My Little Corner of the Net

You Are The Woman

I get hundreds of spam messages every day. Most of them come overnight and I delete them en masse the first time I check my email every morning. Others trickle in throughout the day. Usually I can tell that they are spam and I just delete them. Occasionally I get something with an interesting subject and I open it just out of curiosity.

Today I got a message with the subject "You are the woman." It came from someone with a real (or perhaps real sounding) name, someone I had never heard of before. It was obviously spam, after all, the last time I checked I was clearly not a woman–not that I have to check to know that. I was curious though, so I opened it up. The message was just a few lines of text, no graphics or HTML markup. The irony though was that it was advertising Viagra, a product for which no woman would have a use.

The Spam problem is getting out of hand. True, some of my email addresses have been published on several websites that I've designed or contributed to, so I may end up with more spam than the average person. We used to publish our addresses freely, without fear, so that our users could contact us. We never expected anyone to harvest our addresses; that would have been unethical. But like in any industry, all it takes is one person to break it and anything resembling a code of ethics is a thing of the past.

What can we do about all of this spam? Not much in my opinion. The Internet is global, so government legislation against sending spam is pretty much useless if the spam originates outside of the jurisdiction of the government making the law. Government intervention runs the risk of stopping legitimate business email, but in my opinion won't stop the spammers–after all, laws just keep honest people honest. The way spammers operate these days makes it virtually impossible to track down who's actually sending the messages anyway.

Perhaps the best strategy of dealing with spam is the strategy that our parents taught us to deal with the school yard bully who taunted us–just ignore it. If no one ever pays any attention to the spam we receive and just delete it, the spammers won't be able to make any money and will resort to some other form of targeting us. Of course that will probably piss us off just as much. But by then we'll hopefully have the technology worked to reduce the spammers to a pile of dust the minute they do something we don't like.

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