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Selling Your Attention to Spammers

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the sounds-fair-to-me dept.

Spam 307

Dotnaught writes "Can the free market stop spam where technology has failed? As described in InformationWeek, Professor Marshall Van Alstyne of Boston University School of Management has co-authored a soon-to-be-published paper that proposes an "attention bond" -- money put up by email senders that recipients collect only if they consider the message a waste of time. Supposedly, this market-based filter performs better than a perfect technology-based solution, with no false positives or negatives. A company called Vanquish already has a working model. Is selling one's attention the answer to spam?"

cancel ×

307 comments

Automated Spam Response (4, Funny)

EggMan2000 (308859) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559372)

Your post advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(*) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(*) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(*) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
(*) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(*) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(*) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

Re:Automated Spam Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559387)

Alas I have a very short attention span!

Re:Automated Spam Response (1, Informative)

abscondment (672321) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559415)

Wait... the article's

Supposedly, this market-based filter performs better than a perfect technology-based solution

... against your

Your post advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

A "Sorry dude, but I don't think you were reading" is definitely in order.

Re:Automated Spam Response (2, Insightful)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559597)

Sorry but you should have RTFA. The sender sign up to a service that can collect money if the recipient think it is spam. How can that not count as technical ?

Re:Automated Spam Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559672)

Sorry, but you should have RTFP. The post clearly says "You have advocated a (*) technical solution ..."

Re:Automated Spam Response (2, Informative)

Erpo (237853) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559627)

Wait... the article's

Supposedly, this market-based filter performs better than a perfect technology-based solution
... against your

Your post advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

A "Sorry dude, but I don't think you were reading" is definitely in order.


From the article:

Imposing a cost on spammers isn't exactly unheard of. Return Path Inc. uses financial bonds to improve message delivery and deter spamming. The difference is where the money goes. If a participant in Return Path's Bonded Sender program sends spam and generates enough complaints, the sender's bond gets paid to the Internet Education Foundation, a non-profit Internet advocacy group. And since participation in the program is voluntary, spammers can simply forego the greater rate of deliverability they'd get in the program and rely on volume to overwhelm filters.

The idea of making senders pay conditionally upon the recipient's attitude toward the message is so old and tired that the "market-based" aspect of this solution might as well be absent from the article. The interesting question would be how, technically, to set up such a system.

From near the end of the article:
Despite the obstacles, Van Alstyne has faith in the curative power of the market. "If you can assign property rights in the problem, then you get efficient trading on it, then you get a better solution than almost any other possible alternative," he says. "That's why I think it will work."

This is where Van Alstyne really shows that he doesn't get it. If all you have is a hammer...

Re:Automated Spam Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559764)

Aw, did your widdle socialist feelings get hurt?

Re:Automated Spam Response (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559635)

Supposedly, this market-based filter performs better than a perfect technology-based solution.

So it performs better than perfect? How does that work?

Re:Automated Spam Response (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559711)

You did it wrong. That reply must read:
Your posting shows that before replying you
[x] did not read the article
[x] did not read the summary
[ ] did not read the posting you replied to

Re:Automated Spam Response (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559452)

It's nice to see posts like these surviving the lameness filter.

Re:Automated Spam Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559478)

Also, a lot of people thought of exactly the same idea before you. You're too slow to make an impact on the universe.

Re:Automated Spam Response (2, Insightful)

bnitsua (72438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559561)

you know, people complain about dupe articles, but I never see people complain about dupe comments, no matter how old the joke is... good content works both ways.

Re:Automated Spam Response (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559613)

I never see people complain about dupe comments...
In Soviet Russia, people pay attention.

Re:Automated Spam Response (1)

bnitsua (72438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559666)

:) now that was funny... it took a lame joke and placed it in a humorous context. and no one even took credit for it.
if you're going to karmawhore by being funny, you could at least, well, be funny.

Re:Automated Spam Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559625)

Now that is a beautiful first post.

Re:Automated Spam Response (5, Informative)

booch (4157) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559697)

If you're going to fill out the form, please fill it out CORRECTLTY:

Your post advocates a

( ) technical ( ) legislative (*) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
(*) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(*) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
(*) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(*) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
(*) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
(*) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
(*) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
(*) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
(*) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(*) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
(*) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(*) Sending email should be free
(*) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
(*) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

Haven't I heard this idea before? (1, Informative)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559379)

Like three or four years ago?

