The *Only* Sure Way To Stop Spam (Langa)

March 8, 2008 – 3:07 PM

With the holiday season here, the level of spam is going through the roof. This reader has correctly identified the one and only way to stop spam for good— and it’s not a filter, not legislation, and not anything exotic at all:

“Hi Fred! I hear more and more news about stopping spam; Filters, programs, and legislation. I read about Yahoo’s idea to use message authentication to stop unwanted email. I am concerned that the laws are completely un-enforceable, either due to loopholes or simply the capabilities of the technology. I am worried that additional security / authentication will increase cost and decrease performance. Too much security and authentication will stifle the medium.

IMHO, there is one way guaranteed to stop spam. We need to get the public to STOP BUYING THE CRAP IT ADVERTISES!

Spam is so cheap to send, one paying customer covers the advertiser’s cost for millions of emails. If we could just get everyone to ignore it, and not buy anything from the spammers, it really would go away. As soon as it is not profitable, it will cease to exist.

We need a public service campaign that starts out “Let’s face it, 100% of the stuff offered by spam-mail is utter CRAP. There is no miracle weight loss formula. No herbal remedy is going to make this part longer or that part fuller…”

Advocate that people make a simple personal rule “If it was advertised in an [unasked-for] email, don’t buy it.” Period. Ever. If it really sounds like a product you can’t live without or it’s a great deal, search for it on Yahoo [or Google]. If the maker is actually trying to sell the product, they’ll have a web presence [and you can buy it there, rather than in reply to the spam mail]. Just my 2 cents. Take care!

—Matt Lavigne”

Matt is right. Spam exists because it works, simple as that. Some percentage of people *do* respond to spam offers, and that’s more than enough to keep the spammers in business.

When you get spammail, just delete it. Don’t reply to be “removed” from their list. (It doesn’t work.) Don’t send back a fake “bounce” or “bad address” message. (It only helps spammers make their mailings more cost efficient.) In fact don’t do anything: Just delete the email, preferably unread. That— and only that— ensures that the spammer has just wasted a little money on you.

If enough people do this— if enough people force spammers to waste a little money— then the economics of spam will change, and it will no longer be lucrative. When spammers no longer can make easy money by spamming, they’ll stop and move on to the next scam.

Good spam filters can help you sort the spam for easy deletion. Good legislation can help apply pressure to the spammers where they live. But the ultimate solution to spam is to make it unprofitable.

Do your part to help drive the spammers out of business. Take the pledge: Never, ever, buy *anything* you see spamvertised!

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