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Old 06-07-2004   #1
Anthony Parsons
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Spam - How Do We Fix The Problem?

Well, I'm thinking about it and how much it annoys the hell out of me. It’s everywhere and in many forms: email, websites, advertising, links, etc. I thought that possibly starting a thread about the issue could help to bring some resolve to the matter. Hey, what’s the worst thing that could happen, someone important reads something here and actually implements it?

Good ideas don't come from the top all the time, they generally come from nutting things out and well; all those smart people out there just hiding in the corner thinking their idea is just silly. Lets put it all up and see what we come up with. Don't be shy. I think the logical solution to this question is; if you post a problem, how about posting your solution to that problem and see what evolves.

I have a zero tolerance for spam in general, so I am going to kick this off about my views and possible solutions on the email problem.

********************************

Microsoft, Yahoo, Spamcop and many others are on the job with little or no resolve to the ongoing email spam problems. Email spam is currently the major problem of all the forms of spam. So, how can we fix it?

In My Opinion:

#1 - Government Level
The governments need to get tough with everyone on this matter. ISP's who know it happens and don't fix it, get fined. Microsoft and Yahoo shouldn’t have to be implementing and tracking these major criminals, the Government should be handling the matters. These matters can be implemented I believe at certain levels and hand in hand with other strategies below where the Governments play some enforcement role.

#2 - ISP's
That's a main tracking route. Most of the world are connected through an ISP, thus these ISP's need to be enforced to report offenders to the law and have them punished, regardless of the quantity sent. Hit them in the pocket and send the serious ones to jail. If ISP's let customers get away with it, the Governments can simply remove their licensing. That will give them some incentive to do the right thing.

Another area ISP's can help prevent the thought of it is by shutting down their port 80 and making subscribers send through their personal accounts. Telstra Australia has done this to help the problem to some extent. Not sure about other major ISP's. You spam through them, they shut you down. For more serious spammers, Telstra report you to the proper authorities. If people keep spamming through different ISP's, they will eventually run out or be rejected if ISP's have a common known spammers list.

#3 - Bullet Proof Hosts
Hand in hand with ISP’s; they are connected to the WWW at some point that can be shutdown because of the service they sell to spammers. Another large chunk of spam removed.

#4 - Web Hosts
Same, same with hosting accounts shut them down immediately. The problem I have found reporting spam to many web hosts, that is, if the spam was not sent by the user directly through their hosted server, they don't pay much attention to the complaint. Regardless of where the person originated the spam, if it is legitimate and can be sourced to the hosted site and not someone's attempt to have the site removed, then the site is shutdown.

Another problem, some may think it is tough, I do not. Web hosts should not be allowed to host any site that sells emails lists in any form what so ever. If you can't buy the damn things, you limit many more people from sending those quantities. I guess this is also related to bullet proof hosting.

Conclusion thus far!
I realise the problem is beyond proportions probably imaginable, though it can be seriously reduced to very little. IMO, if it could be reduced by taking out many of the source related problems, then the authorities could concentrate more on those hard to reach pro's who are a little tricky to catch.

I am well aware that companies are getting rich from producing spam solutions that are just a bandaid, but the problem needs to begin at the sources, ie. Governments and work there way down. These countries that seem to host most of the problems need to get onboard quick smart and reduce it.

Let’s face it, I have a spam filter on my host, then on my email box as a secondary filter and spam still makes it into my inbox. Sure, I could turn the filter up higher, but then risk losing important emails by missing something in the spam box. Fix the source and we don't require the bandaids any further.

I will be very interested where this one goes. The spam potentials in all sorts are vast. I look forward to learning some great things from this post.

Last edited by Anthony Parsons : 06-07-2004 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 06-07-2004   #2
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As per websites. There is no such thing as spam just bad algorithms.

If you attempt to alter rankings by doing any trick via white hat or other. You are gaming the system and are going against Google's and other SE's TOS.

Is spam annoying? But it isn't long term. It eventually gets caught.

Last edited by seomike : 06-07-2004 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 06-07-2004   #3
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Government level regulation of internet = garbage.

the whole point of the internet, the whole reason it is good is that I can give my opinions and experiences of whatever I chose. once regulation snakes its way in it feels the need to regulate a little more and pressures are applied from people who sponsor the reelection of public officials.

the solution is to

1.) make better algorithms and spam filters over time.
2.) make content that is such an amazing topical hub and authority that it does not matter what others do because they will not be able to compete. most people are too lazy to do this, but there is a reason why hundreds of people have signed up for this forum in its first week without spending mucho cash on advertising.
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Old 06-07-2004   #4
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>>As per websites. There is no such thing as spam just bad algorithms

We must know eachother seomike, that sounds like somthing I would say too ;-)

>>Email

Personally I could care less, get a decent spam filter in place at server level and then a tougher more customized installation at local level and you're done.

