Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

Spam Rant


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 DaveChild

DaveChild

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3446 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 06:02 AM

We all know it, and know it well. Some of us are inundated with it, and most of us agree something needs to be done about it. More often than not, measures to prevent spam are unactionable because of the effect they would have on perfectly legitimate business email.

Not only that, things are getting harder for ISPs. Even the ones that do care about spam (and some are quite happy for their users to do what they want) do not always act quickly, or sometimes at all, so stop it. After all, who wants to go out of their way to lose a paying customer? Not a lot of people, that's who.

Let's start with a few examples...

Example 1 - Spamming Scum

Internet pond life, the Spamming Scum posts indiscriminately to as many addresses as possible, getting those from wherever he can. His income comes from a very low percentage of clicks from the emails, and his investment is minimal. He'll often disguise the email, normally at least hiding his real email address, and where the email has come from. He'll try and get around spam filters, and will often succeed.

Example 2 - E-Mail Businessman

The email businessman is a fair bit better than the Spamming Scum. He also relies on clicks from email to make his money, and won't hide his own details from recipients. He will honour unsubscribe requests. And he'll normally be the kind of person who goes to the trouble of buying a verifiable targetted list of emails from a company that hasn't just scraped them off the net. Despite this, he's usually treated the same was as the Spamming Scum.

Example 3 - New Business

A new business (as said elsewhere) may often want to let other businesses (or people) locally know about their services, and so may email as many of both as they can (that may be interested, anyway).

Example 4 - Average Joe

As site owners, most of us get personal emails from our users, some of them selling something. Many site users may visit a site and then realise we might actually be interested in their product - and email us. As mentioned in another thread, sometimes it's welcome.


In deciding what to do about spam, we first need to determine what spam is. By most definitions, all of the above are spam. They are "unsolicted commercial email". But I think most of us can agree that while spam is not welcome, it's the quantity of pure rubbish spam that's the real problem. Most of us would probably agree that it's the first (and some of us, the second) group that we want stopped, and not just stopped - hung, drawn and quartered.

In a perfect world, I would be happy for other companies to email my business address offering relevant products that I might be interested in. If my mailbox wasn't filled with garbage (not that it is anymore, see Bayesian Spam Filter thread), then I would probably actually read most of it. If it was targetted, and I wasn't swamped, that is.

Most people agree that they know spam when they see it, but it's hard to come up with a catch-all definition that covers the mail we don't want and doesn't include the mail we do. Spam is always unsolicited, but not all unsolicited mail is spam. Spam is almost always commercial, but not al commercial mail is spam. Spam is always sent in bulk, but not all mail send in bulk is spam.

With that in mind, I'd like to see any sort of legislation passed to be something that seriously nailed the Spamming Scum (huge fines, slow torture) and was very clear on who, exactly, fell into that category. I'd like to see a fine so massive that any of the Email businessmen were very very very careful with their own mailings, and made damn sure that they didn't cross the line between legitimate business practice and just annoying people who don't want bigger breasts or to take a share of ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX MILLION DOLLARS ($126,000,000). The kind of fine that would be enough to make sure any businesses that were new in an area were also very careful with the addresses they were mailing.

I like the idea bragadocchio mentioned on this thread, about all commercial email having to be marked with ADV: at the beginning. It seems to make sense. If nothing else, then all commercial email can actualy be dealt with by a company on a weekly or monthly basis (after all, it's the sheer cost in time that bothers most of us). Users who don't want anything from anyone, no matter how good the offer, can filter out all advertising from their mail easily.

Unfortunately, these ideas just aren't going to be any use. One law passed in one country is no help against spammers in another, where they can operate unhindered. Closing all open email relays on the net might be a good start, but that won't solve the problem. And some relays are open for good reason. Making ISPs more responsible for their members might be a good idea. ISPs faced with a huge fine for any spam coming out of their network, whether or not it originated there, would very likely adopt a much stricter policy with email and be much more careful, but with so many spammers in so many countries, and so many ISPs who would be untouchable, spam wouldn't stop - it would just start somewhere else. Most spammers also disguise their location and email addresses, and while a lot of us know how to see through that, many people will just report any address they see on an email - often an innocent party - who may then find themselves kicked off their ISP, especially if the ISP was facing a fine. most ISPs would not take the time to find out if a customer was innocent before acting.

