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Hotmail vs Goodmail

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the who-controls-your-spambox dept.

Communications 222

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton wrote in with his latest column. He says "Are we being too hard on Goodmail for their plans to charge senders a quarter-penny per message to bypass companies' spam filters? Hardly anyone has mentioned that Microsoft has been doing the same thing for years, only (surprise!) charging more. Hotmail lets senders pay a $1,400 "fee" to help get through their spam filter; when I wrote to them about my newsletter being blocked as spam, they said they knew it wasn't spam, but they told me several times they would not even talk about unblocking it unless I paid the $1,400. It's odd that so little attention has been paid to Hotmail's program, since it not only mirrors the Goodmail situation, it validates Goodmail's critics who have said that once you start charging to bypass spam filters, the next step is the marginalization of people who won't pay." Read on for more words.

As you hear words like "Hotmail" and "AOL", you may be tempted to think this doesn't affect you if you've outgrown those companies, but I think that's a mistake. First of all, if you think you might ever run a business that publishes an e-mail newsletter, you'll have to worry that your mail might be blocked unless you pay to unblock it. Second, even if you're only a subscriber to a company's newsletter and you're not worried about filters on your e-mail address, the company publishing the newsletter has to spend time and resources getting their mails unblocked that they send to other people, time that could be otherwise spent improving their services. Third, even if you're not on the Internet at all, in a real sense it affects the kind of world we all live in, if the wealthy are able to communicate with their listeners more easily than everyone else (that gap has always existed, but the Internet narrowed it, and then unblocking-mail fees widened it a little). If the Republican National Committee can get their mail out and MoveOn.org can't, then that could influence elections, and could affect your life even if you're an Iraqi peasant goat farmer who hasn't updated his blog in weeks. And of course what Microsoft and AOL do, sets a precedent for what other companies can get away with -- so every anecdote about boneheaded mail filtering that you hear about, is potentially significant if it could become the norm.

I wasn't thinking about this when I wrote to Hotmail in 2006 about their users missing our e-mails because of the filter blocking them as "spam", as I jumped through some hoops before talking to a human. But the mentality of the people that I talked to seemed to be that "non-paying sender" and "spammer" were more or less equivalent. I explained that we only send mail to people who request it, we verify all new subscriptions, and every message contains an unsubscribe link. Hotmail replied, "The filters are there for the protection of hotmail subscribers. The Junk Mail Reporting program isn't in place to help you circumvent those filters... I recommend you do what you can on your end to educate your subscribers, keep your mailing lists up to date and follow the other guidelines for senders on the postmaster.msn.com site and don't expect our junkmail filters to be modified." Call me a dreamer, but I thought the whole point of having humans in the loop was that if the filter is making a mistake, you can modify it.

(Many people have suggested that I publish via RSS instead of e-mail. For me the problem with that is that our newsletter is used to send out the location of new sites for getting around blocking software, so that by the time the last sites have gotten blocked in most places, the new ones are being mailed out. As long as people can access their e-mail accounts, they can get the new site announcements. But if we used an RSS feed instead of e-mail, then blocking software companies would just block our RSS feed. And besides, even a normal newsletter publisher would lose most of their existing subscribers if they told everybody that they had to switch over to RSS to receive the newsletter in the future. Is it right that they should have to pay that penalty just because an ISP is falsely labeling their mail as spam?)

The $1,400 "fee" that you pay to help get your mail unblocked at Hotmail's servers, is to a third-party company called Sender Score Certified, formerly known as Bonded Sender, whose certifications are used by Hotmail. I didn't think I could get anywhere discussing with them the ethics of charging people to unblock their mail as spam, so instead I asked them, what would happen if someone forked over the cash and then their enemies started filing phony "spam" complaints against them, hoping to get their certification revoked? I think this is an important question for any spam policing system, but unfortunately it usually puts people on the defensive, because there's no real answer -- if you accept spam complaints, then you allow crackpots to do damage, and if you don't accept spam complaints, how do you know if a client is spamming? Bonded Sender's rep replied, "Do you really have that many enemies? If you are running a true 'non-profit', who is that mad at you? Maybe finding this out should be a little higher on the agenda. Where is the 'peace' in Peace Fire?" I asked the same question again, and eventually he said that complaints were based on SpamCop complaints -- a system known for being set up so that anyone could report anyone as a "spammer" without proof -- and that each such complaint would cause $20 to be depleted from your bond, and once it was all gone, you'd lose your certification.

"After reading all of your emails you have sent me," he continued, "it seems that you aren't really trying to find a solution to anything. You are mainly interested in pointing out flaws in programs and letting me know about how people don't like you." Actually I don't think I have enough enemies to cause me serious problems, but I'm working on it! I aspire someday to reach the level of notoriety achieved by groups like MoveOn.org, who does have enough enemies that if systems like Hotmail's were widely deployed, MoveOn would have to worry about militants falsely reporting their mails as spam in order to cost them money and/or get them blacklisted. That's the other basic problem with certification systems: they don't just favor the wealthy, they also favor the non-controversial. Do we really want an Internet where everyone has to be careful about who they offend, because anyone could get them listed as a spammer? I mean, that would be like having a free online encyclopedia where anyone could edit your bio and say that you killed someone!

Is it legal to block someone's mail as spam until they pay you money? Whoah, before I even use the l-word, I'd better insert a disclaimer. No, not that disclaimer. Nobody could possibly think that I was a lawyer after I filed motions in court with the pages stuck together to prove that judges weren't really reading them, unless I had some kind of career death wish. The disclaimer is that at least from my own experiences suing spammers, the law is whatever the judge wants it to be. Some judges say you can sue spammers out-of-state, and some say you can't. Some of them say you can sue in Small Claims only if you've lost money, and some say you can sue for damages even if you haven't lost anything. Some of them say a non-lawyer is allowed to represent their own corporation in court, and some say no. If judges don't even agree on the basic rules, good luck getting a legal consensus on a more abstract issue. Asking objectively if deliberately blocking non-spam e-mail is "legal" is like asking "Do apples taste good?"

But as a general rule, I think courts take a dim view of systematically publishing false statements about someone to try and get them to pay you off in order to stop. Unless you're a spammer, every time Hotmail labels one of your messages as "Junk Mail", they're publishing something untrue about you (at least to everyone who sees the message labeled as junk), and if you've brought it to their attention, then they may agree the statement is untrue but they go on making it anyway. In libel law, liability is partly determined by how much someone has been harmed by the false statements about them; in the case of mail being blocked as "Junk Mail", the harm is about as direct as possible, since because it was falsely labeled as spam, most users will never see it. This is why I think people who say "Hotmail/AOL/Yahoo can do whatever they want with their private network" are missing the point. If I used my own "private network" to publish a subscription service that people use to find out the names of new convicted felons in their neighborhood so that they can avoid doing business with those people, would you have no objection if I "accidentally" included your name on the list, but promised to review your situation for one low fee of $1,400?

There was a time in the late '90's when if Microsoft had said they were going to be blocking non-partner e-mails as "junk mail" unless senders paid a $1,400 "fee" to get unblocked, Congress would have hauled up Bill Gates and given him a good wedgie and told him to cut it out. But these days the Department of Justice doesn't have time to worry about other people's lost e-mail when they can't even lose their own e-mails properly.

All this happened at about the same time Goodmail was first attracting controversy for charging senders a quarter penny per message to bypass AOL's spam filters. When the EFF registered DearAOL.com to call attention to the issue (now defunct, but the Wayback Machine saved a snapshot), I hopefully registered DearHotmail.com in case any anyone wanted to use that example as well, but nothing ever coalesced around that. Meanwhile, some random mis-fire seems to have cancelled out some other random mis-fire, and Hotmail is apparently no longer blocking my mail, at least until this article gets published.

