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Penny Black Project Investigates Sender-Pays E-mail

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the what's-the-deductable-please dept.

Microsoft 364

Anonymous Coward writes "The Inquirer reports: Microsoft contemplating charging for emails. 'MICROSOFT IS UNFOLDING something it calls the Penny Black project in which people sending emails might have to pay for the privilege.' Microsoft's explanation of the project is here: The Penny Black Project." There are a lot of things going on at Microsoft Research -- no guarantee that particular ones are going to be released in the real world. (And Microsoft isn't the only party interested in sender-pays, or at least sender-risks-paying systems.)

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If I had a penny for every piece of spam I get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309598)

I'd have enough to buy a new car!

fp suck it ma niggaz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309604)

I claim this FP on behalf of Red Hat and the UK. SUCK IT

Wow this article isn't what I expected. (4, Interesting)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309605)

The Penny Black project is investigating several techniques to reduce spam by making the sender pay. We're considering several currencies for payment: CPU cycles, memory cycles, Turing tests (proof that a human was involved), and plain old cash.

This is an anti-spam tool that doesn't need to be paid in cash. This also presents /. with an interesting juggling act: we hate Microsoft, but we also hate spam.

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (1)

neuroticia (557805) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309620)

The ticket scheme involves creating a ticket service that would issue tickets, which can then be submitted with an email message. The recipient would then call the ticket service to validate and cancel the ticket.

I'm hoping that by "call" they don't mean a bloody phone call. It's bad enough to have to validate WinXP by phone.

Why not just allow us to email the ticket service? ... Oh, wait.

-Sara

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309685)

The recipient would then call the ticket service to validate and cancel the ticket.
I'm hoping that by "call" they don't mean a bloody phone call.

I imagine they mean a bloody .NET "call".

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309630)

At this stage as a research project it's a tool that doesn't need to paid in cash.

Why do I suspect that by the time Microsoft management gets through with it, it will be payable in cash only, and to you know who.

Want to send email to anyone to or from MSN, Hotmail, or any other MS-owned domain? Sure thing -- is your license of Microsoft Postage paid up?

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309681)

Too bad microsoft doesn't own enough of the email market to enforce this.

Besides, is joe@msn.com stopped receiving messages from people, it's not like he can't just go out and get another FREE email acount in under 1 minute.

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (2, Insightful)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309689)

This wouldn't bother me one bit. I don't have any desire to send messages to anyone with any of those addresses. Nor do I wish to recieve email from anyone with those addresses.

The unfortunatly thing would be that I can see the US postal service jumping on board with this. Issuing every US citizen a unique email address and then charging for it's use. Which I also have absolutly no desire to have, or pay for.

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (4, Insightful)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309655)

This doesn't look like an anti-spam tool:

The Penny Black project is investigating several techniques to reduce spam by making the sender pay. We're considering several currencies for payment: CPU cycles, memory cycles, Turing tests (proof that a human was involved), and plain old cash.

This just looks like a group (of smart people) that are investigating ways to reduce spam.

--sex [slashdot.org]

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (1)

Shads (4567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309708)

Spam is worse, I'm up to ~260 a day across 6 accounts. As soon as any given account is given to any person/site but a direct friend who you explicitly tell "do not enter this on any website anywhere (and provided they listen)." you start getting spam and it just escalates... I had one "clean" address, gave it out ONE time for a business reason, and it started getting spam within a week... two weeks later it was up to 4-5 a week, now its up to 10-12 a week. Pisses me off significantly.

Re:Wow this article isn't what I expected. (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309779)

i get about 500 a day (across 12 accounts)

i use mailwasher, but i still have to go through it all to make sure nothing important was marked as spam... really annoying... and even more so now that im on dialup. I had dsl and checking my mail wasn't too hard but I since moved and now im stuck with ~33kbps dialup with ~300-500ms ping (really bad lines).. takes forever to check my mail, and by the time im done marking filtering all my spam, i have like 50 more..

Forget iraq, lets bomb spammers.

Remember the good old days... (4, Insightful)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309607)

I think my desire to see the 1998-99 internet doubles every time I see a story like this.

It is rapidly being forgotten that things being free was one of the reasons why this internet thingy took off in the first place.

Re:Remember the good old days... (5, Insightful)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309634)

It is rapidly being forgotten that things being free was one of the reasons why this internet thingy took off in the first place.

Much like freedom though, there are always the jackass minority that abuse it and wreck it for the rest of us.

Re:Remember the good old days... (4, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309746)

Blockquoth the poster:

Much like freedom though, there are always the jackass minority that abuse it and wreck it for the rest of us.

Ah, the Tyranny of the First Defector: Whoever first decides to abuse a system reaps maximum reward, which (a) encourages more defectors and (b) reduces the willingness of collaborators to remain in the game. It happens because defection lowers the average benefit, but the defector doesn't care about average benefit. He cares only about his specific benefit, which can easily exceed the average.


