Car, and let the air out of his Information Tires.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
unintentionally funny (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by clark9000 on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:34:36 AM EST

I read this.. I can't believe it! All the most common, ridiculous spammer arguments rolled up into one article. I kept going back and forth.. "Is he serious?" "This has to be a joke by an antispammer.."

Yeah, don't know if anybody else had this reaction, but the article reminded me of one of those editorial "columns" in The Onion, actually.
_____
Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.

-- E. Dickinson
[ Parent ]
My own solution: (3.81 / 11) (#18)
by regeya on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:40:29 PM EST

I'm in a situation where I can either use Outlook Express, or do without, so I set rules based on sender's email. If I reply, and get an automated reply back telling me how I can remove myself, I set a rule to send an email to that address (the replying address) with the message: "Please remove me from your list." Eventually, the person on the other end notices the suspicious infinite loop, and does something about it (since I'm being an annoyance and filling some logs somewhere ;-D)

And, yes, at work, we have the bandwidth to play such pranks.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Meanwhile... (3.66 / 6) (#21)
by Erbo on Thu May 16, 2002 at 11:00:35 PM EST

The spammer now knows that your E-mail address is a real, live person, and has now sold that address along with 1,000 others to a dozen other spammers. You lose. :-)

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

meanwhile (4.00 / 3) (#65)
by kubalaa on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:38:24 AM EST

You contribute to general network congestion and annoy your sysadmin. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
You're welcome (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by regeya on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:10:58 AM EST

And if it's any consolation, the spammer feels the effects as well.

Really, all it takes is a couple of automated replies for some clueful email admin at most spammer places to take us (when I say "us," in a couple of cases spammers have stopped sending to our domain) to be removed from their lists.

It's amazing how little spam we get now.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

'Unit' enlargers... (2.09 / 11) (#19)
by Patrick Bateman on Thu May 16, 2002 at 10:41:05 PM EST

I'm *very* satisfied with my purchase.

---
I have to return some videotapes.

How big is your unit? (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by fluffy grue on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:45:43 AM EST

Is your unit so large that 1+1=3?
--
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
1+1 does equal 3! (3.66 / 3) (#69)
by wiredog on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:57:42 AM EST

For suitably large values of 1.

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
[ Parent ]
Does he actually buy things? (4.75 / 16) (#22)
by Blarney on Thu May 16, 2002 at 11:20:20 PM EST

I wonder sometimes just who buys things from spam advertisements. I don't dispute that there are people out there who will buy any damn thing - they have a whole cable TV channel selling useless garbage all day long. However, it seems to me that purchasing an item from a spam is an excessively difficult way to buy something.

Anti-spammers are responsible for this. No spammer will actually include his real contact email anymore. Nor will he include his telephone number for fear of harassing calls, or his fax number for fear of receiving the black paper loop of ink death. With all the precautions they are forced to take to keep themselves secure from retaliation, they have made it almost impossible for customers to buy things from them.

The contents of the Hotmail account which is linked to my MSN Messenger ID are instructive. Here's an ad for some probably phony Kaplan College. To avoid revealing the spam company, the link is obfuscated, using a Hotmail server's redirect script and ASCII munging to take me to some other script on www.eeclic.net. Uh-oh! The redirect gives an error message - guess Microsoft caught them abusing their machines. I won't be going to Kaplan College anytime soon!

Columbia House ad is next. Sprays a blizzard of popups all over the screen, one of which is actually an ordering dialog. It is tiny, but I manage to get through -- oops! I just bought a bunch of DVD's for $5 -- or so I am informed. Well, actually I probably didn't - the fine print says they'll evaluate my application (what application?) and use the included credit card number for the order. Too bad my browser cache and cookie jar are squeaky clean, I've never so much as bought anything with this Hotmail address on a form anywhere, and all the personal info is totally fake. What credit card will be charged, I wonder, and where will the DVDs be sent? It is a mystery.

Another spam. This one looks promising! I can grow younger by buying some stuff from elightningstorm.com. The site is slow as molasses, but finally here's an order form.

So far the spammers are batting 1/3 for even making their products purchasable. Some business plan.

An interesting analysis (5.00 / 5) (#24)
by Erbo on Thu May 16, 2002 at 11:47:34 PM EST

Bear in mind Mr. Dennis doesn't buy those things...he just helps sell them.

I like your analysis of how easy it is to actually buy any of the products advertised via spam, but I did have one comment regarding your opening statement:

I don't dispute that there are people out there who will buy any damn thing - they have a whole cable TV channel selling useless garbage all day long.
Actually, there are several, but let's take QVC as an example, being the largest and probably best-known. The difference between QVC and a spammer is that QVC is actually a legitimate, above-board business. They sell things that somebody might actually want, and it's generally good quality merchandise. (They sell name-brand computers manufactured by companies like Dell, Compaq, and Gateway, among many other things.) And, if you don't like something or just decide you don't want it after all, they'll take it back and refund your money, no questions asked. Try getting that level of service from your average spammer!

(I know about this stuff because my wife buys from QVC. She's been quite happy with the stuff she's bought, including jewelry, clothes, and kitchenware, and with the service she's received. And they never send her any E-mail at all, except for order confirmations when she orders online.)

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Proportion of response? (4.00 / 3) (#46)
by thebrix on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:01:55 AM EST

I have folk memories of studies carried out where academic researchers sent out 750,000 or 1,000,000 spam emails in one go and were getting 1 or 2 responses. These studies sound like urban myths (they would surely be considered unethical now); can anyone confirm?

A marketeer I know says that, given a well-researched postal or telephone campaign, a 2 per cent response is considered to be good. Off the top of my head I'd think 0.002 per cent for spam is good. For a start, spam is indiscriminate and most Internet users live outside the USA. That must automatically drive down the theoretical maximum response rate to a few per cent or less.

[ Parent ]

spam is fascism (2.70 / 10) (#23)
by disney on Thu May 16, 2002 at 11:40:23 PM EST

Fascism itself can only be turned away if all those who are outraged by it show a commitment to social justice that equals the intensity of their indignation.

Are we ready to get off our starting blocks? Are we ready, many millions of us, to rally not just on the streets, but at work and in schools and in our homes, in every decision we take, and every choice we make?

Or not just yet...

If not, then years from now, when the rest of the world has shunned us (as it should), like the ordinary citizens of Hitler's Germany, we too will learn to recognise revulsion in the gaze of our fellow human beings. We too will find ourselves unable to look our own children in the eye, for the shame of what we did and did not do. For the shame of what we allowed to happen.

heh (4.50 / 8) (#49)
by streetlawyer on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:40:45 AM EST

Let me get this straight; you're worried about the development of fascism, and your first response is to organise a rally? Oy vey ...

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
that's true (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by disney on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:30:17 PM EST

I should have thought about that first.

[ Parent ]
Odd... (4.33 / 12) (#25)
by Danse on Thu May 16, 2002 at 11:59:14 PM EST

Pornographic advertisements (to his credit, Mr. Dennis doesn't appreciate those)

Funny, that's the only kind I usually do appreciate. If you're gonna send me email that I don't want, then it damn well better at least have pictures of naked chicks in it. :)






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
ya damn straight (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by j0s)( on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:07:34 AM EST

if im going to be forced into anything, there had better be some tits and ass as my reward.


-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.


[ Parent ]
blame the spammers... (4.14 / 7) (#26)
by KiTaSuMbA on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:44:25 AM EST

but also blame the mailservers that will allow just about anything go through their filters (if we admit that they do have any).
Here is an apparently hilarius but rather tragic story: I was having fun configuring sendmail on my box and got into testing it a bit: first the local mails and LAN, then I decided to try the net. So I send a mail to my hotmail (spam, trashy registrations) account expecting of course a rebounce with non valid domain justification. Surprise: my hotmail account received a mail from a mysterious kitasumba@GateZofHeLL.linux.home with no Subject and a one string content: "sucka!"!!! At first I laughed my heart out but then I realized that I could flood the entire hotmail community with any sh*tty "recomendations" about their pennis, their computer and even the cake recipies their mama uses... That was terrifying!
I hardly believe that any user would *honestly* find useful or at least not annoying spam mail or those pop-up storms that some web sites generate, *especially* upon closure of their main window (that's something I hate even more than spam). This guy is telling us he finds spam OK, because he probably makes a living out of it!
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
Email Headers Are Your Friend [or Enemy] (5.00 / 4) (#76)
by supine on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:21:46 AM EST

my hotmail account received a mail from a mysterious kitasumba@GateZofHeLL.linux.home... ...I realized that I could flood the entire hotmail community

not without leaving fingerprints all over the place. everytime a mail server accepts a message it records [or should if it ain't broken] the IP [and usually the result of a reverse lookup on that IP] in a 'Received' header.

this means that your message will have a trail that leads right back to you, whether it is a fixed IP you have been assigned or a dynamic IP that someone logging in with your username was assigned when that email was sent.

forging the from address is just the first hurdle. most of the really crafty spammers find open relays that don't add proper 'Received' headers and forge a few fake ones themselves to through people off the scent.

hth
marty

--
"No GUI for you! Use lynx!!!, Come back, One year!" -- /avant
[ Parent ]

He likes it so much... (4.78 / 14) (#33)
by dipipanone on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:36:06 AM EST

...that he's actually prepared to publish his e-mail address on the article, to let people respond to him directly with their comments and feedback.

What's that you say? There is no email address? On an article published on the web? He's not prepared to take advantage of the wonderful interactive features of this communications medium?

Now why on earth would that be, I wonder?

Can you say LIAR, Mr. Dennis?

--
Suck my .sig

You can send him something (1.00 / 1) (#182)
by jacoplane on Sun May 19, 2002 at 03:34:41 PM EST

here. But it's not really email. Perhaps someone could send him a friendly question, and then when he replies with his email adress, sign him up for every spam list in existance: he loves it after all, you'll be doing him a favour :)

[ Parent ]
Poll Options (4.25 / 8) (#35)
by dublet on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:11:23 AM EST

I find that the poll options are a bit tame really, I chose the top one, because that was the most gruesome, but if I had it my way the spammer would SUFFER! And I do mean SUFFER! (S)He would be sorry to have ever been born, even sorry for his/her family line ever to excist! I'd make hell seem like a picknick with Paddington bear. No wait, that would n't be harsh enough, but you get the idea I hope.

Sorry, but spam just aggravates me.

On further note the the article, over here one can put a sticker on the mailbox indicating wether on not you want any junkmail (in real life that is) and junk mailers abide to that because they know that it'll just end up in the trash (but it's mostly for enviromental reasons). Would he like it as must if his ordinairy mailbox was swamped with advertising? I think not.

Spam: I do not want it. He who does can get mine.

Badger. Badger. ←

Tame, perhaps (2.00 / 1) (#36)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:23:37 AM EST

I borrowed the "sued for his underwear, imprisoned, tortured, and shot" line from my college roommate, who used it in a computer club newsletter as the most desirable punishment for virus writers.

One editorial comment suggested that spammers should be dealt with by Islamic justice. While that's an attractive option, another good one would be to lock them up for life in a Turkish prison. (See Midnight Express.) I'm sure others can come up with equally-inventive fates for spammers.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Junk mail keeps Consignia afloat (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by thebrix on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:54:19 AM EST

(just, it would seem)

The UK postal service (disastrously rebranded Consignia) has been struggling for several years.

I've heard it said that Consignia is encouraging junk mail because the volume of business and personal correspondence has started to decline; its last annual report noted that the decrease was about 1.5 per cent per year, and explicitly mentioned email and SMS as driving that decline.

In a backhanded way this encouragement may be a good thing if it preserves junk mail rather than encouraging spam; I've come across very little UK spam and what there has been has been almost touchingly naive (hundreds of email addresses in the To: line ...).

[ Parent ]

They certainly encourage it (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by x31eq on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:17:18 AM EST

I've seen the adverts. Think about the proportion of mail you get that's junk, and it makes obvious sense. It's much cheaper for them to take delivery of hundreds of almost identical letters than drive around collecting small deposits of personal mail in different shapes and sizes with hand-written addresses and stamps which have to be inspected.

