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The Continuing Rise of E-Mail Marketing

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the wholesale dept.

Spam 280

Mark Cantrell writes: "Yahoo is running a story from Reuters Internet Report that says that companies like Doubleclick are becoming more popular with online businesses because of the low price they charge. $25 for 1000 people spammed is the example given. They do mention that there is a threat that spam may get out of hand, however. May get? Obviously they haven't seen my mailbox or Usenet lately. My favorite quote from the article: 'I think spam is becoming a problem,' Bluefly's Seiff said. 'Any time you get clutter in your mailboxes, it is not beneficial to e-mail marketers like us.'" The article touches on true spam, but mostly talks about the much more benign stuff lumped under "direct marketing," like reminder updates from stores you cleared to send it to you.

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Spam me plz (-1)

Klerck (213193) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096513)

Send me some spam at adolf@hitler.org

Thanks.

We need signs on our email boxes... (1)

marko123 (131635) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096517)

"No Junk Mail"

Although it never worked for Real Estate Agents, the pricks. They never believe their advertising is junk mail.

One way to do it (4, Interesting)

DoctorFrog (556179) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096566)

Eventually we're likely to get some kind of legislation relating to spam. I believe in minimalist law, and this is one way it could be done while interfering as little as possible with free speech, nonabusive email marketing and other not so bad ideas that spammers tend to hide behind.

First, have a couple of universally available databases, one of email addresses which have expressed a wish not to receive any automated email, and another of sources which have been shown to violate this list.

If your email address is in the first database (and only you can put it there), your ISPs email system could be set to exclude any mail from the second list without affecting common carrier status.

The object is equivalent to blocking telemarketing numbers, but to be effective the consumer should be able to avoid having to block those spam sources one by one.

That's the basic idea. I'm sure the /. crowd can come up with a couple of dozen refinements in as many minutes.

Re:One way to do it (3, Interesting)

Unfallen (114859) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096640)

Conceptually, this doesn't really appear to be too different to the current system of mailing blacklists - except the first "opt-out" database is instead the client choice of using the second database. On the whole.


The main problems I can see with either system are that firstly, it's still an opt-out mechanism. Unfortunately, opt-in systems are (at least currently) more politically-induced rather than technologically, i.e. laws rather than code, which personally I find less ideal. The other point is the perennial problem of inappropriate censorship. For instance, recently the Politech mailing list has found itself on a number of blacklists, when it clearly shouldn't be. The question is how do you know for certain that those on the blacklist are validly there? Or, more abstractly, how do you know what is spam to some people isn't useful to others? And who gets to decide?


Clearly spam is increasing as the Internet grows, and not only do more unsuspecters get caught in the click-through marketing traps, but also more people find their way into the Temple of the Spam Merchant, and try to make a fast buck. I suspect simple blocking procedures, that only the more tech-savvy would use anyway, will do nothing to decrease the amount of spam. Rather, the wave of bulk mail will only lessen once the effort to send it is unbearingly more than the benefits gained.


Perhaps one method is to not ignore it at all, and instead waste as much of their time as possible. If everyone replied to one spam a day (by visiting the website, phoning them up, et al.) then how long would it take the spammer to realise they spent more than half their time following up false business leads? This is an idea that a fe have adopted, and there are various websites that reveal their adventures, but unless it becomes more commonplace, there's still no reason for spammers to stop.

Re:One way to do it (2)

DoctorFrog (556179) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096793)

how do you know what is spam to some people isn't useful to others? And who gets to decide?

Yes, I see your point; basically you have to hand the decision over to someone else. Perhaps private companies could compete with spamlists and you could go with the one that you trusted, which avoids the need for legislation completely.

Even so, it's not a complete solution since the spamlists will always be playing catch-up, and the only way to know if you agree with their latest choices is to check (defeating the purpose), and there'd be endless suing of the spamlisters by people saying, "But I'm not a spammer, and this isn't my nose, it's a false one!"

Bah, another beautiful idea slain by closer logical examination. :-( Back to the drawing board! So far the best idea I've seen was the filtering mechanism proposed by Paul Graham [paulgraham.com] a short time ago. I'd love to give it a try, anyway, whenever it becomes generally available.

Re:One way to do it (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096727)

Yeah so, a database is available. Who cares, I am spamming you from a country that does not care about your database!

Re:One way to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096814)

Yeah but when our mail server checks the black mailing list, it can prevent your IP's from connecting / sending any mail to our server.

Re:One way to do it (1)

DoctorFrog (556179) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096817)

Yeah so, a database is available. Who cares, I am spamming you from a country that does not care about your database!

Well, that wouldn't matter since your spam would be blocked at my ISP, which doesn't care whether your country cares or not... ;-)

There are other issues with the idea, though, as Unfallen points out above. It's a tough problem.

Re:One way to do it (2)

babbage (61057) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096802)

Sounds good, but what about Korea? Most of the spam I get these days comes from Korean sources, selling Korean products to a Korean audience and all written in, yep, Korean. I have nothing against the good people of Korea, but I am not Korean, I do not speak Korean, and really if I never get another piece of mail from that country it'll be much, much too soon.

Beyond that, I get lots of spam from other parts of Asia (China and Taiwan are the next two big sources for me), occasional messages from Russia or Europe, and course our old friend the kinda spam, kinda scam Nigerian get rich quick schemes.