The end result, though, is that the average benefit declines and the specific benefit decreases even faster until we're all stuck mucking around at a single, much lower benefit. Phoo!

Re:Remember the good old days... (0, Insightful)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309635)

Exactly, the worst thing to happen to the internet was people decided to use it to make money.

Re:Remember the good old days... (3, Insightful)

neuroticia (557805) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309668)

[ hoping that's sarcasm ]

*laughs* One of the REASONS it's as popular as it is is because people decided to use it to make money. The web is not entirely built by good intentions.

Let's see. There's the ISP's and broadband providers... There's the online merchants who pay for banner advertising to support sites like Slashdot... There's the commercial companies who pay US to put them on the net and keep them on the net.

Granted, there's also blights-of-the-net like AOL, whom we'd all be better off without. But--if it weren't for the commercialization of the net, and the net's evolution into a commodity, then a lot of us wouldn't be here right now.

-Sara

Re:Remember the good old days... (1)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309707)

Things like AOL, MSN, and EarthLink have thier uses. They get people on the Interet and for the most part contain them in thier own little communities. As the individuals discover that there is more out there they eventually get fed up with thier provider and move somewhere else. This used to happen much more quickly than it seems to happen now, but I still talk to people that want to get the hell away from AOL even though they were perfectly happy with it at first.

Re:Remember the good old days... (-1)

iosmart (624285) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309748)

Many books and articles have been written on the fact that, well, Things Fall Apart [amazon.com] . Change is inevitable, those who try to hinder the flow of history are destroyed along the way. Change is always occuring and the "status quo" will always be undergoing improvement; if you do not grasp onto what is replacing it, you will be run over and left stranded.

Re:Remember the good old days... (1)

neuroticia (557805) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309645)

Cash was only ONE of the ways MS was considering having the sender "pay". Other things were listed, and one of them was a "Turing test".

I doubt Microsoft would be able to get people to pay for email--Maybe users of Microsoft products, but how would they propose to make users of open OSes and software pay? I mean-- there would be a totally new protocol out for email very quickly after that--and people who don't want to pay (everyone) would adopt it almost immediately.

People use WAY too much email to be content with paying Microsoft for each email they send out.

-Sara

Re:Remember the good old days... (4, Interesting)

chriso11 (254041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309683)

Except for messing up mailing lists, a neat way to limit spam would be to require the mail sender to factor a large number provided by the SMTP host. It wouldn't need to take too long - only 3 or so seconds on a decent computer, but it would really slow down spammers. If you need to send out an email to 20 hosts, it would take a minute, which isn't that bad. But if you were trying to spam 100000 addresses, that would require a good amount of time to crunch... Of course, the number to factor would need to be a good random number.

Re:Remember the good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309666)

the concept isnt necessarily about having to pay money necessarily. the link they have to "charge" by using CPU time actually looks really interesting. If a spammer has to spend even 2-3 seconds of calculation for every message sent then even at 24 hours a day he could only send ~40k messages a day.

RTFA (3, Informative)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309784)

RTFA, this isn't about charging for email use. This is about making people ACCOUNTABLE for excessive email abuse (i.e. spam). Just one of the options being considered is charging money for it, also considered are cpu cycles, etc.

Re:Remember the good old days... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309785)

I have a good idea. Why don't we build a new internet?

See sig for details.

Not such a bad idea, but who's running it? (3, Interesting)

SpikeSpegiel (622734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309610)

This could be a good thing, after all, if spammers had to pay for all that mail they send, they would have problems sending millions a day.

On the other hand, I don't want to pay for email, I already get it for free. I think that this idea would be great if it could somehow charge spammers for emailing me, while letting me send out whatever i want.

Email is already free, I don't see a way for any company to charge for it, but I am all for using any tool to stop spam as long as it doesn't hurt me.

Re:Not such a bad idea, but who's running it? (1)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309753)

How about you pay a fee for every email you send beyond the twentieth one. Most would never incur such penality. However, it would destroy the idea of 'free' newsletters being sent by email.

Doing that would be solving the problem already (1)

Some Var (644138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309816)

If we could somehow decide what "type" of email one has to pay for because no one wants it, wouldn't it be just as easy to stop it from occuring in the first place?
By making people pay, even a very small amount, would be irritating and completely unneccerasy if the sole purpose was to defeat spam.

"Penny Black Poject" (-1, Redundant)

zephc (225327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309611)

s/Poject/Project

Re:"Penny Black Poject" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309627)

You didn't get the joke? Black people don't pronounce r's.

(OT) Dropping R's in English (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309699)

Black people don't pronounce r's

Nice try, but no. The "black" dialects have the same rules for dropping 'r' that British RP or any other non-rhotic English dialect uses. Non-rhotic [wikipedia.org] English drops 'r' only after a vowel sound. Thus, 'r' would not be dropped in the word "project".

Easiest way to deter spam (1, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309612)

The easiest way to deter spam is to charge per byte rather than a flat monthly fee. Of course this has the (sometimes) undesirable side effect of increasing the cost of downloaded/pirated goods...