[ Parent ]
Why I hate spam (4.86 / 22) (#37)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:29:10 AM EST

This is offensive  This guy just doesn't get it.  He's pretty sad an pathetic too: he can't have had any friends or a proper life, judging by his interests and what excites him.

In response:

1) Unlike the USPS, the internet transcends borders.  I get spammed from all over the world, although never once from the country I live in.

2) I don't live in the United States.  His rules and regulations don't apply where I live.  The laws are different.  So why should I have to receive anything from his American spammers?  It's not like I can even buy the stuff anyway.

3) I have a bandwidth quota on my internet connection.  When I get spammed, it's like a direct mailer expecting me to pay for the postage for the junk mail they've sent me.

4) Did I mention I don't live in the USA?  I don't care what framework for opt-out lists the FTC and DMA have thrashed out: the regulations are woefully inadequate compared with those of other countries.  What's he doing to ensure he's not spammer foreigners?  Why isn't it an opt-in list so that we the customer get a choice?

5) I don't care if he hits delete.  He obviously doesn't get much spam.  When he receives 30+ spams a day let me hear him state he hasn't accidentally deleted any of the 2 or 3 personal messages a day at the same time.  It's easily done.

6) Did I mention that I don't live in the USA?!  His concept of free speech is ridiculous in other places.  One of those weird American legal technicalities.  No company has a right to tell me things (commercial speech).  Why should I have to listen to American companies, or as it often is, Korean ones?

I recently started using my own mail server.  Thanks to Yahoo, I filter on the head X-YahooFilteredBulk (or something like that).  I also implemented other measures too.  The deluge of spam has dropped to a small trickle.  I'm sick of these ignorant f****rs and their apparent belief that they have a right to my inbox.

Y'know... (2.71 / 7) (#64)
by Rocky on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:34:27 AM EST

...I can't remember.  Do live in the USA or not?  

I swear I thought you did.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]

Heh (3.25 / 8) (#84)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:00:30 AM EST

It's interesting, so many people who comment on their clever solution to spam, and then go on to complain that this "fucker" doesn't get it, we need legislation. What the fuck?

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
The problem with that is: (4.20 / 5) (#97)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:26:49 AM EST

"Clever solutions" to spam only wind up getting you into an "arms race" with the spammers, as one group of people spends long hours trying to figure out new ways of blocking spam, while another group spends long hours trying to figure out new ways of getting spam to circumvent the blocks. Meanwhile, the spammers continue to pump out their crap, and our networks get inundated.

While I agree that legislation should not be used as the solution to every problem, this is one time that it's needed, IMHO. Government should be able to establish some basic ground rules here; right now, there are no rules, pretty much. However, the danger exists that any government-imposed rules would be biased towards the spammers, which would result in a situation much harder to deal with than the current one. We must remain watchful.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Yup (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:39:02 PM EST

While I agree that legislation should not be used as the solution to every problem, this is one time that it's needed, IMHO. Government should be able to establish some basic ground rules here; right now, there are no rules, pretty much.

Legislation for spam will only wind up getting you into an "arms race" with the spammers. Unfortunately for you, it's a race you can't win. Can you afford to lobby Congress? Can you afford to sue in federal court?

Who, exactly, do you think you're asking to guard the sheep? I suppose government is some kind of magical fairy who's looking out for your best interests. Take a long, hard look in the mirror: that's who's looking out for your interests. Step up and take responsibility. It sounds like you've already begun to do so, underneath all the bluster.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Looking out for your interests (3.00 / 1) (#111)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:15:54 PM EST

Who, exactly, do you think you're asking to guard the sheep? I suppose government is some kind of magical fairy who's looking out for your best interests.

And just who do you trust to look out for your best interests?

The spammers themselves? Excuse me while I collapse in hysterical laughter.

Your ISP, or the network providers? They don't care; they get their money whether people send you interesting E-mail or spam. And they're running on such thin margins right now, they might not have the resources to do much even if they do care. It's even possible that, even if they do appear to care, they're on the take also, and spammers are paying the ISPs to slip their crap past the ISPs' spam blockers.

Yourself? In my case, tracing down every single spammer that's ever sent me their junk and convincing them never to do so again would be more than a full-time job at this point. Even if all the anti-spam activists got together and could agree on a course of action to try and get the spammers to stop (unlikely, IMHO), they'd still be vastly outnumbered. Who wins?

Of course, your point is well taken in that the government is likely to be on the take as well, siding with the spammers in the name of "business." Unfortunately, every single other possible solution appears to be a no-win one.

If there's something I've missed, I'm sure you'll be back to let me know.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Heh (2.66 / 3) (#113)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:22:46 PM EST

And just who do you trust to look out for your best interests?

Not only did I make explicit the answer to that question, I even praised you for your "clever solution", and for having taken on the burden of self-reliance. But even a lackwit can be clever, it seems, and even a self-reliant man can wish for slavery.

Have it your way, fool.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
You're missing the point (4.00 / 2) (#114)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:33:03 PM EST

I don't want to have to take on the role of "spam cop." I have better things to do with my time than try to force a bunch of scam artists to play nice and leave me alone, when said scam artists don't care about playing nice and there's nobody who can force them to play nice.

And I'm sure the same holds true for you. And everybody else reading this.

We have laws against junk faxes. We have laws against telemarketers. Where's the difference? (Hmm, that's a thought...maybe I could see if the people behind the Colorado No Call List would be interested in trying to get the concept extended to E-mail.)

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Whining ever on (3.00 / 4) (#125)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:19:39 PM EST

I have better things to do with my time than try to force a bunch of scam artists to play nice and leave me alone, when said scam artists don't care about playing nice and there's nobody who can force them to play nice.

This is so tiring. No, you don't have better things to do with your time, by your own reckoning, because that's precisely how you chose to spend that time. You may prefer that your circumstances could be different, in order to enable different priorities, but that's completely immaterial. I'm sure most of us would prefer to spend no time commuting from location to location in traffic.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
more on the "arms race" (4.00 / 2) (#116)
by tjw on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:36:57 PM EST

The leading faction of the anti-spam camp right now seems to be spamassassin.  This project contains the most extensive collection of "clever solutions" for identifying spam that I know of.

Undoubtedly, there are spammers working hard to circumvent spamassassin's mechanisms.  It seems like more spam slips through it every day.

Sadly, no matter who appears to be winning the race, it is always the spammers that win.  Even if I had a tool that would guarentee 100% blocking of spam messages, it still costs my employer (and it turn our customers) more money the further we get into this race.  We have to buy network bandwidth, faster servers for the extra filtering overhead, and of course extra system administration costs of keeping the spam filtering updated.  It costs the spammers Jack Squat to continue the race, only their time.

Although I don't necessarily support criminal legislation for spamming, I would very much like to see more precedent setting cases where spammers lose civil lawsuits brought people who run email servers.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (4.00 / 1) (#119)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:48:25 PM EST

We wouldn't necessarily need criminal laws to stop spammers. Laws that explicitly allowed recipients of spam to sue spammers and collect damages would do just fine. After a few dozen spammers got bankrupted by massive judgements, the others might take notice.

Of course, to be really effective, you'd have to go against the people who sell the mailing lists and the spam tools. Put them out of business and you start drying up the well of new spammers.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

That's not the point (4.00 / 3) (#101)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:54:24 AM EST

Like I said, my "clever solution" isn't perfect.  It never will be either.  On top of that, it requires hosting a mail server, either on my residential DSL or at a hosting service.  The point is, it's still taking my effort and time, when really I shouldn't have to put up with this crap in the first place.  Companies don't have a right to send me.  The post office here honours a no junk mail sign on my front door and doesn't deliver it - so why should I have to put up with electronic equivalent, and at my expense too?

[ Parent ]
Yup (2.50 / 2) (#105)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:42:10 PM EST

The post office here honours a no junk mail sign on my front door and doesn't deliver it - so why should I have to put up with electronic equivalent, and at my expense too?

You're using the discretionary activity of the post office to determine what should and shouldn't be delivered to your house. It's at your expense now, dummy; who do you think pays for the USPS?

Silly analogy, anyway. The USPS is created by explicit exception in Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, a foolish one in my opinion. Shall we amend the Constitution for your convenience today?

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
I don't care about the USPS (4.00 / 2) (#107)
by DodgyGeezer on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:48:24 PM EST

Did I mention I'm not in the US?

[ Parent ]
Don't see your point, exactly (2.00 / 2) (#108)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:52:37 PM EST

But we can still have fun with it. Where are you located? What's your income? I'll see if I can dig up exact figures on how much your government post costs you.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Get Your Hands Around This (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by virg on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:46:39 PM EST

The USPS (since you seem convinced that this body should matter to him) is paid for in the most part by senders of mail. Government subsidy makes up a not-large percentage of the USPS, but mostly it's postage that pays the way (go to the Postal Service web site, and you'll see that (in fiscal 2001) the US Government chipped in 1.7 billion, but the other 65 billion was paid for by people and companies who bought services). So, contrary to your opinion, the U.S. public does not, by and large, pay for the USPS. Those who send mail do, and that's appropriate. On the other hand, the costs of spam are by and large shouldered by its recipients, which has always been my big beef with it.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Horseshit (2.00 / 4) (#134)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:40:54 PM EST

The USPS (since you seem convinced that this body should matter to him) is paid for in the most part by senders of mail... On the other hand, the costs of spam are by and large shouldered by its recipients, which has always been my big beef with it.

This is the principle fallacy of the anti-spam activists. Those who send spam are paying analogous delivery costs to those who send physical junk mail. They pay for their immediate connection to an ISP, which by proxy pays for their upstream service.

Your receipt of email is not delivery, it is an explicit request (a "pull"), one for which you contract to pay with the foreknowledge that you are purchasing an RFC822-style emailbox. Under those terms you are expected to understand the vagaries of the product and to accept liability for its use.

It is morally reprehensible to sign up for an RFC822-style emailbox, understanding the terms and conditions of its use -- not to mention the peculiar advantages and disadvantages thereof -- and then afterward claim special rights deriving from your analogous partial understanding of how such things might work in a more traditional post. You either want the emailbox or you don't. No amount of whining is going to grant you special rights.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
I'm 5ing this (none / 0) (#169)
by adequate nathan on Sat May 18, 2002 at 03:15:55 PM EST

But I thought I should also just comment that this post totally rocked.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Scales (5.00 / 1) (#187)
by thrig on Mon May 20, 2002 at 12:27:29 PM EST

This is the principle fallacy of the anti-spam activists. Those who send spam are paying analogous delivery costs to those who send physical junk mail. They pay for their immediate connection to an ISP, which by proxy pays for their upstream service.

True, except for the spammers who hijack other accounts or take advantage of “30 days free” subscriptions from ISPs.

Also, spammers can negotiate a T3 link at a spamhaus for pennies, and send massive numbers of emails from a stock template and a list of emails—probably with just a few clicks in spam software. The recipients, on the other hand, must individually spend time deleting, complaining about, or otherwise dealing with the unwanted drek, wasting far more money than the spammer did to send the message in the first place.



[ Parent ]
Analogy of Abuse (5.00 / 1) (#191)
by virg on Mon May 20, 2002 at 05:56:06 PM EST

> This is the principle fallacy of the anti-spam activists. Those who send spam are paying analogous delivery costs to those who send physical junk mail. They pay for their immediate connection to an ISP, which by proxy pays for their upstream service.

A very nice thought, but entirely inaccurate. For email sent to five addresses, downstream costs are five times what upstream costs are (only one message gets uploaded, but five get downloaded). Therefore, the huge majority of the costs of spam are borne by recipients, not senders.

> Your receipt of email is not delivery, it is an explicit request (a "pull"), one for which you contract to pay with the foreknowledge that you are purchasing an RFC822-style emailbox. Under those terms you are expected to understand the vagaries of the product and to accept liability for its use.