Re:Haven't I heard this idea before? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559444)

No, I think you're thinking of every other spam-fighting-technology that will never work.

Re:Haven't I heard this idea before? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559445)

Yes. It's called CruelMail. www.cruelmail.com

PEOPLE WITH MOD POINTS: CALL FOR HELP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559679)

There's a guy currently flooding Slashdot with randomly generated crap messages with the intent of disrupting normal discussion. Click on one of the links below to see what I mean. If you have mod points left and aren't sure what to use them for, plase mod him down so we can get his network banned.

Comment #1 [slashdot.org]
Comment #2 [slashdot.org]
Comment #3 [slashdot.org]
Comment #4 [slashdot.org]
Comment #5 [slashdot.org]
Comment #6 [slashdot.org]

Your help would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

Re:Haven't I heard this idea before? (1)

8086ed (876715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559716)

I could've sworn CMDRTaco himself proposed this at least 2 years ago.

Re:Haven't I heard this idea before? (1)

telstar (236404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559749)

Shhhh! We're trying to eek a few mill. out of those PHB's that were asleep at the wheel during the dot-com boom.

How is this a solution again? (3, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559385)


I must be missing something...it seems like the same tactics spammers use to evade law enforcement today could be used to evade the imposition of this "attention bond mechanism".

I'M AN OPEN PROXY, BAN ME! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559453)

This message is posted from an open proxy. Open proxies are used to crapflood sites like Slashdot. Please mod this comment down so the proxy gets banned. If you don't care about open proxies, please mod this comment down because it's offensive to NIGGERS and KIKES.

Tue May 17 22:21:53 CEST 2005 [2756]

I'M AN OPEN PROXY, BAN ME! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559497)

This message is posted from an open proxy. Open proxies are used to crapflood sites like Slashdot. Please mod this comment down so the proxy gets banned. If you don't care about open proxies, please mod this comment down because it's offensive to NIGGERS and KIKES.

Tue May 17 22:25:03 CEST 2005 [125]

I'M AN OPEN PROXY, BAN ME! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559559)

This message is posted from an open proxy. Open proxies are used to crapflood sites like Slashdot. Please mod this comment down so the proxy gets banned. If you don't care about open proxies, please mod this comment down because it's offensive to NIGGERS and KIKES.

Tue May 17 22:28:53 CEST 2005 [5303]

I'M AN OPEN PROXY, BAN ME! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559703)

This message is posted from an open proxy. Open proxies are used to crapflood sites like Slashdot. Please mod this comment down so the proxy gets banned. If you don't care about open proxies, please mod this comment down because it's offensive to NIGGERS and KIKES.
iji iji iji iji iji iji jtiji iji iji iji iji iji
iji iji iji iji iji ijjDMNQtiji iji iji iji iji ij
iji iji iji iji iji cXMNMNMNQjiji iji iji iji iji
iji iji iji iji ijcSMNMNMNMNHJiji iji iji ij iji ij
iji iji iji iji iSWMNMNMNMHJiji iji iji ij iji iji
iji iji iji iji6WMNMNMNMNYiji iji Jciji iji iji ij
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iji iji ijcXMNMNMNMNNYiji ijtKMNMN MNMNMW6iji iji i
iji iji iji jDMNMNMNMNHJijtQMNMN MNMNMNMNMW5iji iji
iji itciji iji QMNMNMNMNKDMNMN MNMNQWMNMNMNMN5iji i
ijitKMWSiji iji jQMNSIEGMNMN MNMNQtijSWMNMNMNMNYiji
itQMNMNMW6iji iji tKMNMNMN MNMNKtiji icSMNMNMNMNHJi
iJHMNHEILMW6iji ijcSMNMN MNMNMNDjiji ijicXMNMNMNN5i
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iji i5NMNMNMNMNSWMNM MNMNHNMNMNMNMNXciji iji 5iji i
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iji iji i6WMNMNM MNMNW5iji ij6WMHEILNMWSiji iji iji
iji iji ijiSWM MNMNW6iji iji tKMNMNMNMNXciji iji ij
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iji iji iji iji iji ijjDMHITLERNQtiji iji iji iji
iji ij iji iji iji ijcXMNMNMNMNKtiji iji iji iji ij
iji iji iji iji iji jQMNMNMNHJiji iji iji iji iji
ij iji iji iji iji iji tKMNHJiji iji iji iji iji ij
iji iji iji iji iji iji tYiji iji iji iji iji ij ij



Tue May 17 22:42:39 CEST 2005 [9547]

Re:How is this a solution again? (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559715)

The receiver of the e-mail requires that the sender put something in his message with a link for being paid for reading the message. The receiver then rejects all e-mails without this link (or not from a known whitelist). Infastructure is required so that the sender can't fake the link.