As far as I can tell, the only reason Hotmail got off scott-free and AOL/Goodmail didn't, was that Hotmail snuck their system in quietly, while AOL and Goodmail announced their partnership with great fanfare, apparently overestimating the extent to which e-mail publishers would greet them as liberators. This doesn't reflect very well on the outrage grapevine, people.

But the lesson took -- when Goodmail recently announced their partnership with four more e-mail providers, Goodmail featured a press release on their own site, but of the four ISPs, Verizon was the only one issued their own press release. Apparently the other three saw what happened with AOL/Hotmail and got the message.

You didn't ask, but my own idea for an anti-spam system would be to follow a protocol such that when you reply to a list server to confirm your subscription, the reply goes to an address like:

list-peacefire-confirm-481534893-sender=bennett=peacefire.org@mailserver.com

When you send that reply from your Hotmail account, Hotmail would see the "sender=bennett=peacefire.org" part of the address you're replying to, and recognize that to mean that you want to receive future messages sent from bennett - at - peacefire.org. So future messages from that address would be weighted not to be blocked as spam for that user. It wouldn't do anything to unblock person-to-person messages that get blocked as spam, but those are not mis-blocked as often as legitimate newsletters are, and this method would give newsletter publishers a way to get whitelisted at the same time that the user confirms their subscription. It wouldn't be perfect, since if the user then unsubscribes from the newsletter, but bennett - at - peacefire.org is a jerk and continues to send them mail, that mail would still get through because the Hotmail filter for that user still "remembers" that they confirmed their subscription, and doesn't know that they unsubscribed. However, the vast majority of nuisance spam comes from people you've never heard of, not from people whose newsletters you signed up for and then continued to send you mail after you unsubbed.

Or, suppose you're Amazon and you send mail to millions of users from orders@amazon.com, but you don't want everyone to have that address whitelisted because then a spammer could use the address "orders@amazon.com" to spam millions of people, hoping it would get through the filter of anyone who's an Amazon customer. So in that case people could confirm by replying to:

list-peacefire-confirm-481534893-sender=orders=amazon.com&senderip=72.21.203.1@mailserver.com

When the user sent their reply to that address, Hotmail would parse out the "sender=orders=amazon.com" part and the "senderip=72.21.203.1" part, and whitelist future mails from that address that come only from that IP.

I like this idea because it treats everyone equally, regardless of wealth or popularity, as long as they confirm subscriptions to their newsletter (which is regarded as good mailing list hygiene anyway). On the other hand, if you prefer filtering systems that work better for people who are rich and never offend anybody, then you'll be pleased to know that those seem to be winning.

cancel ×

222 comments

To summarize: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826089)

Use Gmail

Re:To summarize: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826195)

To hell with all of them: use fastmail [fastmail.fm] . No bullshit, PERIOD.

Re:To summarize: (1)

memojuez (910304) | about 7 years ago | (#19826263)

Ditto

Re:To summarize: (0, Offtopic)

pitdingo (649676) | about 7 years ago | (#19826419)

Tritto

Re:To summarize: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826507)

I don't want Google to have my emails, they know too much about me already.

Re:To summarize: (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 years ago | (#19827225)

As opposed to MS? Or Yahoo? Or Apple? Or your Gov? Do not get me wrong. I think that Google having this much knowledge about us is worrisome. But, I also note that all the other major players are collecting info on us as well.

Re:To summarize: (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#19827663)

So run your own mail server. If you don't already have a server somewhere, get a dozen or so friends to chip in for the hosting costs. It costs more than free, but completely control the system.

Re:To summarize: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826579)

The problem is that a lot of people happen to use hotmail. I assume that this is because of the popularity of MSN Messenger and the fact that most people get a hotmail account when they sign up for MSN Messenger/Passport. How do you convince all of your target audience to switch to another email provider?

Also, what do you do when Gmail starts doing the same thing? Why wouldn't they?

Re:To summarize: (5, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 7 years ago | (#19826625)

And how long until Gmail does the same thing?

When more and more services are doing it, it becomes "common practice", which becomes "acceptable practice". Google may find someday they want the extra money it would provide.

"Do No Evil" is only as effective as your definition of "evil".

Re:To summarize: (3, Informative)

Com2Kid (142006) | about 7 years ago | (#19826765)

And how long until Gmail does the same thing?


GMail's spam filters are over 99.9% perfect after about a week of training from the user. I still occasionally check my spam folder, heck, yesterday a message was put in Spam that shouldn't have been, the first such occurrence in over a year. Although when I first signed up it happened quite a bit more often.

In comparison, when I last used hotmail (admittedly, quite a few years ago), they let lots of spam through, but regularly blocked emails I wanted to read. Hotmail even blocked emails from Microsoft! Game testing, so yes, I did want to receive those. I would add the sender to my safe senders list each time, but when ever a different email address was used to send out the invitation, oops...

Re:To summarize: (2, Interesting)

Solra Bizna (716281) | about 7 years ago | (#19827231)

Until about a month ago, I was getting ~10 spam emails per day through the filters. All of them the same, obviously spam, subject lines ("RX_MEDS no pr3s needed" etc.) which on the one hand made me wonder how they were getting through but on the other made it easy to deal with them. Now I get one of those a week.

In my entire history at GMail, though, I've gotten one mis-marked legitimate message; and if someone else had been reading my incoming messages he would have thought it was spam too.

-:sigma.SB

Re:To summarize: (2, Interesting)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 7 years ago | (#19827563)

>"yesterday a message was put in Spam that shouldn't have been, the first such occurrence in over a year."

Interesting - I have a couple of gmail accounts and the same thing happened to them - last week, one message that should have been in the inbox. It was particularly strange because one of the messages had a filter on it, to give it both a label AND a star (you would have thought ther'd be a rule saying that nothing with a star or a label should ever go into the spam folder unless the filter tells it to).

It would seem that something strange happened with Gmail's spam filters last week.

Re:To summarize: (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | about 7 years ago | (#19826799)

"Do No Evil" is only as effective as your definition of "evil".

Do no evil is only as effective as your product (users) sees it. If they leave in droves for the next !evil then so will your customers (advertisers in Google's case). It is fairly self limiting.

Now, you may retain enough users to still be profitable with the spam, ala hotmail, but I think the Gmail userbase is a bit less spam accepting.
-nB

Re:To summarize: (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 years ago | (#19827009)

But don't forget to manually type the https:// because gmail defaults to plaintext.

Re:To summarize: (1)

jcluthe (1002390) | about 7 years ago | (#19827293)

No $hit, I have had a hotmail account for at least 8 years, nothin' but spam, spam, spam! gmail (3 years) almost none.

Re:To summarize: (3, Informative)

Kashra (1109287) | about 7 years ago | (#19827323)

The folks who SEND the newsletters don't have the luxury of telling all their subscribers to "use Gmail." They have to deal with the fact that a large percentage of their readership may not use Gmail (for any number of reasons) and the fact that Gmail exists doesn't help them in the least.

Hwo dare they (0, Troll)

ZachMG (1122511) | about 7 years ago | (#19826109)

oh noes, not another way for the corparations to strip of our hard earned cash let me go play WoW till I cool down on the subject a little bit, Welcome to Capitalism and if you dont like it use Gmail.