Re:Easiest way to deter spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309626)

It would also mean that sending .doc files is more expensive than sending .txt or .html files. Which would be good from a open standards POV, but unlikely to be supported by MS.

Re:Easiest way to deter spam (4, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309662)

Since spammers most often hijack the resources of others to send their spam, making the "sender" pay directly will often hit the wrong person in the pocket. The real solution is to prevent the hijacking of resources in the first place. It does look like some of the Microsoft Research proposals (the Turing test idea in particular) might address this problem to some degree too, it will be interesting to see some more details once the research has progressed.

Re:Easiest way to deter spam (1)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309703)

Although it's not detailed in the report, I don't think the scenario you're describing is a problem. All you need to do is to redefine 'sender' to be the originator of the email, and NOT the first MTA the email hits. Ie, the 'sender' is the spamming mail client. The ISP's MTA, for example, would demand the same ticket exchange that the receiving MTA demands. In effect, the resultant ticket exchange is the sending client, and the receiving client... the MTAs just pass tickets along.

Re:Easiest way to deter spam (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309837)

I don't think the scenario you're describing is a problem. All you need to do is to redefine 'sender' to be the originator of the email, and NOT the first MTA the email hits.

Indeed. Being able to authenticate the real sender is key to any attempt to deal with spam at the source. Personally, I think that once the authentication is universally in place, that alone will disuade most spammers, and elaborate charging schemes will not be needed.

nah (3, Insightful)

awx (169546) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309613)

from the article:
The Penny Black project is investigating several techniques to reduce spam by making the sender pay.

Well sorry, but I get a pile of junk mail every week on my doormat through my post and in my papers - and the senders have had to pay both to print AND send that...

Re:nah (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309652)

Well sorry, but I get a pile of junk mail every week on my doormat through my post and in my papers - and the senders have had to pay both to print AND send that...

Those senders are also not fraudulent businesses either. They provide you with a REAL way to contact them. You know who you're dealing with. In most cases they are businesses local to you. In the case of spam, most of the time what they are selling is only questionably legal, it may not be what they claim, or it just doesn't exist at all.

I would have a much smaller problem with spam if only legit businesses spammed me. The reasoning being that I can handle 5 or 6 spams a week, but 20 or 30 per day is just plain rediculous. If only legit/respectable businesses could spam you can rest assured the amount of spam you get will be reduced down to almost nothing.

And the USPS is your friend in that too (2)

chriso11 (254041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309698)

The Post Office also goes after fraud in a big way. So mailed advertisements are significantly more trustworthy than the common enlarge your penis/breasts emails.

Everyone knocks the post office, but for $0.37, would you deliver a letter anywhere in the US?

Re:And the USPS is your friend in that too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309823)

Of course I wouldn't. Instead, I'd think about delivering the letter, then gather up my old war buddies and the toys I kept from 'Nam, then go back to work and shoot the place up.

Got to love the post office.

Re:nah (4, Informative)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309721)

Well sorry, but I get a pile of junk mail every week on my doormat through my post and in my papers - and the senders have had to pay both to print AND send that...

Well, yes, but from what I understand this pile of junk mail supports the post office. Now spam supports no one and steals resources from everybody's networks.

Also, junk mailers tend to be pretty good about removing you from their lists precisely because it costs money to send junk mail. When it costs money, they will not send it to someone who resents them enough to call with removal request. Again, spam has no such insentive... your email becomes more valuable with "active" mark, that's all.

Re: It's a Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309809)

>> Well sorry, but I get a pile of junk mail every week on my doormat through my post and in my papers - and the senders have had to pay both to print AND send that...
-----------------
And each Junk Mail cost 5-15 cents to get at your door. Now imagine it would cost 10$ for 50 million distribution; how big of a mailbox would you need?

I also like the argument 'It supports the US postal service' not to mention jobs for printers, marketing, graphics, artists, photographs, etc...

Spam does not create a lot of jobs. I bet it costs more time (a few minutes from millions of people every day usually at work) than it gives 'job time' to spammers and their clients (sellers) so hurts the economy instead of a benefice.

I am currently the victim of a Joe-Job (See Wednesday /. for many Joe-Job stories), and I am 100% for this project. Of course I would prefer Microsoft not be in control of the process.

As long as the victime of the Joe-Job dont end up paying of course :)

Why can't we all just get along? (0)

Nix0n (649693) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309615)

Timothy, why must we always turn everything into a racial issue? Penny Black? Po'ject? You know sometimes, the people living in the Po'ject just can't help their situation, and charging them to send emails certainly won't help.

Could you really enforce this? (0, Redundant)

Dthoma (593797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309616)

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can circumvent any software or hardware restriction with sufficient determination and/or initial outlay of funds. If this PB system is implemented as part of MS email software, you can just use some open source software designed to get around it. If it's built into Intel hardware, you can just use a different architecture.

