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Online Marketers to Stamp out Spam? 263

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-that-could-happen dept.
CodeHog writes "A group of online marketers want to get rid of spam and are proposing a registry base system for transmitting email. They are calling the project Lumos. Computer World has an aritcle on it Online marketers offer new antispam initiative . Doesn't it seem like these are the same businesses that profit from spam? Even better, this is being proposed by ESPC. The member list doesn't look too anti-spam to me." The obvious issue of course is that most spammers won't follow the rules anyway. My spam is up 20% over the 1st quarter of 2003! Yay!
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Online Marketers to Stamp out Spam?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:02PM (#5803324)
    And lets also hand over civil rights to the Klan.
  • by Blaine Hilton (626259) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#5803340) Homepage
    This seems like a ploy to legitimize spam. I see this as actually increasing the amount, not decreasing it. The only people that will likely benefits are the advertisers that use this Lumos thing to get their email on a "approve" list. Much like the NAT sensors in a recent slashdot article, this will just make the spammers change their methods, if it even takes off in the first place. Although this plan seems at least to me that it is ill fated, something needs to be done about spam. Like censorship though it's probably best left to the end consumer and not some blind upstream connectivity provider.

    Go calculate [webcalc.net] something


    • Yeah. There is a company [habeas.com] that tried a copyrighted Haiku which you could filter on as a guarantee that your mail message was not spam. The trouble is, the only people that use it are the spammers.
    • by Musashi Miyamoto (662091) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:18PM (#5803513)
      I totally agree. This would probably cause you to recieve more spam as a result. However, it might be a bit more cleaned up and "professionalized".

      The only way to stop spam is either re-work SMTP or intellegent spam filters... Its hard to knock spam filters nowadays... They are almost artificial intelligence in their ability to spot a spam e-mail. Its amazing... Try a good one like iHateSpam [ihatespam.com] and see... They remove close to 99% of spam.

      I predict the first self-aware system will not be a 2001 HAL-like supercomputer, but a spam filter running on someones desktop.

      "What are you doing Dave? How about a lower mortgage rate, Dave?"
    • by johnnyb (4816) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:20PM (#5803538) Homepage
      Having been involved in Internet marketing myself, let me say that most business don't want to send you email that you don't want to receive. That includes the mail houses that send them. The ones I have worked with get between a 10% and 30% _click_ rate. Why? Because send very targetted emails.

      Few people are advocating any longer sending mass emails to everyone they can find an address for. Most people have found that using legitimate sources of addresses (such as your customer list, trade-show lists, and small targetted lists) get great results that customers are willing to pay for.

      These people are usually sending out up to 10,000 emails at a time.

      The professionals involved _want_ email marketing to be legitimate - because it gets higher-dollar business for them.
      • We do opt in mail. Under 10k, once a month, and I design them.

        We send them text only, one page only, very quick bullets with links in plain text. The real newsletter is on the site, and we just use the email to say hi and direct them to the site. We explain why we do it this way in the email. We get a great response, good feedback, and less than 1% unsubscribe per cycle. We go out of our way to be and look responsible. Each email has an opt out link and our toll free phone number, that is answered by
    • 2 thoughts:

      1) if there's a public list of direct-email sites somewhere, great...instant blacklist. Let them make a list. I'm all for it.
      2) The only *real* way to fix the unscrupulous spam problem is to make it no longer pay. To that end, I'm seriously considering writing a script that will fill spammers' order databases with bogus orders (and will do so through anonymous proxies like Peekabooty). My only concern right now is that it's probably fraud, so I'm hesitating.
    • "This seems like a ploy to legitimize spam"

      It's a ploy by the mainsleaze spammers to legitimize their spam because the scammers and porn peddlers give all UCE such a bad name. This might provide some relief from the scams, porn, Viagra, and penis enlargement spam, but potentially opens the floodgates for just about everything else.

    • by mdfst13 (664665)
      Since this proposal seems aimed at making it more difficult to become a spammer (you have to get certification to bulk mail) but protects "authorized" spammers, I would say that it is a spam promotion mechanism. The largest spammers will be able to send spam, because they can afford to buy the certification (which also protects them from ISP blacklists, etc.). Smaller spammers will no longer be allowed to compete. Further, it would also eliminate the ability of *legitimate* mailing lists to send newslett
  • Spam up 20% (Score:5, Funny)

    by RollingThunder (88952) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#5803345)
    My spam is up 20% over the 1st quarter of 2003!