Re:Hwo dare they (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 years ago | (#19826277)

But GMail has advertisments based on keywords of your email. Thats Evil Capitalism too. Why cant a company just pay millions of dollars to keep a good email service for free with no ways of them making money, just so people can use a non-ISP Email address, so they don't have to tell people that they changed email every couple of years, because I changed ISP, I want to tell people that I have changed Email every couple of years because I decided to move from one email service to an other....

Re:Hwo dare they-POP3 (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#19826493)

Do you still see those adds if you use a POP3 e-mail client such as Outlook/Outlook Express/Thunderbird to receive and handle your e-mails locally?

Re:Hwo dare they-POP3 (2, Informative)

ZachMG (1122511) | about 7 years ago | (#19826631)

When using Apple Mail I have never seen an ad anywhere.

No (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826643)

The ads aren't inserted in the messages, they're part of the Gmail web interface. They're not even overly intrusive, they just hang out in their own ad area and aren't difficult to ignore. So, to answer your question, you won't see the ads if using a local app to handle your mail.

Re:Hwo dare they-POP3 (2, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | about 7 years ago | (#19827527)

Nope. You only see the ads in the web interface.

Re:Hwo dare they (4, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | about 7 years ago | (#19826859)

Yes they do, but the big difference as I see it is that they are up-front about it.
Google: We give you free e-mail, with spam filtering in exchange for advertisements on the side bar.
Hotmail: ditto, oh, and we let pay for spam through too, but we didn't say that.

-nB

Re:Hwo dare they (1)

pla (258480) | about 7 years ago | (#19826873)

But GMail has advertisments based on keywords of your email.

Not if you use POP to get your GMail rather than their web interface.



Thats Evil Capitalism too.

Despite the impression you could easily get from reading Slashdot, most of us don't actually dislike capitalism (though some of us might not realize as much). In reality, a closer reading of the more well-written Slashrants on the subject reveals that most of us actually object to corporate protectionism and profit-before-humans laws in general.

Hey, I have a good job, my boss lets me read Slashdot, I make enough to afford plenty of toys. I can thank capitalism in general for most of that (as opposed to communism, where I honestly don't even see the point of getting up every morning to go to work). I can't, however, overlook the fact that we have people punished with paying basically their life's savings for sharing music, while companies like the former Union Carbide can kill people and walk away with a slap on the wrist; You or I risk imprisonment for letting a website know it has a security flaw, while Sony distributes rootkits and only basically had to say "oops, sorry, our bad"; We get stiffer sentences for dosing ourselves with THC than Merck gets for falsifying clinical trial data on COX2 inhibitors leading to numerous premature deaths.



Why cant a company just pay millions of dollars to keep a good email service for free

If you think they don't get anything out of "giving" us all those "free" email accounts, I have a bridge for sale...

As the most obvious, they get massive amounts of personal information about us - Even if you give completely fake info to sign up, they can reconstruct a given user's social network better than that user can. And although GMail lets you use POP, as you mention, they do indeed show targetted ads to the webmail-using majority of their viewers. And don't discount "brand loyalty" through laziness. Already at MSN, as your default IE homepage? Well, may as well use Microsoft's search, and get a free Live account.

Re:Hwo dare they (1)

Xybre (527810) | about 7 years ago | (#19827189)

I'm not certain but the "Evil Capitalism" might have been sarcasm.

In any case, I agree with your statements more than not. Corporations face much weaker punishments than individuals do, at least in this country.

Google doesn't really hide the fact that it aggregates your data. It makes money off of the statistics your emails contributes to the whole, it all feeds back into their advertising, it's how they built their fortune as a company (advertising, not email).

Re:Hwo dare they (1)

ls -la (937805) | about 7 years ago | (#19827573)

But GMail has advertisments based on keywords of your email.
Use PoP3. All the mail, no ads.

Re:Hwo dare they (1)

Xybre (527810) | about 7 years ago | (#19826355)

Did you even read the first paragraph of the article?

It's not about YOU using it, SOMEONE uses it, maybe they have their account there from before they knew better, or maybe they do it just to piss you off, whatever the cause, if you're sending out a newsletter, or a payment receipt, or responding to a craigslist ad, or use a mialing list, or whatever you're doing, and you're on the "spam" list, your email might never see your customer/client/whatever. If you don't make money online, or if you don't do anything that involves mass mailings, then maybe it doesn't affect you directly, but the precedent is still there. Rights, even customer rights, aren't just about YOU, they're about everybody.

*steps off the soapbox*

Who gives a $hit about hotmail, really ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826685)

Perceived value of email address:

  1. A "real paid domain" - such as your own domain
  2. Free email addresses

Perceived value of free email addresses:

  1. anyone@fuckmicrosoft.com
  2. anyone@gmail.com
  3. ... [a whole bunch more] ...
  4. anyone@yahoo.com
  5. anyone@aol.com
  6. anyone@hotmail.com
The order of the last 2 is debatable - they both reflect extremely negatively on the user. Would YOU bother with a resume for, say, a computer programmer, sent from a hotmail account?

Re:Who gives a $hit about hotmail, really ... (2, Insightful)

Xybre (527810) | about 7 years ago | (#19826923)

Your comments are highly subjective. Not everyone respects Google/Gmail (I do, though I don't post my Gmail accounts in public forums). Additionally, you only get an AOL email address with an AOL account which, ostensibly, you pay for, it's not free to sign up. Though if it were, for just an email address, I would still rank it below Hotmail. You do however get a free AIM email account, if I remember correctly.

Again, as I said, people have reasons for keeping around Hotmail and Yahoo accounts. Could be business reasons, maybe they're good for site registrations that require a live email address (what I do), there's many reasons, and a blanket statement for an issue clearly affecting people does nothing to solve the problem.

In response to your hypothetical, yes, I'd at least look at the resume, a legacy email account is not a reason to disqualify a perfectly suitable candidate, unless they also code .NET.

Wel im not paying anything to extortion (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#19826111)

When a client complains that his/her site gets suspended due to his/her non receipt of invoice notifier/renewal email in his/her hotmail/dugamail/omegamail/anymail account due to these companies' "policies", i explain the situation in detail and advise them to acquire a more usable and reliable email account from elsewhere.

hotmail lost many users due to that over 4 years.

Re:Wel im not paying anything to extortion (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826871)

The fact that the email is not being sent is the sender's fault. This article is not true. I contacted Hotmail about my email being blocked. They were professional and gave me a list of things that I needed to do in order to resolve the issue. For email to get to Hotmail users, the sender must following the rules of the Sender ID Framework, which involves changing some DNS settings. More information about that can be found here:
http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/safety/technologie s/senderid/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

Senders are not required in any way to purchase a certificate from this third party company mentioned in the article.

Don't blame Hotmail: There's a better solution (2, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | about 7 years ago | (#19827479)

RSS: Because everyone hates spammy "newsletters" that have a veneer of content and a morass of advertising. A feed is the correct way for a site owner to communicate with users.

You... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826143)

... talk too much.

Careful There (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826145)

"After reading all of your emails you have sent me," he continued, "it seems that you aren't really trying to find a solution to anything. You are mainly interested in pointing out flaws in programs and letting me know about how people don't like you." Actually I don't think I have enough enemies to cause me serious problems, but I'm working on it! I aspire someday to reach the level of notoriety achieved by groups like MoveOn.org, who does have enough enemies that if systems like Hotmail's were widely deployed, MoveOn would have to worry about militants falsely reporting their mails as spam in order to cost them money and/or get them blacklisted. That's the other basic problem with certification systems: they don't just favor the wealthy, they also favor the non-controversial. Do we really want an Internet where everyone has to be careful about who they offend, because anyone could get them listed as a spammer? I mean, that would be like having a free online encyclopedia where anyone could edit your bio and say that you killed someone!
Best be careful, Mr. Haselton--lest we find that your Wikipedia bio [wikipedia.org] be altered by a one Anonymous Coward. How would you like to go down in history as the real assassin of John F. Kennedy Jr.?!