I'm completely comfortable with this idea, which is why I don't get angry at my ISP for spam. However, your argument amounts to saying that it's morally reprehensible for me to get an email box and then get upset when someone abuses it. Why is it wrong for me to be angry at someone for doing something that costs me money for no benefit just because the infrastructure allows him or her to do it? That's paramount to saying I shouldn't be angry at a pickpocket for stealing cash, because it's possible and there are better ways for me to carry buying power. If I leave my keys in the car when I go into a store, and someone steals it, I can be called responsible for making it easy to steal my car, but you have no moral base with which to say I haven't been robbed, and you also have no moral base for saying I have no right to be upset with the thief.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
***BBBZZZZTTTTT*** (none / 0) (#200)
by Steve B on Tue May 21, 2002 at 10:49:10 PM EST

Those who send spam are paying analogous delivery costs to those who send physical junk mail.

Nope. I am paying for my e-mail inbox.

[ Parent ]

Who pays for the USPS? (none / 0) (#161)
by delmoi on Sat May 18, 2002 at 06:07:18 AM EST

Junk mailers, mostly. Certanly not tax payers, or people who use 34cent stamps or whatever they cost these days.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
dealing with spam! (4.55 / 9) (#39)
by quelrod on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:06:39 AM EST

www.spamcop.net spread the word i know it's a pain but it's so much damn fun to watch all the traces happen for you and who knows maybe if even 10% of the net bothered with this we could reduce spam? Ya i know just hopeless dreams. Oh well it at least wastes time and gives some amusement when the urge strikes to deal w/ spam or you just have the urge to beat the crap out of a spammer. Enjoy

Spamcop (4.00 / 2) (#98)
by prator on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:32:17 AM EST

I went ahead and signed up for an account at Spamcop.net about 3 months ago.  I was just sick of my Hotmail account.  I've only had one piece of spam slip through, and that was something that was forwarded from another account.

The server is slow from time to time.  Actually, a couple of days ago, the server was moved to a new location.  It has been pretty responsive since then.

And, when I do have a few pieces of spam in my held mail, it's so cathartic to go send spam reports off.  Thanks, Spamcop.  :)

-prator

[ Parent ]

hypocrisy! (4.54 / 11) (#41)
by roryi on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:32:18 AM EST

Let's do a whois lookup on netweb.com, shall we?


Registrant:

  NetWeb Active Media, Inc.

  Zero Tolerance Spam Policy

  POB 65123

  Tucson, AZ 85728

  US


Er, hang on... "Zero Tolerance Spam Policy?"





Is that his? (4.00 / 3) (#77)
by catseye on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:22:44 AM EST

Are you sure that's his site? This one is definitely his: Netweb,LLC.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
ACK ACK ACK VIRUS <<?>> (3.00 / 1) (#155)
by jmd2121 on Sat May 18, 2002 at 12:03:06 AM EST

going to http://netweb.com I got this from Norton Antivirus pop up:  (!!!)

Scan type:  Realtime Protection Scan
Event:  Virus Found!
Virus name: VBS.Haptime.A@mm
File:  D:\Program Files\Opera\Cache4\opr00077.htm
Location:  Quarantine
Action taken:  Clean failed : Quarantine succeeded : Access denied
Date found: Fri May 17 20:58:13 2002

The site homepage has a VIRUS IN IT!! (at least according to Norton) On closer inspection and two frame sets -- it looks like the virus is from here
http://netwebactivemedia.com/index.htm

I couldn't seem to find the virus though

spam and viruses....  ug

-


[ Parent ]

NAV's right. It's deleting files from your HD (5.00 / 1) (#188)
by carlossch on Mon May 20, 2002 at 01:41:22 PM EST

I downloaded the page with wget, and vgrepped it. There are some pieces of VBScript in it, with references to the registry.

I have never programmed in VBScript before, but the following piece of code is probably creating a local file in your HD and all sorts of nasty things, and Norton (reasonably) must have disliked it:

Set Os = CreateObject("Scriptlet.TypeLib")
...
Os.Reset
Os.Path = "C:\Help.htm"
Os.Doc = Lhtml()
Os.Write()
...

And it doesn't stop at that:

If Of.FileExists("C:\help.htm") Then
Of.DeleteFile ("C:\help.htm")

Why do they need to know anything about my registry?

wp = Rg("HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\desktop\wallPaper")

Jeez.
Carlos


-- He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.
[ Parent ]
It may be interesting to note: (4.14 / 7) (#43)
by bluehead on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:54:11 AM EST

E-mail is no less commercial speech than other forms of communication
Commercial speech is not fully protected under the First Amendment. Let's take advantage of that for the few last years that the Constitution has any validity at all and get our (so called) representatives to make some laws that we want for a change. You know the idea of outlawing something gives them large wood.

More Spam Laws Now!




Hard like a criminal.
Am I too evil? (3.71 / 7) (#51)
by vadim on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:08:55 AM EST

I just found this on my disk, almost forgot I had it since I changed to an IMAP server.

-rw------- 1 vadim vadim 916531 May 13 01:54 SPAM

There seem to be 233 messages inside, all properly tagged by SpamAssassin. Since I get the same spam 3 or 4 times, I guess he wouldn't mind if I sent him a few copies?
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

Go ahead! (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 07:29:52 AM EST

Do it! Do it! Join the Dark Side! He earned it!

(Contrary! to! what! you! might! think! I! do! NOT! work! for! YAHOO!, I! just! like! exclamation! marks!)


__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Spammassassin (4.25 / 4) (#61)
by Nickus on Fri May 17, 2002 at 07:52:08 AM EST

I can also recommend Spamassassin. I've been using it for about 3 months now and it has tagged 500 emails as spam and only let two spams through. I love that program as much as I hate spam.



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
Brilliant article (2.62 / 8) (#53)
by Jevesus on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:25:51 AM EST

I've got a brand new hate for Mr. Dennis.
I'll sign him up for loads of spam.

- Jevesus
Why I'm not afraid of spammers (4.00 / 5) (#54)
by GoingWare on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:30:37 AM EST

I use my real email address in online forums and on the usenet news. Spam doesn't bother me. Why?

Because I subscribe to about thirty or forty internet mailing lists. I've lost count, some I forget that I have subscriptions to because there's low traffic, but many get dozens of messages a day.

At about fifteen thousand legitimate messages a month, I hardly notice the spam.

The only email reader I've found which can handle this is elm. The others don't seem to scale well to having so many messages. Mutt might work but my hosting service doesn't have it installed.

I have to read my mail via a secure shell terminal session to avoid the time of downloading all the messages with POP. With an elm window open all the time on my desktop I find out when I receive email right away, which is every couple minutes.

I used to download my mailbox files once a month or so after bzipping them (70 MB uncompressed) and periodically burn them into a CD. Now I download them once a week or so with Evolution under linux, which sorts most of the mailing lists into folders. Then a delete most of the mailing list mail because I can read it off the archives. I only receive mailing lists so I can post to them; it would be nice to have "send-only" mailing list membership for such uses.

I have most of the email I've received since 1994 backed up on CD-R. I even still have the mail where my wife sent me a short note to say I had a nice web page. That's how we met - she was in Nova Scotia and I in California!

I have filters to put all the mail I know I want into some mailbox or other. Almost everything left in my inbox is spam. Periodically I scan through it to see if there's a wayward legitimate letter, but mostly I just leave it.

My friend sent me an email last night that says he is getting about 400 spams a day now.


I am the K5 user now known as MichaelCrawford. I am not my corporation.


Huge mailboxes (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by vadim on Fri May 17, 2002 at 07:05:03 AM EST

A while ago I set up another computer (Cyrix 300, 32MB RAM, 850 HD) as a mail server. It runs Debian and uses ReiserFS. For email I use Courier IMAP (Maildir mailboxes) and it's *much* faster than what I could get on my Duron 850 with 256MB RAM. Another advantage is that in the Maildir format every message is a file. That makes it easy to set up a cron job to delete anything older than a month, for example
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Ugh (4.00 / 5) (#55)
by DeadBaby on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:31:15 AM EST

Why would anyone even consider buying a product pushed by a company who thinks SPAM is a good way to sell products? To me, it's an instant red flag. Real companies with good products don't have to rely on SPAM, ever.

I would call this guy a moron but I know he isn't. He's just saying these stupid things becuase he has to. That's what business is all about.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

Business (3.66 / 3) (#131)
by wurp on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:00:13 PM EST

doesn't require you to be a spineless lying ass.  It is possible to have ethics and still make money (for an example, see google).

Some spineless lying asses are successful in business, but don't let business be an excuse for despicable behavior.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

how annoying (3.50 / 6) (#56)
by j0s)( on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:34:29 AM EST

i do believe this is the most annoying thing ive read in a long time. i dislike spam as much as anyone else, but since i *only* get about 50 (maybe a few more) a day, plus 30-some from my other account that i tried to keep all the porno spams flowing towards, and the other 15 to the email account i have never used, i guess its not that much of a hassle. or something. i get about 1 porno spam i opted into, and thats just so i can see free boobies easily, and theres 5 different sets of boobies everyday. sometimes, when your bored, you just need it. so i click delete all, then unselect it, and its all good. the other email, i go read around the website, then login to empty the email every couple days, not to much of a hassle. but its funny casue ive never posted anything to anything with this email, yet it slowly keeps attracting more spam. my main account, the one listed here, i actually have to think about what im keeping and read the sender or the subject to decide. id love to just hit delete, but when you start receiving mass amounts of email, you cant hit delete wihtout losing something you want.

so now, after this, im definitely seriously contemplating staying up a lil longer to set up hotmail to filter my email, not like itd be hard, but i want to do it for the simple reason of forwarding all this shit, especially the 40 or so porno spams a day, to mister BDennis410@aol.com, just cause he deserves it for saying its good and we should all like it. i get enough advertising from radio, tv, banner ads and every other advertising medium ever created that i have to see everyday. so fuck this guy, you can have all my spam if you like it so much and dont mind "hitting delete". and since i know itll only get through a couple times before you block my email addy, maybe ill spoof it and send it through a different server other than from hotmail, just so you can see what its like to really get spammed, when you cant just opt out. which by the way, i havent bothered doing to any of this, cause as another post said, it is just easier to hit delete than to search for a real opt out that doesnt just opt you in to more.


-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.


Anti-spam ISPs (4.00 / 5) (#57)
by dirtydingus on Fri May 17, 2002 at 07:01:11 AM EST

There are email providers/ISPs who do a good job of killing spam before you see it in your POP account.

I get (some of) my email using an email service at 141.com who seem to have some very fierce spam filters. In fact so fierce that I stopped getting mail from people that I wanted and asked them to start keeping "spam" mail but putting an ID on it so that I could filter it into a separate folder. :-)

Another one is california.com but I don't personally use them and so do not know too much about how their filters work.

Come to think of it the Yahoo filter is pretty good also

DD


People can be put into 10 groups: Those that understand binary and those that don't.

Filtering (3.00 / 2) (#115)
by ephelon on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:36:24 PM EST

I have the luxury of maintaining my own server for email.  As well as the convenience of using IMAP for everything, I have configured my server to use check several blacklists.

It's worked quite well, and I only receive one or two messages every few days.  I get more spam from legitimate(-ish) companies than anything, now.  I don't mind these so much because they (usually) honour unsubscribe requests.

However, it took me a fair bit of time and research to get all of this set up, and it's honestly rather silly that I had to do such a thing in the first place.

The most effective (read: agressive) blacklist that I have come across is probably the one run by spamcop.com.  After adding their address to my list of servers, virtually all spam disappeared.  

So far, no complaints about people not being able to send me email.  (Of course, it might be hard to complain...)  =)

-- This is not my home; the cats just let me stay here.
[ Parent ]

I use ifile to get rid of SPAM messages (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by ORBman on Fri May 17, 2002 at 07:31:32 AM EST

I wrote scripts for unix/procmail/ifile (and mutt) system that filters out (into special mailbox which I check not so often) unwanted messages according to self-learning word usage statistics.

http://Xtrmntr.org/ORBman/ifile.procmail.html

I also write a (not so nice) script for ripping out the address of first relay before your smtp server and his ISP provider to send spam complaint to. Cause the shell script is not so well written (but pretty functional and useful), if you want it, write me an email (see link above, it points to my homepage).