Old news... (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559388)


money put up by email senders that recipients collect only if they consider the message a waste of time

I get that already, it's called "my salary".

F irst Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559391)

YEAH!!!! I pwned slashdot...

Re:F irst Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559420)

The posts above you say it all: Slashdot pwned you.

Can they really afford my time? (5, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559393)

I bill triple digits per hour (but still less than a phone sex operator at $4.99/min). Doctors and lawyers charge even more. Unsolicted messages are an uncompensable waste of time and a theft of network resources.

They can afford me! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559459)

My time is free! I'll give them all the time they want and then some! They just need to come over to this dark alley... say, have I shown you my baseball bat? Look at these fine details... now just hold still.

Re:Can they really afford my time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559511)

Unsolicted messages are an uncompensable waste of time and a theft of network resources.

Dude, your /. posting was an incompensable wast of time and a theft of both my employer's network resources and his employee's time.

You should have to pay at least as much as the spammers.

A rhetorical question (2, Insightful)

Panaphonix (853996) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559513)

Then why are you on Slashdot?

Re:A rhetorical question (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559528)

If you could bill 3 digits an hour reading slashdot, wouldn't you?

Re:A rhetorical question (3, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559594)


I bill four digits an hour while reading Slashdot.

Unfortunately, there's a decimal point involved....

^_^

Re:Can they really afford my time? (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559587)

That's the point:

An attention market would even be useful in a non-commercial context. An executive like Bill Gates could price access to his inbox to reflect the value of his time. And those who had legitimate reasons to correspond with Microsoft's chairman could rest easy, knowing that he wouldn't cash in the substantial bond required to get his attention.

In other words, the more you make per hour, the less spam you will recieve - in the true nature of the new corporate owned and controlled Internet(tm)(patent pending).

Sounds dumb (4, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559394)

Why is a spammer going to put up money when relaying through a zombie net or open relay is easy and free?

Re:Sounds dumb (1)

Kwil (53679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559458)

They're not.
But the people running the open relay won't like the subsequent bill they get, and may be encouraged to take steps to stop it.

Re:Sounds dumb (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559514)

Well just hop a bus to Pyong-yang (or wherever) and collect, this stops spam and relays just like fines imposed by states do (not at all).

Re:Sounds dumb (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559481)

Because under these monitary-based systems your spam filter would reject unsolicited emails without this "stamp".

When your friends send you email or when you join mailinglists you can of course whitelist them; and if a friend sends you a stamped email you don't have to collect.

The system makes some sense; but it's too complicated. The right answer to stop spam is to not give your email address to spammers.

tax? (2, Insightful)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559398)

money put up by email senders that recipients collect only if they consider the message a waste of time

Sounds like a fancy way of taxing the internet...

Re:tax? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559698)

It is. Bonds are often required by government in areas that they can't legally tax.

Car insurance, for instance, is really just a bond. Government can't prohibit your right to travel, so they use liability to require a bond that is effectively a tax.

Looks like freedom of speech is going the same way. You put up a bond to be able to talk. If you say something people don't like, you lose money. If they make the bond high enough, normal people will have to lease their bonds through insurance companies, effectively paying a tax for the priviledge to communicate. No pesky "rights" to get in the way.

be cool if it works (1)

downsize (551098) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559401)

looking over vanquish's feature page, it seems very cool and sure hope it works. they claim HIP involvement (human interaction), but to me, that almost seems worse than having a scanner rip through potentially delivered email and flagging it or not.
yes spam is a problem, but only poorly setup web-based email apps or client apps (or bad sysadmins) keep email from you, you should get all of it and setup your own filters - kinda like the crap you can filter here at /. :-}

Re:be cool if it works (1)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559584)

...only poorly setup web-based email apps or client apps (or bad sysadmins) keep email from you...

In defense of all admins in my situation: sometimes management forces you to be that way. I tried tagging e-mails with [POSSIBLE SPAM] in the subject line instead of deleting them, and was told to turn it off because they didn't like it. And no, personal inbox rules weren't considered a valid option.

The one big problem... (2, Insightful)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559402)

Either it will be so easy to cash out, that anyone will do it all the time, and noone will use this system of that sole reason.