    So how can I get spam futures into my portfolio? Something going up 20% a quarter is just what the stockbroker ordered!
    • Easy: buy shares in whoever provides you with bandwidth.
    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:41PM (#5803737) Homepage Journal
      Hello,
      You may have seen this business before and
      ignored it. I know I did - many times! However,
      please take a few moments to read this letter.
      I was amazed when the profit potential of this
      business finally sunk in... and it works!

      With easy-to-use e-mail tools and opt-in e-mail,
      success in this business is now fast, easy and
      well within the capabilities of ordinary people
      who know little about internet marketing. And the
      earnings potential is truly staggering!

      Send me $25 and I'll send you the tools.
  • by mao che minh (611166) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:06PM (#5803369) Journal
    Terrific idea. I assert that we should also award the power to draft anti-monopoly legistlation to Microsoft Corporation.
  • web log spam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dirvish (574948) <dirvish.foundnews@com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:06PM (#5803382) Homepage Journal
    I know this is kinda off-topic but I am kinda fired up about it right now. I just got done posting a comment to the Antispamist's Spam Forum [dyndns.org] about the increasing spamming of my web server logs. I am using a script that displays the recent referrers [3fingersalute.net] and it is currently half full of spam. Has anyone else had problems with this? This recent bout seems to stem from one guy [mailto]
    • That's got to be the subtlest way of spamming I can think of. So subtle, in fact, that I fail to see the benefit to the spammer.

      Sure, you might peruse your logs and wonder why there is a referrer from www.some-spamming-site.com, and visit it. Once. Then you'll ignore them.

      I suppose there is the issue if you make the referrers available on a public part of your site (as opposed to a password-protected staff section).

      I also suppose there is the fact that he's using your bandwidth to generate those refer
      • Re:web log spam (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chmarr (18662)
        There are a number of popular Weblogs (blogs, whatever) that are being hit with this kind of thing. The reasoning is that these logs often display their referrers to the public. So, as a spammer, you can get some free advertising on these sites by accessing the blog with a referrer containing your message.

        Stupid, yes, but who is attributing spammers with intelligence?? :)
        • It actually shows that web sites need to be aware of the way search engines work, and to block pages that they don't want the engines to crawl. It is always best to include a robots.txt with:

          User-agent: *
          Disallow: /guestbook.html
          Disallow: /log/

          ...and all other pages the site should avoid crawling. It is like any other security issue...any hole in a site will be exploited.
      • By having links to your site in someone else's logs that are visible through a browser. It creates a LINK from YOUR site to the SPAMMER site. Therefore inflating their google score. I had a client as me what I thought about this idea and I told him that it was underhanded and a bad idea, so he didn't pay the money to do it.

    • by Mr. Sketch (111112) <mister,sketch&gmail,com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:16PM (#5803491)
      I am using a script that displays the recent referrers and it is currently half full of spam.

      Hmm, now it seems to be half full of slashdot.org referrers.
      • Yeah, the offending urls have just about been pushed off the bottome since I only display the last 50 referrers.
        • The post to the Antispamery: http://antispamist.dyndns.org/forum/viewtopic.php ? t=12 [dyndns.org] w/ a poll


          And I believe most/all of the following referrers are faked/spam:

          www.sanmarinobasketcup.com[1] 1 : / [go] 0 below minimum threshold (0) www.inchfarm.com[1] 1 : / [go] 0 below minimum threshold (0) www.artifaxx.com[1] 1 : / [go] 0 below minimum threshold (0) www.augustapublishing.com[1] 1 : / [go] 0 below minimum threshold (0) www.aussiebar.com[1] 1 : / [go] 0 below minimum threshol
    • So much so that I no longer bother with referrer or user-agent logging.

      I've put other methods in place to track what I want to track.

      What amazed me was how slow many in the webmaster community were to catch on to it.

      "Hey, has anybody heard of XXXXXXXX server monitoring company? For some reason they're hitting my website, but i've not signed up with them...."

      DUH.
  • Of course (Score:4, Funny)

    by 7x7 (665946) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:06PM (#5803384)
    I will gladly post my email to a public "do not mail" list. I assume the list will be harvested to "remove" me.
  • Show of hands (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My spam is up 20% over the 1st quarter of 2003! Yay!

    How many others use (something)@slashdot.org for all the email entries for anonymous ftp servers, web downloads, pron logins, etc, etc?

    Thing is, Taco, you and your editors are easy targets, and not all that highly respected. Your spamload is completely atypical.

    The company I work for gets very little spam, on the scale of a couple dozen a month for hundreds of users. We have no filters in place at all, it's not a problem here.