/dev/null (3.00 / 1) (#135)
by KiTaSuMbA on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:27:52 PM EST

is the most probable recipient of your anti-spam complain. Or, even worse, the relay is a forged/breached poor guy that didn't do his "homework" as a sysadmin.
Right now our protection is mostly up to filters, responsible mailserver administration (see my previous post on the horrors of hotmail) and the use of multiple acounts (having a couple of them for registrations and targeting spam and another/few serious ones, that just about your work associates/friends know about).
The most annoying thing to happen is receiving unsolicited pr0n spam at work just when your manager is over your shoulder to discuss some new projects...
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
no /dev/null for most (none / 0) (#174)
by ORBman on Sat May 18, 2002 at 06:10:23 PM EST

No, I send complaint to the SMTP server from which my SMTP server got the email. So it can't be forged, because my SMTP server knows the IP.

I send complaint to his_domain@abuse.net
and to his ISP provider (email from whois request).

[ Parent ]

I misread then... (none / 0) (#181)
by KiTaSuMbA on Sun May 19, 2002 at 12:24:38 PM EST

I had the impression you tried to target the first sender (rush-reading generates misunderstanding...)
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
Creative spam (3.66 / 12) (#62)
by ChiPHeaD on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:09:00 AM EST

I got this spam from a "Lisa Evans" the other day, thought I'd share:

Hey, This is going to sound strange, but I had the biggest crush on you, so I got your email address from a friend. You used to come into the store where I worked every once in a while and I always wanted to say something, but I never had the nerve to. I've been working out and dieting and I weigh 110 now, and last time you saw me I was more like 150. I've been running 3 miles everyday. Want to feel my muscles? hehe :)

Then there's some more crap to that effect and a link to some website.  Whatever, I just wish all spam would be so flattering, instead of telling me I have a small penis all the time.

In other news (4.28 / 7) (#70)
by wiredog on Fri May 17, 2002 at 08:59:18 AM EST

An RIAA rep says that he likes anti-copying features on his CDs, and Jack Valenti thinks that DVD copy protections are "just swell".

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
Private spamming (3.33 / 3) (#71)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:10:44 AM EST

Some people think sending the spam they get to other people is OK. I don't like spam, and I don't like people spamming others on the grounds they don't want to receive it. If we wish to put a stop to spamming, or find other answers to the problem, it does not help when private persons do the same thing as the spamming corporations. If spamming is OK from private persons it most certainly is OK from corporations.

I ask everyone who thinks resending spam to others is OK to reconsider their ethics. If you send spam, you're spammer no matter how much you get it yourself. If you wish to fight it, fight it like an honest person.



Definition... (2.50 / 2) (#72)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:13:31 AM EST

Spam is unsolicited e-mail sent IN BULK. Messages sent to a single recipient can not be spam, per definition. He just has to mail me once, then I'll stop.
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Re: Definition... (2.00 / 1) (#74)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:18:59 AM EST

If it is send by a script it can be considered "bulk."

But back to the definition of spam. Some say spam is "unsolicited e-mail sent IN BULK". Others, like me, think it is any sort of unwanted commercial email, no matter from whom it is coming. If you resend all your spam to some private person it can be considered harasment as well as spamming.



[ Parent ]
no scripting... (2.66 / 3) (#78)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:26:04 AM EST

I send it by hand, with tender loving care for the spam-loving twit. And yes, it is harassment. It's the whole point.
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you should reread your other comment (1.50 / 2) (#80)
by juahonen on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:34:32 AM EST

Here. Even if the person says "I love spam" it does not mean the same as if he has given consent for you to spam him or send the spam you get to him.



[ Parent ]
however... (1.50 / 2) (#83)
by TurboThy on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:52:53 AM EST

If he had consented to receiving my messages, it would not be spam. He loves spam. Therefore, it would not make sense for me to make sure he actually wanted the spam I'm sending him, as that would make it non-spam, and that is (apparently) not what he wants.
__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
Two wrongs don't make a right (3.75 / 4) (#73)
by Jevesus on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:17:33 AM EST

Most of the time, by a wide margin, I would agree with you. But when the subject is clearly out of his mind and cannot be reasoned out of his ignorance it calls for drastic measures. Signing up the subject to dozens or hundreds of mailinglists if you like, forwarding spam to, etc.
If the subject in question has expressely stated that he "loves spam" that further justifies these drastic measures.

- Jevesus
[ Parent ]
It was a rhetorical point (4.00 / 4) (#94)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:10:01 AM EST

I was trying to make the point that, if Mr. Dennis likes spam so much, he shouldn't object to receiving more. I assumed that he would turn my offer down, which allows me to make the point: If he doesn't want my spam, what makes him think I want it? Kind of like the rhetorical point Gandalf is making when he says, "Many who live deserve death. And some who die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so quick to deal out death in judgement." Only different.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

The guy's an amateur (3.90 / 10) (#81)
by davidmb on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:37:45 AM EST

Just take a look at the Netweb site here.

Hmmm, a Geocities web site and an AOL email address. I'd certainly put him charge of my internet PR!
־‮־

Gary North likes spam, too (1.63 / 19) (#82)
by ubu on Fri May 17, 2002 at 09:46:16 AM EST

Spam as a Social and Economic Indicator

But I like Mr. Dennis' argument better.

Changing my E-mail address is not an option; it would disrupt my communications and my life to no end at this point. And I know I'm not alone.

Hehe, okay. Life's full of tough choices, neh?

Unacceptable, you say? Then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to force it on the rest of us.

Idiot polemicist. Of course, Mr. Dennis isn't sending you any spam email, and he's not "forcing" anything on anyone. You're the jackass who wants to force the issue, you Canadian twat.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
heh (3.00 / 2) (#93)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:02:34 AM EST

First time in my life I've been falsely accused of being Canadian. :-)
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]
Sneakemail Sneakemail Sneakemal! (3.75 / 4) (#85)
by Adam Tarr on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:03:52 AM EST

go to sneakemail.com. Trust me. Best anti-spam idea I could imagine.

djb's internet mail 2000 (4.42 / 7) (#96)
by kipple on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:24:40 AM EST

Quoting from djb's website:
IM2000 is a project to design a new Internet mail infrastructure around the following concept: Mail storage is the sender's responsibility.
The idea is really interesting, no matter how good I can explain it: go read it, you'll be surprised. On the other hand, D. J. Bernstein has a nice "incoming" filter for the mail he receives; this is the "qsecretary" program, which sends you an e-mail in reply to check if your e-mail is valid; once it receives your reply, your first e-mail can pass trough and get to the receipt. It can be personalized, and it looks more or less like this:
Hi. This is D. J. Bernstein's automated mail-handling program. I've received a message from you. The top of your message is shown below. Professor Bernstein receives many interesting messages. Unfortunately, he also receives a torrent of unsolicited commercial mail, unsolicited job applications, unsolicited mailing-list subscriptions, forged mailing-list subscriptions, etc. Professor Bernstein has asked me to reject all bulk mail messages. But I'm a rather primitive computer program, and I'm not sure whether your message is bulk mail. If you reply to this notice, you are (1) acknowledging that Professor Bernstein does not want to receive bulk mail; (2) confirming that your message is not part of a bulk mailing; and (3) agreeing to pay Professor Bernstein $250 if your message is part of a bulk mailing. I won't look at the contents of your reply. A simple OK is fine, as long as it's sent to the address shown above. You don't have to include a second copy of your message. If you do not reply to this notice, your message will eventually be returned to you, and Professor Bernstein will not see it. I realize that this confirmation process is inconvenient. I'm sorry for the hassle. I hope that IM2000, Professor Bernstein's new Internet mail architecture, succeeds in eliminating these problems. In the meantime, we're all suffering because of a few inconsiderate people. Sincerely, The qsecretary program P.S. Professor Bernstein has asked me to convey his own apologies to you if you're someone he knows. I'm sure he'll tell me to accept subsequent messages from you without confirmation. P.P.S. If you're a legitimate mailing-list manager, and you've received what appears to be a subscription request from djb@cr.yp.to: That request is a forgery. Professor Bernstein uses different addresses for his mailing-list subscriptions. Please remove djb@cr.yp.to from your mailing list. Do not reply to this message. Note that high-quality mailing-list software confirms each subscription request with a secure cryptographic authenticator; supports tracing by returning a complete copy of each request, including Received fields; and supports filtering by adding a Mailing-List field to every outgoing message, including confirmation notices. If your software does not have these features, upgrade! --- Below this line is the top of your message.
I wonder however how can it be implemented; maybe by dedicating a new tcp port, and keeping the compatibility with SMTP/POP? Also the project is not complete: there are questions, and no software written for it. But still I think that's the way to go.
Have fun, anyway.
--- There are two kind of sysadmins: Paranoids and Losers (adapted from D. Bach)
Now that's interesting (3.50 / 2) (#99)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 11:37:09 AM EST

His proposal is a decent one; I just wonder if the existing SMTP architecture is too entrenched to make it workable in the long term.

I know Bernstein's work from other sources; I have used his qmail server in a variety of settings, and it's always been reliable, and easy to "tweak" to make it do what you want. (I may not necessarily agree with the way he licenses the code, but, after reading his explanation of why he licenses qmail the way he does, I can understand where he's coming from, and I'm just thankful he's made qmail available to the extent he has.)

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

DJB misses the point *again* (none / 0) (#122)
by PigleT on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:10:36 PM EST

First up, I've not followed the link to IM2000, although the idea of sender-side resource provision for mail sent sounds good - but it won't necessarily stop everyone using SMTP overnight...

But my main grief is this work-load multiplier of his. I've said it before, and will continue to say it again, these "authenticate yourself!" systems take a low spam load and replace it by making *every* *valid* sender do work instead. I find that horribly unethical - and it's done for purely selfish reasons, too: the problem with spam is not the millions of recipients who should "just press delete", it's the waste of sysadmins' time on the networks it passes through.

Still. I'm hardly surprised that The Great Ego hasn't thought his own email system through properly.
~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
[ Parent ]

Work Load Increase? (none / 0) (#152)
by Souhait on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:51:17 PM EST

I admit that having to write twice is slightly annoying, but with the addition of an accepted list anyone you'd correspond with on a regular basis would never have to worry about it. This would only catch people you either don't much care for or don't know - while it might be possible to legislate spam away (not likely any time soon) people may as well take steps into their own hands. I want to see a bulk mailing telling people about a program that stops bulk mailing.

[ Parent ]
Unethical??? (none / 0) (#160)
by delmoi on Sat May 18, 2002 at 05:45:38 AM EST

If they took the time to write you the message, obviously they want to talk to you. Why shouldn't they authenticate themselves?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
I use (and help develop A-S-K) (3.00 / 1) (#137)
by kwerle on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:37:00 PM EST

It is somewhat simimlar to the system described, though the messages are queued on my system. It just has a white/ignore/black list and sends a confirmation message if you're an unknown. I no longer get spam in my inbox.

http://a-s-k.sf.net
http://sourceforge.net/projects/a-s-k/

[ Parent ]
whitelisting to stop spam (4.00 / 1) (#143)
by NFW on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:17:38 PM EST

There are a number of whitelist-based spam stoppers out there. Never one to shrink away from reinventing a wheel, I wrote my own with procmail and perl a little while ago. If you send me mail, my 'automated secretary' asks you to confirm that you are not a spammer. If you sent mail with a bogus from address, I'll never see it.

Whitelight: the light weight white list spam stopper.

It's not perfect, but I'm happy with it already and it's going to evolve over time (as I get new ideas and/or as other contribute new ideas). I have received exactly one piece of spam since I got this thing working.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

He likes spam? Good, he can have mine (3.66 / 6) (#102)
by Vicegrip on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:27:04 PM EST

My hotmail acounts, even those I haven't given the address of to anyone, receive mountains of spam. My main account receives about 20-40 spams a day. Every last one of these emails contains either fraudulent deceptive marketing or is pornographic in nature. In fact, as soon as I find his email address, I'm forwarding him all of next week's spam I receive.