I do have that power! Muahahahahahhahahaha!

Re:Careful There (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826247)

Done.

Marked as Spam, eh? (3, Funny)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#19826149)

Well shit, If your newsletter reads anything like your post, I'd mark that as spam too, champ.

Hmmm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826153)

I didn't think anyone who used hotmail would be capable of writing so many words.

Could be workable, if... (4, Interesting)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | about 7 years ago | (#19826205)

A "tax" of this kind could be a way around spam, but the Hotmail/Goodmail way has one fatal flaw: it's used as a profit center for the mail carrier. If the tax went to recipients of the spam, who are after all the real victims here, there could be an argument for initiating it. As it stands though, this is just another service-provider scam, a kind of subset of the hierarchical Internet.

Re:Could be workable, if... (2, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | about 7 years ago | (#19826431)

Any pay-for-email scheme will be abused by the con artists currently profiting on spam. If the recipient gets the money, then all of those bots will start sending mail to 'victims'. If the ISP gets the money, then they will set up fake ISPs to collect email tax. Pay-for-email is a stupid idea.

Re:Could be workable, if... (1, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | about 7 years ago | (#19826553)

it's used as a profit center for the mail carrier. If the tax went to recipients of the spam, who are after all the real victims here
You have an interesting definition of "victim". Someone who uses Hotmail for their mail spends nothing to use that service. When they receive a given spam, it takes a minuscule amount of their time to delete it, assuming it gets past the spam filters. Microsoft, on the other hand, spends (thousands|millions) of dollars per (month|year) to provide this service, and processes (millions|billions) of emails per (day|month). With millions of subscribers, a single spam that goes to a sizable portion of that list will take up some real resources, resources the company could better use either for their own uses or that of their customers (I suppose this would in effect make the customers victims, too, but on a much smaller level as individuals).

That said, charging people to get around the spam filters is going to do nothing but infuriate their subscribers who will eventually leave for other services. In the long run, they're not really going to gain anything, at least not compared to how much they stand to lose. Just another example of a corporation seeking some short term gain and ignoring the long term peril they place themselves in.

Unfortunately, I don't have a useful suggestion for people who send out legitimate email and get caught up in this mess.

Re:Could be workable, if... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#19826613)

You have an interesting definition of "victim". Someone who uses Hotmail for their mail spends nothing to use that service.

your time is not worth anything, it seems (?) but mine sure is.

my 'eyeballs' is what pays for any free service. there are very few TRUE free services.

just because cash isn't blatantly changing hands in front of you does NOT mean that you are getting something for nothing.

Re:Could be workable, if... (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 7 years ago | (#19826619)

The people who simply get the spam in their inbox are certainly not the "real victims here", as you said. The actual victims are the people, corporations, and/or non-profits that supply the mails servers and IT personnel around the world. A tremendous amount of their resources are used to manage all this meaningless spam.

For the end user, massive spam is a pain, and could potentially take a measurable amount of time to delete and filter. For the organizations that provide the email to the end user, spam is a direct deficit to their bottom lines. And not all of them are mega-billion-dollar corporations. I work for a non-profit in Washington State than maintains several hundred servers for schools statewide. We have a dedicated FTE who does little else other than manage all the filtering, whitelisting, blacklisting, and mail server configuration & maintenance required to keep the spam under control. That's $50K a year plus benefits - just due to spam.

Re:Could be workable, if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826717)

I'll do it for 35k, remotely and with a smile. vaconex@gmail.com

Re:Could be workable, if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826637)

Even if the "tax" goes to the spam recipients, it doesn't stop me from signing up for the mailing lists of my political enemies and then filing false claims of spam to deplete their budgets.

Re:Could be workable, if... (2, Informative)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | about 7 years ago | (#19826687)

I don't see how a "tax" like this could ever actually work as a way around spam.

Charging advertizers to get email through doesn't block any spam. Spam blockers use algorythms, etc to attempt to find and block spam, but when they fail the mail gets to the inbox without having to pay money. I do get this kind of spam in my Hotmail account. The advertizers who pay are merely guaranteed to get to the inbox. The payment does nothing to keep spammers out of inboxes.

If all email was taxed, then all people who don't pay could either be blocked altogether or relegated to the questionable mail box. If blocked, there would still be troubles--first, it would immediately fail because email should be free and everyone agrees with this. Second, some spammers would just pay. If non-paid mail was sent to the questionable mail box, everyone would be checking that box all the time because of the emails they get from real people who don't pay (and opening more spam than ever this way).

In conclusion--no email "tax" to advertizers or to all emailers would work to cut down spam.

Easy Answer: (3, Informative)

jshriverWVU (810740) | about 7 years ago | (#19826215)

Are we being too hard on Goodmail for their plans to charge senders a quarter-penny per message to bypass companies' spam filters?

No. Personally I think it's fraud, since you're telling and selling the customer one thing, then allowing people to bypass their own securty for a profit at the expense of it's end users.

Re:Easy Answer: (1)

Chikenistheman (992447) | about 7 years ago | (#19827107)

No one seems to understand that the idea behind spam is to keep costs low (free) and make as much money to turn the best profit. So even if they make 100$ and spent nothing they turn profit. If someone has to shell out 1400$ in order to push their medication spam they won't make any money. 1400$ seems like a reasonable price to weed out potential spammers. I used to work for a company that would send out a newsletter every month to anyone who put an email address in our site, whether you liked it or not. Sure we had an opt-out policy but we would definitely make more than 1400$ by sending out 100,000 legitimate business-related email. So for those who think a spammer would gladly pay 1400$ for easy access to all that is hotmail i just don't see it that way.

Re:Easy Answer: (2, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | about 7 years ago | (#19827351)

It's not so much that a real spammer will have to pay, as much as the fact it gives them a control over your email that you don't have. Since you are the end user you should be able to define what is and isn't spam. Giving them control makes you powerless. What if you're LUG suddenly is blacklisted and you can't receive emails, and they refuse to remove them from the blacklist unless the LUG pays them the money?

Frankly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826259)

Well, frankly, it seems that a lot of Bennett Haselton's writings are spam.

Fascinating (5, Funny)

thetroll123 (744259) | about 7 years ago | (#19826269)

"I find your ideas fascinating, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter"

I KNEW IT!!! (1)

mastropiero (258677) | about 7 years ago | (#19826291)

All those chain letters I sent to avoid making hotmail a paid service and so many people dismissed them, they even regarded it as a hoax! I am so dissapointed....

The real irony here is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826321)

I've got two accounts- @hotmail and an @msn- though they're the same thing, really. The most spam I get is from Microsoft itself, extolling the virtues of this or that or pushing me to upgrade ("supersize!") my Hotmail. No matter how many times I flag them as spam, they just keep coming...

  Yeah, I've switched to Gmail. I'd personally rather hear about v1@gra and supersizing my member than how wonderful the new MSN Hotmail can be, if I'd just sign up...

Re:The real irony here is... (1)

boris111 (837756) | about 7 years ago | (#19826721)

Why can't spam filters filter out every permutation of v1@gra, or viagra. I'm surprised what still gets through sometimes.