    It isnt random. You'r
    • You get a couple dozen a month across hundreds of accounts? Is
      • (stupid new keyboard)

        You get a couple dozen a month across hundreds of accounts, with no filtering going on? Is this some recently registered domain with only 3 people actually using their email? You sure your email server is even working?

        I have a less than a year old address, never posted on a web page, newsgroup, or on IRC, given out to maybe half a dozen friends, and I'm getting something like 20 pieces of spam EACH DAY. That's roughly 600 a month, from one account.

        I won't even start on the amount w
  • me too. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nege (263655) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:07PM (#5803390) Journal
    I agree- every time I call Verizon I get a nice message in a soothing voice telling me that they respect my privacy. Yet I know they sell my number to telemarketers because I don't give that number to anyone else but personal friends! Then they will sell me some telemarketing blocking technology, and sell the telemarketers anti-telemarketing technology technology and so forth. I don't see how this email stuff will be different...but then again Im completely jaded.
    • Every time I call Verizon I get a nice message in a soothing voice that I could probably use voice mail service on my line, a second number or some other crap. I don't expect them to be any better than the telemarketers when it comes to my privacy. Of course they respect my privacy, they just have a definition of privacy that maximizes their revenue.
  • Oxymoron (Score:3, Funny)

    by ad0gg (594412) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:08PM (#5803399)
    Kinda like letting the fox guard the chickens. I have feeling this to weed out porn, and "penis enlargement" emails so the marketing companies don't have worry about their spam getting diluted.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My spam is up 20% over the 1st quarter of 2003!

    You track your percentage of spam? And keep historical notes?

    WOW! Get a life..
    Hrmm...how long can you live without touching a keyboard? Take a deep breath, pry yourself away from the cheap fake leather chair, and go outside. You can do it!

    Someone needs to create a support group for people like this...Kinda of like Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Meetings would have to take place through Instant Messenger/IRC until you can pry them away from the computer.
  • email mod? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SHEENmaster (581283)
    seems to me that the thing to do is make "user.foo@bar.tld" where bar.tld is the server and foo is the host you gave your email to. A user command or webform would then be able to tell the smtp server to reject incoming requests for user.foo.

    Another idea is to not give your address out. I've only recieved 4 sams for my account [mailto], all of which appear to be from spambots. (let's hope they don't read /.!)

    What would be the best server-side spam filter operated by root, where upon request I could block sp
  • cannot stop spam. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Musashi Miyamoto (662091) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:11PM (#5803434)
    Unless SMTP is re-worked to disallow false source addresses, spam is not going to be stopped by a system like this. As long as there is no accountability from the sources of spam, it will continue to be pumped out from overseas. Though projects like PennyBlack and SpamNet are good in concept, the only one that has proven to work is intellegent filtering. Spam filters like Spam Inspector [giantcompany.com] remove around 99% of junk email... You need to have one to make using your e-mail account worth using again...

    I couldn't imagine my Yahoo mail without their spam controls... (Unlike Hotmail, which spams you themselves)
    • Re:cannot stop spam. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minas-beede (561803)
      What is the goal - to stop spam coming to you or to just plain stop spam? That latter would be everybody's spam. Seems like stopping everybody's spam would have the bigger payoff.

      You stop your own spam when it comes to you. You stop the spam for everybody when you let the spammer send relay spam to a box you control. To see if you are qualified to do this take this simple test:

      If your system receives relay spam do you:

      (A) Deliver it

      or

      (B) Not deliver it?


      If you answered (B), Not deliver it
    • by amuro98 (461673)
      Spam is not a technology problem.

      It's a social problem. It's a problem of greed, laziness, and a general disrespect for anyone and everyone.

      No matter what sort of technological wizardry is concocted, spammers, like cockroaches, will slip in between the cracks.

      I don't care about filtering spam. I want a system that will prevent the stuff from ever being transmitted in the first place (like maybe a keyboard that would explode, mortally wounding the user if the keyboard detected that the user was going to
    • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @06:42PM (#5804235) Homepage
      ... the only [spam stopping] that has proven to work is intellegent filtering.


      There are two schools of thought on this,
      which I like to call "spam assassin" and "spammer assassin".

      People in the spam assassin school are interested in not reading spam.
      To them, anything that stops them from reading spam "works".
      They would rate things like Baysian filtering as incredibly successful.

      People in the spammer assassin school are interested in stopping spam from being sent.
      They would rate things like Baysian filtering as a dismal failure that "misses the point".

      Intelligent filtering is effective against spam,
      but not against spammers.
      It may or may not "work", just depends on your school of thought.

