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Study on the Effects of Spam on End Users

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the nuisance-factor dept.

Spam 448

An anonymous reader writes "'About a third of people responded to a spam, seeking more information. And 7 percent actually bought a product or service.' Who are these people? Is this really what non-techies do with Spam? They can have my Spam if they want it :-)"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290310)

Read 'em and weep biatches!!!Lunix sux0rs

BASH FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290317)

Defeat the GNAA! Join Landover Baptist Church's [] very own B.A.S.H. (Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals) [] Ministry!

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This post was brought to you by a Landover Baptist Church Member.

If you or anyone you know exhibits these signs [] they may be a homosexual and at risk of joining Satan's Army, or the GNAA.

Re:BASH FP (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 11 years ago | (#7290496)

It's about time someone came forward to address this vile plague.

Best of luck to you and your cause.

I LOVE YOU (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290319)

My father found a way to satify her all night long
with an all-natural HERBAL V1AGRA. His military
leaders were jealous, they couldn't go at it more
than twice in a night. They staged a coupe which
forced my father out of the country with his secrets

My father was a rich man hence why I send you this to
ask your advice because you are Seek of Spam and would
rather make MONEY pushing h0T net Lolita Cum Guzzling Slutz!!

Re:I LOVE YOU (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290402)

i really do love you, where can i find more information???????????

One problem... (4, Interesting)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | about 11 years ago | (#7290324)

One problem is people ignoring email that isn't spam, simply because the subject line looks like it it. It may change the way subject lines are written. In the end, I think email will be like IM, you'll have to 'approve' what email you'll accept, like you have to 'approve' additions to your buddy list now. This will take away much of the openness and functionality of email, so I hope it doesn't come to that.


Re:One problem... (5, Insightful)

Vadim Grinshpun (31) | about 11 years ago | (#7290437)

See, the problem with the 'approve' scheme (at least the simple, naive version that comes to mind) is that instead of being flooded with annoying messages you will get flooded with no-less-annoying and no-less-intrusive requests for approval/authorization, still creating a DOS-like situation due to the low SNR...

So that won't necessarily ease the problem.

Re:One problem... (1)

sporty (27564) | about 11 years ago | (#7290645)

Unless you have an interface that consolodates the approval requests. I'd hate to not do it via an excel table form where I can sort and what not. Have it purge old entries after a while...

Have a gambling problem? We can help... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 11 years ago | (#7290676)

Who ARE these people who buy stuff hawked in spams? And where can I get their email addresses?

Seven percent sounds awfully high. If we could just register these people someway, maybe with some sort of tattoo on their forheads, then the spamsters could go straight to the known gullible people and leave the rest of us the hell alone. A win-win situation -- except for the gullible people, but who cares about them anyway?!!

Re:One problem... (1)

Njall (132366) | about 11 years ago | (#7290541)

The facilities to do this are already available in the better email programs. I regularly filter out spam by simply moving all messages from unknown email addresses to a 'Junque' folder. Since I am also use Thunderbird (i.e. Mozilla Mail on steroids) I can use the JUNK controls too.

that's called a... (1)

siskbc (598067) | about 11 years ago | (#7290600)

In the end, I think email will be like IM, you'll have to 'approve' what email you'll accept, like you have to 'approve' additions to your buddy list now. ...whitelist. They've been around for a while. They also don't work so hot.

The end is now (1)

jhines (82154) | about 11 years ago | (#7290650)

From the previous story, the NYTimes said the following about the latest point release of os X:

"Mac OS X Mail can screen out all messages except what comes from recent correspondents and people in your address book."

So that day is now, for mac users with $130.

with a sample size that small (2, Insightful)

Dwedit (232252) | about 11 years ago | (#7290330)

With a sample size that small, I'm amazed they got any information from that study.

Re:with a sample size that small (2, Informative)

surstrmming (674864) | about 11 years ago | (#7290403)

2,200 users and 30% isn't that small. Anyway, the sample size was increased with some herbal viagra.

I think the poster may have confused the 30% response rate to the study itself with the response rate to spam. Unless s/he was clever and considered the survey to be spam.

huh? (4, Insightful)

thentil (678858) | about 11 years ago | (#7290406)

Am I reading the same report?

For this report, we collected original data from two sources. The first was a national telephone survey of 2,200 adults, including 1,380 Internet users that we conducted during June 2003. The second was a compilation of more than 4,000 first-person narratives about spam that were solicited since September 2002 by the Telecommunications Research & Action Center (TRAC), a national consumer group.