The other thing that can happend is that it is so hard to cash out this money, that noone will bother, since it'll be likely to take twice the time of hitting delete, or the sum has to be big enough to be worth the hassle ($1?) which agains brings us to the first point, people will cash out on every email.

Re:The one big problem... (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559651)

Exactly. People will say "Hey this is [insert big company name], they can afford to give those [insert appropriate number of cents] to me !" Or it could become a more powerful weapon than boycotts. But I don't agree that it could be too much an hassle, people would write automated tools to collect the money.

What do pundits say? (0, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559403)

This seems to be an important topic in today's computer world. I am suprised that I have not seen any view from pundits before.

The trouble is some of the pundits know so little to even know that they, (the pundits) know nothing. We live in interesting times, don't we?

I'M AN OPEN PROXY, BAN ME! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559404)

This message is posted from an open proxy. Open proxies are used to crapflood sites like Slashdot. Please mod this comment down so the proxy gets banned. If you don't care about open proxies, please mod this comment down because it's offensive to NIGGERS and KIKES.

Tue May 17 22:16:28 CEST 2005 [3547]

Human Greed... (3, Insightful)

Ochu (877326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559410)

I'm sorry, the whole "fee" idea just doesn't work for me... What is to stop someone signing up for a whole load of mailing lists, and then claiming that they were all a waste of time? The only time anyone would not bother taking that cash is if there was someone they knew on the other end, getting pissed off.

Re:Human Greed... (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559575)

The mailing list maintainer should consider the request to sign up a waste of time, and unsubscribe people who declare mailing list messages a waste of time.

Yet another misguided solution (4, Insightful)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559412)

It sounds like a good idea, but it's not a solution any more than CAN-SPAM. Spammers will not cooperate if it's just going to hurt them. Until you crack down on spam in the same way that the telemarketer do-not-call list has, you won't see any improvement. And that's not even realistic given the ease with which email can be masked or forged.

It's similar to the argument that gun rights advocates make - stricter gun control laws or programs will hurt legitimate owners, but the real problems will still lie with the criminals who don't abide by those laws anyway.

Crack down on spammers. Make spam outright illegal and make penalties for ISPs that fail to comply.

Re:Yet another misguided solution (1)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559586)

You cant fine foreign ISP's, but you can block them. If all of american ISP's blocked a particular foreign ISP for a month, that ISP would lost a lot of customers (therefore money).

Re:Yet another misguided solution (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559676)

Unfortunately, it would also hurt a lot of legitimate businesses that rely on services or traffic from those ISPs.

I still think the best solution overall is to starve spammers - don't ever respond to unsolicited emails, even if it's a really great deal.

Humph! Market-based my ante! In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559421)

In Soviet Russia, spammers who are caught don't get a lawyer for 72 hours...

Different financial cost (3, Insightful)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559436)

While it'd be inconsequential to me to put up 10c to send each message (or probably even $1 if my employment related emails didn't count) it doesn't scale well between different countries.

Third world countries will find that sort of money a huge barrier to entry for sending email.

Similarly this will be open to google ad type exploitation. People will set up email addresses and sign up to all sorts of solicited and unsolicited email just to collect the cash. Again for people in poorer countries this might be a practical job.

Re:Different financial cost (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559505)

it'd be inconsequential to me to put up 10c to send each message

Good for you. I run a few mailing lists, some of which have thousands of members. A 10c charge is most certainly *not* inconsequential. Up with that I would not put.

Besides which, I must have missed the part where it was explained how spammers would be forced to play along with the system. Another system that only keeps the honest people honest. File under bee one en.

Re:Different financial cost (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559599)

Perhaps the first charge between a sender and receiver could be waived.

So if someone claims your message as spam, you can be informed, you can remove their address from your list and get off without paying.

But that's now a new way to abuse the system.

Also spammers can put up bonds with stolen credit cards...

Perfect (1)

sevensharpnine (231974) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559439)

So, I can just sit home and subscribe to mailing lists, flag them as spam, and watch the checks roll in? And if that doesn't work, how many EULAs will I have to click through to get a business to send me any email at all?

We would need someone to police this system, and that someone would need legal power in every country from which email is sent. No one has such legal authority. And we're back at square one...

Should be a money-maker (3, Interesting)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559456)

What's to stop someone from signing up for every mailing list everywhere and setting up an automated application to flag it as spam so the money starts rolling in? Three or four thousand such flags per day, even at a few cents each should start to add up fairly quickly.

