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Re: More on spam

This is a bit OT, but here goes ...
On Fri, Oct 17, 2003 at 05:36:40AM -0700, Tom wrote:
> What does this have to do with spam?  It bemuses and befuddles me to 
> observe extremely intelligent people to swatting the air with tools like 
> spamassassin, when the correct solution lies elsewhere.  The correct 
> solution is to merely enlighten all of humanity not to send spam.
> Sounds stupid right?  Read the book to read why it's the *only* 
> solution, and all technical solutions are doomed to failure...

I disagree with this approach.  In part it rests on the false premise
that the only non-technical solution is universal enlightenment.  We
don't say "robbery is wrong, and the only solution is to wait for
everyone to realize it."  Same with murder.  And, in the larger
political sphere, "despotism is wrong, we just have to wait for
everyone to realize it..." or "war is wrong..."

Any sensible society will take steps to deal with its collective
problems.  In the case of spammers this means that laws should be
passed, after democratic debate about their form, and the government
should devote sufficient resources to go after those who violate them.
The effort needs to be international in the case of the internet.

There is also the practical problem that all these bad behaviors
actually benefit the people doing them (or at least, those who do them
think they're beneficial).  So they are "rational" in some sense, and
therefore already enlightened.

I also disagree with the libertarian/anarchist approach to spam that
everyone should just deal with it on their own, though that is what
we're forced to do now.  That gets into trouble with organizations
like AOL take it on themselves to block access from/to significant
parts of the internet in their anti-spam efforts
(http://z.iwethey.org/forums/render/content/show?contentid=96264 for
more).  It's also just crazy: the amount of individual effort that has
gone into dealing with spam and worms is mind-boggling.

Lawrence Lesstig has written some interesting stuff on this topic.

A couple quickies in closing, repeating points others have made:

1) Stopping using a list doesn't help if your address is already out

2) mailfilter and similar tools are good for zapping spam on the
server and saving you a download, if you have that kind of set up
(dialup to an ISP).  I don't try to use it as an elaborate filter; I
just use it to knock out the big viruses.

And one point that hasn't been made:

3) Because my address was available in the archives, people sometimes
contact me with solutions to problems I couldn't solve.  And sometimes
they contact me and we work on it together.  So there are some selfish
benefits to having your edress available in the archive.

P.S. I hope Colin and Joey stick around!

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