It's been a while since college statistics, but I thought that in general, once you got to a sample size of 400, your results weren't going to get much better...??

Re:with a sample size that small (1)

GigsVT (208848) | about 11 years ago | (#7290433)

2,200 people? That's a huge sample. It only takes a couple dozen to be statistically significant.

Re:with a sample size that small (5, Funny)

alexre1 (662339) | about 11 years ago | (#7290448)

Unfortunately, most media companies don't care about the statistical validity of their surveys; they only care about how interesting the survey will seem to their readers. One of the newspapers in my city (Toronto) ran a huge university ranking story last week, based on student reviews. The funny thing was that two of the universities in the top-10 ranking for medical schools didn't actually HAVE medical schools.

Awhell :) What can you do. Aside from complaining on Slashdot, of course.

Increase Your Sample Size By 50% Overnight! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290526)

No longer do you have to be rediculed because your sample size is too small! With our new, patented system you can increase your sample size GARANTEED! Just click here [] and impress those survey ladies at the mall with your new, bigger sample size!

an easy, spam-based way to increase the sample (1)

Savatte (111615) | about 11 years ago | (#7290630)

Maybe they could have taken those pills that increase your size

tried to remove themselves (1, Redundant) (562495) | about 11 years ago | (#7290334)

i know of people who tried to remove themselves from the spam mailing list by clicking on the "remove me from mailing list" link/button. which only made things worse :(

In other breaking news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290368)

The Dutch are damn good solar powered race car drivers too.

Re:tried to remove themselves (1)

andih8u (639841) | about 11 years ago | (#7290381)

last job I worked at the mail admin was lazy so he'd prompt people to click the remove rather than block the mail at the server. Then he was confounded when the amount of spam went up. Goverment employee intelligence.

Re:tried to remove themselves (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290533)

You say that but when I joined the company I'm at now we had a much worse SPAM problem than we do currently. The company's small and the budget wasn't there for proper filtering so I thought I may as well try removing myself from lists. Surprisingly the only e-mails I still get are for Viagra or penis enlargement, all the others have stopped. So yeah I still have to use my filters, but they're doing a lot less work.

I've yet to meet (5, Funny)

andih8u (639841) | about 11 years ago | (#7290335)

an intelligent person who bought something off a spam. These are the same people who are getting herbal viagra while dreaming of a larger penis while writing up their resignation since they'll get so much money from that nice Nigerian man.

sadly (3, Funny)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | about 11 years ago | (#7290343)

until these numbers drop, spam will continue to push it's way into our email boxes...

but, there is hope, you can only enlarge your penis so many times.

Re:sadly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290367)

My record was 10 times in a 24 hours period.

Re:sadly (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290453)

yeah, i get those emails too. "Enlarge your penis 6 inches!" ... what am i going to do with a 7 inch penis?

(sorry to the comedian i stole this from.)

it makes sense (0, Redundant)

wayward_son (146338) | about 11 years ago | (#7290348)

After all, what man doesn't want a larger penis?

Re:it makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290371)

Not THAT large. Trust me.

Re:it makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290514)

its not so much that, its that their email lists don't seem to have gender attached to them... and my wife doesn't need a larger penis, its too big already.

Re:it makes sense (1)

Mahatma Goatse (718225) | about 11 years ago | (#7290536)

"and my wife doesn't need a larger penis, its too big already." Hell, she's married to a huge one.

It got too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290596)

It got so big from all those pills that now my wife needs a larger vagina. She won't let me even get near the other "option".

I eat Spam five times a day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290357)

Spam effect on users? I eat the stuff five times a day. Wouldn't you know I weight 500 pounds. I'm going to sue McDonald's over this (They owe my for the hot coffee I spilled on my lap anyway)

I'll tell you who they are. (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | about 11 years ago | (#7290374)

They're your friends, family and/or neighbors. In short, they are people who view a computer as merely a tool, not a hobby or profession. It would be interesting to run this every year and study trends. I expect that Joe & Mary Sixpack are becoming more aware of spam very quickly.

Senate Bill (2, Interesting)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | about 11 years ago | (#7290382)

Hopefully we'll soon be able to study the effects of legal measures on spammers [] . :)

God damn! (-1, Funny)

illuminata (668963) | about 11 years ago | (#7290384)

I've heard of some freaky shit happen to people who eat Spam, but never have I read a report of people responding to it!

What exactly is Spam commanding these people to do? Hopefully it's not commanding people to kill. Hawaii would be a scary place to live, a lot of those people eat Spam.