Re:The real irony here is... (1)

TheReaperD (937405) | about 7 years ago | (#19827409)

The answer to this is simple... computers are stupid. In order to block every variation of viagra, the creator of the filter has to type in (viagra|v1@gra|vi@gra|\/1@gra|etc|etc|.......) and on and on. There are some shortcuts to make it slightly simpler but, they can't use them to much before it starts marking Virginia as spam. The problem is, spammers read this list and go "Oh, they missed \/.1@gra so, we'll use this. So, the messages get through until the creator of the filter adds that version. Then the spammer reads the new filter, finds another that they missed and change their spam to get through. Repeat until end of time.

The only thing I can see as a solution to this, is for the Internet to change to where every computer has a unique ID that is tied to the hardware and that this is hard wired to sending email. That way, when a computer starts sending spam, it can be blacklisted. If it is the actual spammer, their blacklisted until they buy a new network card, at minimum. The reason that spammers are successful is it's currently so cheap to send spam. If they start having to buy new hardware every day they want to spam, the cost goes up significantly. If it's an infected botnet computer, they remain blacklisted until they confirm their computer has been cleaned of the viruses.

Re:The real irony here is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827699)

They can, by way of header checks and body checks. However this can be a huge strain on mail servers since each and every word of each and every email would have to be checked.

Net Neutrality has just left the building... (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 7 years ago | (#19826325)

and was found slumped dead over a toilet.

Re:Net Neutrality has just left the building... (1)

tvachon (1126729) | about 7 years ago | (#19827191)

More at 11...

Welcome back, it seems that it was found dead snorting a mixture of cocaine and ground up salt off a dead Asian hookers ass. Some theorize that it contracted a severe case of bird flu and died on the spot.

yahoo email (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826339)

thats why everyone uses yahoo mail. Interface is better than gmail and it blocks spam well.

And yahoo are working on REAL anti-spam solutions like domain-keys

well thank God for choices.... (1)

Brigadier (12956) | about 7 years ago | (#19826367)



I've used hotmail and yahoo since college at least 8 years. In the last year or so I've switched to gmail. Funny for the very reason mentioned (spam) I never use yahoo, nor hotmail for personal mail because there spam filter is iffy at best, not to mention the fact that they produce there own spam in an attempted to advertise their products. So they can choose to propagate spam but where is it going to get them.

Change over to GMail (4, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#19826437)

I suggest your encourage your subscribers to change over to GMail. I made the change after two of my ISP's (AT&T and Comcast) refused to forward e-mail to me from my own domain. I couldn't even whitelist myself, because they'd blacklisted all of NameZero.

Google, OTOH, deliverers everything, and does a 99%+ accurate job of putting spam in the spam folder, and e-mail in my inbox. Once I was able to accurately see all my e-mail, I was able to kill a very old address that wasn't part of my personal domain, but forwarded through it, that was generating up to 500 spam messages a day. I wasn't aware how bad it had gotten due to the first named ISPs hiding the problem, rather than showing me what all my e-mail looked like. Fond as I was of this address, when it becomes this kind of problem, even good memories of my first e-mail and early Internet days has to go. Google makes this possible, all this for free!

All things considered, I'm sure Google would love to take away all of Hotmail's customers, and they'll do it by providing better service at an equal or better price.

Re:Change over to GMail (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 7 years ago | (#19826663)

I suggest your encourage your subscribers to change over to GMail.

Yeah. That can be the first topic of his next newsletter. It'll be useful advice to people whose ISPs are blocking it.

Re:Change over to GMail (4, Interesting)

griffjon (14945) | about 7 years ago | (#19827315)

And there's also the forcibly-change-over-to-gmail option - we had some important aolusers (board members) at a previous job; they never got important board listserv emails or massmails or such, they refused to leave AOL and we couldn't afford any of the solutions to get around the AOL blocking.

So I created individual gmail accounts for all the aolusers which we sent to, and set the gmail accounts to auto forward to their AOL accounts. Problem solved.

Learn from the pros (5, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 years ago | (#19826539)

You just have to learn from the spam pros and randomize your newsletters to make them look legitimate.

Re:Learn from the pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826739)

I always thought the spam pros call their messages newletters. I can't believe the number of legit companies (3M, Office Depot, Walgreens, etc) who hire spammers to send "newletters" when I never agreed to it. The spammers are paid by message, so they benifit from making it hard to get off the list. I've even called 3M and spoken to someone and I still get spam (aka a "newsletter") from them. The funniest part is the spam is from a rebate they put used to get filters with false information on them out of the stores as fast as possible.

Bennett? (1, Informative)

michrech (468134) | about 7 years ago | (#19826575)

He's still around? Seems this time he's being a whiny little crybaby that a company that provides a service for "free" to customers is allowing spammers to send mail to their accounts so long as said spammers pay for the privilege. Boo fucking Hoo. Other than looking at some ads, the service isn't costing you anything at all. If you don't like the ads, or don't like the company behind the service allowing spammers to pay (which helps pay for the infrastructure) to bypass the spam filters, then don't use the damned services.

It really isn't that hard to comprehend. You are not entitled to free email service. You'll use what is available, roll your own, or fucking deal with it. Whining about it will not solve your problem.

Did you miss the point? (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#19826819)

why, yes, I think you did.

Let us say you have a business, and as part of that business, you send emails to your customers that sign up for it. Not spam, this is information your customers want from you.

Some of your customers use hotmail. Not hotmail wants to charge YOU 1400 dollars to get through there system. That's a problem. It's extortion, it's being a bad internet neighbor, and it breaks the basic premise of email;which may be ok, If when someone signs up for the free email gets clear notification that someone might have to pay 1400 dollars to get an email to them.

They no it's wrong and thats why they try to hide this information from everybody but the person the want to extort.

Re:Did you miss the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827241)

Why should Hotmail be forced to foot the bill for his advertisements? All Hotmail is doing is forcing the mailer to pay for the resources they have to waste in order to support his newsletter. (OK, so $1400 flat-rate is just a hair unreasonable, I can't argue against that. So if it helps, pretend I'm arguing in support of Goodmail, and not Hotmail's unreasonable extortion.)

If you want to run a mailing list like that, try using RSS. Now that Internet Explorer natively supports RSS feeds, there are no more excuses for not using RSS for newsletters.

Of course, when using RSS, the fees for managing the infrastructure move off the email provider and squarely onto the organization providing the newsletter, which is a very good thing. Foot your own bill. Plus, RSS makes it very easy for users to unsubscribe. No hoops to jump through, no passwords, just delete the RSS feed from the feedreader, and you're all set.

RSS is now widely supported. If you want to send a newsletter that's guaranteed to make it through spam filters, use RSS.

Re:Did you miss the point? (1)

michrech (468134) | about 7 years ago | (#19827275)

No, I think YOU (and the jackass that modded my original post as flamebait) missed the point. You are using someone ELSES system, at no cost to you. You have aggreed to their terms of service in order to do so. That you didn't read the TOS, to see if there WAS a possibility of missing emails because a company you wish to receive emails from is being blocked for not paying a fee to the provider, is not relevant to this issue. It's your fault, not the company you are getting FREE service from. It is their network, their computers, and their software. They can damn-well do whatever they want with it. If enough people leave the service because of the actions OF the service, the service will either change or go away. It really is that simple.

As I said in my previous post, the company that is providing you with FREE email (for which you had to agree to a TOS) is in NO WAY required to actually make sure every piece of email gets to you. If you want that kind of service, get it in writing (or roll your own fucking email service).