An interesting proposal is outlined here, but has flaws. The biggest of which is the one that comes up time and time again - whatever legislation is passed and however spam is defined, spammers can operate from any country in the world. Short of refusing to accept email from a country with no enforced anti-spam laws, nothing can be done to stop them. It looks like spam is here to stay.

#2 Grumpus

Grumpus

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6327 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 07:03 AM

A most excellent "situational outline and report" JD - despite the fact that you're calling it a rant. It's great to get a post like this as it reall consolodates all the past info from here there and everywhere and puts it all into one place with a good summary.

One more type of spam that I'd like to mention - one that drives me nuts:

Friendly Spam
We know them. You give your e-mail address to a friend, relative, co-worker, or even an acquaintance with a "drop me a line to say HI sometime". Then, you learn the horrific truth that this person is one of those who automatically forwards every joke, comic, pithy flash animation, and chain letter to everyone in their inbox. Sometimes I even question whether or not they even read them all, not to mention whether or not they found it actually amusing in some way.

True, these people are easier to deal with, you simply walk up to them and punch them right in the nose, but it's not always that easy. You can't tell your boss to F^&$-off. It wouldn't be prudent to tell your mother-in-law that she's a psycho and that she really needs to lose your addy.

I now have a throwaway addy that I use for all new correspondence. Once you've proven to me that I can trust that you aren't going to swamp me with crap every time I fire up my computer, I'll share my real one with you.

<fin>

G.

P.S. JD, that was a rant. Yours was a real good post. :D

#3 DaveChild

DaveChild

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3446 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 07:24 AM

That really is the worst kind of email - and the worst problem of all with that kind of email is that it is precisely what feeds the spammers. People keep forwarding and forwarding this stuff, and eventually it reaches someone who wants to use it - and there's a massive list of email addresses, all valid, that drops right into their lap. It's as bad as clicking the unsubscribe link, or forwarding chain letters (the number I've had that people have added notes to - "What the hell, it's worth a try - I'll make a fortune if it's true" attached to that Bill Gates is sharing his fortune email...) - except it's not just adding your list to the spammers lists - it's also adding the addresses of your friends.

Actually, damn it, here's what to do. If anyone reading this is one of the people who can't help but forward every piece of junk they think is remotely funny, or they honestly believe the little girl with cancer is actually going to get 10p for every person they pester with the email, then here's how to do it without causing everyone else grief:

[list] email.
2. Put the addresses of your friends into the BCC field. Nowhere else. Then if the list does make it to a spammer, they won't get the addresses of your friends, just you. And if you're forwarding junk, you probably deserve the spam ;).[list]
Reading my post back, it wasn't quite as ranty as it sounded in my head. I think I'll just have to plan another rant for later on :D

#4 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15644 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 08:01 AM

Great post ILJD,

I've been thinking about this topic a lot. Legislation by itself can't effective solve this problem. There really needs to be some type of technological solution.

#5 Grumpus

Grumpus

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6327 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 08:16 AM

Make people take a test and get a license to obtain an e-mail account.

G.

#6 Adrian

Adrian

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Invited Users For Labs
  • 5779 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 08:53 AM

An email drivers license? :)
Sod it, lets go the whole hog nd have a Web Design Drivers license as well, if you insist on using garish background pictures with neon writing on top as that the only half readable colour you can find, then you won't get your license and can't get any web space to make my monitor ugly, heh

Sorry, bit of a rant off a tangent there :)

#7 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13609 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 09:48 AM

Great post JD!

What's been fraying my sense of peace and tranquility (ha ha) lately are porn spam emails that have images that load. Because of the amount of forum and consultant correspondence I get, I leave the preview window open for fast scanning. When I click on junkmail to delete it, as soon as I click on it, I'm often staring at 13 year old naked girls and men who replaced their winkys with long firehose :roll:

It's gotten so bad I can't check my email if my kids are anywhere near the monitor, either desktop or laptop. I've changed my daughter's email addy more times than I can count because she joins all the crap teens are conned into joining (despite my trying to educate on what's a ploy to get her email addy and/or personal info). She's faced with the same images and it's grossing her out.