Crazy Hawaiian motherfuckers eating spam and killing people. Shit, just when you thought you've heard it all...

perhaps the anti-spam bill will pass (2, Informative)

pbranes (565105) | about 11 years ago | (#7290388)

The Senate just approved an anti-spam bill 97-0 and the House is working on a similar bill (story here) [] . Hopefully this will keep normal people from getting duped into buying the crap that floods our inboxes.

I work as tech support at a university. It is my experience that most people actually read spam messages and then actively consider the promotion. I guess they are still naive to the ways of the internet and believe they are actually seeing a good deal sent to them. People always ask me about the "send your bank account info to nigeria" scam because they don't ever think that *they* could be the target of a scam. I'm afraid to think of what kinds of scams these people fall for in the real world if they believe everything they read on their computer screen.

Re:perhaps the anti-spam bill will pass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290463)

Hey, it's on the Internet, it MUST be true!

Re:perhaps the anti-spam bill will pass (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 11 years ago | (#7290607)

The Senate just approved an anti-spam bill 97-0 and the House is working on a similar bill (story here). Hopefully this will keep normal people from getting duped into buying the crap that floods our inboxes.

Very cool. I hope that they come up with anti-virus legislation soon - then we'll all be virus free! Seriously, there are so many other issues (such as international traffic, outsourcing to remote companies who use US servers but bounce mail through Uganda to China and back to the US...) how do you legislate that from inside a single country? And would it do any good even if you could?

Good luck enforcing it in China... (1)

Tamor (604545) | about 11 years ago | (#7290608)

...or Russia, or Eastern Europe, or anywhere else these deadbeats have to move their operations to in order to operate without getting pinched.

Surely the money would be better sent educating users as to the benefits of a good Bayesian filter, or even subsidising their inclusion into commercial software. Imagine if all those millions of copies of Outlook Express came with a well advertised, easy to use Bayesian filter pre-installed and ready to go.

A good bill! (1) (142825) | about 11 years ago | (#7290634)

Lets hope that they pass a good bill. Most of the bills so far have been crap. A good bill must have:
  • A requirement that people opt-in for the spam, or pre-existing relationship or explicit request.
  • A private right of action for individuals.
  • Statutory damages of at least $500 each, or $100 each if it was accidental, and attorney fees and costs.
  • Liability for the people who hire the spammer to advertise their products.

People claimed that the courts would collapse from all the TCPA cases for junk faxes, but it have not. But, junk faxes have gone down quite a bit.

Unenforcable, Political (5, Interesting)

goldspider (445116) | about 11 years ago | (#7290638)

Exactly how would such a law be enforced? It's not as if these companies sending all this SPAM readily identify themselves. And what about SPAM originating from outside of the U.S.?

I see this as more toothless-tiger feel-good legislation that politicians sign to get votes. I for one don't buy it for a second.

My coworker has done it (1)

queen of everything (695105) | about 11 years ago | (#7290397)

I've posted before about this...
One of my coworkers, a real computer wiz, convinced my boss to give her the corporate credit card to purchase a copy of photoshop from an email she got for just $49.95. She was so excited about the "great deal". That was about 7 months ago, I still haven't seen this copy of photoshop come in the mail. I wonder when it will get here.
The average population is not very smart, they'll believe anything

Re:My coworker has done it (5, Insightful)

m00nun1t (588082) | about 11 years ago | (#7290525)

Don't confuse intelligence with knowledge.

I'm sure a few very intelligent /.'ers have had some mechanic laugh at them behind their back - "can you believe they agreed to pay an extra $200 to have their air filter replaced? They can't be very intelligent".

Just because you know nothing about how much an airfilter costs doesn't mean you are stupid, and likewise with photoshop.

how to trace spam? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | about 11 years ago | (#7290400)

alright, so "remove me" links are bogus, and "reply to" fields are forged. So how can someone track down who is actually sending the spam? how forged can the header information be about the steps it took to get from them to me? Telling people not to respond to spam is one thing. Telling people how to contact the spammers ISP, or even the actual spammer seems more helpfull. their anonimity is what keeps them safe. break that down and their "business" will be less appealing to them.

Re:how to trace spam? (3, Interesting)

djh101010 (656795) | about 11 years ago | (#7290538)

Go to and click on "report spam". It parses the headers for you, sends the reports, and uses the report to build up a pattern of abuse. Doesn't charge for the reporting service. I use them to filter my personal email; they clean the inbox & deliver the contents to where I want it...that takes a subscription,but reporting is free.