Good news! (2, Funny)

Pilferer (311795) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309617)

I'd love to see spammers pay a penny per spam. Or better yet, pay ME a penny per spam! I'd be rich! (Insert 1..2..3 Profit! joke here)

WTF is a poject? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309618)

Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!

Not as evil as it sounds (1)

stripmarkup (629598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309619)

The Inquirer article doesn't get it quite right. This seems like a continuation of a concept discussed in The Road Ahead (probably not Bill Gates' idea anyway) to combat spam. The sender includes a payment that the receiver may choose to collect when reading the email. If the sender is a lost acquaintance with a legitimate reason to email the receiver, the payment probably won't be collected. If the sender is a spammer, it certainly will. This introduces a cost barrier for spammers. The reason this hasn't been implemented yet is the lack of a widespread micropayment system on the internet.

Are all of the anti-government types happy now? (3, Insightful)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309623)

Every time that a discussion of anti-spam legislation comes up, there is always some vocal minority that screams about how all laws are bad, spam is free speech, the government is evil/incompetent/big brother, and other such nonsense.

Well, without legislation, this is the way that the market will handle the problem. They will put a for-profit, sender-pays e-mail system into place.

If you don't want to see this happen, contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they pass legislation making unsolicited commercial e-mail illegal.

Re:Are all of the anti-government types happy now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309808)

How could I have been so blinded by the simplistic anti-government retoric? I see it now! you're absolutely right! We can outlaw spam, just like we outlawed marijuana and heroin, and then no one will ever be able to send spam again!

Just curious (1)

LongJohnStewartMill (645597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309624)

Just curious, but wasn't the point of charging for normal mail because it actually involved paying people to sort, deliver it, etc. Are mail servers going on strike or something? I need a job, I wonder if I can become a mail server... I know I can be as good as QMail if you just give me the chance!

Re:Just curious (2, Informative)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309731)

Blockquoth the poster:

Just curious, but wasn't the point of charging for normal mail because it actually involved paying people to sort, deliver it, etc. Are mail servers going on strike or something?

You know, just because it's electronic doesn't mean it's free. Mail relays, hosts, etc., still have to pay in time, power, bandwidth, and storage for all the mail that flows around. Isn't it legitimate to at least consider making that cost be borne by the person actually using the resource?


Spam is an example of the Tyranny of the Infinitesimal: Sure, each email is individually nearly cost-less. But together they really stack up the dollars.

Re:Just curious (1)

Dasaan (644170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309801)

You know, just because it's electronic doesn't mean it's free. Mail relays, hosts, etc., still have to pay in time, power, bandwidth, and storage for all the mail that flows around. Isn't it legitimate to at least consider making that cost be borne by the person actually using the resource?
Yes making the user of the resouce pay seems fair. After all, as pointed out, we already pay for snail mail. Of course there's then the question of who gets the payment? Will it be the owners of the servers the mail is routed through or will it be a company, best left unnamed, that is trying to pioneer this?
If it's the servers then fine, if it's the unnamed company then they are getting paid for you using someone elses resources, now is that fair?

DJB email system (1)

Kickstart70 (531316) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309625)

Wasn't it Dan Bernstein who in the past was involved in creating a sender-stored email system (rather than our current receiver-stored systems)? It seemed to me to be an excellent suggestion to thwart so many of the current email problems we currently have.

Kickstart

Re:DJB email system (1)

dvanduzer (563848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309658)

The project you're referring to is Internet Mail 2000 [cr.yp.to] but Bernstein has a habit of making more enemies than friends when it comes to Internet standards. (I still love qmail)

Charging for emails? Yeah, right. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309639)

how the hell do they expect to collect, and who do they expect to actually pay this?

Sounds like an interesting pipedream by someone from Microsoft's research department, I'm not going to pay them, yes, I use OE, (great, I'm going to get dozens of virii now...), but I'll switch over to pegasus mail or some other free mail application. Hell, I'll try to rig pine to work just for the hell of it...

Re:Charging for emails? Yeah, right. (1)

sixdotoh (584811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309717)

no kidding, as if OE's problems with virus' and macros aren't bad enough, this will probably influence plenty of people to drop OE.

Eudora [eudora.com] is a great, powerful windows based e-mail client

btw, is virii really a word? really the plural form for virus?

Re:Charging for emails? Yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309755)

You're a fucking moron and I hope you die in a ditch. You had better hope and pray that you've never posted anything that's even slightly indicative of where you live and who you are because if I find out you are a fucking dead man. I mean soon.

Just fix SMTP! (4, Insightful)

crt (44106) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309642)

This whole thing is really just a way to deal with the fact that SMTP doesn't do any real authentication of ANYTHING when it receives a message. Developing a whole side protocol to run along-side SMTP and "verify" that a message is sent by a human or creating some micro-payment scheme really seems like a waste - getting it widely adopted would be at least as hard as getting a replacement protocol for SMTP adopted - so why not focus on that?

An SMTP replacement that verified - at least - that the domain of the sender was correct - would cut down on spam tremendously. Virually all spam I get has forged headers and invalid reply addresses.