The common thread to all of this being that it's all immune to almost any legislation that any one jurisdiction could come up with. This idea sounds good, but it's far too easy for a spammer to switch ISPs and so the information in that second database of yours always runs the risk of being too stale to be useful. In the degenerate case, the only way it'll work would be to ban entire countries or even all non-domestic mail, and in that case the cure would probably be worse than the disease.

I agree that legislation is probably the surest way to get spam to go away, but the cross-jurisdiction problem brings in such an enormous loophole that I'm pessimistic of any legal solution being effective on anything short of global treaty level -- and somehow I doubt all the nations of the world are going to ban together to fight the scourge spam when we can't even get them all to agree that landmines & air pollution are bad [no, wait, the world *did* agree on those two things and the US is holding them back, but I digress].

Proving that spam isn't economically useful would help, but shit it's so cheap that I'm not at all surprised that so many companies are trying it and will continue to try it. Finding a way to make unsolicited bulk mail *not* be cheap might actually help more than any legislation could. Have ISPs charge for mail delivery on a basis where usage under a certain threshhold is free -- and so allowing regular mail for most people to get through okay -- but start placing a tariff on it when [a] the number of recipients gets too high (but we don't want to tax regular mailing lists if we can help it) or [b] when the bandwidth consumption gets too high (but same caveat about mailing lists). I'm not really sure how to formulate this, but I bet if something like this could be done then the economics of spamming might stop appearing to be so favorable, and in turn the amount of it will drop.

Hey, I can dream...

Re:One way to do it (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096864)

I read an article last week explaining a pretty cool way to block spam using statistical analysis.

Basically, you have a blacklist of words that typically appear in spam, such as "unsubscribe" or "click" or "teen". Then every e-mail is rated for it's spam probability. You set up a filter to kill any e-mail which has a 90% or more probability of being spam. There's other measures to make sure that legit e-mail doesn't get caught in here, which I can't remember right now, but it seems pretty fool proof now. The only counter-measure I can see is if spammers start mutating their words: "un-subscribe", "cl1ck", "t33n", etc.

even a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096661)

have a filter that denys ALL email if the sender is not in your address book...

As usual, the bad kids pissed in the sandbox (2)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096522)

Sadly, these days it's an effort to tell the good kids from the bad...

My no spam recipe (4, Interesting)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096525)

I got my own domain and run my own email server. I only use those email addresses for business communication and exchanges with trusted friends and family. In a year and a half, no spam. My roadrunner account? Yup, spam flows in and I used it the exact same way. Three other ISPs, same thing. Makes me think that bulk emailers have help gathering valid email lists.

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096545)

They buy the email adresses on cdrom or by hacking an unsecure server. Often these are insider jobs. Your recepie is the same as i use. My real address that my friends use i wouldnt give away to any website.

Re:My no spam recipe (4, Interesting)

vofka (572268) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096554)

I also have my own domain, and run my own SMTP Server. As well as stopping Spam, I'm interested in tracking who gives my E-Mail addresses to whom, so each service I sign up for that is likely to send me Automatic E-Mails (which is most 'net services these days) get's an individual address, such as mdi0000000001@myverysecretdomain.co.uk.

At my Incoming Mail Server, I run procmail rules to check the incoming message address against 'permitted' senders. Any that don't match are Put into a Holding Account for checking, any that do are allowed through (I want my DNS Host to be able to mail me for example!).

The benefit of this is that I can tell Who has passed on my address (well, their address, but they don't know that!!). When I find that an address has been comprimised, I simply block it, and bounce all messages destined for it, as well as contacting the original 'owner' of the address to tell them what I think.

Now, it does take some work, and common sense, to run, it's not a 'set-it and forget-it' system by any means, but it lets me easily allow what I want in, in; and lets me block what I don't.

As for Doubleclick, they made their way onto my "reject all incoming mail from this sender" list (which I also maintain) a looooong time ago, along with several other 'direct marketing' companies (postmasterdirect springs instantly to mind!!)..

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

Stephen R Hall (163541) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096740)

You can use the same approach (though not as efficiently as this) with an account such as Freeserve, which gives you an unlimited number of email addresses (whatever@myusername.freeserve.co.uk)which you can use in the same way. Whenever you find an address is comprimised, use your email client's filtering/rules/spam blocking facilities to block all e-mails to that address.

Re:My no spam recipe (5, Interesting)

Quixote (154172) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096556)

Well, you better hope that none of your friends and family who run a certain OS from Redmond will get infected by the KLEZ pain-in-the-ass. For, it might start sending out mail to all of his/her contacts with YOUR email address as the source. And then your email address will be out in the open, for everyone to grab.

Makes me wonder if the SPAMmers have anything to do with this KLEZ bastard. I hope they catch the guy who wrote it, and feed him just spam for 32 years in his jail cell.

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096672)

Would it be KLEZ or the OS from Redmond?

Re:My no spam recipe (5, Insightful)

flonker (526111) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096574)

ISPs get hit with dictionary attacks to find usernames. They find an ISP, and mail every possible username they can come up with. These emails have some kind of web bug or somesuch in them, so that they can tell the good email addresses. They then have a fairly complete list of all email addresses at a given ISP. (Or at least those email accounts that use Outlook & OE) Another method they use is to send their messages to every domain, using a few of the more common usernames, (ie. sales, info, support) (Also, for the sake of completeness, harvesting whois info, crawling web pages, scraping usenet posts, web forms, and "contests" of various sorts.)