Re: He likes spam? Good, he can have mine (4.75 / 4) (#127)
by doctordank on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:22:16 PM EST

My hotmail accounts, even those I haven't given the address of to anyone, receive mountains of spam.

You don't need to give the address anyone. Looking at the TO: field on the spams I get, I've always found dozens of permutations of my address. They have bots try all kinds of combinations, hoping they get a sucker who'll write back and confirm the address. Its the marriage of a crapflood and a dictionary attack.

[ Parent ]
If I didn't know any better.... (4.00 / 5) (#106)
by doctordank on Fri May 17, 2002 at 12:48:05 PM EST

I'd say it were ripped off from the Onion.That CNET piece is just too hard to believe.

I wonder if his previous articles include:
* "Bonzi and I are Buddies for Life."
* "Pop-ups? Yes Please!"
* "Sure Mr. Jehovahs Witness, Please Tell Me All About Your Religion."

Actually, CNET is a spam source (4.25 / 4) (#120)
by MickLinux on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:51:36 PM EST

I was booting up recently, and *in my bootup process* it asked me would I like to accept two cookies from CNET.  I hadn't downloaded anything that I knew of, so I suspect it was a version of spyware.  Linux spyware, or else some version of HTML/JAVA spyware.

I fired a letter off to CNET, asking what kind of spyware they were using on me, and why did their cookies show up in my bootup process.  They, in turn, fired back an email directing me to their spam policy site.  Essentially, they will only spam me if I have anything to do with one of their unmentioned spam partners.

So CNET favors spam *because CNET uses spam*.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

What I don't get about spam (4.66 / 6) (#110)
by awgsilyari on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:09:44 PM EST

The thing that baffles me is how poorly written most spam is. Sometimes there's 500k of HTML, all well-done, but the actual content sounds like it came from a brain-damaged 5-year-old.

Call me stupid, but it seems like if you want to move product, you should advertise professionally. I'm not backing spam, but it just strikes me as odd. Perhaps it's because these "companies" see spam as a zero-cost option, and they take the zero-cost mentality to the extreme? What are people thoughts?

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com

Lowest common denominator (4.00 / 2) (#149)
by Tatarigami on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:59:08 PM EST

A lot of my customers have received variations on the Nigeria scam recently, and asked me to look at it for them. What amazes me is that the senders don't bother to change the country of origin, the name of the 'minister' or 'general' sending it, or even all the angled brackets which show how many times it had been forwarded before they received it!

In 'Cuckoo's Egg', Clifford Stoll writes that you don't have to be particularly intelligent to be a cracker, just patient and sneaky. Looks like that rule holders true for scammers as well.

[ Parent ]
Someone doesn't get spam? What a shame. (3.75 / 4) (#112)
by MickLinux on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:22:38 PM EST

Could I have the list of email addresses for people who *don't* get spam?

Actually, I didn't mean that.

You know, I have an X cut into my front door, because I was foolish enough to give a beggar some help.  Look it up in the dictionary -- I am the definition of a "mark".  I also was foolish enough to reply to the "autoremove" instructions once.  

I do have a proposed solution.  Every bit of spam has something real to hang your hat on.  Sometimes it is a link to a spam-service company [for example, a company that provides ICQ].  Sometimes it is an email address.  Well, any time there is spam, find that real address.  If you can't get the real address of the advertiser, then go after the enabler.  But get *those* email addresses, and then post them on a news site or a web site for the ratbot scraping programs to harvest.  The more spam you get involving a company, the more they are goling to suffer from spam.  A typical newssite post might be like "I just got some spam from one of those random throwaway line spammers, but their html code linked me through to www.i*c*q*c*h*a*t.com.  So anyone who wants to, go over and send an email address to webmaster@i*c*q*c*h*a*t.com, and complain.  Other email addresses at the company include:  

{list begins here}.

So now mr. webmaster, as well as everyone else, is going to get a ton of spam.  If it gets bad enough, they'll get shut down by their own weaponry.

P.S.  I really did write in to one of the webmasters of such a spam-enabling chatsite, and it was the standard reply for "yeah, we don't allow any spam associated with this site, so shut up and eat your spam like a man."  So complaints don't work.  They don't shut the spammers down.  So I feel that they are just as guilty, or moreso, because they enable the spammers to hide.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.

That does it! (2.40 / 5) (#117)
by broken77 on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:43:49 PM EST

Every time I go to a site that requires me to give them an email address, and every time I get spam from a porn site that gives me a link to "unsubscribe" my email address, I'm entering his email into the form.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz

I'd go one better (2.00 / 1) (#133)
by bob23kali on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:34:55 PM EST

I use spamassassin with Kmail, and it'd be nothing to forward every piece of spam it catches to him ( or at least to the letters@news.com address listed in his article.)

Hell, if he loves it, he can just have mine, and we'll both be happy.

[ Parent ]

Question about SpamAssassin (none / 0) (#185)
by pwhysall on Mon May 20, 2002 at 03:21:02 AM EST

When you say you "use it with KMail" do you mean you've got it plugged directly into KMail, in which case I'm interested to know how you do it, or do you mean that you've got it plugged into your local MTA?

SpamAssassin plugged directly into MUAs would be fearsomely useful.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#164)
by awgsilyari on Sat May 18, 2002 at 11:48:37 AM EST

From what I understand, that unsubscribe botton is meant to confirm that there's a real person on the other side, reading that email.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]
That's the idea, think about it (nt) (none / 0) (#190)
by broken77 on Mon May 20, 2002 at 02:22:08 PM EST


I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Sorry, need to say this, too. (3.75 / 4) (#118)
by MickLinux on Fri May 17, 2002 at 01:47:07 PM EST

Normally I don't like to reply to my own posts...  but I do need to say this.

I think that people *should* be charitable, even to beggars [especially to them], and I don't intend to stop being charitable because of one lousy / lazy /dishonest group of beggars  who employs the "mark" principle.

Nonetheless, I do think that one should try to find ways that don't benefit -- for want of a bettter term -- evil.  So that means not giving money if food seems more appropriate, and not giving help to beggars who show up in an inappropriate forum.  

Alms are commanded by most religions, mine (christianity) included.  However, as an aside -- and it is only an aside -- having beggars and giving alms sure beats having a welfare state.  At least I can say no if I think a yes is inappropriate.

 

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.

Giving to beggars is not the only alms (4.00 / 2) (#124)
by Dephex Twin on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:19:07 PM EST

Alms are commanded by most religions, mine (christianity) included.
Validity of religions aside, giving money or food to a beggar is not the only way to give alms. In fact, I would consider it an enabling mechanism and actually negative in the long run. It gets them through the rest of the day perhaps, but they are no closer to getting out of their rut. Give money to charities that you believe will create programs and work to make things better. That, IMO, is the way to *really* help. Sure, you might not get to feel as good about yourself because you don't see someone directly receive your money, but that's not what's really important.

mark


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
A different perspective (none / 0) (#148)
by Tatarigami on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:52:53 PM EST

Give money to charities that you believe will create programs and work to make things better.

I used to be in database admin for a fundraising company, and while working alongside some of these charities making things better, I learned a lasting disgust for the amount of bureaucratic waste that goes on in them. These days I will only consider donating things that can't be spent -- food, clothing, or time.

I think part of the problem is that these organisations want to be efficient with your donations, so they won't hire people with actual management training or experience for their branch offices -- too expensive.

I'm sure another part of the problem is that people who spend all their time dealing with the day-to-day running of a charity lose perspective and begin to see self-perpetuation and promotion for the organisation itself as their highest goal.

Either way, I'm convinced that by removing the personal element of charitable work, you remove a lot of the effectiveness.

[ Parent ]
Partial agreement both sides (4.00 / 1) (#173)
by MickLinux on Sat May 18, 2002 at 05:16:19 PM EST

I am convinced that America requires charitable organizations.  At this point, Americans are just too afraid to handle the job themselves, and when the burdens of society fall on one person or another, it is like the whole country lands on them.  So charitable organizations are needed in America.  

More than that, it is self-propagating, since when there are charitable organizations, people feel that they don't have to help out themselves.

That being said, I think that human -to - human charity is the best.  It shows actual charity as well as giving the help/alms.  But it can be abused by the recipient, and if it is  then it becomes entirely inappropriate for that one combination of almsgiver/recipient.  

That being said, the statement about getting out of the rut is valid, but only where it is possible to get out of the rut.  In some cases it isn't functionally possible, and in those cases alms is not "enabling" except insofar as it enables life.

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

NTK now carries the story (4.44 / 9) (#121)
by p0ppe on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:06:08 PM EST

""My spam is important to me. In this new age of the Internet, I need the information and opportunities that e-mail marketing provides.", writes BARRY DENNIS in C|Net's trolling-for-hits opinion column. For someone who loves the
interactivity of the Web and runs a Net marketing company himself, Barry seems strangely reticent to link to his company's site or give away his e-mail address. Can we help? One quick search finds Barry's impressive corporate Net presence is a detailed Geocities site, which reveals his e-mail address as the equally prestigious BDennis410@AOL.com. That's BDennis410@AOL.com, you Web-spidering spambots. http://web.archive.org/http://www.geocities.com/bdennis410/netweb.html

- remember, Barry: just hit delete!
http://news.com.com/2010-1076-915523.html"


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."

Bravo! (4.00 / 4) (#126)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:19:53 PM EST

I enjoy reading NTK...

I didn't bother trying to find his real E-mail address because I wasn't interested in actually hassling the guy, just posing a rhetorical question. NTK and several K5 commenters seem to have thought otherwise.

However, I might caution those people who want to bombard Mr. Dennis with spam: He just might be the kind of guy that would complain of "harassment" to your ISP. I personally won't be sending or forwarding him any messages; that way, if he tries to file a complaint against me (since my name's on the article), I can say, "Have I sent his account even one E-mail message, harassing or otherwise? No? Case closed." However, if any of you think differently, I can't do anything to stop you. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Just like spam, how can he complain about us all? (4.00 / 1) (#159)
by delmoi on Sat May 18, 2002 at 05:19:07 AM EST

Well, I won't be sending him mail because, well I just don't care. And while he may have chosen an onerous position, I can't really falt someone for enjoying spam. If he were advocating sending it, it would be diffrent

but anyway, how is he doing to complain about everyone especialy given the thousands of people who will be bombing him, etc?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Give The Man What He Wants (none / 0) (#199)
by Steve B on Tue May 21, 2002 at 10:39:35 PM EST

However, I might caution those people who want to bombard Mr. Dennis with spam: He just might be the kind of guy that would complain of "harassment" to your ISP.

Ah, but we have his opt-in on record (public record, yet).

[ Parent ]

Spam okay; porn spam not okay (3.75 / 4) (#123)
by trentonl on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:12:10 PM EST

I'm not that put off by spam. I can deal. I can hit delete.

It's when I get 5 offers a day to enlarge my penis, or a promotion for the hottest, wettest, sluts on the Internet, that I get annoyned.

Porm spam is totally inapropriate and would be prevented from reaching your real mailbox. Why the difference in standards for electornic spam?

An excellent point (3.50 / 2) (#129)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 02:37:21 PM EST

Not even Mr. Dennis, by his own admission, likes porn spam. Yet it persists.

(I don't know if I'd file penis enlargers under "porn." I'd tend to classify them more under "highly dubious products whose claims wouldn't hold up under investigation by an outside party, and that, if they tried to place ads for them in any reputable venue, they'd be turned down." But it's kind of on the cusp here.)

Actually, once, I did get a postcard in the mail from a purveyor of what one might refer to as "lingerie, novelties, and accessories for the adult market." They wanted me to send it back to them before they'd send me their free catalog. I (wisely) shredded the card, and I never heard from them again. Perhaps that's a model for E-mail advertisement we could learn to live with.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Huh? (2.50 / 2) (#132)
by BLU ICE on Fri May 17, 2002 at 03:18:42 PM EST

They tell me about things I'm interested in, such as services and products that might satisfy some of my needs.