SMTP is too ingrained (3, Insightful)

tpengster (566422) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309734)

Changing SMTP means switching over every SMTP server and relay.. that's a lot of work and there's a lot of financial resistance to that.

On the other hand this micropayment system can be implemented on TOP Of SMTP... using a server that issues digitally signed tickets, which can simply be appended as an attachment to the emails.

Certainly this system will meet some resistance as well, but much much less. It will only require the clients to change what they are using, not the servers. However in the long term we could probably consider a replacement for SMTP... for example we could roll out the client code together with the client code for this Penny Black system. Then, if this system gets wide spread then people can deploy replacement-for-SMTP servers confident that clients will be able to use them

Might be a good system (1, Insightful)

Sebby (238625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309644)

... but I still don't trust Microsoft.

I think the solution to spam should be an open, non-proprietary solution, which means it will likely be open-source or IEEE/W3C approved.

oops that should read IETF (0, Offtopic)

Sebby (238625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309663)

my bad

Time for the Batbook (1)

noctrnl9 (601918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309649)

Hmmm. Is it now time to download an iso & write a couple of configuration files? At 1232 printed pages, sendmail [oreilly.com] is starting looking like a good candidate to keep some of my other books about fighting the good fight [thetolkienbookstore.com] company.

Problems left unsolved (1)

tpengster (566422) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309651)

The article does not mention how microsoft could roll this out. Admittedly the ticket system would be better than changing the SMTP protocol, since it could be added on top of SMTP. But we would still need an incentive for people to start buying the tickets before people can block ticketless senders. In addition there is the problem of legitimate automated emails. Will whitelisting be effective enough to allow these through? What about bounce notices? etc..

Looks good. (1)

nonane (305432) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309654)

The slashdot heading is misleading; these guys are trying to make a system that will make it more expensive for mass emailers to send out spam. Not necessarily through money (although that is an option) but through exchange of resources, like cpu cycles. Very novel concept. I can imagine the same being done all over the internet. Instead of paying by cash you pay with something you have in abunadance (definately not cash) ... cpu cycles.

Suppose slashdot wants to make revenue: every user that hits the slashdot page agrees to donate some of their cpu resources to slashdot. slashdot inturn sells these resource for cash to GENOME xyz company which uses distributed computing to fold DNA sequences.

Re:Looks good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309788)

It's a slashdot article, what did you expect? Slashdot plays up anything that microsoft does to the worst possible extreme.

The last time Bill Gates gave several MILLION dollars to charity slashdot jumped up his ass about how he could have given more, and he was just trying to get on everyone's good side. How dare he fucking give money to people who need it.

The last time microsoft donated hundreds of thousands of computers to schools across the country, they jumped up microsoft's collective ass because the computers would be running windows. What the hell do they expect, are they going to give schools computers with some bullshit no-name two bit OS that nobody knows how to use?

I don't think so, this is a school, kids should learn things that they're going to use, who gives a fuck about this bullshit linux fad.

Slashdot is a fucking ridiculous excuse for a serious news outlet, never forget that for a second.

How can this possibly be implemented? (1)

bedouin (248624) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309661)

Most people who spam setup their own mail servers. Hell, many spammers aren't even in the US. How is charging people to send E-Mail going to solve the spam problem?

Sure, M$ could meter activity on port 25, but to send E-Mail SMTP can be running on any old port as far as I know . .

This is just dumb . . .

Re:How can this possibly be implemented? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309742)

The recipient's mail server would refuse to accept any email that did not have a valid stamp. There would be a stamp server that would issue, validate and cancel stamps. A stamp would only be valid for a single message. after which it would be automatically cancelled. A spammer would have to buy a large quantity of stamps, with money, CPU cycles, or some other limited resource.

What's next? (0, Troll)

gearheadsmp (569823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309664)

Are they going to start doing a subscription service for Windows Update? Make you pay so if you want to apply patches the easy way(In IE I presume)?

Re:What's next? (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309701)

Sorry, but could you expand on the leap of illogic that brought you to this conclusion?

Re:What's next? (1)

gearheadsmp (569823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309750)

It would make business sense for them to charge money for people to access Windows Update. They could still provide free updates, but put them in hard-to-install format (ie the SQL server patch that blocked Slammer for those who installed it).

No need to charge for email (1, Interesting)

maynard (3337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309671)

So, the plan is to make the hundreds of millions (if not +1 billion) individuals who properly use email for individual communication in order to stop or slow down the few tens or hundreds of professional SPAMers from the expense of mass emailings. Why do I think this benefits the toll colector more than me? Why can't international and nationa legislation solve this problem?

I would argue that the real solution to SPAM is to fix SMTP such that it authenticates users and servers at the protocol level while mail is passed from the originating server to the final destination. But of course, there's no need to charge a per-email fee in such a circumstance. And while I'm not surprised to see Microsoft devoting R&D dollars toward such a scheme, given todays 'charge for it and make it fit into an economic model or it doesn't exist' guilded age we should expect MS is only one of many to try and find a way to extract more money for the things we take for granted as free today. Would anyone like to buy some of my bottled air?