I really am ashamed to see how the current generation is thinking more and more that they just DESERVE whatever they want, and expect it to be handed to them for free.

I very much believe the old saying, "You get what you pay for" really applies here.

why, yes, I think you did.

Let us say you have a business, and as part of that business, you send emails to your customers that sign up for it. Not spam, this is information your customers want from you.

Some of your customers use hotmail. Not hotmail wants to charge YOU 1400 dollars to get through there system. That's a problem. It's extortion, it's being a bad internet neighbor, and it breaks the basic premise of email;which may be ok, If when someone signs up for the free email gets clear notification that someone might have to pay 1400 dollars to get an email to them.

They no it's wrong and thats why they try to hide this information from everybody but the person the want to extort.

Re:Did you miss the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827633)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty_of_m erchantability [wikipedia.org]

It's advertised as an e-mail service. It is indeed reasonable to assume that an e-mail service delivers e-mails. Why you would cuss people out for thinking that an e-mail service should deliver e-mails, I can't imagine.

Re:Did you miss the point? (1)

Baba Ram Dass (1033456) | about 7 years ago | (#19827745)

Let us say you have a business, and as part of that business, you send emails to your customers that sign up for it. Not spam, this is information your customers want from you.
If I have any sense, I'll tell Hotmail to go fuck themselves and politely tell my customers their free e-mail service does not accept our e-mails and that they should complain or find a new provider.

It's amusing how often people forget there is still such a thing as choice, even when it comes to free services.

speaking of Republicans and fees.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826591)

"If the Republican National Committee can get their mail out and MoveOn.org can't, then that could influence elections..."

Speaking of the Republicans and fees... they wanted ME to pay them a fee earlier this year. They apparently bought a phone list that had me (incorrectly) listed as a business owner. I received a message from Tom Cole and the Republican National Congressional Committee telling me that I'd won their National Leadership Award. How exciting! Obviously they'd recognized my great leadership in... uhm... having disposable income.

I called them back and they gave me a long spiel and what it all came down to was that they'd give me some fancy things to show off that I'd won this award (they'd really impress my employees, they said -- WHAT EMPLOYEES?!?!) and all they wanted in exchange was... something like $200. As soon as I said I didn't want to make a donation today they hung up so fast you couldn't believe it.

Lately I've been getting messages about being on the RNCC's Business Advisory Board. They say I could meet the President... although their messages don't mention the price...

This again? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826593)

  1. Bonded mail isn't just a Hotmail idea as you appear to paint it, AOL (for example) use it too, yet you're content to simply use this as an excuse to lambaste Microsoft.
  2. You complain that SpamCop allows false reports; this may well be true, but you don't tell us how many reports are needed. Nor why your email may be reported; what are you doing to make subscribers complain, or make them assume the mail is spam.
  3. Your assertion that if you switch to RSS then Microsoft will block your RSS feed is utter nonsense. How exactly is this going to work? Some hook into the TCP-IP stack? Does Microsoft control the RSS reader? Even the one built into IE doesn't work like this.
  4. Is it legal to block email marked as spam until you pay? You know the answer to this. Their servers their rules. Adding a whitelist into the mix changes nothing and that mode of "attack" sounds like the old "free speech" argument employed by rather a lot of spammers.
  5. Mislabelling your mail is libel? So are you going to sue spam assassin as well? Your nonsense of reporting someone as a felon again seems like the escalation in arguments that spammers use. Marking someone as a felon has real world consequences, marking a mail as spam doesn't. You're attempting to compare someone thing me saying "Bennett Haselton wets his bed" with "Bennett Haselton molests small children".

You've had problems with Hotmail [dotcomeon.com] and MAPS [slashdot.org] before when you hosted in the same IP range as spammers. You had been offered solutions before (moving IP) but didn't want to. You've sued spammers [peacefire.org] and have been promoting your anti-spam idea & thoughts for years, but never bothered to implement them.

So frankly this comes off as sour grapes again on your part. The idea that you have some god given right to use space on hotmails (or anyone else's) servers, without ever addressing what causes reporters to think your mail is spam in the first place.

Re:This again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827589)

1) AOL is mentioned in the same context as Hotmail, RTFA.

2) $1400 bond, $20 per complaint, 70 complaints means you need to pay a new bond, DTFM.

3) Their site is for mailing out circumventing domains. Make an RSS, and programs like Websense just block the source, RTFA.

4) Not much to say on this one, as you are right. The idea, however, is labeling spam and newsletters as "SPAM" unless you pay, at which point spammers and newsletter writers have equal opportunity to bypass the filter.

no free lunch (1)

grumpyman (849537) | about 7 years ago | (#19826645)

Other 'free' mailing services doesn't have a 'price tag' does not mean they'll do it for free.

When I first read the name "Goodmail" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826657)

It was in this article: What Happens If You Don't Pay for Goodmail? [slashdot.org] . At the time, I thought that "Goodmail" was a jab by the article writer, alluding to the Orwellian Good- formation.

Anyone else first think that Goodmail is just an ironic jab? (Since it's an extortion scheme?)

Anyway, the article [yahoo.com] is down - anyone have a mirror?

Re:When I first read the name "Goodmail" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826853)

sorry, I forgot to add that the typical example of the Good- formation is Goodthink. [wikipedia.org]

Here's a List of newspeak words. [wikipedia.org]

Attention! Let's all work together to get Goodmail added! :-)

I kind of agree (3, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 7 years ago | (#19826757)

That hotmail and goodmail should not be charging people to unblock spam.

Instead they should simply refuse to unblock spam, period.

Yes, that means that newsletters like this would not get through.

I have a Phone at home. If some insane lunatic started up the idea of calling all his friends having them call all of their friends, as a means of sending out important news, I would laugh at him.

I also laugh at anyone, even this 'nice' newsletter that actually thinks EMAIL is an apropriate means of obtaining this information.

RSS is one way to go.

ANOTHER way to go is messageboard style.

There are still more ways to send out information. You can take an applet that you give to your subscribers that does something similar to hat phone idea does. While it does not work on a phone, it would work on the internet.

But the IMMENSE problem of spam pretty much means that NO, NEWSLETTERS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE FOR EMAIL.

Find another solution, the one you are trying is causing huge problems for the interent. It is NOT our job to help you perpetuate a BAD idea, no matter how much your personal non-profit benefits from the bad idea.

Re:I kind of agree (1)

smokestacker (1123113) | about 7 years ago | (#19827123)

"NO, NEWSLETTERS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE FOR EMAIL." In that case, junk mail isn't appropriate for snail mail. Tell all those companies to stop sending me pamphlets. Seriously, I like my email newsletter.

Strongly disagree: message boards/RSS not the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827609)

I have a Phone at home. If some insane lunatic started up the idea of calling all his friends having them call all of their friends, as a means of sending out important news, I would laugh at him.
Yes, and that's chain mail. Not a malling list. A slightly better equivalent would be a conference call.

I also laugh at anyone, even this 'nice' newsletter that actually thinks EMAIL is an apropriate means of obtaining this information. RSS is one way to go.
No! not in the least! RSS is a way of disseminating headlines. And even at that, its not very reliable: if you're not polling the feed when a buletin comes out, it's far from impossible that you won't see it, due to new headlines wiping it out of the feed.

Also, as far as bandwidth utilization is concerned, due to the fact that it's a pull technology, not push based, a feed with few updates will consume more bandwidth then ending the whole information. 1.5K "anything new" request (low end estimate) x 96 checks per day (every 15 minutes) x 7 days = ~1MB/person. That's a fairly large e-mail's worth of overhead.