However, most folks cant do that, so I think government level handling of this is spot on.

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Old 06-07-2004   #5
Anthony Parsons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
Government level regulation of internet = garbage.

the whole point of the internet, the whole reason it is good is that I can give my opinions and experiences of whatever I chose. once regulation snakes its way in it feels the need to regulate a little more and pressures are applied from people who sponsor the reelection of public officials.
Absolutely agree Aaron, however; IMO the Government most certainly need to get involved to make regulations tougher for ISP's allowing email spam to enter the system, ISP's need to crack down on hosting servers, hosting servers need to crack down on users.

The governments already regulate the WWW to some extent. The governments control the overall regulations of ISP's, however they need to get more specific in regard to spam. Some ISP's are doing the righty, some not. Web hosting and businesses in general are controlled by the relevant Governments and contain specific laws and regulations to e-commerce, though they need to get tougher in the mail area. The list goes on.

The internet with webpage spam, well that's another issue and I absolutely agree that algorithms are the method to the madness. I think attitude and campaign advertising can play some role into it. If people have the right attitude through correct learning means, then this could stop a few more problems. An active advertising online and offline campaign about Internet spam, webpage spam, etc, could help possibly. Many people read something like doorpages, generally being the first crap they find on how to get ranked, never read any further and implement it with no idea about the correct solutions. This is only the tip of the iceberg I'm sure, but there has to be active methods in which to combat the problem to a major extent.

Algoritms do that, but are also still a bandaid to the problem. I am talking about bigger issues here than applying bandaids such as spam filters and algorithms, lets get into the source of the problems.
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Old 06-07-2004   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Parsons
Algoritms do that, but are also still a bandaid to the problem. I am talking about bigger issues here than applying bandaids such as spam filters and algorithms, lets get into the source of the problems.
the source of the problems is Greed, an inherant flaw of mankind.

the only solution is algorithms, mathematics, and teaching people that they are rewarding people for stealing portions of their lives by buying anything through a spam email.

i never will buy through spam email and I have yet to have a single telemarketer do anything but waste their own time calling me. I am usually exceptionally rude to them too. I would hate to be a telemarketer that called my number.

the problem will only disappear when it is no longer a cash generating venue. many greed driven marketing messages also play on the greed of others and stolen software & multilevel marketing spam will probably be around a really really really long time.
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Old 06-07-2004   #7
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The problem is that there's money in sending spam. If the people who receive spam didn't buy from the spammers then there wouldn't be any money in sending spam--thus we wouldn't have as much spam.

We actually need to start educating the public not to buy from spammers--or people who send unsolicited commercial email.
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Old 06-07-2004   #8
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When gov't becomes the "answer" it usually becomes the problem. I think the market will work out spam issues. I've got a good spam filter that catches 90% and I'm happy about that. I don't need my tax dollars going to help someobody keep their inbox neat and tidy. They'll waste more of my dollars doing that than it would cost to buy a dozen spam filters.
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Old 06-07-2004   #9
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Quote:
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When gov't becomes the "answer" it usually becomes the problem. I think the market will work out spam issues. I've got a good spam filter that catches 90% and I'm happy about that. I don't need my tax dollars going to help someobody keep their inbox neat and tidy. They'll waste more of my dollars doing that than it would cost to buy a dozen spam filters.
preach on preacher man!

the very concept of government dollars going into fighting spam means that they would never totally want to wipe it away or they would lose their job and funding.
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Old 06-07-2004   #10
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They'll waste more of my dollars doing that than it would cost to buy a dozen spam filters
Amen to that brotha! On top of that they'll spend 30 billion in researching methods to catch spammers and a database of offenders and then the thing won't get passed by congress. LOL
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Old 06-07-2004   #11
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The government hasn't won the war on drugs yet and if they were to start trying to combat spammers, they’d lose that one to.

The problem with email spammers is that a lot of them are located overseas so even if you do bust them, how do you persecute them?

I solved my spam problems last year when I killed all my various email address I was using across 3 company sites and 1 hobby site, created new ones, made sure there were no "linkable" email addresses on my sites for email harvesters and even hiding the email addresses used in mail forms in Perl scripts rather than in html and that did it. When I register for anything online, I will use a throw-away email address that I can toss once I start getting spammed. Same thing is true in submitting to SEs or directories where they require email addresses.

I used to get on average about 1000 spam emails a day ... not I get maybe 2 or 3.
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Old 06-07-2004   #12
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they would never totally want to wipe it away or they would lose their job and funding.
Truer words have never been spoken!
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Old 06-07-2004   #13
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Ok. Trust me when I say, what you say about Government intervention is absolutely true. They do waste time and tax payers monies going about everything in the most difficult way.