Re:how to trace spam? (1)

gregarican (694358) | about 11 years ago | (#7290570)

The mail header should show a mail server IP address as the sender. This IP address can be looked up in a reverse DNS query to obtain the domain name, then the domain name owner can be looked up in a WHOIS query. Both queries can be done many places on the Internet. If the party isn't the intentional spammer it's likely someone running a mail server unknowingly with an open socks or proxy service on it.

Re:how to trace spam? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | about 11 years ago | (#7290661)

That mail server IP can't be forged?

Re:how to trace spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290662)

That's how it's done. Nevertheless, this is mostly useless knowledge by now. Spammers have begun using hacked/trojaned personal systems. The trace usually ends at systems which are easily replaced from a spammer's point of view. The spamfighter on the other hand makes Sisyphus' job look easy.

That's a misreading (1, Funny)

rsidd (6328) | about 11 years ago | (#7290404)

According to the article, "One-third of emailers have pursued an offer in an unsolicited email by clicking on a link to find further information." That is, at some point in their lives. Not the same email.

The blurb reminds me of "Every five seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman is having a baby. Our job is to find that woman, and stop her." Par for slashdot, I suppose.

Re:That's a misreading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290551)

I don't think they were saying that it was the same email. You are misreading it. (5, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | about 11 years ago | (#7290411)

My provider just installed it [] .
Now, the spam comes with a modified subject (beginning with *****SPAM*****) and a report such as :
SPAM: . : . . : . : . . Start SpamAssassin results . : . . : . : . .
SPAM: This mail is probably spam. The original message has been altered
SPAM: so you can recognise or block similar unwanted mail in future.
SPAM: See for more details.
SPAM: Content analysis details: (6.4 hits, 3 required)
SPAM: Hit! (2.7 points) Subject contains lots of white space
SPAM: Hit! (3.7 points) BODY: Information on getting a larger penis
SPAM: . : . . : . : . . End of SpamAssassin results . : . . : . : . .

Now, I'd suggest you ask your provider to install such a filter on his servers. (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 11 years ago | (#7290664)

I already installed it on our servers.

You have to stay on top of the rules though...

Failing that try POPFile (1)

Tamor (604545) | about 11 years ago | (#7290690)

Since I started using POPFile I simply don't see my spam anymore. It's a naive bayesian classifier and after a few months useage I have about 98.5% accuracy with it, and only 1 or 2 false positives. I highly recommend it. Hey, that sounds like a spam :D

Article Omission (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290415)

Oxman's 15-year-old son, Robert, says five out of six e-mails he gets daily are spam, often including offers of pornography or dating services. Robert says he simply deletes them.

Robert would neither comment on the delay between when he received the pornographic emails and when he deleted them, nor would he comment on his activities during that time.

Spam demons? (1)

Tyranny12 (717899) | about 11 years ago | (#7290418)

Frankly, I've never had much of a problem with spam. A simple solution of using four different mailing accounts, and only using the two web-based ones for any potential spamming online forms, has taken care of all of my spam problems, without even a need for a filter. Go figure - the only email address with huge amounts of spam was the one I created on hotmail for a lark. It got loads spam from MSN before I ever even used it.

Re:Spam demons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290687)

Just wait to one of your friends get a virus and his "mailinglist" gets out. Then you have to get a new account. It's not difficult to see the connection between x spam mails and y infected friends.

Whats the big deal about spam... (-1, Flamebait)

Garak (100517) | about 11 years ago | (#7290424)

I've never really understood why people kick up such a fuss about unwanted email. Its never really bothered me to have an extra few emails to delete. On that note I've never ever got much spam on any of my email accounts over the years and I never hide my email when posting on forums or anywhere online.

The people who get suckered in to spam are the same people who buy stuff from the shopping channel, made for TV stuff, etc... I guess they have nothing better to spend their money on...

This story just goes to show how stupid the average person is from a tech's standpoint. And thats just it, its all based on point of view.

You got lucky, or you're lying. (1)

caveat (26803) | about 11 years ago | (#7290494)

You cant avoid getting spammed if you aren't hiding your email. Real-World Example, a while ago I set up a disposable hotmail account and posted the address *one time* on slashdot. Within a week I was puling 10-20 spams a day, by the end of the first month it was up to 200 a day. Either you get 500+ legitamate emails a day, so 200 spams is just "a few extra", or you're just blatantly trolling.