So what kind of services or products is he interested in, exactly? ;-)

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

The content doesn't matter. (3.50 / 2) (#136)
by arafel on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:31:54 PM EST

It's the method of delivery that's important, not the content. Porn spam is no better or worse than any other spam - they should all be put out of business.
Paul
[ Parent ]
the dark side makes a point... (3.00 / 1) (#138)
by KiTaSuMbA on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:44:11 PM EST

reading on the comments on this Dennis guy, I thought to give his site a glance. Surprise! that geocities site is "unavailable because has exceeded its allocated transfer size."
I bet he is enjoying his spam throughout this "accidental downtime."
Sometimes black hats look less bad than usually...
The irony of life!
ahahahah
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
Alternate link (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by Erbo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:57:27 PM EST

Use this link (culled from NTK).

Not too impressive looking, IMHO.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

a 1 man scam?! (2.00 / 1) (#144)
by KiTaSuMbA on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:24:03 PM EST

website evaluation?!?! ahahahahaha
yeah, call the expert, pay him to tell you you need more coulorful gifs and perhaps a flash intro...
It IS impressive: on how stupid one must be to take this guy seriously...
:-)
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
Barry Dennis' Geocities homepage down temporarily (3.50 / 2) (#139)
by sticky on Fri May 17, 2002 at 04:46:29 PM EST

Due to bandwidth being exceeded. I've done my part to help take it down permanently. You can too. Just go here, add bdennis410/netweb.html in the address line on the form and check the "Unregistered commercial page" radio button.

Hellooooo spam crawlers! (4.50 / 4) (#142)
by greg pass on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:13:29 PM EST

Two tips for people who make a website to take out spam-bots (that is, bots that search every inch of the web for email addresses).

1) Get Sugarplum. This sets up apparantly hundreds and thousands of e-mail addresses (most of which are fake, some of which are the e-mail of other spammers, hee hee) and makes it a pain in the ass for a spammer, who has to clean out the fakes (potentially deleting real e-mail addresses) and then tell the bot not to search your site (which of course is a good thing). See an example of sugarplum in action.

2) Failing to be able to use the abovetry the following. Would you beleive that most spam-bots search source code rather than the actual page for the addresses? Use a simple JavaScript command to artifically create your address:

var spam="empnade"
var bots="@"
var suck="yahoo"
var dick=".com"
document.write('<A HREF=mailto:'+spam+bots+suck+dick+'>E-mail me!</A>')

Your e-mail address doesn't appear anywhere in the source code, but will appear on the page to normal people. Of course, you should change the email in the code to yours. Otherwise, it will display mine. And the link text "E-mail me!" is somewhat queer, you amy want to change that too (or not, your choice.)

I hope this helps someone out there. Because it helps me a lot.
greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass greg pass

...and if JavaScript is unavailable or disabled? (none / 0) (#162)
by dorward on Sat May 18, 2002 at 06:27:18 AM EST

Of course this hides your email address entirely from people who don't have JavaScript enabled. It might be a better idea to use a form to mail script with the destination address hard coded in to the server side script.

[ Parent ]
A more reliable way.. (none / 0) (#178)
by jesterzog on Sat May 18, 2002 at 11:29:25 PM EST

dorward pointed out that you have a problem as soon as there's a browser that doesn't support javascript or has it turned off.

A more reliable way might be to put your email address in an image, and watch the spambots try to figure out that.

Some spambots just search for any string with an @ symbol, so you'd still have to be careful about putting your address into the alternate text field. If you mangle it though, most people who use non-graphical browsers are competent enough to understand what's going on and figure out what you mean.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
Two sides to every story... (4.00 / 3) (#145)
by NFW on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:24:45 PM EST

If this guy wants spam, that's his business. He can have all he wants.

And for those of us who don't want spam... what? Why should we be forced to put up with it and/or unsubscribe from 5 new mailing lists every day?

That's what opt-in is all about. He wants to opt in, cool, more power to him. But where does he get off suggesting that what's right for him is right for the rest of us?

Anti-spammers have no wish to prevent people from receiving ads via email. They only want to ensure that people who don't want them don't get them. This a-hole, on the other hand, wants to take that choice away.

Anti-spam point of view: If you want ads, sign up for it, and have all you wish.

This a-hole's hairbrained idea: If you don't want ads, tough cookies. I like ads, you should too.

What a bleepin' idiot.


--
Got birds?


Two more points (3.00 / 1) (#146)
by bouncing on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:35:16 PM EST

I think you pretty much summed up the whole story in just a few sentences. Good job. :) I have to ad something to this. The DMA lies about this. It is either difficult or expensive to opt-out of direct mail and direct phone calls. Furthermore, the system is volontary; small businesses almost never use these lists.

Want evidence? Tell me why it costs money to opt-out of paper mail spam via the Internet? This costs money? What I deal: I pay you, and you stop spamming me.

[ Parent ]

YIKES. (none / 0) (#166)
by NFW on Sat May 18, 2002 at 01:24:14 PM EST

How long until most spam arrives with a "click here to be removed" link that goes to paypal?


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

"User unknown" (3.50 / 2) (#147)
by p0ppe on Fri May 17, 2002 at 05:50:51 PM EST

I guess he terminated his account due to all the spam he recieved... :)

* ATTENTION *

Your e-mail is being returned to you because there was a problem with its
delivery.  The address which was undeliverable is listed in the section
labeled: "----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----".

The reason your mail is being returned to you is listed in the section
labeled: "----- Transcript of Session Follows -----".

The line beginning with "<<<" describes the specific reason your e-mail could
not be delivered.  The next line contains a second error message which is a
general translation for other e-mail servers.

Please direct further questions regarding this message to your e-mail
administrator.

--AOL Postmaster

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
<bdennis410@aol.com>

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to air-xi02.mail.aol.com.:
>>> RCPT To:<bdennis410@aol.com>
<<< 550 bdennis410 IS NOT ACCEPTING ANY MAIL
550 <bdennis410@aol.com>... User unknown


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."

Tried to send him a bit of my own spam. (4.40 / 5) (#150)
by Jizzbug on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:03:47 PM EST

Since Barry Dennis enjoys spam so much, I thought I'd send him a bit of my own. Here's what I had to say:

<!-- begin my own spam -->
Date: Fri, 17 May 2002 16:40:00 -0500 (CDT)
From: Derek Moore
To: BDennis410@AOL.com
Subject: An old friend...

...that wants to torture you.

Hello, spammer.

It's nice to hear that you love spam. Well, I have some spam for you:

I'm an independent computer consultant and hacker for hire. I saw you have a crappy little Geocities website for your business. If you really want to make money, Geocities is going to do you no good. I develop and design custom dynamic websites using PHP, Perl, PostgreSQL, and other technologies. Pretty much anything you request, I can deliver. I also provide hosting and all the other behind-the-scenes technical details for my clients' websites.

If you'd like to have your own easy-to-use, high quality, dynamic website for your business: I'm the guy to talk to.

[ derek p. moore ]-------------------[ http://hackunix.org/~derekm/pubkey.asc ]
[ derekm@hackunix.org ]----------------------------[ bfd2 fad6 1014 80c9 aaa8 ]
[ http://hackunix.org/~derekm/ ]-------------------[ a4a0 f449 3461 a443 51b9 ]

<!-- end my own spam -->

And here's the response that I recieved:

<!-- begin response -->
Date: Fri, 17 May 2002 17:37:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem <MAILER-DAEMON@aol.com>
To: Derek Moore
Subject: Returned mail: User unknown

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
<bdennis410@aol.com>

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to air-za02.mail.aol.com.:
}}} RCPT To:<bdennis410@aol.com>
{{{ 550 bdennis410 IS NOT ACCEPTING ANY MAIL
550 <bdennis410@aol.com>... User unknown
<!-- end response -->

It looks like we've collectively given this guy a taste of his own medicine. *smile* He's had to shutdown his own email... Now he knows how it feels to be denied access to your own email account due to excessive spamming.



I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
 -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

How much do you hate spam? (3.00 / 4) (#151)
by mingofmongo on Fri May 17, 2002 at 06:33:07 PM EST

I think more effort is being spent on stopping spam than was ever spent hunting down Nazi war criminals.

I spend less time deleting all my spam than I do reading just one real e-mail. And I get between 50 and 200 spams a day

On the other hand, I didn't get any mail for a couple weeks a while back, because my ISP was setting up filters and other "protections" that ended up protecting me from the evil of e-mail in general, not just spam

You are all running around in circles barking and chasing your tails. There are real problems for you all to think about and do something about, and everyone ducks those to yack about a minor irritant. The funny thing is, there isn't any conspiracy involved - trying to misdirect you away from seeing their dastardly plots - you are doing it yourselves.

I dislike spam, and I wish it would go away. I reserve hate for much more important things.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

An Idea (3.50 / 2) (#154)
by The Solitaire on Fri May 17, 2002 at 10:44:20 PM EST

Okay - I had this idea a while back to (hopefully) stop spam once and for all. However, it seems far too simple... One caveat - I know virtually nothing about email (other than how to send and recieve it) at all - I am not a techie. As such, this idea is very likely half-baked. I have no idea to whom I should suggest something like this, so I figure that sending it to all K5 is a good enough solution.

Okay - here's my idea... In an email reader, have some way of bouncing incoming email. That is, tell the email daemon or something to send an "unknown user" message back to the sender. Effectively that allows a user to be his/her own email filter. Of course, this will only work if spammers care whether they are sending to dead email addresses.

I don't know if this is even possible, and I certainly don't think it would stop all spam - but I assume that it might make life more difficult for spammers. Feel free to let me know what you think, including if this is a retarded idea...

I need a new sig.

Won't work (4.25 / 4) (#158)
by panum on Sat May 18, 2002 at 04:27:23 AM EST

Most of the spammers forge the mail headers anyway, so your reply is not likely to work at all. In the worst case the reply address is a working one, but belongs to some innocent third party.

If you try to bounce a message to non-working address, you are likely to get a non-deliverable notify -message in return. Should you use a robot for bouncing, you can too easily create a mail loop where the error/bounce goes back and forward, increasing in size all the time.

What we need is 1) no fscking open relays 2) strong anti-spam policy for all the ISPs. UDP (Usenet death penalty) should be given to any ISP whose network is found guilty of not preventing spamming. The UDP could be a short one, say 3 business days for the first violation. Then, for repeated offence, pull the damn plug for ever. Even a short UDP is going to scare the heck out of the ISP and their customers.

-P

[ Parent ]

It's been done (5.00 / 2) (#165)
by thebrix on Sat May 18, 2002 at 12:54:53 PM EST

Quite a few spam killers already have this facility; for example, MailWasher. I used it when I used Windows, and it did stop email from some sources. However, it can't work all the time ...

To demonstrate why, kmail, which I use now, has a Bounce command which tells you more than MailWasher; it pops up a box stating:

Return the message to the sender as undeliverable? This will only work if the email address of the sender, <x>, is valid. The returning email address will be reported as <y>.

That brings out the problem with anything which tries to bounce messages; <x> will, in the main, not be valid or not accept incoming email (eg a mailing list address).

[ Parent ]

It doesn't work. (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by NFW on Sat May 18, 2002 at 01:42:03 PM EST

I run a mail server, and with a domain name of 'whatever.net' it gets lots of spam sent to both real and nonexistent addresses. Whether or not an address exists does not seem to make any difference in the amount of spam an address receives.

One segment of the spamming industry consists of people who sell lists of addresses. They do not clean those lists - if they took out the dead email addresses, the list would be smaller, and then they couldn't charge as much for it.

The thing that makes the spamming industry so hard to deal with is the fact that nobody in the spamming industry has any economic motivation to reduce the impact they have on people who don't want spam. If they bothered people less, they would make less money.

With postal mail, it costs money to send junk mail, so there's at least some motivation to avoid sending it to bogus addresses, dead people, and even people who don't want it. With spam, all of the incentives point towards one goal: send more spam.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

From? (none / 0) (#207)
by holdfast on Fri Jun 14, 2002 at 03:05:32 PM EST

When they get your return, the spammer will be able to see who sent it - YOU!!