The general public shouldn't be forced to put parental controls on their PC's. I tried this, but had to remove it because the controls would send warnings constantly. Nearly everything has a "bad" word in it, including ads that run in free music software. (The songs my daughter listens to are sometimes worse than porn spam due to the language or sex talk in them.)

Now, mind you, I'm all for nude men websites. The more the merrier! Unfortunately most of them are for gay men, so it's really no fun for me to gawk at them. Still, I like the freedom to stare at rippling oiled muscles and thonged butts if I want to. But, that doesn't mean I want them in my in-box. I don't want them pounding on my door begging me to call them or worse, pay money to look at them. I live with one and he never asks me for money! :wink:

Seriously, to be honest, it was fun about 5 years ago to think if I wanted to stare at the beautfiful male form I could pull up a website, but for the past few years, it's gotten boring and not of any interest to me at all. Why? The porn industry shoved themselves into my life without my permission or invitation. They took away my choice and turned it into a vulgar environment filled with crime, kidnapping, minors and lust for a fee.

Now, it seems, that's not enough and they have to invade my email or free software that allows their banners. Spammers don't care who sees their email. There IS no target market. They harvest everything and send everywhere. This kind of disrespect and invasion certainly doesn't get them, or any spam emailer, a click from me, but does get them sent to SPAMCOP.

Kim

#8 Advisor

Advisor

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 1142 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 10:53 AM

I totally agree, Kim.

I would go so far as to say that it should be illegal to send x-rated emails to any email address. (Unless they have specifically signed up for it...REALLY signed up.)

Those emails that come to any and all email addresses are unbelievable. There are ones of people actually having sex in one form or another. Right there in your email, my email and my kid's email. (Besides...shouldn't kids have to steal their dad's Playboy's if they want to see that stuff just like WE had too? :mwink: )

There should definitely be heavy fines for sending out that sort of email. Big time, heavy-duty fines.

Jill

#9 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 05:14 PM

Boy, I agree.

For quite a while now, I've been using MailWasher, a $30 shareware program that checks email while it's still on the server. You can actually *read* it and view attachments (images appear in code form, not as images).

It's got configurable filters ... I've even got it set to flag viruses. The bottom line is that nothing I don't want to download ever gets to my computer -- spam, viruses, etc. (We were getting 3-5 viruses a day for a while; none ever reached my computer.)

The other real benefit is that MailWasher can be configured to check *multiple* email addresses at once -- or at intervals you specify, or simply when you feel like it -- a real time-saver if you've got more than one email address. You don't even have to have an email program running to your check email. It's really nice to know what's going on with *all* your email addresses at any one time.

A good value for a $30 shareware program.

#10 DaveChild

DaveChild

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3446 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 05:30 PM

Proper reply later, but I would avoid Mailwasher like the plague now. Most spammers now know about it and treat rejection emails the same as unsubscribe ones. Go for POPFile. Seriously.

#11 Advisor

Advisor

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 1142 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 05:35 PM

You wouldn't believe how many people mistakenly put my newsletter on their mail washer spam lists. :roll:

Then they send me the user not found email and wonder why I unsubscribed them!

I tried mailwasher for awhile, but I found since I had already created mega subject filters, I was doubling my efforts by using MailWasher also. If you do use it, definitely don't send the bounce messages out. Most of the time the reply addresses are forged and your simply bouncing them out to some poor unsuspecting person in St. Louis who never sent you anything or somewhere in cyberlimbo land!

Jill

#12 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 28 February 2003 - 05:50 PM

<written before Jill posted; comments noted!>

You're referring, of course, to MailWasher's "bounce" feature which generates a return email to the spammer that mimics a real server bounce. Actually, we're not using that feature; really obvious spammers I block at the server level. But if that's the only reason for using MailWasher, you may be right -- and I can see that it could cause the problems that Jill mentioned.

Popfile looks interesting, but it appears that it works on your local computer:

POPFile is an automatic mail classification tool. Once properly set up and trained, it will work in the background of your computer, scanning mail as it arrives and filing it however you wish. You can give it a simple job, like separating out junk e-mail, or a complicated one - like filing mail into a dozen folders. Think of it as a personal assistant for your inbox.


As far as I can tell, unless I've missed something, this doesn't stop the spam from coming either.