      -- this is not a .sig
    • Unless SMTP is re-worked to disallow false source addresses,spam is not going to be stopped .... As long as there is no accountability from the sources of spam, it will continue to be pumped out from overseas. Though projects like PennyBlack and SpamNet are good in concept, the only one that has proven to work is intellegent filtering. [plug for anti-spam software]

      Accountability has not stopped telemarketers from using the 1:1 network known as the telphone system. Only laws which make abusing a public n

  • According to this artical on PCWorld 1/3 of the email on the internet is spam and the rest is mostly person-to-person communications. http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,105525,0 0.asp I support anti-spam legisitlation.
    • According to this artical on PCWorld 1/3 of the email on the internet is spam and the rest is mostly person-to-person communications.

      If it isn't a person sending it to me, it's still spam in my book, so I guess that makes sense ;)

      Although others are pegging that ratio closer to 40 or even 50%.
  • Marketers (Score:2, Informative)

    by jawtheshark (198669)
    SPAM makes Marketers look bad. I know people around here have no love for marketers at all, but I'm going to show you they are not all bad. My best friend *is* a marketer and I'm an IT guy. (He works for Panda Software [pandasoftware.com], just to advertise a bit for them)

    Anyways, when I told him about practices that spammers use like reselling email lists, scavenging webpages for emails, etc... He was outraged. Yes, you read that right. It just went completely against ethics for him, because that is not what they tea

    • Your best friend works for Panda Software (a fairly well known anti-virus vendor), and he doesn't know how spammers obtain email addresses, nor what spyware is? How the hell did he get that job in the first place?

      Oh wait, you said marketing... ;)
    • Re:Marketers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lozzer (141543)

      I recently got spam from Panda entitled "HOW TO FIGHT THE NEW E-MAIL WORMS (Advertising)". Do you think that because Advertising was in the title its OK? Wrong. Tell your marketing friend that he is no better than the rest of the scum that he professes to hate. Or maybe they'd like to add some validation to their sign up, plus leaving the please forward this to anyone who you think might like it crap off the bottom.

  • ...thanks to mailblocks [mailblocks.com] (click here [slashdot.org] for original article about it). It was a pain at first getting all my contacts and listservs entered into my safelist, but since then I've been 100% spam-free. I just check my pending folder once a week or so for stranded messages. And heck, $10 for a 12MB inbox for three years is a deal compared to the big boys.
  • by jazman (9111) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:21PM (#5803547)
    Hmm, Guild of Spammers...sounds like something Terry Pratchett might have thought up for the next installment of Ankh-Morpork.

    (Couldn't find "spam" in my Latatian dictionary, which also doesn't have a section on how to convert the infinitive to past tense, so "to cook pig" will have to do.)
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:22PM (#5803553) Homepage
    "The member list doesn't look too anti-spam to me."

    That's damn right. It's the Who's Who of spam-for-hire operations. Every single one of them spams. It's just that they claim their spam is not spam.

    Proletariat of the world, unite to kill spammers. Remember to shoot the knees first, so that they can't run away while you slowly torture them to death.
  • Gulp (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:23PM (#5803561)
    Now I'll have to figure out somewhere else to get my Blue Pills. I guess I've have to make an embarrassing trip to the doctor's office. Dang ;)
  • by dfn5 (524972) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:24PM (#5803573) Journal
    [wildstar] # sh /etc/init.d/sendmail stop
  • With all this talk about spam, I wondered the legitimacy of using email. I rarely ever get an email from hand-written from anyone anymore, and I ussally send about 1 email a month at most. I mostly use it to register for websites now. I must be wrong though. According to this artical on PCWorld, more IT people prefer using email over calling someone.

    http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,11040 9 ,0 0.asp

    "80 percent [of IT professionals surveyed] said they see e-mail as a more valuable communications met
    • E-mail offers one feature that a phone doesn't: a paper trail. This may just be me, but way too often I have had to deal with some weasle who won't give me information in writing. Instead, they want to just tell me over the phone really quick, and then they bitch that what I did was wrong. As such, I am now a real bastard when it comes to getting a written scope of work, the verbal, over the phone spec has two problems:
      1 - I don't have a photographic memory, so yes, I do occasionally get things wrong.
      2
  • by Ironica (124657) <pixel@NOspAM.boondock.org> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:31PM (#5803638) Journal
    Consider the movie ratings system. It's not in any way government regulated; it's run entirely by the Motion Picture Association of America. Whatever disputes I have with their policies and practices, you have to admit, the industry has been fairly successful at eliminating the need for government regulation through self-regulation.