Of course you could get your system to pretend to be someone/something else, like a domain host or relay.  I think that would be descending to their level though.


The best option is to send it to /dev/nul - delete it.  Make sure you don't open it though - even looking at the preview in OutlookExpress sends them information that their message got through!


This is not free speech.  It is an antosocial public nuisance, the same as breaking wind in a restauraunt.  That is not against the law in my country.  There is a lot of social pressure against it though!


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Four Hours...Nuff Said? (3.50 / 2) (#156)
by n8f8 on Sat May 18, 2002 at 12:10:13 AM EST

  From  Subject  sorted in descending orderDate   Size
New  Phil Kairos  Credit Breakthrough- Clear Credit Online Fast...  May 17 3k
New  Date.com  tlowing@hotmail.com, Meet other Singles just ...  May 17 6k
New  prchsethis345@excite...  1 NEW FINDOUT ANYTHING ABOUT ANYONE (2833vUBU...  May 17 1k
New  crucialnews@micron.c...  Crucial Pricing Alert  May 17 3k
New  Wyman Ellery  I cleared up my credit online in 30 days .......  May 17 3k
New  Luna Shelley  Not Happy With Your Credit Scores? We Help......  May 17 3k
New  Professional Shopper  TREVOR, Get Paid to Shop! Get Paid to Eat Out...  May 17 3k
New  Secret Site  Save 10% on that new Car  May 17 3k
New  John  100% Free Adult Websites Below! bcc  May 17 4k
New  JavaScript.com  JavaScript.com News: Multi-Feed RSS Sidebar T...  May 17 12k
New  Increase Bust Size  cc: Increase Bust Size 1 to 4 Sizes Naturally...  May 17 5k
New  Cecil Nolan  Adults Only. Medical Breakthrough ..............  May 17 7k
New  AeroPool  A backyard pool in just 3 minutes!  May 17 5k
New  Mandisa Gypsy  Congratulations! Your Free Vacation awaits.. ...  May 17 3k
New  dmiller88@hotmail.co...  Fw: Looking for Opportunities to SAVE Money? ...  May 17 5k

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
crucialnews (4.00 / 1) (#163)
by acceleriter on Sat May 18, 2002 at 10:38:29 AM EST

At least one of those is likely an email you asked for at one point: the Crucial "pricing alert." Unless someone else maliciously entered your email address and asked for pricing updates on RAM.

[ Parent ]
Percentage (4.00 / 1) (#167)
by n8f8 on Sat May 18, 2002 at 01:28:53 PM EST

2 of the 15 items were legit (13.3%).

It's also important to note that I logged in after dinner and cleared out almost 80 junk items.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]

Youch. (4.00 / 1) (#175)
by acceleriter on Sat May 18, 2002 at 06:54:08 PM EST

I post my address in the from line of Usenet posts occasionally and don't get that much spam.

I subscribed to SpamCop a couple of years ago, and still religiously report all my spam. I think, though, that I've hit the point of diminishing returns with it, as it seems that most of those doing the spamming now have learned to do runs from open relays and host the sites in the Pacific Rim, which seems immune from spam complaints.

Of course, I could feign interest and follow the money, but who has time?

[ Parent ]

XP (none / 0) (#176)
by n8f8 on Sat May 18, 2002 at 07:04:04 PM EST

The massive spamming seems to have started when I upgraded to Windows XP.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Re: XP (none / 0) (#184)
by visigoth on Mon May 20, 2002 at 01:31:00 AM EST

Two (opposing) points:

1.  The volume of spam I receive has at least doubled over the past few months -- and XP was released a few months ago -- but I have yet to upgrade my Windows box to XP.

2.  In my experience, M$ just *loves* selling email addresses to spammers.  How else does a newly created hotmail account, having never ever been used for any purpose, acquire several spam mails within its first few hours of life?  I wouldn't doubt that an incidental side effect of "activating XP" might be the addition of said customer's email address to one or more advertising target lists.


[ Parent ]

lets all help barry dennis! (3.25 / 4) (#157)
by jmd2121 on Sat May 18, 2002 at 12:48:40 AM EST

it looks like his email address is down.

he likes spam so much -- we ought to let him have it!

I have sent all me spam from the last 3 months to the address listed in the article.  5.9 MB after mime encoding.  no bounces yet.

(sed removed the @ and "." symbols to protect the innocent)

He's just a guy... (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by Perianwyr on Sat May 18, 2002 at 03:21:28 PM EST

A friend of mine actually called him (as his offices are a local call from mine) and asked about his article.

Yes, Barry Dennis is a real person.

He's just another random, small marketing consultant. Apparently his company does not even offer spam mailing services to clients.

Mr. Dennis said he had received in excess of 10,000 hatemails since the publication of his article.

I don't think that he really understood the effects of talking about such a hot-button issue.

CNet's fault (4.66 / 3) (#171)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sat May 18, 2002 at 03:48:45 PM EST

In that case, it's CNet's fault for posting his article.  They sold it like he was the president of a large company, when actually he's probably the only employee.  He has nothing to do with spam, but somehow CNet decides that he is worthy of having his own article about spam posted, due to its inflammatory nature.  Just another case of False Authority Syndrome in the media..

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
But he's barely even "a guy" (4.00 / 1) (#189)
by jyoull on Mon May 20, 2002 at 01:57:37 PM EST

He's just a nobody who can't even afford a whole domain of his own, looking for attention. CNet should not be running articles from know-nothing publicity seekers... the guy probably works off a cart table that he sets up in the laundry room. I tried to call, but got voice mail. He was probably ironing.

[ Parent ]
Spam costs the receiver money, and other ramblings (4.33 / 6) (#172)
by Skapare on Sat May 18, 2002 at 04:24:45 PM EST

In the last year I received about 300 pieces of marketing garbage in the mail. In that same time, were it not for the fact that I have substantial anti-spam blocks on my mail servers, I would have received over 100,000 pieces of spam. Now assuming that it takes me 5 seconds to figure out that it is spam and delete it, this costs me or my employer, figuring on an estimated $50/hr low consulting rate (and if you figure it from employment rates, don't forget to include all other costs of employment, such as medical benefits), on the order of $7000.00 (US) per year of my time wasted deleting spam. Tossing out that 300 pieces of marketing garbage, assuming 10 seconds each, would cost me about $42.00 (US) per year. It probably cost them more than that to send it to me.

I don't consider marketing garbage to be that much of a problem. In the actual volumes received, it's not substantial and doesn't effect my time significantly at all. And I know it won't scale up to be a problem because of all those costs in producing or sending it. Since spam does not impose those costs on the sender, the sender ends up imposing those costs on me. That's why I hate it so. The messages I might get from reputable marketing businesses would also not be trying to do stock scam, pyramid schemes, or try to take me to a porn site, or try to fool me into financing a Nigerian bank scheme. If spam were entirely limited to just mail from reputable marketing businesses, and if it were held to a volume not much greater than what I get now by papermail, I would have no problem with it. I'd dare say there would be virtually no anti-spam (or anti-marketing) activity going on. The problem is that 99.99% (or greater) of spam is NOT sent by marketing firms that would be sending it to you by papermail if the internet were not here. In the same way that internet has opened up the voices of the people to speak their mind, it has also opened up the less people to spew forth their filth.

That said, I also am concerned that so much anti-spam activity could have a chilling effect on the means of carrying out free speech. If spam gets posted on kuro5hin or other forums, it can be (but isn't always) deleted. The principle here is that it is off-topic. Or at least that's how I justify it to myself. If I were running a forum, I'd create an special area called "spam" and just move it there so I could say I did not suppress anything, but just re-categorized it correctly. The problem is that anti-spammers are pushing an agenda that goes beyond preventing the receipt of spam. They are trying to not only have businesses disconnected for sending spam (even if they are on static IP addresses with correctly identifying reverse DNS, which would make it trivial to block them and only them) by threatening (and sometimes actually doing) to block the whole ISP. This is the chilling effect of anti-spam. They carry this further by also going after the web sites of businesses being promoted by the spam, demanding that web hosters take down the site. Now if that site is selling spamware, that's one thing. But if they are selling something unrelated to spam (assuming it's legal) this threat is often still done.

The chilling effect is that the same tactics could be used in cases not involving spam whatsoever. If a group of people hate some site because it promotes a controversial point of view (for example, either extreme in the never ending abortion debate), they could mount a campaign against the web hosting company. While that isn't a substantial threat today, I worry that it might become so in the future as larger corporate ISPs automate their response processes to the point where there is no thinking process involved at all before resulting in cancellation of customers.

I do make an effort in my anti-spam activities to make the judgement about what I want to accept, or not accept, on the basis of the way it costs me, as opposed to the content. For example, I avoid using mail filters that look at the content. If someone sends me mail and it's clear I don't want anything at all from people like that, I block their mail server. It's them and their server I block, not the mail itself (I didn't get any mail to judge because the SMTP connection was dropped early). I avoid blocking the whole ISP, unless by their own stupidity they make it hard to separate the spammers from normal people (as opposed to separating spam from normal mail). If they have a dedicated customer that runs a spamhaus, I block the spamhaus and that's it. If they move the spamhaus around to a new address (and it wasn't a case of expanding their address space), then I warn the ISP once and block them the next time it happens (the ISP has then proven they are the kind of people I don't want as peers).

As for the issue of Constitutionality, it doesn't apply to me because I am not a government. The First Amendment to the US Constitution says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech". But you see, I'm not Congress and I'm not the government. People do have the right to free speech, but they have the responsibility to take care of it for themselves. They have no right to expect me to do it for them. In the technology of the time this amendment was written, my statement would be "go get your own printing press". Now days, we have the Internet. But that's still not a right to hijack my mail server to send your own "free speech", regardles of whether it is about how I can enlarge my penis, or whether I should vote against Senator Hollings (were I to live in South Carolina). I don't have to, but I generally tend to voluntarily support other people's free speech. But there are limits. And where I can save myself $7000.00 in time, I think I will do that.



It's about choice. (5.00 / 3) (#177)
by NFW on Sat May 18, 2002 at 09:09:51 PM EST

If I were running a forum, I'd create an special area called "spam" and just move it there so I could say I did not suppress anything, but just re-categorized it correctly.

And as a person running a forum, that choice is your right. People who don't like that can choose to use other forums. I run a forum too, and when I see spam on my pages, I delete it on sight.

I am not suppressing anything. They're still free to say whatever they want, they just need to pay for the means by which they will say it. I pay for my site, so I limit the content on my site to what I deem appropriate. I have no obligation whatsoever to help a random stranger advertise his/her business. If they want to make it worth my while, we can talk. If they just leave their ads on my pages, phuc 'em. People who don't like that can use other forums. In the case of freeloading advertisers (read: spammers), I really wish they would. :-)

The problem is that anti-spammers are pushing an agenda that goes beyond preventing the receipt of spam. They are trying to not only have businesses disconnected for sending spam (even if they are on static IP addresses with correctly identifying reverse DNS, which would make it trivial to block them and only them) by threatening (and sometimes actually doing) to block the whole ISP.

There's a small misconception here on your part. Anti-spammers don't get spammers disconnected. What gets spammers disconnected is violating the terms of service imposed upon them (the spammers) by their internet service providers.

The ISP owns the wires, so the ISP decides what they will and will not allow. It's in the Acceptable Usage Policy or Terms of Service that all of their customers sign. Customers who don't like the AUP/TOS can go to other ISPs. Customers who don't abide by the AUP/TOS will be forced to go to other ISPs. No ISP has an obligation to provider services to any random customer. ISPs choose their customers, customers choose their ISPs, there's nothing wrong with any of this.

When sites get blackholed, that's just a bunch of people excercising their right to choose who they allow to connect to their servers. Some people (myself included, as well as the management of sites like Geocitis and Yahoo, judging by their AUP/TOS) feel that people who pay spammers are just as much a part of the problem as the spammers themselves, so people who pay to get their sites spammed, get their sites shut down. Again, it goes back to the ISPs and customers choosing who they wish to do business with. Again, I see nothing wrong with any of this.