Re:Should be a money-maker (3, Insightful)

merdaccia (695940) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559763)

RTFA. The premise is that once you mark an address as spam, the sender will no longer send you messages because it's against his economic interest to pay you again. Therefore, you only receive payment once per mailing list, which will be too small to make it a feasible source of income.

Unfortunately, this system will only work if you only allow incoming mail from a server that supports it. This reduces the whole setup to a glorified whitelist, and dooms it to failure. Spam can't be stopped because the current infrastructure allows spammers to send mail without reprimand, and no alternative will work until the current infrastructure is still in place.

YOU fAIL IyT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559469)

users. Surprise Are you GAY 4eop7e already; I'm

Not again... (1)

Shdwdrgn (162364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559477)

How many times is this idea going to come up before it finally goes away? Nobody is going to put up any amount of cash to send their legitimate email. Nobody will use a service that requires such a fee.

It's a simple concept really... the only solution that will be accepted is one which requires the masses to do nothing different than what they do now. People will not change their ways, even if it meant a spam-free environment. When it comes to computers, most users are lucky to remember one way to do things. They can't be bothered with learning how to do things the *right* way.

typical of economics (2, Funny)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559482)

the only field where you can get a nobel for being wrong

Re:typical of economics (2, Insightful)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559562)

True, until they come up with one for Meterology.

Let's try it out on Slashdot (4, Funny)

pcraven (191172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559485)

I'd like to try this on Slashdot. I can collect money for articles that I think are a complete waste of my time. Then this money can be used to post messages like this, which are a complete waste of other people's time.

Re:Let's try it out on Slashdot (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559577)

You owe me $1.00.

Why not just make them pay? (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559490)

I don't get it. This kind of "disincentive" has already been implemented in just about every business plan on earth in a much less logistically challenging way. When you advertise, you have to pay for it. Let's say you advertise too 1,000 people, it costs you two cents each, and only one person is receptive to your message. That person buys your product for $50. Great! Your ad campaign was successful. On the other hand, if nobody bought your product, you'd be out $20.

This is pretty basic stuff. The problem with spam is that spammers are continually finding ways to pay nothing to advertise. If one person in a thousand replies to a message you paid nothing for and sends you $50, you've made almost double the profits vs. if you had to pay 2 cents per recipient. That's always going to be an attractive market for people with useless crap to sell, because the real rate of return on crap might be considerably less than one in a thousand.

This plan gives people the warm fuzzies because it sounds like each individual will be able to profit from unwanted advertising, but in reality it would never work that way. On the other hand, you'd get the same "punitive" effect on spammers if you just found a way to force them to pay to send spam.

Re:Why not just make them pay? (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559610)

When you advertise, you have to pay for it

But should I have to pay to send you an e-mail you just asked for (i.e., "I forgot my password")? Or should my brother's e-mail of a link to pictures of my niece's birthday party cost him money to send? And, who's collecting? The point is that you'll be unable to make the distinction between commercial and private messages. It's not the same as buying an ad in the yellow pages.

Not a workable solution (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559493)

I would love to see the IT/Executive meeting over then one after it has been implemented:

IT: OH NO Mr. CEO, now, we don't filter SPAM anymore. What you do is look at the email and then decide if the email if worth your time or not. If not, then we charge the person who sent it.

CEO: Uh huh. So... Who sent it? How do I tell him it was not worth it, what if the link is broken, and more importantly I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO!!! From now on, it is *your* job to filter all the email the executives of this company.

IT: All 50 of them?

CEO: *grin*

Re:Not a workable solution (1)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559640)

CEO: Uh huh. So... Who sent it? How do I tell him it was not worth it, what if the link is broken, and more importantly I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO!!! From now on, it is *your* job to filter all the email the executives of this company.

This should be quite obviously rated 'Score:0 non-sense'. The CEO has a very valid thing to say and asked for nothing terribly unreasonable...

pay-click ads (1)

NetworkNed (877704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559495)

This reminds me of the pay per click advertising boom of about 6 years ago. The only problem is it will just bring you more spam by opening the emails. So, is it worth selling your soul (or e-mail inbox) for the few cents youd make by opening all the messages for CHEEP V!4GR4 and Fr3e C redi t R3ports?