I recently set our mail server to block all messages that contain
<img src="http://\d{2,3}\.
This has cut down the amount of spam we get by a good 90%. There are still some messages that have height tags or otherwise don't fit the regexp.

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

zdzichu (100333) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096766)

I recently set our mail server to block all messages that contain <img src="http://\d{2,3}\. This has cut down the amount of spam we get by a good 90%. There are still some messages that have height tags or otherwise don't fit the regexp.

Why not give Spamassasin [taint.org] a try? It has very good filters and almost no spam comes thorugh it.

Re:My no spam recipe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096714)

I used to be a bit sceptical about the suggestions that ISPs earn a little side money by selling their customers' addresses.
Until UUNet Belgium reorganized and sold out all their non-professional customers to WorldOnline.

WorldOnline became Tiscali earlier this year, and shortly after that, spam started coming in on an address that had been 100% spamfree for years for the simple reason that I never used it (I had an account at UUnet, but never used the mail address that came with it except for receiving account and service info from UUnet themselves.)

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

Stephen R Hall (163541) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096729)

I have a hotmail account, the address of which I use whenever I have to give an address to someone I don't know/trust ("You must first register to download this article/driver/application....") I get at least 50 spam emails a day through this account, but none to my primary account which I use for friends and trusted websites (e.g. the BBC, Slashdot). At least with an HTML based e-mail system I only have to download the headers to see it is spam, rather than the whole message (HTML encoded with pictures of course!).

Re:My no spam recipe (1)

BitchHead (464271) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096860)

Personally, I just set up a new mail folder for all the mail that I actually want. Then run a few filters, screening the incoming messages against my 'acceptable' list of senders, (friends, family, work, etc...) and toss those into the new folder. I can sort thru the junk in my inbox at my leisure, but all the filtered mail is in the new folder.

Amazing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096528)

It never ceases to amaze me that somewhere there is someone who is glad to have received spam and buys something from it. Somewhere someones eyes just light up when see that 5th "** Very Important Message **" turn up in thier mailbox. I just can't grok that. I would love to see a photo of some of these customers. What kind of shape do you have to be in to pull your wallet right out when the "** Your Penis Can Be Much Longer **" message (the one I just got whle typing) arrives.

There is no good reason why its not illegal either. They restrict what telemarketers are legally allowed to do. They can't keep calling you over & over with the same pitch, but you can be spammed countless times.

I'm glad there are people out there making these spammers lives hell. More power to them :) Hopefully someone will have the balls to just start serial killing these spammers.

Re:Amazing (1)

jkusar (585161) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096603)

I've worked for a mass mailing company before, and I can tell you a little something about the people who still buy this stuff. 80% of them belong to AOL. I'm not going to offer explanations as to why they are so suceptible to those type of advirtisements, but its probably the same reason they're paying $24.95 a month for dial-up Internet access. :)

What? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096536)

'I think spam is becoming a problem,' Bluefly's Seiff said. 'Any time you get clutter in your mailboxes, it is not beneficial to e-mail marketers like us.'"
Is this guy trying to say he doesn't want to have a bigger penis without painful surgical procedures?

becoming a problem eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096537)

I get some 60+ spam emails a day in hotmail... well, lucky they alow you to block out EVERYONE not on a special list.

Double click must die, they are the nemesis.

Re:becoming a problem eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096754)

Anybody tell me why there are 3 different
kevin o'connors listed on Yahoo finance dclk insiders list??

Look at it this way... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096540)

Linux is for bitches. [linuxisforbitches.com]

TMDA solves your spam problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096543)

It's free. It works. It catches all the spam, not "most". Grab it now [libertine.org] , be happy.

How to make spamming more expensive (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096548)

I am trying this approach [cyberian.org] . Make spammers "agree" and subscribe for an "service" which gives them right to spam a spefic unique e-mail address. The subcription and agreement is done by sending an e-mail to this unique address. As the e-mail address is unique, and I got the webserver logs of who "agreed" on the terms. There might be some chance to nail them :)))

Re:How to make spamming more expensive (2)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096575)

Um, you do realize that that page also links to a page with your real (looks real, anyway) e-mail address, as well as the addresses of your wife and children? (Blues Brothers: How much for the wife?)

And, I don't think I'd like to drive around on my bike with a very large capacitor strapped to my back. ;-)

Re:How to make spamming more expensive (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096582)

> Um, you do realize that that page also links to a page with your real (looks real, anyway) e-mail address, as well as the addresses of your wife and children? (Blues Brothers: How much for the wife?)

Yeah, I am not greedy ;)))

>And, I don't think I'd like to drive around on my bike with a very large capacitor strapped to my back. ;-)

Hehehehe! I quess you are too clever to do that. I am hoping I can lure some trend-wise market-droids into that though :)

Re:How to make spamming more expensive (4, Interesting)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096633)

As some people have started reloading the spammer-nailer page a lot, it seems, maybe I should clarify that the e-mail address is not unique as unique per pageload. Instead, it's an md5 sum created based on the details got from the client host, browser, time, and maybe something else. So, it's somewhat unique per spammer.

selling crap to fools (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096555)

the only thing effectively being marketed by email marketing is... itself.

take the boulder pledge!

Make Spammers Pay ... (4, Insightful)

vandan (151516) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096562)

Go to http://www.overture.com [overture.com] and search for 'bulk email'. Then click on each of the links. Do this once every day. The amount this will cost each spammer is displayed on the search results page.