    It sounds more like these spammers are getting together to find a way to continue sending requested marketing email. Spam has gotten so bad that the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater at the ISP level, before the consumer even implements their own filters. They're afraid of losing the ability to market via e-mail *period*, so they've come up with a way to screen it.

    If it actually works as they claim (in terms of unsubscribe rules, identifiability, and so forth) it might be a way ISPs could filter out commercial email that *doesn't* conform to this protocol, while still allowing commercial email to happen.

    I'm not saying I think it will (or won't) work, but I think this is probably a sincere attempt to regulate commercial email in a manner that will be acceptable to consumers.
    • The only way that marketing E-mail would EVER be "acceptable" to me is if it is not sent at all unless I explicitly ask for it first, AND confirm that request with a unique and randomly-generated token that the sender will keep on file along with my request.

      That's confirmed opt-in. That's the right way to do E-mail marketing because anything you send with it is not spam by default; It was asked for by the recipient(s).

      Oh, BTW, people that send "requested marketing email" are, by definition of the term "re
    • it's a lie. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @06:57PM (#5804344) Homepage Journal
      Funny you should mention the motion picture industry, yet another cartel. Yet Hollywood looks honest next to spammers and phone hucksters. There's nothing sincere about this effort but the desire to make money by obnoxing all of us.

      These turkeys just want to keep out their competitors. Shemes to add intelligence to the internet are all designed to make it imposible for any but a select few to send the adverts. They seek legitmacy and government protection for their abuse of a public network. That's not something I'm willing to give up my ability to run a mail server for. Nor do I wish for my ISP to be forced to pay fees for the new service which will garantee spam forever.

      So called "accountability" schemes to rework mail protocal are equally evil. The 1:1 network of copper wires known as the telephone system is abused all day long.

      The answer is to simply outlaw these obnoxious practices. Unsolicited comercial calls are abuses of public networks and should not be tollerated. People who would abuse their neighbors this way should be fined and put in jail.

    • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @07:42PM (#5804700) Homepage Journal
      Thanks to Seth Godin, spammers had a year or two where they could claim legitimacy by including an unsubscribe button at the end of the message (the popup that you put on the unsubscribe page often pays for the spam.)

      Now that people know the unsubscribe button is a ruse, it no longer buys legitimacy. Making a big national unsubscribe service that is trusted will give the email marketers another year or two of legitimacy.

      The funny thing. Spammers themselves tend to hate spam. I should say, they hate the spam sent by competing spam shops. The competing spam dilutes the audience. They especially hate new spam shops. As a result, most would agree to proposals that reduce the over amount of spam...so long as they don't lose their share of the market.

      I wouldn't be surprised to see existing spam shops try and form mechanisms that reduced spam, and closed the market to new comers. It would buy legitimacy and preserve their share of the market at a reduced cost.

      Of course, the emarketers are in a tight situation...they know the other people in the group are emarketers looking for any advantage and that they cannot be trusted.
  • Give them spam back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pettifogger (651170) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:33PM (#5803655)
    If everyone really wants to get rid of spam, do what I do. With every delievery, I forward it to my free "spam" account on Yahoo. Then I either send in a bogus order or ask them a lot of pointless questions about their product.

    A number of people here have mentioned the extremely low response rate to spam. This is what allows it to survive. Imagine if their response rate went up something like 5000%, but 99% of those were fake, but realistic responses. This would *instantly* kill the profit motive. More staff will be required to process the fake orders/replies, and they'll have a devil of a time weeking out the true from the false responses. Eventually, the profitability scale will tip, and that is when spam will end. No program, list or change in technology is going to stop spam until everyone stands up and gives it right back to them.

    • I disagree. What your proposing really skirts the line with fraud, and much of it would illegal in about 85% of the world.

      I do think your on the right track. The key is to find a way to make Spam expensive. After all, the problem is that these people can send out 80 million e-mails and the total cost is the price of a list and a few dollars in bandwidth. We need to find a way to fight back and make the cost of transmission higher.

      How? I have no idea.. but I'd love to hear some ideas.
      • by Xerithane (13482)
        I disagree. What your proposing really skirts the line with fraud, and much of it would illegal in about 85% of the world.