Re:pay-click ads (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559644)

Well, you just use two email addresses: One to get and bill for spam, and one for your normal communications. The opening of those messages could be done automatically by a program. You don't waste your time, only your processor's.

Possible way to cash in... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559502)

  1. Create a few thousand random email addresses.
  2. Vigorously seize the bonds on all spam messages (write a script).
  3. ???
  4. Profit!
  5. When spam messages start to drop off, abandon the email accounts and start over.

Re:Possible way to cash in... (3, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559560)


Great...three people managed to post this bright idea before me.

Last time I answer the phone at work!

No, this will not work. (0)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559517)

No, this will not work, for a variety of reasons which are obvious once you think about it for a little while.
-russ

Already exists (1)

pbaer (833011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559540)

Kind of. Cashette.com already has an email program similar to this. The way it works is if you want to send email to someone @cashette.com you need to have a cashette.com email address. From their if you aren't on their friends list or something you need to pay them X amount of money (as specified by the reciever) for them to get it. If we could get some sort of globalized version of this spam disappears.

YAPTSMS (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559541)

Yet Another Pay To Send Mail Scheme

These show up on /. like clockwork. They all have the same problem: unless everyone uses them, they hurt the ones who do more than the ones who don't (network effect).

Go ahead -- demand a bond before you accept mail. Yes, you won't get any spam. You also won't hear from Hotmail, GMail, Yahoo, or your (ex-) customers.

All of these schemes depend on every government on Earth legislating them into existence, simultaneously, and somehow miraculously not adding enough bureaucratic red tape to make e-mail useless before spam gets a chance.

Lots of Problems (1)

Josuah (26407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559549)

This approach only seems to work for legitimate companies (or those that care about repeat customers). I don't see that strange web site selling V1aG4r@ participating in this system. I also don't see the Nigerian scammers participating. Or the phishers. I already don't get spam from L.L. Bean or Citibank. Has this professor even looked at who is sending spam to him?

And how do you handle international transactions?

I think I'd need to be able to specify a lower or higher cost to specific individuals as well. I don't want to have to "purchase" a bond to send email to my friend or family.

And if I don't have to, what's to stop a spammer from sending mail as if from me. I already get bounce-backs for spam I never sent.

Or even if I do have to, a spammer might infect a box and send it out as me legitimately. Again, said economics professor needs to do his research.

Or even worse, let's say this is automated to some degree. Which it will have to be for mailing systems to work instead of having a monkey click the button for every email. Spammers infect boxes for a million people and send spam to themselves. Then they reject it and collect a couple of cents per person.

What is it with the money-for-email idea? (4, Insightful)

btempleton (149110) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559551)

While it's not a great idea, it's a fairly obvious one. Papers on this go back decades. I was one of the earliest to propose it in the Unix community almost a decade ago, but later denounced my own ideas [templetons.com] .

But what amazes me is that like clockwork, somebody will publish an article on this "great new idea" for dealing with spam, several times a year it seems. They have clearly read none of the spam literature, nor done a search. And on top of that, journals and magazines also think it's new and publish the items, even slashdot publishes them.

What gives?

Ah! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559553)

Ah, I see...
Professor Marshall Van Alstyne of Boston University School of Management

That pretty much explains it.

What about this idea? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559563)

Make it illegal for solicitations not to have how they obtained one's e-mail address. In other words, require how one obtained your e-mail address at the bottom of the e-mail message. Such as, "Your e-mail address _____ was obtained from ______." Something like a $500 fine for not having that in the solicitation, and a $500 fine for lying in the "disclaimer" too.

A complete profit cycle! at last (0, Redundant)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559566)

  1. browse the internet placing you email address everywhere you can
  2. wait for marketers to send you bonded email
  3. Pretend you never heard of them, and claim your bounty
  4. Profit!

Difference to Hash-cash? (1)

awolk (759539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559578)

Where's the difference to Hash-cash? (from a technically POV)
Both ideas are about making it expensive for the spammer to send his email (using different methods, of course...) and Hash-cash was, AFAIK, proposed some years ago.
But somehow it never happened, that you used hash-cash when sending emails, and implementing hash-cash is so much easier than implementing this (I think at least).
But sure, it'd be great if it'd work this time ...

Let the system break down (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559588)

1) Once the system is broken, open the mass media valves and let it be known that it's the spammer's fault.

2) Angry lynch mobs wielding torches and pitchforks will take care of the rest.

3) Rebuild a spam-proof email infrastructure.