ANOTHER way to go is messageboard style.

No, no it isn't. Maybe message boards work for you, but I can tell you this from 7+ years of experience (both in payed and volunteer groups). Message boards don't work to spread information. As a brief proof, why do most BB apps allow you to get e-mail notification when you receive a PM or a reply to your post?
Yes, a select few will use them and find them a very good source. They will also be very vocal on the board and, if you're one of them, you will most likely believe that you're representative of the entire population interested in a topic. However, this, in fact, represents a VERY small percentage of your potential audience.

As a small means of illustrating this. In one of the volunteer organizations I help in, we provide a mailing list to remind people of events. We regularly get requests from people to, instead, call them to remind them of the event. Yes, requests to phone them up!

There are still more ways to send out information. You can take an applet that you give to your subscribers that does something similar to hat phone idea does. While it does not work on a phone, it would work on the internet.

There are so many wrong things with this statement. First, please, no more bloat to install on systems! Why should I dedicate several hundred KB of RAM, as well as some screen realestate for something I only rarely read? What happens if I'm on 100+ "ML"s all with very low traffic? What happens if I'm subscribed but I want to filters the content I don't care for. Does your app support that? What happens when virus scanners start marking your app as a virus/spam-ware? You just end up right where you started.


But the IMMENSE problem of spam pretty much means that NO, NEWSLETTERS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE FOR EMAIL.
By your logic, due to the immense problem of spam, e-mail isn't appropriate for e-mail.

Solve the problem: spam. Don't start creating half baked replacements for e-mail: the plethora of standards are creating problems. You're just fractioning the information. Optimally one should be able to go to one single place to get all the information needed. Currently, and for the foreseeable future, that will be the e-mail reader. Not some website. Not some app.

Follow the Money (5, Interesting)

Crispin Cowan (20238) | about 7 years ago | (#19826771)

A core principle in figuring out any kind of shady shenanigans is to follow the money. The problem with Goodmail, and with Microsoft's pay-to-play fee, is that the money is being paid to the wrong party. Paying the fee to the mailbox-hosting ISP cannot help but create a corrupting conflict of interest, making this a bribe. Nasty spam will be allowed through if the vendor has the $$$ to pay, and legitimate bulk mail that people have opted into will be blocked, if the news letter is not coming from a moneyed source.

Instead, consider a P2P scheme where the postage is paid directly from the sender to the receiver, where the receiver themselves can white-list a sender as not having to pay. It would produce these kinds of effects:

  • For most personal onesey twosey mail, sending volume approximately equals receiving volume, so the postage payment is mostly a wash, with chatty people paying quiet people a modest amount on average.
  • For opt-in news letters and mailing lists, the receiver would be expected to white-list the source, e.g. I would white-list my subscription to Bugtraq [wikipedia.org] .
  • Spammers and "legitimate" bulk mail advertisers alike would have to pay in proportion to the volume of mail they get delivered (non-delivered mail doesn't pay the postage).

There's a bunch of interesting things that can be done with this model:

  • Postage is just an offer to pay, which only causes actual payment if the receiver redeems the postage.
  • Postage can be nothing more than a GPG certificate attached to the mail, validated by the receiver's MTA or MUA.
  • Receivers can dial the amount of postage they require to accept an e-mail. They could set it to a static value, e.g. "at least 2 cents or I'm not interested", or they could even use SpamAssassin to dynamically set the postage, e.g. "at least 10 cents * the spamass score" so that highly spammy mail requires much more postage than plaintext free of spam phrases.
  • Gold miners can set up spam trap mail addresses that do nothing but accept postage and throw the mail away. This is abusive to spammers who are paying to have their mail delivered. Cry me a river :-)

Re:Follow the Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827465)

Last but not least:
  • Owners of compromised computers routinely get massive bills for all the spam sent through their accounts. The spammers don't pay a dime.
On the one hand, this provides a strong incentive for people to take computer security seriously. On the other hand, it hardly seems fair, practical, or legal to set up this kind of P2P-charging system (e.g. people who never agreed to be part of the system could get bills).

Not an unreasonable suggestion (1)

Craig Ringer (302899) | about 7 years ago | (#19826789)

Regarding mailing list subscriptions, that's not an entirely unreasonable suggestion, though it's really not much more than auto-whitelisting. However, you'd need to address the:


From: "Sexy Chick" <confirm-12312312-from=mailouts=sending.domain.com @sending.domain.com>

Reply for an exciting photo!


issue. People are stupid. Enough spammers are not stupid that they will trick stupid people. People will demand to be protected from their stupidity, and the filters will go back in.

The ability to examine your mailer whitelist and remove things from it would help, mostly because this can be made as easy as clicking the "Junk" button. With a little agreement an un-whitelisting could even generate an automatic unsubscribe.

To actually be useful, such a scheme would have to be combined with a sender verification system like SPF or DomainKeys. Lack of any sending server verification is basically a waste of time (spammers will just start mailbombing with mailing list sender addresses) and IP-based verification is way too inflexible.

Your biggest problem is that it's basically limited to being useful for mailing lists and perhaps regular correspondants. It also doesn't address ensuring that the confirmation message gets there in the first place (good luck figuring out how to do that!). Its limited scope means it's probably harder to get people to implement it, especially when they won't be making $1400 a pop for sender "approval" anymore.

SPF and IP address spoofing (1)

benhocking (724439) | about 7 years ago | (#19827073)

As you mention, SPF [wikipedia.org] , DomainKeys [wikipedia.org] , or a similar scheme is the only way to verify header information. The "article" seems to not realize that IP addresses can be spoofed just as easily as e-mail addresses.

Re:SPF and IP address spoofing (1)

Craig Ringer (302899) | about 7 years ago | (#19827505)

That's not true. IP addresses are way harder to spoof, not least because a well run upstream network will (mostly) prevent you from doing it though source IP filters etc.

This is not to say that IP addresses are, in absolute terms, hard to spoof. However, From: email addresses are so hilariously easy to spoof that all you need is a telnet client or a scripting language with any sort of mail or socket support.

True (1)

benhocking (724439) | about 7 years ago | (#19827715)

I've actually spoofed a "from" header myself. :) However, I assume that there are easily accessible systems that allow you to easily spoof the original IP address. All your PC has to do (in theory, I've never tried it) is pretend like it's passing along an e-mail from the IP address you want to spoof. That does mean your IP address will show up in the stream, but it will still look like the "sender" IP address is the one you want it to look like.

I (perhaps obviously) know nothing about "source IP filters". Do they somehow detect that it makes no sense for IP xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx to be forwarding e-mail from IP yyy.yyy.yyy.yyy?

speaking of spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19826803)

If this goes to $1 then we'll be rich!!! http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SPZI.PK [yahoo.com]

Sounds like a good idea to me. (0, Troll)

Charcharodon (611187) | about 7 years ago | (#19826935)

First off both Goodmail and Hotmail are garbage, period end of story. If you are still using them as email service you are a fucking idiot.

Second I think I'm in the majority here, but who the fuck wants newsletters? I consider them to be spam just like the crap I'm not interested in. I don't mind clicking on a shortcuts, links, or typing in an address especially if it means that I can have an empty email box. Quit being lazy and just update your webpage.

I say more power to them if they are wanting $1400 out of your ass, or better yet give me the option of setting the price that gets paypalled directly to me every time someone sends me some garbage. I'd make $10-15 a day just off the sites I do frequent.