        How is responding to their spam and asking for more information fraud? This is actually a decent idea, and I'd like to setup a script to do it. You send me spam, if my bayesian filter marks it as such you get a response from a freshly created mailbox on my mail host asking for more information on your product. If there are web links to be had, to a wget on those to grab some bandwid
  • by mattsucks (541950) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:34PM (#5803667) Homepage
    Their idea, which boils down to a giant opt-out list of email addresses, impresses me not. If they proposed a giant opt-in list, I'd be a bit more excited. Of course, nobody would sign up ... I can't imagine too many email Oliver Twists out there saying "Please sir, may I have some more [spam]?"

    And would you entrust your email address under any circumstances to an organization who's entire business is sending marketing email?
    • If the "commercial email" was highly targetted, 'lightweight' (nothing beyond basic HTML) and marked in such a way as to be able to filter it 100% (e.g. "[ADV]" at the start of the subject), and that by opting in to receive such email would give me a discount/benefit on some site, and that I could opt to get out at any time (and losing such benefit), I'd considering opting in.

      This is comparable to Salon's all day premium pass, where by watching a short flash ad gives you free access to all of Salon's prem

  • by seigniory (89942) <`bigfriggin' `at' `me.com'> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:34PM (#5803671)
    Just because you get an email from one of these companies in your inbox doesn't automatically quantify it as spam.

    God forbid that you, as an individual, forget to uncheck a box when you bought your last DVD or CD or book or whatever online. God forbid that you own up to your own impatience and your click click click lifestyle that results in you glazing over or not even caring about the terms and conditions of your latest purchase.

    Does it suck that it's so easy to get signed up for some mailing lists? Absolutely. But you know what? The fact remains that even if you make it as easy as possible and have DOUBLE-opt-IN mailing lists, it's inevitable that someone will complain and accuse you of spamming them. It's human nature. I know from experience.

    Are there shady companies scouring around for email addresses? Sure, but any established company with a decent bankroll, employees, investors, would NEVER stoop to such levels - it's too much of a risk. You wouldn't believe the legal mumbo-jumbo I have to go through just to send out my monthly newsletters - and I'm not even considering myself one of those "established companies". All conspiracy theories and "Well I had a bad time with..." experiences aside, as a majority, companies DO respect your wishes when it comes to receiving email - they DO respect your wishes to keep your address private - and they DO make sure that you're happy with the way you're treated. They have too much at stake to behave like children and rebels when it comes to mailing you.

    Like a number of other issues bouncing around this world today, the SPAM problem seems to have taken on a life of its own. Everyone's all about jumping on the anti-SPAM bandwagon and complaining on message boards about "The Man" and his itchy SMTP trigger finger. Is spam annoying? Sure. I'll be the first to say that something really needs to be done about all the huge penis emails I get every day - I'm fine with my super-python - leave me alone already!!! :-P

    Well you know what? These people that do email for a living ARE trying to do something about it and what do we hear on /. ??? The classic "(insert name here) is trying to take our rights away and make money off of us and they suck. Open source forever and Linus rules my world and does email suck so much when blogging is the communication method of the future".

    These companies know that they need email to survive, and so they're making sure that classic penis/Viagra/Nigeria spam doesn't give them a bad name. Pure and simple. You should be glad that something like this is happening. It might not cut down on the solicitations you get in your email, but at least all those ads will be for things you like, or have signed up for. Ever wonder why you don't see commercials for Gerritol & Depends on Cartoon Network at 2:00am? No old people are up watching it because the advertisers have a well-defined and mature methodology of knowing where and how to promote their products on TV and they don't have to worry about their audience getting annoyed by ads for things that they don't want.

    Marketing and advertising is here to stay for good, people - it's everywhere, including email. Even if this plan isn't perfect, we should at least be applauding someone for doing something proactively about the issue instead of reactively. Not all ads are "evil". Spam sucks, targeted marketing about things I'M interested in is welcome - if there's no easy way to filter out the good from the bad everyone loses.
    • Ever wonder why you don't see commercials for Gerritol & Depends on Cartoon Network at 2:00am? No old people are up watching it because the advertisers have a well-defined and mature methodology of knowing where and how to promote their products on TV and they don't have to worry about their audience getting annoyed by ads for things that they don't want.

      Don't compare spam email with television ads, there is a fundamental difference.

      TV ads help pay for my TV experience.
      On the other hand, spam ema
    • the advertisers have a well-defined and mature methodology of knowing where and how to promote their products on TV and they don't have to worry about their audience getting annoyed by ads for things that they don't want.

      What TV are you watching? That doesn't sound so bad.

      When I was a kid watching cartoons I *swore* never to spend a penny at Smith's furniture because they totally over-advertised during Battle of the Planets. And I'm sticking to it. Ditto for snuggle fabric softener, etc.

