Spam

8 03 2006

Have you ever wanted spam in your email inbox? Me either. There have been many solutions over the years, and many are still in use. The most promenant technique to block spam has been on the recieving end. That is, your email provider will install some sort of filtering software that will look at the incoming mail queue and through some complicated heuristic formula determine if that message is spam or not. Not a bad start.

The next wave of ideas starts with the premise that spamming is currently free for spammers. So, with that, if we charge spammers to send emails, this will solve the problem. It might, but it might also block legitimate bulk mail providers from performing their service in a cost effective manner. Better, but still not quite there.

I propose that we try to take a look at what mail was originally designed for, and what we are trying to do with it. Email was designed to send a single message from a single user to another single user. The fact that we can send a single message to multiple users seems amost like a hack in that either your mail client or mail server simple parses the To: field in the message and sends copies to the list of users. What would make more sense is a group mailbox in which many people who opt in can look and see what’s new. This isn’t always the correct solution either because what is new to one person isn’t new to another.

So, what about opting in to some sort of subscription? Consider the technology commonly associated with blogs (such as this one), RSS. If people who want to receive regular solicited updates from some company use RSS, then their inbox should free up for more personal communications. While these two technologies are seperate, I think the merging of mail clients and RSS clients and help blur which technology is actually being used by the end user, and have the added bonus of limiting the amount of spam emails end users recieve.

I don’t think we can solve the spam problem with one single solution, I do think that we have some current technologies that can really limit the amount of unsolicited and illeagal spam. I have left many areas of this topic open for discussion as I do not know all the avenues which this proposal would have, however, being a pure technology guy, it is definately doable, and may already be possible with current software.

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