--Maynard

Microsoft never stops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309674)

The reasoning behind this project is to eliminate the cost in time and productivity lost dealing with spam. The project page's author quickly admits it has nothing to do with bandwidth. The simplest way is to enhance Outlook with a powerful suite of filtering software but instead they find a way to extract money from the user's pocket. This part is just frightening:

We're considering several currencies for payment: CPU cycles, memory cycles...

Yet another ploy to backdoor access my computer. Any bets on support for alternate OSs?

Could this be a new business plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309688)

  1. Post your email address on as many websites as possible
  2. ???
  3. Loss! (for spammers)

What a dilemma! (1)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309697)

Imagine what a dilemma this story would have been for the /. editors! While on the one hand wanting to trumpet "Yay! The end of spam!!", the other half wanted to write "No!! M$ is up to its dirty tricks again to demolish your last bit of freedom!!!". Note the uncertain, uncomfortable tone of timothy's comment: "There are a lot of things going on at Microsoft Research -- no guarantee that particular ones are going to be released in the real world." ;^)

Re:What a dilemma! (5, Informative)

timothy (36799) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309780)

Actually, I just wanted to make sure that the submission wasn't misinterpreted to mean that "Microsoft" was planning to implement this system, and that it's still ("just") a research project.

It sounds like a decent idea to me, but with certain thorns. The biggest one is What about legitimate, truly-opt-in mailing lists? Email is a genuinely low-cost communication method for non-profit groups (not just official tax-exempt non-profit groups,I mean all kinds of clubs, associations, groups of friends, etc.), and a per-email fee intended to hinder junkmail could also pinch a lot of people I wish it wouldn't. Maybe in the end that would be a fair tradeoff, but as spam filters get better (and ISPs get more aggressive about blocking spam on their side), I'm skeptical of that.

Also, some people send a lot of short emails; does charging per-email make sense vs. (for instance) per-byte?

And as for my opinions of Microsoft, well, you're free to read my earlier comments about Microsoft if you want to learn that;)

Tim

I Already Pay For Email (1)

SpaceRook (630389) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309700)

I wouldn't mind paying a penny or two to send email if a couple bucks were shaved off of my ISP's bill each month. As far as I'm concerned, I already pay for the email: it's in my monthly internet bill.

But if they release a plan that says, "You're internet bill will go down by $5, but you'll have to pay $0.02 per email", I wouldn't mind that.

rules (1)

sstory (538486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309702)

I'm sure MSFT shouldn't be in charge of this, there should be a gov't mandate to ISPs, and international treaties to cover the world, ensuring that a server in Kazahkstan doesn't just fill the gap. We have to change the economics, becaues complete filtering is impossible, and email is becoming tiresome from spam. Why should you have to hide your email address in communications? Death to Spammers.

Spam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309705)

Spam is a symptom, not a disease. Strike down all industries that pay spammers to advertise. My preffered method would be to reply to every spam I get, at exactly 1:00 PM EST, regulated to an atomic clock, and reload several times.

If everybody did this, or a script could be set up to do the job, companies would see that spam would result in large costs for bandwidth, damages to servers, etc. When companies stop paying spammers, the spammers will wither away and vanish all by themselves.

Or I'd like to see an option on my email where I could pay a dollar myself to sic a smart bomb on the advertising company. Or at least pay a dollar to buy out and chapter 11 the company away. I'd pay a dollar a day to eradicate spam, myself.

Bandwith charges? (4, Interesting)

russianspy (523929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309709)

Here is an idea, it is borrowed from the way ISP's pay for bandwith.

Why not make networks pay for the e-mail that originates there? Subtract the e-mail that arrives. For most companies/networks - that will be just about an break even proposition. For the ones who allow spammers - well... that is going to get expensive pretty quickly. Sooo... they will either boot the spammers off, or get them to pay it. Either way, we win!

If Microsoft really cared about spam... (1)

mrkurt (613936) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309712)

They would start by giving Hotmail users real spam filtering, instead of a limit of 250 blocked addresses. It's incredibly easy for spammers to cycle through that many addresses-- especially if you have more than one spammer throwing that sh*t at you.

One day this week, I had 20 new emails when I logged into Hotmail, and they were all spam. This is a little more than usual, but this is a dormant account, folks! I am considering abandoning my Hotmail account because of this sorry situation. Other email accounts I have use more effective spam fighting measures, and I have the ability to filter it in Evolution, thank goodness. I have a hard time believing that the 'penny black' scheme would be much of a solution-- I think we're talking about legislating fines, a la telemarketers. We already pay our ISPs for the privilege of email and other services, and I presume spammers are paying for the bandwidth they're using, too. If MS wants to impose this upon its own Internet customers, more power to them if they're really spammers, but I don't think they should be in charge of this issue for the Internet.