So, you have given plenty of problems about the Governments interventions, but no real solutions. I don't think this is a solution

Quote:
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I think the market will work out spam issues.
To me, that is just ignoring the problem. To hard basket, I have a good spam filter....I'll leave it to someone else. That's not a solution!

Ok then. Why is Microsoft left to pursue some of the hardened spammers? Is it their responsibility primarily as a software manufacturer? I don't think so!

Having to continue changing email addresses! Why should you have to do that? Why can't you have the one and go with it. Another bandaid. The world in full of bandaids and not real solutions. I know some people have some real solutions to target the problem at the source, not the consumer.
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Old 06-08-2004   #14
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So, you have given plenty of problems about the Governments interventions, but no real solutions. I don't think this is a solution.
If any of us had the solution we probably would not be chatting here about it right now, and we certainly would not give away our secrets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Parsons
To me, that is just ignoring the problem. To hard basket, I have a good spam filter....I'll leave it to someone else. That's not a solution!

Ok then. Why is Microsoft left to pursue some of the hardened spammers? Is it their responsibility primarily as a software manufacturer? I don't think so!
Since Gmail launched Yahoo! decided to increase the size of their free email service. People hate spam. People will use the email service that does a good job of spam. Building a product in a competitive marketplace means that you put the consumer first. Spam protection is part of what people want. So, yes, the software manufacturer should be intersted in giving their users a robust quality product
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Old 06-08-2004   #15
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To me, that is just ignoring the problem.
Actually, its just the opposite. Somewhere somebody out there is developing solutions. We already have spam filters that you can buy, download, subscribe to, etc. This is an example of the market working just as it should. I'm not ignoring it, I subscribed to a service that has provided a solution that I am pleased with.
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Old 06-08-2004   #16
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Originally Posted by bhartzer
The problem is that there's money in sending spam. If the people who receive spam didn't buy from the spammers then there wouldn't be any money in sending spam--thus we wouldn't have as much spam.

We actually need to start educating the public not to buy from spammers--or people who send unsolicited commercial email.
Hear, hear! Education is the key. It's not the end solution, but it has to be the first step. We hear a lot of complaints about spam from customers, and I often wonder if the loudest complainers are the ones who are also clicking and buying on some of the garbage that hits their IN box.

Education, and keep the govt. out. Amen to those ideas.
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Old 06-08-2004   #17
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unfortunately, too many people refuse to be educated and want the gov't to change their diapers for them.
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Old 06-08-2004   #18
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Ok, some good points are made. So education is step 1, absolutely agree. Who educates the world?

Quote:
Actually, its just the opposite. Somewhere somebody out there is developing solutions. We already have spam filters that you can buy, download, subscribe to, etc.
People are developing solutions. Who? The companies developing spam filters are not developing solutions, they are developing bandaids to the problem. The solution is to stop the problem, not accept it and introduce a filter "aka: bandaid".
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Old 06-09-2004   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Parsons
Ok, some good points are made. So education is step 1, absolutely agree. Who educates the world?
I don't think the world needs educated. it is mostly probably the US and European markets that need educated. if you think of how much productivity spam costs it would be a cheap investment for the government to make an official what the heck is spam site. and teachers could talk about it for a very small amount of school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Parsons
People are developing solutions. Who? The companies developing spam filters are not developing solutions, they are developing bandaids to the problem. The solution is to stop the problem, not accept it and introduce a filter "aka: bandaid".
I think you are lacking proper conceptualization of the problem here Anthony. Spam exists because it is at least marginally profitable. there are some finite costs with spam. filters raise the cost per action and eventually good enough filters will make spam a money wasting ventue...at which point only politicians will still do it.
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Old 06-09-2004   #20
Anthony Parsons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
I think you are lacking proper conceptualization of the problem here Anthony. Spam exists because it is at least marginally profitable. there are some finite costs with spam. filters raise the cost per action and eventually good enough filters will make spam a money wasting ventue...at which point only politicians will still do it.
Well expressed Aaron and taken onboard. I completely understand it exists for profitable purposes. It is another form of quite succesful marketing when used correctly. When I say correctly, I mean that the email list being used is all personally opt-in and not purchased as many are or a paid subscription for latest opt-in lists, etc etc.

So what about selling email lists? This comes back to government legislations again. I know we would all like to leave them out of it, but unfortunatly, Microsoft cannot make the laws "yet". So if laws severely punished those who sold email lists, harvested email addresses, etc, then we could reduce the problem, thus reduce the spam.

I don't know the exact figures for the pro spammers, but they are turning into a minority these days with everyone else thinking it is OK to buy that list and use it. I even get clients ask me about it. They don't want to wait to build a list, they just want to get seen now and vastly. No patience. There is a human problem. Patience isn't factored into most peoples business plans, just timelines.

I am just looking to see how broadly people can look at the problem and for possible solutions even to small areas of the problems.
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