Now, it happens that the only providers with AUP/TOS that actually condone spam, can all be easily blackholed via one service or another. I like that, it gives me a choice.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Yes, that's the point... (4.33 / 3) (#179)
by Erbo on Sun May 19, 2002 at 12:59:33 AM EST

I summed it up with a statement in another thread: "There may be free speech, but there's no free lunch."

If someone were to post commercial spam in Electric Minds, I would nuke the message--or delete the topic--without a second thought. Our policy gives me the explicit right to do that. That's because Electric Minds belongs to its community of people, and we paid for our own server. If someone wants to make a commercial pitch, they can pay for their own goddamn server. I don't have to carry their trash, and I won't. Similarly, I shouldn't have to spend my bandwidth on downloading their E-mail spam.
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Anti-drug commercial on TV (5.00 / 2) (#180)
by Skapare on Sun May 19, 2002 at 09:47:26 AM EST

There's an anti-drug commercial series running on TV these days that shows people assumed to be buying drugs describing the crimes their purchases helped to finance. I just imagined the anti-spam equivalent of that when I read your words "people who pay spammers are just as much a part of the problem as the spammers themselves".

And it's a form of cyberterrorism, too

As for the AUP argument, it was the anti-spammers who ended up forcing ISPs to do that. Were it not for the potential abuses, of which spam is right there at or very near the top in terms of cost to the ISP, quite many ISPs would have no AUP at all. I was around online before there were AUPs and there were plenty of anti-spammers fighting plenty of spam. So the anti-spammers had their effect of thrusting the cost back at the ISP with strong mechanisms to enforce it, effectively saying that the ISP has to trade off the cost of losing a portion of internet access due to the blacklisting vs. the revenue of keeping the infringing spammer.



[ Parent ]
It's Theft, And Must Be Treated As Such (none / 0) (#198)
by Steve B on Tue May 21, 2002 at 10:32:52 PM EST

That said, I also am concerned that so much anti-spam activity could have a chilling effect on the means of carrying out free speech.

Anti-spam activity which targets the crime of stealing other people's bandwidth without regard to content simply does not raise a free-speech issue, any more than an across-the-board prohibition of late-night sound trucks and graffiti on other people's property does.

They are trying to not only have businesses disconnected for sending spam (even if they are on static IP addresses with correctly identifying reverse DNS, which would make it trivial to block them and only them)

Yeah, and I hear that the police are trying to put con artists in jail (even if they become so infamous that they have no hope of finding another sucker to fall for their scam). Punishment is not limited to the function of incapacitating the targeted perpetrator -- it also serves an important function in deterring other would-be perps.

They carry this further by also going after the web sites of businesses being promoted by the spam, demanding that web hosters take down the site. Now if that site is selling spamware, that's one thing. But if they are selling something unrelated to spam (assuming it's legal) this threat is often still done.

It is a well-established principle that soliciting a crime in order to reap the benefits is itself a crime, even if you don't actively participate in the act.

[ Parent ]

NEVER respond to spam (5.00 / 1) (#186)
by Shren on Mon May 20, 2002 at 10:20:15 AM EST

... Even if they have a remove list. Any response, including a mail to a "remove" list, will confirm that you have a real, live, active email address and you'll just end up on more lists.

not responding is not enough. (5.00 / 2) (#197)
by Spud The Ninja on Tue May 21, 2002 at 04:33:30 PM EST

If you insist on reading an email in its HTML format, you should set your mail reader to not allow further GETs from the 'Net. Images that are not included with the email itself often have URLs that contain identifying numbers which can be used to verify that you've read the spam. Just viewing the email makes your address viable for more lists.



[ Parent ]
SpamAssasin (5.00 / 2) (#192)
by thesync on Tue May 21, 2002 at 04:34:13 AM EST

My favorite spam-killer is SpamAssasin, which looks for "telltale signs" of spam. For example: "Nigerian Scam", "Entire line of YELLING", "Porn", "No Questions Asked", "Claims it is not Spam", or "Penis Enlargement". It is almost funny to read the SpamAssasin description of each message. I get about 50-100 spams a day, but now about 95% all go into one folder.

Here is the fingerprint of a particularly "smelly" spam I got today: SPAM: Hit! (0.5 points) Subject has an exclamation mark SPAM: Hit! (1.5 points) BODY: Asks you to click below SPAM: Hit! (3.8 points) BODY: Gives instructions for removal from list SPAM: Hit! (2.8 points) BODY: Nobody's perfect SPAM: Hit! (2.7 points) BODY: Claims you can be removed from the list SPAM: Hit! (2.3 points) BODY: Talks about direct email SPAM: Hit! (2.1 points) BODY: Talks about opting in SPAM: Hit! (1.7 points) BODY: Claims compliance with SPAM regulations SPAM: Hit! (1.1 points) BODY: Contains a tollfree number SPAM: Hit! (0.7 points) BODY: Talks about email marketing SPAM: Hit! (0.1 points) BODY: Claims compliance with SPAM regulations SPAM: Hit! (0.1 points) BODY: List removal information SPAM: Hit! (0.5 points) BODY: A WHOLE LINE OF YELLING DETECTED SPAM: Hit! (-0.3 points) URI: Includes a link to send a mail with a subject SPAM: Hit! (1.9 points) URI: Includes a URL link to send an email with the subject 'remove' SPAM: Hit! (1.3 points) URI: Includes a 'remove' email address SPAM: Hit! (1.3 points) URI: Includes a link to a likely spammer email address SPAM: Hit! (2.1 points) BODY: FONT Size +2 and up or 3 and up SPAM: Hit! (0.0 points) BODY: Includes a URL link to send an email SPAM: Hit! (3.2 points) HTML-only mail, with no text version SPAM: Hit! (0.9 points) Missing To: header

Holy Crap! (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by Dphitz on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:20:02 AM EST

<rant>
This guy's running a business with a Geocities website and an AOL address and he calls himself an internet marketing consultant?!?  He can't be very successful.  I mean, have you seen that crappy website?  What?  He didn't have 5 minutes to master FrontPage?  Why the hell is he a featured writer on C NET?  I'd rather hire a poo-flinging monkey to write a column.
</rant>


God, please save me . . . from your followers

Nice.. (none / 0) (#209)
by Arkayne on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 07:29:23 AM EST

"poo-flinging monkey". I like that. Mind if I use it on my employees?

[ Parent ]
Troll (5.00 / 2) (#194)
by bigdavex on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:48:59 AM EST

This article is just a troll to generate hits. And we went for it.

We don't need government intrusion to fight spam (none / 0) (#195)
by Rahyl on Tue May 21, 2002 at 02:23:30 PM EST

Although they mean well, members of government should not involve themselves in this issue.  There are ways we can combat spam that will work.  Here's what I'm looking forward to...

The idea is simple and may very well already be out there.  On the mail server side, the ISP would let you set up a list of addresses that you would accept mail from.  Any mail coming from addresses you don't have on that list will be rejected as undeliverable.  I prefer this method to the auto-delete method because it actually returns the mail to the sender as undeliverable.

Sure, they might fake their IP addresses, mail addresses, whatever, but there are ways to address that as well.  My favorite consists of the auto-check (probably called something different) feature.  Simply put, when an email server receives an email for delivery, it asks the sending server to verify that the box exists.  If the address is fake, the box won't exist and the server will reject it.

All comments welcome :)

Verifying email accounts (5.00 / 2) (#196)
by juahonen on Tue May 21, 2002 at 03:44:32 PM EST

Simply put, when an email server receives an email for delivery, it asks the sending server to verify that the box exists

This scenario would not work in real life. The delivery of an email message relies on dozens of servers. The first server, or relay, is the SMTP server the sender uses. It verifies the account exists, save in the case of open relays. The next server can query the first to see if the account exists, but what about the next relay? or the one after that? And it is not guaranteed the relays allways tell the truth. A relay could (and many do) just answer "yes, it's a valid account" for all queries. This is often the case with relays which have serve as master nodes for other servers. Basicly only the first server (the SMTP server) would tell which accounts are false and which are not and the others would just say all accounts are valid. I'm not very familiar with the internet email internals, but this is how things basically work. There might be other issues with it too.

The "Received" field is not mandatory in the email headers, so some server could just erase it, removing the valuable information for account queries.

But imagine what would happen if your method was adopted. If the Received header field would be mandatory, append only, and each relay would verify from the initial server that the email account exists. It's not a big deal for one email. But millions of emails are send each day. No problem there, yet. But if you have a mailing list with thousands of repicients, you would soon DDoSing most email servers with account lookups caused by the thousands of copies of a single message.



[ Parent ]
ok, then..... (none / 0) (#203)
by Rahyl on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:18:14 AM EST

just form a list on the client side that automatically trashes any mail sent to you from an unknown address.

This would have the desired affect anyway; the spam doesn't get to my screen.  The mail protocols would indeed need to be modified, if not rewritten, to accomidate the original idea but you see what I'm getting at.

Come to think of it, don't a lot of mail clients already let us filter out mail from "unknown" recipients?  Perhaps a grass-roots email education movement could educate more about that function and help to weed out the spam.

As long as we aren't selling out to government supervision/regulation, I'm all ears :)

[ Parent ]

"Unknown" senders (none / 0) (#204)
by juahonen on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:37:45 AM EST

The problem with deleting mail from unknown senders is that you cannot be contacted by parties you have not been in touch before and allowed them to send you mail. Perhaps it would thward spam, but only so for people to whom email is not an important means of communication.



[ Parent ]
Recourse against spammers (none / 0) (#205)
by elgardo on Fri May 24, 2002 at 12:28:13 PM EST

I have a mailing list for spammers. If I manage to identify them, I sign them up. All valid e-mail addresses I find for that company. I assume they wanted my services to "proof read" their spam. See http://punishment.corporate-abuse.com/

Anyone can send spam to these people. They are all subscribed to punishment@corporate-abuse.com - just send mail there, and the spammers will get it.

So I invent e-mail addresses whenever I need them. I use, for example, kuro5hin@gardology.com for kuro5hin. This way, if kuro5hin became a source for spam, I just redirect that address to punishment@corporate-abuse.com - I think that's just fair.  :)

Legislation against spam (none / 0) (#206)
by boschke on Wed Jun 12, 2002 at 05:12:53 AM EST

Well, I heard only a week or so ago that the European Union was going to make sending spam illegal in the near future, or has already done so.

Unfortunately, as this article on the Register points out, most spam comes from outside of the EU, or turns out to be untraceable anyway... so the question is if this new legislature would have any noticeable effect.

A quote: Anti-spam software outfit, Brightmail, says the legislation only affects European registered companies and they're unlikely to flout the legislation. However, it claims nine out of ten spam emails are either untraceable or come from operations outside the European Union. Either way, professional spammers - whether inside or outside the EU - are unlikely to heed the new legislation. So in effect, this new law will make bugger all difference to the amount of spam we get in Europe.

IMHO this new law certainly is a step in the right direction, since the ISP's would be legally obliged to take action against spammers on their network. Now if only the rest of the world would go in the same direction...

Actively Fighting Spam (none / 0) (#208)
by MuglyWumple on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 04:12:21 PM EST

I think SpamCop and similar tools are the best way to fight spam. They make it simple to decode forged headers and will automatically send mail to the ISPs the spammer is using/abusing.

Responding to the spammers themselves is ineffective. But in most cases the ISPs do care about their resources. If the abuse@ and postmaster@ addresses start filing with so many complaints that it becomes a nuisance to the administrator then perhaps they will take action.

If enough people actively fight spam it may lose its cost effectiveness. Same with paper junk mail. I always look for that postage-paid return envelope, stuff that day's junk into it and send it back. When it becomes too costly to the post office and the marketer to process all the junk they get back they'll have to invent a new way to annoy us.

Mugly Wumple - mugging it up one wump at a time

Spam: Some people still Just Don't Get It | 209 comments (207 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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