Re:If Microsoft really cared about spam... (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309802)

Believe it or not, I have a hotmail account that recieves absolutely zero unsolicited emails. My other hotmail account recieves hundereds per day, its the address I use when I don't know that I can trust the recipient. My ISP account is at the same spam level as my low spam hotmail account.

Hotmail is a very good service, not to rely on, but to have so you can sign up for websites and not spam your email address, and so you can sign up for interesting mailing lists where you can't trust their "no spam" or "opt out" promises.

Unfair (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309714)

What about sites that run mailing lists? What about forums that have "email me when someone replies to this topic"? What about sites that use email as a way of sending username/password to new subscribers?

This will hurt these sites (that are often run out of the webmaster's pocket with no profit turned)

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309723)

Before you get to the 'all our ca$h are belong to M$FT' portion of your rants, read the article. Money is only one of the considered options and not even the most prominent of the outline. They have a linked write-up of the CPU cycle based system whereas the sender is required to compute a function that could take 10/30/60 seconds. Also, the folks involved aren't any slouches - check their biographies/resumes (although I have to admit Birrell's looks like a high schools student's resume towards the end).

Spelling errors (1)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309727)

I used to live in the Pojects.

more money? (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309728)

What about the popups, and the banner ads, and the fees for more storage space? I think they're making plenty off of Hotmail as it is.

incripshin

You can't be too cynical when MS is involved. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309733)

This isn't a plan to stop spam, it's a scheme to ensure that Microsoft get money for every bit of spam sent (or rather, delivered).

It wont end the tirade of spam (0)

happyhippy (526970) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309736)

M$ will undoubtably sell the list of emails as well as your personal info to 'licenced' spammers.

And how do you flag a post saying its already being paif for? Itll only be a matter of time someone cracks the encoding for the 'already paid for' data and totally reduces the whole system to a mess.

What about good spam? (2, Insightful)

jcsehak (559709) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309754)

Let's say the guys over at Penny Arcade want to send a gif out to all their loyal fans. Let's say their mailing list was 5,000 people long. It's gonna cost them $50! And if you charge per MB, it'll probably cost even more. Spam, like piracy, needs to be fought with a technical solution. These penny-a-mail type hacks just end up hurting the little guy.

I already pay for my emails (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309757)

its about $50 a month. fortunately it also includes the rest of my access.

How about allow people 100 sent mails per day (3, Insightful)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309765)

every mail over 100 per day through a server outside of the inteernal network (you know to the internet) would cost 1 cent a peice.

IE you could send 1000 internal e-mails over your own network and pay nothing.

You send 1000 e-mails to people "outside" of your inernal network in a day you pay 900 cents, or for those of you with math mad skillz thats 9 bucks.

So a spammer trying not to pay a lot of money would have to send only 100 e-mails a day for free.

if he sent 5000000 e-mails in a day thats 5000000-100, 4999900 pennys, or for those of you in the math "know" its 49,999 dollars.

Now im sure that if a spammer were to have to pay 49999 dollars to send E-MAIL, their business would become less than profitable.

Most users dont send 100 e-mails a day, even when i was getting 70 e-mails a day i didnt reply to all 70.

auto responce mails could be ignored.

large companies might get a "bulk" rate on e-mail, or move there services to online methods of checking (IE they dont have to flood mail servers with 'gamespy announces it got cooler') kind of e-mails.

anyway the idea has some merits, though even now I can tink of a great many problems with it.

anyway just a little teaser idea.

Problem (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309805)

I install a copy of sendmail on my computer and use it to spam a hundred thousand people.

Who charges me? Mail is just TCP/IP traffic.

If there were a method... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309778)

If there were a method in existence to easily track and identify the sender of SPAM email, we could easily enforce anti-spam laws and the sender-pay idea would be rendered moot (that is if stopping spam was the true reason behind Microsoft's decisions).

Unlikely.

Russ Jones

Exponential Backoff (1)

Sinus0idal (546109) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309781)

I wonder if some kind of exponential backoff system like that used with some password verifiers would be some kind of a solution?

It may not be that good for people who want to send mail to lots of people (mailing lists etc.), but for public servers that need to remain open to relay (for some reason?!) I would say the majority of people connect, send one or two emails, then disconnect. This would mean the user sending one mail, then waiting a couple of seconds, then being able to send the next. However, if the user were sending 200 emails, like a spammer may be doing, the time scales involved between each mail would become exponentially larger, and would greatly reduce the speed at which spammers can send out mail. (i.e. by their 30th mail, they may be waiting hours before being able to send their next one).

Obviously if the spammer has access to lots of IP addresses, they could fool the server into thinking they are lots of different hosts, but nonetheless, I find it an interesting idea which may have, at least a minimal application in reducing spam.

If you think... (1, Interesting)

jpellino (202698) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309783)

...that this will be limited to spammers, guess again. Once MS figures out how to charge anyone for sending anything, they will patent it, make it a standard, and implement it in every product they sell. And with their still overewhelming monopoly, this will go Charlie Foxtrot in record time.