Re:Make Spammers Pay ... (2)

flonker (526111) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096591)

You wouldn't happen to have a Perl script or somesuch that does this, would you?

And if not, where should I send it to if I write one? It seems a trivial bit of Perl would do the trick, unless there is a good reason not to.

Re:Make Spammers Pay ... (1)

sopuli (459663) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096595)

From the Overture FAQ:


5. What happens if someone keeps clicking on my listing?
Overture uses a number of methods to ensure that all clicks that are reported to our advertisers are genuine. For security reasons, we do not disclose details of this protection methodology nor do we give visual or system clues that click protection is active. Rest assured that "invalid clicking" is one of the most important issues at Overture. We realize that it is mandatory to ensure the integrity of our marketplace.

Re:Make Spammers Pay ... (1)

PigleT (28894) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096647)

Looks like a combination of session-IDs, cookies and a "request-ID" as well to me, looking at the url <http://www.overture.com/d/search/?type=home&tm=1& Keywords=bulk+email&_requestid=6075779. Well, woopie doo.
Nothing that a quick wget or curl wouldn't fix... :)

Re:Make Spammers Pay ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096675)

Maybe that's why the site didn't work when I rejected its cookie. I wonder if that's their secret "protection methodology"? Just a question, pure speculation, wouldn't want to be in violation of the ol' DMCA...

MOD PARENT UP (2)

Lord Sauron (551055) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096720)

That's a terrific idea. I put this page as my startup page, and will acess it daily.

Have I got a ring for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096762)

With this ring you will get all the elf tang you
could ever possible imagine.

Spam is hurting business too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096563)

Okay, I know 99.9% of us here don't like Microsoft (myself included), but you have to admit spam is giving them unfair headaches. Their whole integrated Hotmail/MSN Messenger thing is being killed by spam; almost every 'new mail notification' is someone trying to sell you pr0n or even Chinese toothpaste (for crying out loud!). You can't excape it, it is a major time waster, any spam-filter catches mails it shouldn't and misses many it should, changing email address doesn't work as they use all sorts of fancy techniques to find your address within hours of registering it, lo - those who spam should be tracked down and caught. They can't work in 100% anoniminity; if there was a will, there is a way.

Re:Spam is hurting business too (1)

jkusar (585161) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096653)

those who spam should be tracked down and caught

The problem is, what do you want to do with them once they're caught? There are no federal laws reguarding spam. And the only state that outlaws the sending of UCE is Deleware, and that only applies if you have reason to believe that the person is actually living in Deleware. And once there are anti-spam laws passed (and I'm sure there will be eventually), the larger spam operations will just move offshore. Most countries have no spam laws, so unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done. As you said, spam-filters usually catch more than they are supposed to, but that's really the only option right now.

Re:Spam is hurting business too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096705)

"Most countries have no spam laws, so unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done."

Spam is an offense against Allah. Spread the word.

glad to get some spam (1)

dr.Flake (601029) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096572)

Think of all those sociophobic nerds, like myself, among us! I for one am glad to get some mail in my inbox, not having any friends. Otherwise i could just close the box all together! And yes, i believe my penis could be much longer! but i never got aroused by looking at pictures of pills.

Re:glad to get some spam (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096681)

My penis is fine, but I must admit, could use some of that breast enlargement, not what you'd call stacked by a long shot.

Re:glad to get some spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096694)

it's days like this when i wish there was a way to mod something as "Not Funny"

New business-model. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096584)

1: Write free software
2: ?
3: Rise of e-mail marketing.
4: Profit!

Re:New business-model. (2)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096862)

2: Get out of the software business and start selling used cars instead?

One spam story (5, Insightful)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096590)

I got a 3rd party spam a few weeks ago on behalf of a company that sells retail women's clothing. Needless to say, since I am not a woman there was no way I had signed up for mail from them. Just another spam, right? Well, it's a company that my mother is a huge fan of, and is actually on a friendly basis with the owners (though they're public now - she bought a healthy-sized chunk when they went public and has done nicely) going way back. So I mentioned it to her, and how I was disappointed that they had resorted to using a spamhaus.

A couple of days later, I got a very apologetic call at work from their head of marketing. It seems they really didn't understand the difference between opt-in mailing, self-managed lists, and spamhauses. We talked about how to manage a mail list for nearly an hour - I wound up answering a _lot_ of questions (I made some suggestions as well), and got a promise on her behalf that they would try to be good netizens going forward. We also talked about things like banner advertising, the best sites to do reciprocal banners as well as purchased ads, and a lot more.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I really think there are companies out there that are clueless about electronic marketing in general. So they listen to a spammer who can sound like a legitimate businessman, look at the numbers that get handed to them, and say, "why not", without realizing the damage that can get done to their reputations.

Then again, a lot of folks who get this crap in their inboxes don't even realize that it's wrong. Unfortunately, folks are starting to get accustomed to tons of junk mail, and only a relative few of us are vocal about it.

One interesting point in the article - one mailer supposedly had statistics showing that 70% of their e-mails were opened. Well, that means they were using webbugs - proof that everyone should use mailer agents that either can disable network access or refuse to display HTML.

Re:One spam story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096669)

Kudos to the company, sorta. That's the kind of company I'd buy from. But still... "I didn't realize it was loaded," "So the pedestrians _really_ have the right-of-way?" It'd be nice if we didn't have to be inconvenienced by the mistakes of companies, even the well-meaning ones. Is there some sort of guideline somewhere that companies can refer to (e.g., does Small Business Association or whatever have info to address things like this)?

