Monday, March 26, 2007

Spam Costs You Money

Spam is more than an irritant. It costs you and me money.

I well remember the days when spam was just a sort of meat. It wasn't that great a sort of meat, but it was edible and quick.

Today, most of us think of the unsolicited commercial email (UCE) that increasingly floods our mailboxes. I certainly do. I estimate 95% of the email that enters my system is spam. Other reports suggest 70-90% of total email on the Internet is spam.

Spammers are robbing from us all. They rob us of time and they rob us of money.

Think of the time you waste deleting spam. Even if it is only one minute per day, after a year's time, the spammers have cost six hours of your life.

The money part isn't as obvious, but it is real. Internet Service Providers and others in the Internet industry are working to reduce the level of spam that comes to you. These businesses are employing technicians for the work, and paying them real money. That money comes from somewhere, and in this case, it comes from you and me. This work is paid by increasing ISP rates, or at least rates that do not fall with reduced costs.

We create web marketing solutions for clients. Naturally we want to minimize the spam that comes to them. Recently, I spent most of one work day dealing with a problem that resulted from spam.

There are some solutions to this, but they will require some fundamentally different ways of using email.

First, it would help a huge amount if we just...don't....look. If we purchase products or services from spammers, we're part of the problem. The reason these people continue churning out millions of emails is that people buy their stuff. It may be only one in a million, but it's enough to keep going.

Second, if everyone signed their email with a verifiable signature that would allow anyone to trace a message to its source, I believe spam would slow to a trickle and we would once again own our email boxes.

Until we demand effective steps be taken to stop them, we're going to continue paying small amounts of money to the thieves called spammers.

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