And by the way, my incoming spam cost me only aggravation, and I'd rather tweak my mail.app settings than to pay someone by the message. By 'recipient' they must be referring to people running their servers and having to filter this stuff. Boo-fricking-hoo. Solve your mail server problems and do it in the ost resilient monetary fashion.

Maybe they're lining up behind the gummint under the apparently delectable idea that we can trample everyone's rights and assumptions to make life a little easier for people who aren't doing their job in the first place.

This is the electronic equivalent of plastic sheets and duct tape.

"We're from Miscrosoft. We're here to help."

Yes, I know it's only research, and it may never see the light of day, but then explain the rest of the half baked MS implementations that have been sanctified, dogma-fied, shoved down our throats and caused us to question our sanity - directx, .net, IE, access, passport, the most vulnerable servers ever devised, and that christless butterfly.

I gotta go.

What's worse is monopoly collusion with USPS (1, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309812)

From the Nov. 29, 2002 UnderReported.com story Microsoft and US gov teaming up to monopolize new "certified e-mail" postmark [underreported.com] :

According to a Nov. 21, 2002 Seattle Times article:

...at the Comdex technology trade show this week, ... a mundane product quietly unveiled at Microsoft's booth may have more of an impact on the average computer user.

On display was an electronic stamp the U.S. Postal Service plans to sell to certify authenticity and delivery time of e-mail.

[...] The plan is to have e-mail-postage software available in the next 30 to 45 days At first, it would be an add-on to Microsoft's popular Outlook e-mail-management software.

Later, it would be bundled into the new version of Microsoft's Office suite, due around summer. When loaded, it would appear as several buttons on the Outlook control panel.

Users would pay the Postal Service anywhere from a penny to $2, depending on the volume of use, to add an official stamp of authenticity. The stamp would be applied with a click, not a lick.

[...] Several attempts by companies to charge per e-mail for authentication services have failed, noted analysts at IDC, a research company in Framingham, Mass. [...] A key reason is people still don't trust the technology enough, IDC's research shows.

[AuthentiDate Chief Executive Rob] Van Naarden said electronic postmarks will succeed because they have federal authority. He said the stamps would provide legal force to electronic documents, and the Postal Service can prosecute people who circumvent the system.

So now it becomes clear why the Bush administration has gone easy on Microsoft -- it planned to become its business partner.

Hmmm (1)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309821)

Don't you just love the way they trick into thinking this is great news by putting "MICROSOFT IS UNFOLDING" all in caps?

Cockamaney... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309822)

Leave it for Billy Boy to come up with an insane cockamaney idea like that.... but if it will get rid of spam.... it might just fly.

Who Collects? (1)

Ardias (544478) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309833)

Of course Microsoft will use this as a way to get some $ out of every M$ email user. Until people switch and find some other free way to send email. I doubt it will end spam, but it may drive people away from using M$ tools.

Hmm. (3, Insightful)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309839)

So if you send an email, you have to put a penny on the line. If it gets through, and the person on the other end doesn't think it's spam, then you get your penny back.

This is an interesting idea.. I just don't see how its any better than forced verification of the originating addresses on an incoming email, though.

I mean, I can see how this could get expensive for the type of people who forward around those annoying chain emails, or jokes or what have you. Undoubtedly, they'd cut it out after realizing that people aren't reimbursing them for their email. But for the spammers at large..

See, the thing is, you're putting the responsibility for this back on the users. If I get an email, I'm either going to have to manually reimburse them, or manually not reimburse them. The onus is still on the end user.

Sure, they might be investigating Turing-test checks for spam, and the like, and yes, there is Bayesian filtering now too. But this is all still going to have to be there to automate the process, even with this transaction system.

I would've hoped that, by now, we'd be looking at ways to move this onto the system, in the form of proper verification or something, so we the users don't have to deal with it as much. (To those of you talking about having to upgrade all of our infastructure to handle verification, should the protocol change, what makes you think we wouldn't have to if a transaction pay-per-email system comes into place?)

The other problem I see is that these spammers might just not care about the cost. I mean, c'mon, a penny an email? That's still cheaper than a snail-mail ad.

The PO has been.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309840)

..bitching about e-mail being free for years.

Ah well. Farewell, e-mail. I go now to send messages through other means.

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

IN SOVIET CHINA... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309842)

EARTH hits ASTEROID.

Legitimate uses of mass e-mail (1)

nfk (570056) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309848)

Just a thought. Many companies send e-mails to a large list of users (I receive them from Nasa News and NY Times, for instance). If they were charged, either in in CPU cycles or real money, maybe they would have to stop those services, or making them paid. I don't mind paying for services if they are useful to me, but what about mailing lists and related services?

One doubt I have is whether this would affect the spammers who use randomly generated accounts in hotmail and other sites. The CPU cycles would be theirs or hotmail's? If there was a limit of e-mails an account could send, like someone suggested, couldn't they just generate more accounts and still send e-mails for free?
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