Re:One spam story (3, Interesting)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096737)

You raise an interesting point. The obvious answer is that there should be a market for people who know how to do net marketing responsibly and effectively to earn a living teaching this to companies. One would hope that most companies want to be responsible netizens.

I fear the reality is that most companies fall into one of two categories: either they're so big that they have all their own people doing whatever they see fit (or worse, they've just dumped it into either the marketing or IT areas with no guidelines), or they're so small as to not be able to tell the difference between a legitimate marketing advisor and a spamhaus.

If you were running a smaller company, and two people came to see you with net marketing proposals, which would you be inclined to listen to?

The one who says "We need to collect only opt-in e-mail addresses from existing customers, and offer some sort of a incentive to get those addresses. We can't share them with anyone, so it's not a saleable list. Pop-up ads may log good numbers, but people hate them. It may take a while to build your business on-line, and it may cost some money, but you'll be doing business the Right Way".

Or would you listen to the person who tells you "for only $1000 I can get your message to over a million interested customers?"

The problem is, that without a well-developed clue people are inclined to listen to the second salesman, and not the first. Hence the drumbeat of spam keeps pounding on.

Re:One spam story (4, Insightful)

Jodrell (191685) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096730)

This sort of confirms something I've been thinking about for a while now - that spam is *NOT* growing because of clueless fools reading spam they've been sent, but clueless fools being conned into buying services from the spammers.

It's a very similar situation to recruitment - recruitment consultants spend a lot more time grooming existing clients and potential new business than they do looking after their candidates. They theory being that they can always get more candidates, but the clients are the ones who pay them money.

Spammers are salesmen ultimately - but they don't sell their client's product to their "customers" - they sell their "customers" to their clients.

Re:One spam story (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096734)

Can you tell me who first coined the term "spamhaus" so I can track them down and kick them in the balls? Of all the stupid fucking "geek" terms that have appeared in the last decade or so, that has got to be among the top 5 most annoying, along with such "brilliant" terms like "boxen".

Fuck you.

Yet another story that proves incompetence NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096807)

malice is usually the root of the problem.
For many people the web is still a new thing and just
like learning that TYPING EVERYTHING IN CAPS is
incredibly annoying maybe they don't realize that
sending out unsolicited email is just as annoying.

Re:One spam story (4, Informative)

funky womble (518255) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096839)

Well, that means they were using webbugs - proof that everyone should use mailer agents that either can disable network access or refuse to display HTML.
Some MUAs that are useful for this include:

Mulberry [cyrusoft.com] displays HTML without images (Win/Mac/Linux x86+PPC/Solaris)
The Bat [ritlabs.com] makes it easy to disable HTML. (Win)
Pegasus [pmail.com] normally disables downloading images by http (Win)

Gold Rush anyone? (4, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096601)

The basic point I never seem to see mentioned is that SPAM does work.

How you ask? Quite simple, it's not supposed to make money for the people actually sending the email. It's supposed to make money for the people selling the mass email lists/services.

It's the same as the California Gold Rush days; the vast majority of people who made money were the ones selling shovels, not using them.

Re:Gold Rush anyone? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096629)

And there's an auful lot of people out there who aren't happy with their 'manhood' I guess.

the honour system? (0)

yowi (175141) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096606)

I have found an increasing number of spammers are putting "ADV:" or something similar as a prefix on the subject line. I encourage this behavior as it makes it easy to block it, effectivly having a "No Junk Mail" sticker. Maybe if the spammers who did this were left alone, they could get on with sending to people who want it (and there are some out there!) without having to find new ways to circumvent blocks, while the rest of us get to live with an uncluttered mailbox. This would save time, money, and effort on both sides.

But.. but.. (1)

joshua404 (590829) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096612)

companies like Doubleclick are becoming more popular with online businesses because of the low price they charge

It wouldn't cost businesses much to hire bums to take a shit on my front doorstep, but does that mean it's good?! Who actually buys anything soliiticted to them via spam? The only result I've ever seen UCE deliver is anger.

Re:But.. but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096788)

The only result I've ever seen UCE deliver is anger.

Now all we need is a working way to make every computer illiterate grocery store owner understand that.

Even some big names don't get the point. InstallShield Corp haven't figured out why I downloaded a trial, but never bought the product and went to the competition instead. Diskeeper don't understand why I'm not buying any upgrades (the full DefragCommander PE product is cheaper than a Diskeeper upgrade anyway). Adaptec (Roxio) may have gotten the point, at least I haven't heard from them in a while, but I'm a convinced Nero user now and I'm not even thinking of turning back. Ever.

Lynching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096621)

We have a juridical system to prevent lynching. If the system doesn't work (spammers can go on undisturbed) lynching is acceptable.

May get? (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096624)

They do mention that there is a threat that spam may get out of hand, however. May get?

I work for a college, and one of the professors I support recently began getting spam. He made the startling observation that if it were to ever climb above the three or four messages a week he's getting, it's very possible that legitimate mail could be lost in the noise.

Thanks, Doc. Welcome to 1996.

--saint

Not SPAM (1)

SeriousMonkeys (571562) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096625)

First of all, the doubleclick mail the article talks about is not SPAM, by my definition. It comes from 'legitimate' companies, and really is opt-in. It is plain old-fashioned direct marketing, and it's not going to go away.

SPAM on the other hand is the message I receved this morning "...because you have expressed an interest in making money with eBay and or on the Internet - Make $750 a day!"