About the auto-mated whitelisting idea... (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | about 7 years ago | (#19826947)

About the idea of whitelisting based on subscribing through an email reply or what not (and forgetting about at times when the user confirms via a URL link) instead of restricting to a specific email server like so:
"list-peacefire-confirm-481534893-sender=orders=am azon.com&senderip=72.21.203.1@mailserver.com"

Why not leave it at your original format of:
"list-peacefire-confirm-481534893-sender=bennett=p eacefire.org@mailserver.com"

And have the receiving email service/network verify where the emails are coming from using SPF and/or similar ideas instead of specificially restricting to an IP address. Because after all we aren't guaranteed IP addresses for life. :)

How is this in any way like goodmail? (1)

seebs (15766) | about 7 years ago | (#19827111)

Hotmail's blocking people who don't pay. No one's proposed blocking people who don't use goodmail; they've proposed whitelisting people who do.

Hotmail's deliverability is unreliable even when you're "clean", so I'd just write it off; do not use hotmail for business services, and do not accept hotmail addresses for anything where you need reliable delivery.

They're still using Bonded Spammer? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#19827161)

My experience is that Bonded Spammer is essentially dead. If you have Spam Assassin set to tag Bonded Spammer mail, you'll get items in X-Spam-Status like "RCVD_IN_BSP_TRUSTED". I have Firefox set to dump all those into the Bonded Spammer folder. The last e-mail to come in with that tag was in January 2007. I used to get more Bonded Spammer e-mails back in 2004 and 2005, but in 2006 it tapered off, and now it seems to be gone.

Is anyone else still seeing that junk?

How about my on its last leg.. (1)

ericrost (1049312) | about 7 years ago | (#19827167)

Hotmail acct that gets (in a 30 day period) 1800 messages delivered to the inbox (all spam, the only reason the account is still around is because of being registered at a specific company's external career site that won't change email addy's) and 8 Spam messages filtered....

Seems it doesn't work no matter how you slice it. Also, of those 8 spam messages, one of them is a newsletter I subscribed to that gets through to the inbox ~50% of the time.

Compare that to my double buffered gmail (one acct to give out, one I actually use with the given out accts inbox forwarded to it). I get all the messages I'm looking for, and for the life of the account I have 2 spam messages (life = 6 months so far).

Answer, hotmail/filtering sucks, esp pay to play. Gmail can somehow magically figure out I'm not interested in p3n1s p!llz

hmm.. just my 2 cents.

What is Hotmail? Who uses it and why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19827173)

If you can use Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Hotmail has the worst record of spam filtering as far as I am concerned.

Easiest way of realizing that this kind (1)

goldcd (587052) | about 7 years ago | (#19827321)

of charging is a bad idea, is just to think what would happen if everybody used.
I might run a moderately successful newsletter and I find it's blocked by host x.
So I pay host a $10 (I'll pretend this is cheap).
Now all my users will get their newletter - yay.
Then users on host b report their mail isn't showing up - so I pay out another $10.
Then users on host c etc etc.

Compounding this issue is the more hosts you pay, the more the others will want to be paid etc etc
I assume this would eventually lead to a situation where you'd pay off as many hosts as you can afford (in descending order of popularity/cost) until you could still just make a profit.
New users signing up, would be asked to try to use an email account you'd paid protection on, so you know you'd be able to get your mail to them. This I'd assume would lead to a gradual migration of end users to the provider that had collected the most protection money (and therefore you were more likely to get the majority of your email in).

Funny Figures? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#19827359)

Hardly anyone has mentioned that Microsoft has been doing the same thing for years, only (surprise!) charging more. Hotmail lets senders pay a $1,400 "fee" to help get through their spam filter...
More? Maybe at a single whack it's "more", but let's see how that breaks down in terms of 1/4 penny spam-mails? It's 560,000 spam parcles. Given that most spammers send out MILLIONS, I'd say Hotmail's fee is probably cheaper than Goodmail's 1.4 cent fee. But of course, it's Microsoft, so it's twice as evil anyway.

Correction (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#19827407)

1/4 cent...

SpamCop (3, Insightful)

eaolson (153849) | about 7 years ago | (#19827371)

...complaints were based on SpamCop complaints -- a system known for being set up so that anyone could report anyone as a "spammer" without proof...

This is where I stopped reading. SpamCop requires proof in the form of the spam email itself. What other proof of spamminess could there be?

Obviously, the article is from a spammer (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | about 7 years ago | (#19827455)

Aside from that, I think it is fair to say that email is pretty much something that is useless for any commercial application and pointless for something like a "newsletter". The spam vs. ham ratio has gotten to about 1000 to 1 these days, even if they aren't directly seeing it. And that is part of the problem.

It is assumed to be acceptable for an ISP to block "spam". It is assumed to be OK for anyone to get in the way of mail to a recipient to save them from receiving the torrent of spam that they would otherwise be subjected to. False positives are considered to be something that just happens. None of the agents preventing delivery of mail offer any notification to the user that mail may be waiting for them in the "bulk" or "spam" folder, nor offer any recourse if the mail is simply deleted without delivery.

With that in mind, email is suitable for something for friends and family only. If you are trying to send a receipt to someone for an online purchase, such email is commonly considered to be "commercial" which equates to "spam" in some people's minds. Outlook by default takes anything from sales@abcdef.com and puts it into the deleted items folder, just confirming the view that anything related to "sales" must be spam.

Email is pointless for any commercial use. Companies trying to resurrect email as a viable communications medium are starting to notice this. Sure, pay to send email and some percentage of your customers won't have your email blocked. What percentage? 10%? This means you need to budget tens of thousands of dollars for "email protection" if you are going to go this way.

Face it, email is pointless and unreliable. You will never know if your email is being blocked. You can't tell a complaining customer that never got their receipt that you will "fix" this somehow. It is broken and you need to figure out a different delivery mechanism.

Is there a way to stop spoofing the sender (1)

Sczi (1030288) | about 7 years ago | (#19827565)

It seems to me that if email protocols didn't make it so easy to spoof the sender, there would be a lot less spam. IMHO, legit companies aren't anywhere near as big a pain as the illegit ones who send out emails looking like they from basically anyone except themselves. Easy spoofing just makes it too easy for spammers to cover their tracks.

Use SPF (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | about 7 years ago | (#19827641)

From TFA:
Or, suppose you're Amazon and you send mail to millions of users from orders@amazon.com, but you don't want everyone to have that address whitelisted because then a spammer could use the address "orders@amazon.com" to spam millions of people, hoping it would get through the filter of anyone who's an Amazon customer.

Spammers can't forge a MAIL FROM of "orders@amazon.com" for recipients that check SPF. Decent spam filters let users whitelist emails/domains. With decent anti-forgery like SPF [openspf.org] and DKIM, the problem is solved for the immediate future.

PS. For nitpickers who note that the amazon.com sender policy has a default result of "neutral" instead of "fail", spam filters (like mine) that track reputation of each mailfrom.domain:SPFresult pair independently eventually start rejecting amazon.com:neutral anyway.

I have a better solution I am looking to build (1)

John Sokol (109591) | about 7 years ago | (#19827669)

It's basically related to upload/download ratios.
It assumes any user with a good u/d gets a white listed.
Doesn't matter who they are, or credentials or anything like that and it's much much cheaper. Although Money is the only motivator against spammers. You need to make it unprofitable. So people need to pay you to receive an email! You pay then back with a reply.
Although things like legitimate Mailing lists have a special white list bypass that the receiver must open up.

Initially I am looking to replace some components in Q Mail or build some POP3 relay that deals with this.
I was thinking of putting it on maildr.com or unmailable.com

Anyone want to help?
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