Re:You got lucky, or you're lying. (1)

bobbis.u (703273) | about 11 years ago | (#7290670)

You will probably get a lot of spam on hotmail even if you never post your address anywhere.

Re:Whats the big deal about spam... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290539)

I never hide my email when posting on forums or anywhere online.

Profile for Garak []

Garak (100517)
(email not shown publicly)

Come again?

Re:Whats the big deal about spam... (1)

ptomblin (1378) | about 11 years ago | (#7290549)

This morning I emptied my spam folders like I do every morning. The one SpamAssassin-caught spam goes into has 2100 peices of spam. The one Bogofilter-caught spam goes into had 150 pieces of spam. Now do you understand why some people kick up a fuss about spam?

Re:Whats the big deal about spam... (1)

Yagdrasil (635158) | about 11 years ago | (#7290571)

The problem is finding my important email in all the crap I have to wade through in my inbox. Appromixately 95% of the email I now receive is spam. That certainly makes it hard to find legitimate messages, in addition to the fact I have to make sure my kids aren't around when I check my email because of all the pr0n that comes in.

Re:Whats the big deal about spam... (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 11 years ago | (#7290613)

You know Garak, you make this too easy...
I never hide my email when posting on forums or anywhere online.
From Garak's User Page [] in the right column:

(email not shown publicly)
Of course he may change this before you read it.

Obviously you do hide your email. Some of us still need to allow others to contact us. Unhide your email on Slashdot and wherever else you are, and tell me again in six months that it's only "an extra few emails to delete". For me, despite the high-volume mail lists I'm on, spam has been the majority of my email by message count for the last two months. And it's continuing to grow geometrically worse. (Exponentially is really too strong a word, but geometrically is still bad enough...)

Responses to Spam (5, Interesting)

soluzar22 (219097) | about 11 years ago | (#7290427)

I've got my Dad well trained... he usually blocks anything that's not from a user in his address book, and deletes anything with an attatchment that he was not expecting. He's not exactly a techie, but he's a lot more savvy than a lot of non-technical internet users

My mom on the other hand, still seems to believe that it's all personally directed at her, and that she should either respond, get angry/offended/whatever, just as if someone she knew in meatspace said/sent it to her. :-)

She's learning, now, but quite often she looks at stuff like those banner ads saying "Speed up your internet connection..." or "You have won..." and she's just not worked out yet that it's all lies. The worst are those emails which claim it's a new critical update from Microsoft. It took ages to convince her that Bill's Boys don't send out neccesary updates through email.

It's the folk who don't have a reality check in the form of a friendly techie around that I'm worried about. If not for me, my folks PC would be riddled with trojans, virii and other malicious software.

-- Soluzar

It's math (4, Funny)

K8Fan (37875) | about 11 years ago | (#7290452)

A few years ago I had a rather nasty realization; as 100 is the mean IQ, that means fully one half of the population has an IQ below 100.

This realization has brought me peace. I'm no longer frustrated at the stupidity of the "average" person...they just can't help it.

Re:It's math (1)

Michael Dorfman (324722) | about 11 years ago | (#7290499)

I wonder if the "average" person understands the difference between the median and the mean.

Re:It's math (1)

mugnyte (203225) | about 11 years ago | (#7290562)

AH. The voice of the average meanie.

Re:It's math (1)

Walterk (124748) | about 11 years ago | (#7290511)

It's harder to believe the other half has an IQ above 100.

Re:It's math (2, Funny)

Steve B (42864) | about 11 years ago | (#7290567)

A few years ago I had a rather nasty realization; as 100 is the mean IQ, that means fully one half of the population has an IQ below 100.

Except in Lake Wobegon.

Re:It's math (2, Funny)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | about 11 years ago | (#7290588)

*shock* You mean that half of people have an IQ in the bottom half of IQs??

I think you might be in there...

It's math -- with one adjustment (1)

ajensen (155948) | about 11 years ago | (#7290594)

... that means fully one half of the population has an IQ below 100.

I think you meant to say "median" there, since the mean IQ is just the simple average across the population. The median value is the dividing line of the two halves.



In partial defense (2, Offtopic)

siskbc (598067) | about 11 years ago | (#7290655)

I think you meant to say "median" there, since the mean IQ is just the simple average across the population. The median value is the dividing line of the two halves.

The IQ scheme was set up assuming an approximately Gaussian distribution, for which the mean and median are the same. 15 IQ points = 1 standard deviation.

Naturally, that's horseshit, but 100 was at least designed to be the median and the mean, by definition.