It does raise an interesting point considering the declining effectiveness of e-mail marketing given the proliferation of SPAM. It is just another example of how spammers' indiscriminate activities are at the expense of other parties, and more measureable then ambiguous ISP and mail server resources - the marketing company's bottom-lines. Realizing this, could Doubleclick and other direct marketers *gulp* actually become our allies in fighting SPAM?

Re:Not SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096773)

absolutely right - doubleclick is sending emails for reputable stuff, shops and the like where you are likely to want their products, or have asked to have that stuff sent to you.

Spam is the crap I get, porn, get rich quick, growth hormone, mortgages.. shit like that.

I wouldn't mind getting emails from shops if I could get rid of all the damned porn that comes in.

Re:Not SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096820)

First of all, the doubleclick mail the article talks about is not SPAM,

They can say what they want, if it's coming from doubleclick it's WORSE than just plain spam. It's targeted spam coming from spyware they smuggle into your computer (Doubleclick uses a combination of cookies and webbugs to track your browsing habits).

Plenty of websites explain what they do and how they do it, for example safersite [safersite.com]

More than Happy (2)

Ezubaric (464724) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096628)

Seiff says most are more than happy to hear about new shipments of Furla bags or Michael Kors cashmere sweaters.

I think I'll try some "direct marketing" of a bag full of marbles. I'm sure Mr. Seiff would be more than happy to have some sense beaten into him.

Remember kids, every generalization is wrong.

Re:More than Happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096787)

that's just not nice. however, I'm sure he wouldn't mind being signed up for a nice orgy with naked teen lesbians. or .. well.. decency prevents me from describing the other 5 emails I've received in the last 3 hours.

Doubleclick Again? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096634)

What kinda drugs are they doing over at Doubleclick, anyway? I still have 'em blocked at home (null-routed) and on all my corp. firewalls for their past behaviour. Now they wanna get black-listed for being spammers, as well?

On the broader issue: I've felt for some time that what will eventually happen is that folks will simply go with mechanisms that require unknown senders to send a confirmation that they're legitimate. Much like some of the ones mentioned in response to the previous spam-related article.

Right now my spam load at home is running about 99% spam (discounting mailing list traffic) and at work: approx. 25% on weekdays and up to 95% on weekends and holidays. I have positively draconian anti-spam protections in place and *still* my end-users at work complain about spam. "Authenticated" senders will be, I think, the only way to a final solution. And I do believe that, if widely enough employed, that solution will drive a nail into the spam coffin.

Re:Doubleclick Again? (1)

Lord Sauron (551055) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096680)

> Authenticated" senders will be, I think, the only way to a final solution. And I do believe that, if widely enough employed, that solution will drive a nail into the spam coffin.

What scares me most is that once it's widely employed, they'll make automatic tools (a one-line perl program :) )that simply reply to your e-mail, so the spammer gets autenticated.

I still think the best solution will be anti-spam laws. Vote YES for spammers death penalty! Spammers deserve a painfull death.

Re:Doubleclick Again? (3)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096742)

What scares me most is that once it's widely employed, they'll make automatic tools (a one-line perl program :) )that simply reply to your e-mail, so the spammer gets autenticated.

Not a problem. This would still improve current situation because:

  • It would force spammers to use a workable reply address, makeing them so much easyer to nail down.
  • It would force them to write a script that is able to deal with user input. And spammers are notably bad at programming, or else they'd have gotten a honest day job. Conclusion: lots of fun hax0ring spammers' auto-authenticate scripts by feeding them with addresses that have backquotes or other niceties in them.
The real problem with sender authentication however is different. Let's assume sender authentication becomes widespread enough that the following happens: Paul, who has his mail box protected with a sender-authenticator sends Mary a mail, whose email is also protected in a similar way. Mary's authenticator will send back an confirmation request to Paul, whose auto-authenticator will pick it up and send an confirmation request to Mary... Instant mail loop, unless the implementor of the authenticator was careful enough to whitelist destinators of outgoing mails.

Which Usenet groups have spam? (2)

RobotWisdom (25776) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096636)

I keep hearing about a spam problem on Usenet, but I never see it in the groups I read. Am I reading the wrong groups? Is it a big problem in, eg, groups with 'sex' in the groupname?

Or is my newsfeed being pre-filtered, and nobody told me?

Re:Which Usenet groups have spam? (2)

GutBomb (541585) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096663)

there is tons of spam in the alt.fan and alt.music. groups. right now, i think there is sommeone going around into every alt.music group posting links to his mp3.com page saying he has a connection with the music. the same guy posted in depeche mode, nine inch nails, and ministry. curious, i went and looked in a kenny g group, and sure enough, this guy has a "kenny g" connection as well. when you actually visit his mp3.com page the genre is stated as "folk rock".

then there are all of the "enlarge your penis", "kill all the niggers", "make money at home"...

Re:Which Usenet groups have spam? (2)

flonker (526111) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096682)

Your newsfeed is almost definitely pre-filtered, probably by your ISP, using (mostly) Cleanfeed [exit109.com] . Lurk in nanau [admin.net-abuse.usenet] for a couple weeks, and you'll get a pretty solid picture of everything. (You'll also get lots of flames, trolls, floodbots, cancelbots, sporgeries, and everything else that makes Usenet fun.)