To me, the fact that spammers may have gotten clever at detecting MailWasher bounces does not negate the usefulness of this tool to me. We use Mailwasher to check email and determine what to do with it while it's still on the server; that's what it does. I've got five websites; I don't want to be opening email programs all day to download email from five websites -- I just want to be able to check our email, all of it, when I feel like it. And I don't want to sort spam and/or viruses on our local machines *at all*! LOL Much less by downloading email from multiple websites all day. MailWasher keeps me apprised of what's going on with all our sites.

If this is useful to anyone, that's great. I would just, as Jill notes -- and as you would with any tool -- watch what you're doing with it!

#13 DaveChild

DaveChild

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3446 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 05:26 AM

It would be nice if it did have the option to delete spam entirely, then I'd not have to bother with it at all, but on the plus side, it's now running so accurately that I'm barely having to check for false positives :)

To me, the fact that spammers may have gotten clever at detecting MailWasher bounces does not negate the usefulness of this tool to me. We use Mailwasher to check email and determine what to do with it while it's still on the server; that's what it does. I've got five websites; I don't want to be opening email programs all day to download email from five websites -- I just want to be able to check our email, all of it, when I feel like it. And I don't want to sort spam and/or viruses on our local machines *at all*! LOL Much less by downloading email from multiple websites all day. MailWasher keeps me apprised of what's going on with all our sites.


Sounds like it's perfect for you then :D. I do actually have mailwasher myself (occasionally I get email I just can't delete or download, and then I need to access the mail on the server directly in order to delete it), but I was talking about the bounce thing, which as Jill said too, normally will bounce right back to some poor unsuspecting soul who has nothing to do with the email.

By the way, do any of you happen to know why "Jackie.Redmore@btinternet.com" appears in so many of my spam mail headers?

#14 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 05:28 AM

No, I do not, sir -- and neither do I know why I am apparently spamming myself, and so often! LOL

#15 DaveChild

DaveChild

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3446 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 06:53 PM

I found that original article - and it's well worth a read: http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html

#16 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15644 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:46 PM

Nice article!


Another approach to limiting spam is to try to cut back on some of the harvestors that are grabbing addresses from web pages.

I was wondering why I was seeing referrals from the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea.org) on a regular basis. I discovered the answer a couple of days ago, from a post on Mark Pilgrim's blog.

If you haven't seen this article, it's worth a look:

How to block spambots, ban spybots, and tell unwanted robots to go to hell

Someone in another post here mentioned the use of contact forms rather than email addresses. I'm beginning to find myself swayed towards that method.

#17 aspwiz

aspwiz

    Mach 1 Member

  • Members
  • 278 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 09:32 PM

Besides...shouldn't kids have to steal their dad's Playboy's if they want to see that stuff just like WE had too?  :mwink: )


.... and I'm still doing it!! :shock:

My outlook rules list is longer than an FFA links page... (NO, I Dont use FFA's before anyone screams at me)

Rob

#18 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 10:49 PM

Okay <sigh> ... what's a SymLink?

#19 aspwiz

aspwiz

    Mach 1 Member

  • Members
  • 278 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 10:57 PM

A symlink....

This is a link / mapping to any drive directory on a filesystem.

Is that what you meant?

Rob

#20 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 11:07 PM

LOL. I have no idea what I meant; I'm reading the link Bill posted which mentioned showed this bit of what I take it is Apache code:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

So, this says to follow some links to ... somewhere. Then they add some useragents ...

Okay. LOL

#21 Black_Knight

Black_Knight

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 9339 posts

Posted 01 March 2003 - 11:15 PM

In web directories, a SymLink is where you get a link that appears as a sub-category just like many others, but actually takes you to a category within a different path that equates. It just makes the navigation simpler for users rather than placing it in the 'Related Categories' section which may be ignored.

Computers > Internet > WWW > Design >

Could have among its logical sub-categories 'Software' - this could be a symlink to Computers > Software > Programming > HTML

Alternately, they may feel that since the other categories within the Computers > Internet > WWW > Design category were mainly about tips and articles on the actual design issues rather than on tools, that it would be better as a 'Related Category'

However, within the Computers > Internet > WWW > Design > Tips and Help category, they may use a symlink "Forums" to include the already existing identical category in the path Society > Discussion > Forums > Design > Web Design

Hope that helps and hasn't just deepened the confusion. :)



RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users