      Now I'm bomba

    • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @07:16PM (#5804507) Journal
      God forbid that you, as an individual, forget to uncheck a box when you bought your last DVD or CD or book or whatever online. God forbid that you own up to your own impatience and your click click click lifestyle that results in you glazing over or not even caring about the terms and conditions of your latest purchase.

      There is, in this, a large part of the problem why UCE is viewed in such a dim light. I have highlighted the applicable section. These things should always be opt-in, always and without exception. It really is just a sneaky method of getting people to agree. If it is known that most people will fall into the next-next-next mode when going through a series of forms, and you don't want to send emails people don't want, then your design should plan for this. Have the box unchecked by default, and allow those users who want the email, to check it. You are simply lying to yourself and us if you belive that an opt-out methadology can ever co-exist with the desire to only send email to those that really want it.

      Well you know what? These people that do email for a living ARE trying to do something about it and what do we hear on /. ??? The classic "(insert name here) is trying to take our rights away and make money off of us and they suck. Open source forever and Linus rules my world and does email suck so much when blogging is the communication method of the future".

      I agree with you here, it would appear that the companies involved in this are making a valid attempt to get the real spam under control. Though, I think this could be better solved by creating a huge opt-in list (which is not sold or publicly printed) such that, if a company wished to send a bulk email campaign, they send it through this list, and it then gets forwarded on to the intended and willing recipients. Probably also have some preference settings, which a recipent selects during sign-up, that allow for filtering based on interests, thus making the ads more targeted. And lastly, allow for immediate remove, by a user, of their email address from a list. Oh, and the hard part, give some sort of value for allowing one's self to be marketed to.
      Of course, there would still be those abusers, you will never be rid of them. We will still get our "Enlarge Your Penis and Keep It Up Forever with Viagra" ads, but then we could start working on this problem, and not bother people who run legitamte mail-lists.

    • The fact remains that even if you make it as easy as possible and have DOUBLE-opt-IN mailing lists

      I stopped reading right here. There is no such thing as "double-opt-in". The term is used by spammers who have apparently taken the phrase to mean something that does not, in any way shape or form, involve the recipient consenting to receive the e-mail.
  • Image Makeover (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Steve B (42864) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:35PM (#5803674)
    Basically, these guys want to shake off the image of the sleazoids who sell you herbal Viagra to get your larger penis up while you watch images of hot teen lesbians.

    However, they don't show any sign of being willing to bite the bullet and accept a pure Opt-In model -- which is the only way they can avoid the name "spammer".

  • by Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:36PM (#5803682)
    As the owner of several domain names I am now facing the problem from 2 angles -

    That of me receiving SPAM to my personal email account(s), _AND_ that of my domain names being used in the from/reply-to addresses of SPAM email.

    The latter I actually find more frustrating. What makes it worse is my domain name is being used in HTML emails - your average [l]user has no idea that it is HTML, and in the message body sees only "EXTEND YOUR PENIS NATURALLY CLICK HERE" in big bright purple letters. The fact that the link goes to http://www.iamascumbagspammer.com/ is not apparent - what they do see however is my domain name in the from line of their email client.

    I actually think that the we would be better off if the anti-spammers stopped pursuing their cause and just let spam take out the Internet's email system.

    Then we can start again from scratch.

    Surely SMTP's time is up.
  • The ESPC page linked to above has this headline:
    Fighting Spam While Protecting Email as a Legitimate Communication Tool
    Then, they helpfully offer to send me details of their proposal. What a good idea! I am just totally convinced of their sincerity by their request for my E-mail address so they can explain how helpful they'll be.

    Do they think turkeys vote for Christmas ?

  • by NFW (560362) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:46PM (#5803786) Homepage
    Why don't these people get involved [irtf.org], and discuss their plans with people who really understand the issues involved in reinventing SMTP?

    Perhaps because that that is the very last thing these people actually want?

  • Are you sure those are spams, Taco?

    I thought I was getting 50 spam messages a day. Then I found out it was just my wife wanting me to get a bigger penis.
  • Dude, you have a wife now. Can't you think of something better to do with your time?
  • I honestly don't get that much spam. Even to my hotmail account (which I get some... maybe a spam a week).

    I think it all depends on how you use your email address.. Lately, when I need to post my email on a web page... I will generally create an image with the text of the address in there.