Re:Which Usenet groups have spam? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096700)

I am an anime fan wich means I frequent those with anime in the title. In all of them porn spam appears. The subject are so low that it is easy to spot them, filter them and avoid them but nonetheless I sometimes find images that are extreme live action, not even japanese. The worst by far was what had to be child porn. I am pretty sure, 100% in fact, that alt.binaries.anime.repost (could have spelled it wrong) does not contain the word sex.

blantant lies from spammers (3, Interesting)

multicsfan (311891) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096654)

I used to run an ISP that went poof a couple years ago. I'm still running the mail server for myself and a few people who wanted to keep the address. The following is in the mail queue of bounced email on an account that hasn't existed for at least a couple years:

===
You are receiving this e-mail because you have opted-in to receive special offers from
Hi-Speed Media or one of it's marketing partners. If you feel you have received this e-mail in error or do not wish to receive additional special offers, please scroll down to unsubscribe.
===

I'd really like to know how an account that has not existed for at least 2 years could opt in to a marketing list. Isn't this false advertising? I should problaby complain to the NYS attorney general or maybe the FBI.

Re:blantant lies from spammers (1)

jkusar (585161) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096665)

I'd really like to know how an account that has not existed for at least 2 years could opt in to a marketing list. Isn't this false advertising? I should problaby complain to the NYS attorney general or maybe the FBI.

I'm just gonna play the devil's advocate for a second here, but maybe the former owner of that email address was filling out a registration form on a webpage and didn't want to use his real address, so he just stuck his old one in there.

Hey, it could happen. :)

Screw spam , get coupons (1, Flamebait)

gelfling (6534) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096662)

Why don't the 'direct marketers' aka dogshit licking scum of satan's asshole, just engage in coupon printing? It seems to me that they could print out coupons on the receipt when you purchase something online and that would have at least the success rate of spam.

Re:Screw spam , get coupons (2)

gelfling (6534) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096853)

so you don't like the idea? ok I'll patent it.

The important thing here is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096666)

to start slaying spammers by the scores. If enough of them are dismembered by rusty chainsaws and crucified to their email servers, you'll see spam thin out pretty damn quick. It's time to take back the rights of the people the good, old-fashioned, all-American way--horrfic, unbridled violence.

It's not enough to put them out of business, we have make spammers suffer in such a manner that they would welcome hell as a less agonizing alternative. And once we have used this method to take care of the spammers, it's time to move on to the RIAA. I got dibs on Hilary! ;)

Beat my record (2, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096684)

I have an SMTP honeypot on my computer. Last week it captured more than six million copies of the same spam mail. The spammer thought my computer would relay them, but it didn't. That is six million less spammails, yet there is a long way to go to get rid of them all.

Email Sucks (2)

standards (461431) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096692)

I've all but stopped using Internet email for anything important. Over 90% of the mail I receive is spam.

Filtering is great, but spam still gets thru (because I traditionally didn't want to loose messages due to overly-aggressive filtering).

Now, when you email me directly, you get a message telling you to call me if it's important.

Isn't curious that every ISP out there spouts off about how good their SPAM filtering is? Doesn't congress see this as a threat to business? Where is the president now? Off on a month-long vacation - clearly needed to clean up his own email box.

Spammers ruined any possible business benefits of email. At least for me.

PS - even my poor old Dad gets a ton of messages about teen sluts and crap like that. This just isn't right.

Re:Email Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096799)

that raises an interesting point - does the president get masss of spam? If not, why not? surely whitehouse.gov isn't immune to spammers.

perhaps if he did, he'd realise the problem - if its like one of my isp accounts that I don't bother to read anymore due to the amount of spam it gets - he'd do something about it.

Re:Email Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096835)

Tell 'dad' to turn off javascript and stop accepting
cookies when he visits those funny sites and he will
stop getting all that funny email.

Great pratical joke (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096697)

For the cost of $25 you get a great practical joke.
Create a true ad but bound to not be used(Selling packs of 25cent gum for $50 + $10 for shipping/handleing) and then use the address of the person you want to play the joke on as the address to send to. Then submit to one of theses companies and watch the anguish on the face of that person as the replys come in.
Besides the worst that could happen is that a few people send him the money and he gets a profit.

Lots of companies don't know they're spamming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096708)

At my office we frequently (once every two weeks) get faxes from places offering "direct marketing services". It's all very clouded in language as to what they do, but the evidence is clear: for $x they will get your message directly to y MILLION people. Near as I can figure the only "$x/Million" people I know are spammers.

For the record, our company doesn't need services like this, so I just toss them in the trash. I wonder how many clueless management types will see this as just another marketing outlet, not realizing it's pretty much useless and antagonizes your clients.

For example, a couple of years ago Ameritech decided to spam a lot of it's customers with a 2MB movie file (.avi format, no less) which was an ad for their data services. Needless to say I was pissed, and after I placed some calls to their management we now won't do business with Ameritech anymore (does anyone)? I am also glad my company is in a position that I can tell suppliers I don't like to piss off, too. Not everyone has that luxury.

Key distinction (2, Insightful)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096709)

The key distinction here is between spam, and targeted email marketing.

I get a lot of targeted direct mail in my post box. This morning I got info from two banks (that we dont use) and a mail order service. 3

I get a lot of targeted direct email in my mail box from identifiable companies offering things that might be interesting. This morning I got stuff from Security, Project Management, a few games sites. 4

I get a lot of Spam. This morning I was offered a big knob, hot babes, viagra, hair, part time work, katie, investment opportunities... etc... 46

The first and last of these I hate. The first because of the wasted paper, the second because its a pain in the arse.

