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Old 06-19-2004, 10:00 PM
Jonathon Watkins
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,303
Default E-mail at Death's Door Due to Spam?

McFeelme Johnson over at The Inquirer has written a very thought provoking, if not downright depressing analysis of the current problems with email and Spam. He talks about the current problem of unreliability of email due to Spam overloading and how the problem is likely to get steadily worse. He mentions how AOL is killing mail coming from blocks of IPs commonly used by spammers and says that it's symptomatic of the larger problem:

"This is the first serious symptom of e-mail's malaise. The doctors keep saying that treatment will fix it, and e-mail will be well again. But once the patient is out of the room the doctors talk about how long the patient has left. They know the case is terminal, they hope for a miracle, but sadly miracles don't usually come in time. All sorts of treatments are discussed - paying a very small amount of money per mail, having the e-mail client do some computation, meaning regular e-mail will take a little bit longer, but sending huge amounts of mail then takes a long time. All of this is the modern day equivalent of bleeding with leeches. Communication systems rely on one thing and that's reliability. Once reliability is compromised, the system of communication becomes useless."

It's depressing that even the smartest spam filters can be continually outwitted by spammers in the Darwinian arms race between the Spammers and the Spammed. An uneasy equilibrium may be the best we can hope for, i.e. the Red Queen Hypothesis (running as fast as you can to stay in the same place). McFeelme finishes with these comforting? words:

"Because the only human nature that can be counted on is that people are not only dumber than you think, they are dumber than you can imagine. The problems that we currently have will continue to increase over time. Interruptions in service, lost mails and the like will increase, until e-mail becomes so unreliable that its value disappears."

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Old 06-19-2004, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 93

"Most importantly, everyday users should never respond to spam, ever, under any circumstance. The simple fact of the matter is that if anyone is trying to offer you a deal too good to be true by a mass mailing, guess what. It's a scam. These reptiles would go out of business and stop sending Spam if they never got a response, yet still they get enough to make the expenditure of their time worthwhile."

That is the only thing in the article I totally agree with!

Spam is not a bother to me right now. It may some day and some day I may get hit by an asteroid! But I am not going to predict it. Spam is just a fact of life these days. Live with it or....

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Old 06-20-2004, 12:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24

And just imagine the reaction the world would have if this problem was occurring on the same scale on the telephone networks (Mobile and Fixed). It would be headline news! Action against it would be swift.

I fear email as currently implemented, has seen its heyday and some more closed implementation will have to come along and replace it.

So the concept will live, but the life of the current technology is rapidly being sucked out by the spammers.

Little fishy in the brooke
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 36

It's all very well to theorise. Email is still being relied on now - and more than ever : :!:

I've heard all of this before - the end of the world is nigh etc. Go stand on the street and preach this message :mrgreen:
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 103

So we should do nothing, simply give up without a fight, whine and complain about the inevitability of failure?

Take some prozac and get on with things.

Please notify me when you decide to again report on something useful.
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Old 06-20-2004, 01:22 AM
Vincent M Ferrari
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 797
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I refused to let my email fall victim to the clutches of a processed pork product. To do it, I signed up for SpamArrest at It's a challenge/authentication system where people send you an email and get a challenge back. If they don't respond, I never see the mail.

I can manage a queue of messages manually if I were so inclined, or let them manage it for me and just delete all the messages that are unverified after a few days.

Needless to say, I have not gotten a single spam since I started using it, and all the people who grumbled about having to verify are now checking with me to find out if it's still working and how much it costs.

The way email is going, challenge authentication is going to be the way to go with email. I'm very happy with my service and I think the perpetually proclaimed "death of email" might be a bit premature. It's like telling someone who has a cold that they're gonna die.

Sure they will, if you don't treat the problem!
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Old 06-20-2004, 01:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 103

So we should do nothing, simply give up without a fight, whine and complain about the inevitability of failure?
Just so no one misunderstands: my earlier post represents my reaction to The Inquirer entertaining "editorials" which are nothing more than thinly veiled trolling, not Jonathon's posting or reference of it on PPC Thoughts.

Were The Inquirer's article to appear as a usenet posting, everyone would instantly recognise it.

My post is in no way intended to be an attack of Jonathon's posting.
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Old 06-20-2004, 05:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 171

There's an "old west" analogy here...

On the American frontier, it was common for communities to suffer the vandalism and lawlessness that thrived in young outpost communities... until the residents, lawmakers and law enforcers responded to the needs of the community.

Unfortunately, the current vandals have long since discovered the vulnerabilities of our new community and taken it as their right to exploit them for their own gain at the community's cost.

Unless the community majority (us?) can establish fair law and enforcement to do so, the community will continue to suffer if not die.

Us "old folk" enjoyed a couple of decades of rare beauty and productivity in this medium under the concept of common courtesy, but, we apparently failed to pass on that foundation to those that followed and it's probably lost forever.

So, our legacy to you is for you to take up the pen and sword and fight the vandals that exploit this vulnerable medium... or loose it.
Beverly Howard
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Old 06-20-2004, 07:38 AM
sundown's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 302

Oh please, the "death of email"? Look, I get 1,000 spam messages a day and I would love to figuratively smack someone in the chops for it. But I still use email and probably more than ever. I do think the rare user of email may become dismayed and quit but certainly not business and moderate and advanced users.
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Old 06-20-2004, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 473

Spam is annoying. It can be destructive (i.e. virii). And the unfortunate thing is there's absolutely nothing the recipient can do to stop it at the source.

Sure, I have an anti-spam software program in place and have changed my mailbox on occasion, take reasonable precautions distributing my email address but sooner or later I know it will end up on another spam list. But I can't stop myself receiving spam once it begins. My ISP refuses to do it and I cannot trust them not to filter out a false-positive email by mistake.

The solution? Nothing practical, realistic. Simply avoidance.

What I want? I don't believe in Microsoft's irritating manual postage stamp/problem solving emails. I enjoy being able to send a trouble and thought-free one-line reply to my friends similar to sms. Sooner or later, as this problem grows, either email will evolve (unfortunately so will spam) or somebody, somewhere with a lot of power will have to take a hard-line against spam. I categorise spam in the same category as viruses. Unwanted, unnecesary, and created simply to fool and irritate the s**t out of other people. As such, creators of spam need to be actively hunted down, traced, have their assets seized and thrown into jail. Pity I don't believe in the death penalty... but it comes might close. :devilboy:
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