    This will require either sophisticated software (which most spammers wont be using) .. or human intervention. (Although its possible, I truly dont see spammers sitting there typing in thousands of emails manually)

    It mig
  • I'm about to submit an article about these researchers that did a study on spam and found you should never put your email address on a web page. I don't think its ever been on slashdot...
  • IEMMC. I think that was the International Electronic Mass Mail Committee, which was started (and promptly failed) in mid 1997 as a sort of opt-out thing. Their Las Vegas executive office was a failure, and I understand that they were basically evicted.

    The article is right, they won't follow their own protocol, they will not service the public, and they will fail miserably.

  • My spam is up 20% over the 1st quarter of 2003! Yay!

    Those who are not so net saavy who I have had experience helping get set up on the wired have complained that they don't get any spam. They feel inadequate, or something, and feel left out.

    I try to resist the urge to lay smackage down on them. I really do try.

  • Rule #1: Spammers lie, cheat, and steal.

    Rule #2: If you think a spammer is telling the truth, or being honest, see Rule #1.

    Rule #3: Spammers are stupid.

    Rule #4: Spammers define spam as "That Which I Do Not Send."

    This isn't rocket science, folks. ;-)

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @06:50PM (#5804280)
    New email registries will decrease spam? Set up by online marketers? No, sorry, I don't buy that at all. Remember what their interests are. The problem at hand is... most spammers don't care about creating inconveniences. They are like greedy undisciplined children, and won't stop spamming unless they are forced to (by law, vigilante retaliation, etc.)

    To say something constructive now. There are two neat server side spam filtering projects I really like because neither uses IP-based blacklists (blacklists can bring a lot of collateral damage and require frequent judgement calls).

    Spamprobe [sf.net] can be run from .procmailrc and uses a Bayesian scoring type of approach. It's a user-level solution which requires some training, but once it's accurate it's quite amazing. Currently it's missing only 3% of my incoming spam.

    The Distributed Checksum Clearinghouse [rhyolite.com] also runs server side and uses fuzzy checksums to identify mail that is being received by a suspiciously large number of mail hosts around the world. A brilliant idea which works better than you may think. I have never seen a false positive with this system, and it misses about 1/4 of incoming spam. Effectiveness will improve as more hosts join the distributed checksum system!
  • It wasn't that long ago you could search for 'Lumos' and get one hit (me). Then it was some company [lumos.com], then a Harry-Potter-ish font [geocities.com], (then a hundred other Harry Potter things) and now I'm a spam registry.

    Anybody else out there with extremely rare last names but the domains are all taken by companies anyway?

    I guess I should be grateful that they opened up .us and I was able to jam myself in there before somebody else did.

  • ESPC (Score:5, Informative)

    by mark_space2001 (570644) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @07:10PM (#5804451)
    The ESPC website is darn interesting, check it out. In particular, they have a mailing list on yahoo groups [yahoo.com], ostensibly for people to complain about false positives by spam filtering software. Really, it's a way for spammers to communicate about filtering, but it's really interesting to go there and browse through the list archives, which are freely available. Any admins out there might be well served by checking up on this list periodically.

    The ESPC website also has a box where you can add your email address and receive "information" from them about the ESPC itself, which I would *ahem* not recomend. ;-)

    • Re:ESPC (Score:3, Funny)

      by myov (177946)
      The ESPC website also has a box where you can add your email address and receive "information" from them about the ESPC itself, which I would *ahem* not recomend. ;-)

      nai@networkadvertising.org
      ...
      webmaster@doubl eclick.com
      ...
      webmaster@advertising.com
      ...
      w ebmaster@yesmail.com

      (see http://www.networkadvertising.org/espc/members.asp )
  • At issue here is what each person calls spam. To some people, anything that is not personal mail from a friend or family member is automatically spam. Not everyone is this stringent about considering any and all marketing to be spam.

    What if, because of laws and technology to eliminate spam, you were unable to get nearly instant quotes for auto insurance or mortgate rates? What if, because of laws and technology to eliminate spam, you could not get price notification from a favorite vendor?

    In reality,

  • This is just another version of Habeas, only from people who don't even pretend to not be spammers. People who maintain legitimate email lists (confirmed opt-in) don't need it. The only people who have any reason to want the certification are spammers.
  • by jadavis (473492) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @09:45PM (#5805395)
    Drug dealers only make their high profits *because* of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA restricts supply to the U.S., thereby increasing prices and taking out the "little guys". Generally, when the DEA gets a tip, it's from a rival drug lord.

    It's the same with this SPAM thing. They want fewer "little guys" around so they try to force the supply of SPAM down which increases the effectiveness of their own SPAM. Not altruistic by any means, but if it lands fewer junk emails in my box each day, it's fine by me.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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