Re:Let the system break down (2, Funny)

SithLordOfLanc (683305) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559615)

4) Profit!

$.02 (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559611)

I'm not so sure I want to support a program that turns "My $.02" into a literal statement. Seems that even when you get a "penny for your thoughts" you're still taking in only half as much as your spending.

Technology has not failed (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559624)

On my gmail account, the service intercepts better than 99% of my spam (1 or 2 out of several hundred per week) with what has recently been a 0 percent false positive rate. So the technology exists and works.

Laundering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559637)

Hey, this will be great for organized crime! Say Joe Spamola has 10,000 he needs to launder to his boss. Well, he puts the 10k up as his spam-bond, spams his boss, and the boss collects. Profit!

John Houston had it right. (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559648)

Herr Van Alstyne needs to watch Chinatown. Grandiosities like his get hammered flat on the anvil of the internet as do the promises of everything from a super phallus to a renovated political systems dissipating like fog in the morning sun. "It's OK, Jake, it's Chinatown."

Terrible idea (1)

irritus (789886) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559668)

The problem with this can be summed up best in two questions. 1) Why would spammers stop sending spam just because they had competition from a service that requires competant end-users? 2) Since the only way this bonded email could work is if it was excluded from spam filtering, why wouldn't the same people hiring spammers just keep buying bonds to send guaranteed-delivery spam? I have a better idea than this for stopping spam for anyone who would even consider this bonded email drivel useful: Shut down the SMTP port on your server. Conduct all business via phone. You will never get spam email again.

The problem with spam is weak enforcement (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559682)

Spamhaus points out that 200 known spam operations are responsible for 80% of spam. [spamhaus.org] They have names for most of the key people involved. Most of them are in the US, even though "bulletproof web hosting" services in China and money laundering in some tax haven may make them appear to be offshore.

The US Federal Trade Commission says that over 80% of spam involves some violation of Federal law. Not just the CAN-SPAM act, but mail fraud, false advertising, money laundering, computer crime, drug counterfeiting, and racketeering. There should be no problem filing charges.

If we had an FBI director who made this a priority, most spam could be eliminated in a year. Just divert some of the FBI Baltimore people who do child pornography [fbi.gov] , who are already experienced at tracking people on the Internet, off that job and onto tracking down the major spam operators.

In a sense, CAN-SPAM has been effective. Spamming by even vaguely legitimate companies is down. Almost all spamming now involves felony criminal activity of one kind or another.

Re:The problem with spam is weak enforcement (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559719)

Just divert some of the FBI Baltimore people who do child pornography, who are already experienced at tracking people on the Internet, off that job

I was with you until there. As annoying as spam is, it's not in the same league as child pornography - that really does scar children for life. There will be no diverting of anti-child pornography teams.

This has already been done (2, Informative)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559692)

Wallace [annonline.com] & Rines [www.exn.ca] ' revamped [wired.com] spambone [com.com] was to do just that. It didn't pan out [wired.com] .

Identity Theft 2.0 (1)

amichalo (132545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559709)

So your recently stolen creit card not only includes charges for a weekend trip to Vegas you didn't take and life time subscriptions to "websites" you swear wouldn't interest you, but now you get socked with a million micro-payments for spamming yourself!!!

intercepted emails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559729)

So what if somebody would intercept these emails full with money, is this the new way to get rich?
Just intercept a couple of million emails, what a horrible concept!

Opt In & Opt Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12559752)

This is not much different from an Opt - option. The opt-out brings "consquences".

This champ (with an i) is proposing that we cannot complain about the unsolicited emails unless we think that they are a waste of time. The issue is that "you think it is a waste of your time but you are mistaken; look at the additional gramatical and english spelling mistakes that you now know. You also learned that Viagra works, and if you disagree you are welcome to read our research.

The reimbursement will probably has some stuff tied to it where theses chimps (spammers) will have their way.

I still get baffled by how some people look for ways to legalize spam.

Fraud Potential (2, Interesting)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12559754)

If I understand correctly, which I might not, this is how it will work: spammer sends me an e-mail, I mark it as spam and receive money, spammer gets a notice so he can remove me from his list.

What's to stop me from biting the cost of a large mailing, collecting all those notices, and reselling them to other spammers as a list of verified active addresses? My customers could use the lists in a country not on board with the idea, since this will require legislation to enact (which is a problem too obvious to need explanation.)

Seems like a major problem, but I'll wait until the paper is released before making my final judgement.
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