Re:It's math (2, Insightful)

Hoplite3 (671379) | about 11 years ago | (#7290663)

No! Holy crap! How many times do I have to tell people that simply because the mean is 100, that doesn't mean half the people are below it.

For example, a test is given to 4 people who scores are 5, 90, 95, 100. The average (mean) score is 72.5, but three of the four people are "above average".

Re:It's math (2, Funny)

lysander (31017) | about 11 years ago | (#7290665)

Or, in tagline form:

"It's people like you that make people like me above average."


Re:It's math (2, Insightful)

GreyPoopon (411036) | about 11 years ago | (#7290672)

A few years ago I had a rather nasty realization; as 100 is the mean IQ, that means fully one half of the population has an IQ below 100.

It may not be that bad. You're confusing "mean" with "median." The arithmetic mean is obtained by summing all of the values and then dividing by the count of the values you summed. The median is obtained by choosing the middle value in a ranked list. If the mean IQ is 100, there could be many people at or slightly above this value with only a few who are significantly below.

However, IQ and "common sense" are not the same thing. I know a lot of otherwise bright people who need a real kick in the pants to get them to think about their actions before doing them.

Re:It's math (1)

flynt (248848) | about 11 years ago | (#7290705)

That is *NOT* math, that is statistics. Please never mix those two up again!

Effect on me? (4, Interesting)

The Tyro (247333) | about 11 years ago | (#7290458)

I'm rolling my own.

I'm setting up my own Email server (yes, paid the extra bucks to get a business broadband account), complete with filters, attachment blocking, etc. Even purchased and read a couple of books on the subject... it's proven to be quite an educational endeavor.

When my kids are old enough to use Email (pretty soon now), I want to provide them with something at least partially filtered by dear old dad... I' ve even saved about 2000 spam emails to help train the filters. I don't want to have the birds-and-the-bees conversation with my kids any earlier than I have to (and explaining some midgets-in-leather porno spam is NOT on my preferred activities list).

Doing something is so much better than just bitching, and so much more satisfying.

Re:Effect on me? (2, Informative)

bigberk (547360) | about 11 years ago | (#7290587)

I'm setting up my own Email server (yes, paid the extra bucks to get a business broadband account), complete with filters, attachment blocking, etc. Even purchased and read a couple of books on the subject... it's proven to be quite an educational endeavor.

Congrats! My Internet experience also 'opened up' when I took control of my own communications, instead of letting my ISP provide their own brand of crappy, buggy email service.

I have some recommendations for you. First, look into using postfix [] as your MTA. It has a much better security track record than sendmail, and is easier to configure (and IMHO is more flexible). Then activate DNSBLs, DNS blocklist, that will stop a huge amount of spam before it even wastes your bandwidth. I use the following option in postfix's to do filtering:

smtpd_client_restrictions =

it's not simple (4, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | about 11 years ago | (#7290461)

There are always going to be people new to email who are not going to have our level of cynicism about people offering us stuff via email.

Take my Dad, for example. He's happy keeping in touch with his operatic society via their mailing list, and using email - you forget how big a "Wow!" moment you had when you first got your head around the whole idea of free global communications - but he's still printing out the latest "MS Security Patch" fakes and asking me if he needs to do anything with them.
He also keeps asking if there's anything I can do to stop the semi-porn spam - and other than the usual precautions, the answer is still "not really".
It may be natural to us old pros to just hit delete, but to people new to the technology it's not that straightforward.
People think it's polite to mail back saying "actually, I don't want this mail" rather than LARTing them to the ISP, looking up their address from WHOIS, burning down their house and sowing the ground with salt like we do (it's not just me doing this, is it?
Basically, there are always going to be enough people making enough mistakes whilst learning to keep spammers happy...

Mind you, anyone who buys a Penis Patch probably deserves all they get!

Re:it's not simple (1)

TruelyGeeked (718423) | about 11 years ago | (#7290678)

"Mind you, anyone who buys a Penis Patch probably deserves all they get!"

You mean all these patches on me aren't gonna work? I thought it was a little wierd when I opened the package and found 32 Scooby-Doo and 12 Scratch and Sniff (Pina Colada mind you) stickers in there.
Dangit...why would someone lie to me?
Damn you!

From what I gather... (4, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 11 years ago | (#7290474)

this report says that 33% of users have "clicked on a link" in order to find out more, sometime in their lives, and 7% of users have ordered something from a spam message at some point. (At least I interpreted the blurb to mean that some spam had a 7% return rate -- that's not the case.) I don't think that these numbers are really all that surprising. For a beginning internet user, spam may seem like no more than commercials on TV. It shouldn't be surprising that occasionally people get interested.