The middle one I don't have the slightest problem with. I can always unsubscribe and sometimes they are useful / interesting.

Most people have a good common sense idea what distinguishes FREE OFFER!!! from New at ComponentSource

Problems with this article. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096713)

This article is talking about to different things and then saying they are the same.
First are the direct marketing from honest companies that are truely opt-in with are send with thier name attached to them.
Theses types I don't really don't mind, since I have agreed to them, and in many cases are tailored to my interested. I do want to know if a favorite author has released a new book or if a place is having a sale on items I purchase.
The second type are SPAM, no details needed.

This article is just combining theses two and saying that SPAM is great because I like knowing about stuff I signed up for.

DoubleClick and e-mail (2)

Draoi (99421) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096719)

Although response rates vary widely based on the ad, DoubleClick said that one recent DARTmail campaign for car maker Saab was opened by some 70 percent of recipients.

Opened??!! How the hell'd they know *that*? That sounds like a bogus claim right there. In fact, the whole article sounds dubious.

"Direct Marketing Finds Acceptance on the Net" - says who??

Re:DoubleClick and e-mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096735)

Hehe, acceptance... oh yeah, like pop-up ads! ;P

On my main account I get some 20 spam mails a day, never open a one of them - the main hazzle here though is that someday I'm bound to delete something I wasn't supposed to while group selecting spam...

Can't say spam is 'becoming' a problem either, on the mail accounts I created expressly for the purpose of intercepting this junk (reg'ing with dubious services or services renowned for selling email acc's) I've lost count on how much spam I've gotten, but the record stands at 270'ish mails in a day, and a LOT of them in asian languages so in effect impossible to read even if I WAS interested.

Re:DoubleClick and e-mail (2)

Draoi (99421) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096805)

and a LOT of them in asian languages so in effect impossible to read even if I WAS interested.

For us non-'Merkins, it's even more annoying. Spam in US$, spam for US-domestic markets only, - they always assume you're US-based. Not a totally unreasonable assumption, but annoying nonetheless ...

My spam filter catches '$$$' headers but I've not yet found the need to catch '' :-)

Re:DoubleClick and e-mail (2, Informative)

mosschops (413617) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096791)

Opened??!! How the hell'd they know *that*? That sounds like a bogus claim right there.

You can do it using HTML e-mails containing images sourced on external servers. Whenever the e-mail is viewed it requests the image, making it possible to know when it was viewed, and even which customer that viewed it! (using parameters to a script)

That's the main reason I use a software firewall to block outgoing HTTP from my mail client. I'd prefer them to think I'd not seen it, in the hope they'll give up.

Re:DoubleClick and e-mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096858)

thats why text only email is the way to go.

Seems rather expensive... (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096743)

$25 for 1000 people seems incredibly expensive. Loads of those messages will never reach people because of spam filters, and how many actually respond out of a thousand? Must be pretty low.

Like high school boys in a car (3, Funny)

AppyPappy (64817) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096777)

Spammers remind me of the guys in the disco age who would ask every girl in the club to have sex with them. "If you ask enough girls, eventually one will say yes". The problem is that you trash your reputation in the process. Not only that, if enough guys do it, the girls will quit coming to the club. I don't read ANY emails unless I know the person or trust the mailbox. My Hotmail and Yahoo accounts are 90% spam so I dog all the messages except a few. I laugh thinking that those idiots paid all that money to get dogged. They paid $1000 for two $50 sales and trashed their reputation in the process.


Imagine 4 spammers in a car looking for chicks "Hey guys, there's 4 girls in that car and there is 4 of us. We are gonna get LAID". Somehow, they never ask themselves why they never get laid. If they did, we wouldn't have mailboxes full of garbage.

Goddamn Spam (1)

Aknaton (528294) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096789)

I wonder who are the people responding to Spam. In all the years I have received it, not once did I get a spam for something I needed, much less wanted.

It doesn't matter anyway, anymore. Because of spam, I have Procmail set to send all email to /dev/nul unless you're on my cool list or have a particular unusual word in the subject line.

Extole the virtues of BCC (1)

Stephen R Hall (163541) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096804)

If Outlook Express users didn't insist on broadcasting the addresses of everyone they send an email to, rather than hiding everyone elses addresses by using BCC, an awful lot less of us will have our addresses on spam lists. I subscribe to a mailing list from my old school, and in conjunction with the "reply to all" option, everyone on the list had their address sent round the internet several times.

Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4096829)

"'I think spam is becoming a problem,' Bluefly's Seiff said. 'Any time you get clutter in your mailboxes, it is not beneficial to e-mail marketers like us.'"

The obvious solution: make it illegal to use email for non-commercial purposes. I mean, if it's not commercial email, it's more likely to be a terrorist message, no?

For the Fatherland!

The Junk Mail Mindset (2, Insightful)

TexTex (323298) | more than 12 years ago | (#4096849)

Spam marketers and the larger companies who help them have adopted the exact mindset used by the giants of direct mail marketing.

The president of one of these companies was once asked if he cared about all the junk mail being forced through a person's postbox. The response was "There's no such thing as junk mail. There is such a thing as a junk customer."

Getting your name pulled off 3 of the major lists in the US can drop the amount of credit card applications, free catalogs, and other junk mail by around 80%. Such a thing needs to exist in the spam world, rather than useless "unsubscribe here" links that fail to have any real affect.
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