Much more interesting would be a survey of the last time they responded or bought something from spam, versus how long they have been using e-mail. You could draw more conclusions from that.

Obligatory Movie Quotation (1)

Mahatma Goatse (718225) | about 11 years ago | (#7290475)

"I'll tell you the effects: it's pissing me off!"

(Movie title? No fair using IMDB!)

Re:Obligatory Movie Quotation (1)

soluzar22 (219097) | about 11 years ago | (#7290660)

Movie Title: Ghostbusters

The bit when Venkman is doing his psychic experiment and keeps shocking the male student.
The really funny part is if you watch closely, he's getting them right, but good ol' Venkman just fancies thec co-ed!
Classic Movie moment. So, do I win a Geek Gold Star?

-- Soluzar

Here's what's really important: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290483)

The extent of the damage from spam is measurable. One-quarter of emailers say spam has reduced their overall use of email, for most of them in a big way.

Some of the damage likely comes from emailers just being overwhelmed and throwing in the towel, an expression reflected by a number of respondents from the TRAC survey: "Spam has 100% shut me and my family down. We can no longer deal with downloading 1 hour's worth of spam and viruses to get a message or two that we are expecting."

"My time is valuable and I do not have time to filter thru all this unwanted spam. So half the time I just hit select all and delete every email I get. I have gone so far as to tell everyone not to bother emailing me...I have gone back to using the phone and no longer email anyone."

E-Mail is suffocating under the spam pest.

And in other news (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7290485)

... people are stupid. Film at 11.

The average person is of average intelligence (4, Insightful)

bigberk (547360) | about 11 years ago | (#7290490)

You can not get around this fact: the average person is of average intelligence. Most of us know a lot about how to 'properly' use computers because this is either our hobby or job. But the average person has no idea. Our secretaries at work, for instance, haven't a clue about anything beyond click, type, drag.

Then there's just plain stupid people, who think that an anonymous advertisement in their email, with spelling mistakes, lots of exclamation marks, and garbage writing warrants a legitimate product or service. A fool and their money...

So you'll either have to require better training for all computer users, which probably won't happen. Or you'll have to revise the types of software that laypeople use to protect them from the world.

Re:The average person is of average intelligence (1)

Wylfing (144940) | about 11 years ago | (#7290702)

So you'll either have to require better training for all computer users, which probably won't happen. Or you'll have to revise the types of software that laypeople use to protect them from the world.

OR... how about outlawing the fucking spam?

they can have my spam if they want it :) (0, Troll)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 11 years ago | (#7290500)

You know, I'm just thinking aloud, but what if you sent them your spam? How would they know you had some? Maybe if you wrote a bot to scrape emails off the web, you could make a list of people and send your spam to all of them! I wonder if someone's thought of that already? Hmm, know any venture capitalists?

Confusing clients (3, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | about 11 years ago | (#7290542)

Our company maintains web sites for a number of clients. We frequently get clients forwarding us spam that they have received, saying things like "your web site is not optimized for search engines", "why aren't you in this great directory...?", "your web site would recieve a lot more visitors if...", asking us what we should do about it.

It can be a bit annoying, because of course clients don't understand these things are just spam sent out in their thousands, and think they are from real people criticising their web sites. Of course the standard Slashdot response is to laugh at such people for being dumb, but often this type of spam is created in a deliberately deceptive way to make it look as if it is from a real person.

Newbies (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about 11 years ago | (#7290579)

Although the great internet boom of the late 90's is over, many newbies enter the Internet every day. These people have never used e-mail or browsers before and have no idea about what (not) to do on the 'net. I think these are the people that reply to spam, leave their names, adresses, crdit card numbers and what not everywhere and are in general the most vulnerable group on the 'net. Educating these people will not always work (as in real life), so there will always be people that reply to spam etc., and therefore sending spam will continue to be profitable.

Re:Newbies (4, Insightful)

bigberk (547360) | about 11 years ago | (#7290693)

Educating these people will not always work (as in real life)

This whole issue goes hand in hand with security, and software design. The onus is on the software developers.

Software that laypeople use should be designed to protect them from the real world (geeks use what they wish). And no, Microsoft software is not appropriate for the lay person: it requires frequent security updates, has too many complicated features that users misunderstand or misuse, has too many bells and whistles in Outlook etc. that introduce unnecessary security risks. There's no reason for script support in emails. I stip all my HTML mail to plaintext and have not missed a single word of meaning.

I have started looking at laypeople with Internet connections as very real risks to the digital world. If you consider this statement overblown, then consider the most serious network attacks to date. Almost all of them have used unsecured machines to launch attacks, or spam. And you must also realized that it is because of these unsecured hosts that plague most of the Internet that ISPs are forced to use increasingly restrictive filtering: they filter dangerous ports and drop mail from suspect IPs. Both of these are of huge detriment to all of our Internet experience.

Our job (1)

chlunde (718415) | about 11 years ago | (#7290584)

is to educate our friends and family never to buy anything thru these channels. It's probably one of the best things we can do. If they don't get any money in, they'll stop sending spam out...

I Answered All My Spam (4, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 11 years ago | (#7290590)

I never know what I might find,
on any day I go online.
I used to get in quite a huff,
while wading through unwanted stuff.
But then I changed the man I am,
the day I answered all my spam.

Now every time I check my box,
I load up on fantastic stocks.
I'll gladly say I felt no loss,
when, with a smile, I fired my boss.
With just one click, the best thing yet,
I freed myself of all my debt.

I have, paying a few small fees,
ten university degrees.
Now that I'm losing all this weight,
I'm sure, someday, I'll get a date.
Instead of going to a show,
I spy on everyone I know.
(That's easy, since I have in hand,
this nifty wireless video cam.)

I spend my evenings viewing screens,
of barely legal horny teens.
And with a little credit charge,
Whoopee! My penis was enlarged!
Meanwhile these shots of Britney Spears
should be enough to last for years.

And so I lead this online life,
my monitor is now my wife.
It has become my greatest dream,
to launch my own get-rich-quick scheme.
And if you think you might get missed,
relax, you're on my e-mail list.

"I Answered All My Spam"
by Alex Silbajoris, Columbus, Ohio am/01f ree_winner.shtml

Phone Survay ! (5, Insightful)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | about 11 years ago | (#7290609)

The report is based on a randomized, national phone survey of 2,200 adults.

Now, I wonder why a survay carried out in this manner recorded an unusually high number of people responding to spam?

Maybe a truer responce would have been acheved if every time someone told them to fuck off and slammed the phone down they treated this as an 'I dont respond to spam' reply

Re:Phone Survay ! (1)

goldspider (445116) | about 11 years ago | (#7290685)

"Maybe a truer responce would have been acheved if every time someone told them to fuck off and slammed the phone down they treated this as an 'I dont respond to spam' reply"

You suggest this research would be more accurate if the people assumed that one response ('fuck off') correlated to an 'I don't respond to spam' reply? You utterly discount the notion that people feel that SPAM is less of an intrusion than being interrupted by a phone call?

It's that kind of flawed logic that produces these bunk survey results in the first place.

And who buys from Home Shopping Zone? (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 11 years ago | (#7290610)

You'd never buy an ab-blaster or set of knives while zapping the channels (hoping to find some pr0n), would you?

Still I know a few people that did and were disappointed and I see quite a few parallels with spam.

Oh allow people to act stupid once in their life!

Having said that, how many people haven't yet acted stupid? Maybe I should change business until the magic 80% has been reached. Then again, maybe I shouldn't.

nailing the bastards (2, Informative)

tarzan353 (246515) | about 11 years ago | (#7290658)

It's not that hard to take down a spammer who causes you problems beyond just sending you unwanted email... I had one friend who had a spammer run a couple hundred thousand emails thru his system (a bug had made it into an open relay). It took one stern call to the ISP hosting the advertised websites to get his hosting and DNS cut off at the knees.

This is more than just sending off a single email to a scantly watched abuse email.. This means getting hold of a real person and explaining, realistisay, what sort of legal liabilities they might be open to if they continue to support the spammer's actions.
(Hacking laws, aiding and abetting, Trademark infringement and vicarious liability) often fit in there.

If more people would do this, life would get a lot harder for spammers.

How many? (1)

Inda (580031) | about 11 years ago | (#7290675)

54% of personal email users receive 10 or fewer emails on a typical day; 10% handle more than 50.

You lucky lucky people. Guess I'm in the top 1% with 120 a day.

Email is useless for me these days. Even with filtering 95% of the mail it is still useless. I get one email a week from The Old Man and authorisation emails from forums.

Thanks you dirty spammers.

7 percent ! (0)

panxerox (575545) | about 11 years ago | (#7290680)

oh yeah, that's right 7 % of the US population has an IQ of 20 I forgot
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