Anti-Spam is NOT Anti-Commerce
Another essay by the administration of this site
The spammers have come up with all sorts of terminology to try and justify their practices of flooding out internet email boxes with unwanted unsolicited commercial email(UCE) and unsolicited bulk email(UBE). We have been referred to as communists, net-Nazis and even anti-commerce. All of these terms are false when referring to people who are anti-spam.
Before I address those lovely terms that the spammers have come up with, I'd like to once again address the method of operation that spammers typically use. This is not 100% accurate as it will vary from spam to spam. Spammers tend to forge addresses. An address forgery can range from a fictional domain, to an invalid address on a real domain, or even forging someone's actual email address. The latter of these three are usually referred to as revenge tactics and are generally used by spammers who want revenge against someone who complained about their spam which resulted in the spammer getting booted from their internet service provider(ISP). No matter how it's done, it is lying and unethical. On rare occasions, spammers will use their real email address. This doesn't make the spam anymore ethical, but at least they aren't lying on this point in such circumstances.
Most of the spams I get are in regards to trying to get me to engage in illegal activities. First, not all multi-level marketing(MLM) is illegal. Amway is an MLM. I personally won't participate in an MLM as the whole point of the MLM is to recruit people below you so you can get commission from their work. It's sort of a trickle-up/trickle-down operation: the people at the bottom actually do the work, the money then immediately goes to the top and filters down through the levels resulting in the bottom rung generally getting screwed. The MLM scams I see are actually money making pyramids. Money making pyramids are generally also make money fast(MMF) scams. Make Money Fast scams usually involve promises of big returns by you sending money, usually cash, to a short list of people and in return these people are supposed to send you something. The big one I get a lot of is the MMF of selling MLM/MMF instructions, and then you add yourself to the list and photocopy these instructions and sell those off. Some of these scams include very legal sounding sections saying that these practices are 100% legal under postal regulations, which is 100% false.
Some of the MLM's I get are in fact MLM's. Most of the true MLM spams I get involve a forged address, theft of service, masking of origination, and very vague language. Almost all of them require me to send them money to join their downline, or have a downline built for me. Usually there is no phone number except for a fax, and they seem to accept checks by fax, or credit card payments via fax, but never anyone to talk to, much less even a name of someone to talk to. Often these spams also lack a postal address as well, which is always suspicious in my eyes. If a company is legitimate, I want a name, I want a phone number of that person and I want a mailing address but NOT a PO box. If someone can't provide all of this information, then they are not someone to do business with. Even if they do provide all of this information, you should never do business with a spammer.
I mentioned theft of service in the above paragraph. I must define theft of service. I define theft of service as using a third-party mail server without the owner's permission in order to relay out spam. Most often, these hijacked servers are often overseas servers, commonly in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and many Asian nations with Hong Kong and Singapore being favorable for their lack of enforcement of anything. This practice involves the use of a server that has not disabled relaying from outside the local network. This theft extends to many levels. First, most internet service providers have data circuits to the internet that they pay based on the amount of data that is transferred on those circuits. So, the ISP basically has to pay to RECEIVE this spam, which is usually a very small amount, basically a single email with a huge list of recipients. The larger costs are incurred when the spam is then relayed out, as the ENTIRE spam may be sent out to over 57 million email addresses, which means multiply the BODY of that spam by 57 million and no matter how you look at that, this sort of action is going to cost the victimized ISP a fair amount of money. At the same time, the server is severely bogged down trying to send out all these spams and this slows down or in some cases denies local users from sending and/or receiving email during this time. Because these mailing lists are flawed, the server also must deal with the undeliverables and the refused emails. This takes up valuable disk space that should be available for legitimate users that PAY to use that ISP.
In most cases, spammers at least pay for their dial-up connection, although many spammers look for service providers who offer free trial periods. These trial accounts are considered disposable and are used by spammers to try and spew out one or two spams before getting booted from the provider. In some instances, some of the more technically adept spammers may telnet to other servers and hack their way into remote systems to gain access to those resources and send their spam that way. This tends to make the true point of origination difficult to locate, but not impossible. The technical term for this practice is "electronic breaking and entering" and may or may not be a federal crime or even a felony depending on the nature of the break-in. This is usually the exception as most spammers are not this technical. I am, but I prefer to use my powers for good, not evil.
For the most part, spammers originate their garbage via dial-up accounts so we'll go ahead and assume that this is the normal method of operation. Let's also assume that the ISP they get their local connectivity charges $20 per month for unlimited dial-up access. Again, this is for the sake of argument as my local ISP charges me $25, which I will gladly pay because of their excellent service. In the spammer's eyes, they see $20 allows them to send a few million spams. Hey, that's fairly cost effective advertising, no two ways about it. The spammer sets up shop, and proceeds to spam, hijacking a third-party server to relay out the spam and using forged addresses. Now, the spammer has bypassed the local mail server, but has incurred what would be considered a normal cost on the local ISP's circuit or circuits to the internet. The spammer has really passed the cost onto the third-party server used to relay the spam, and ultimately passing additional costs onto the ISP's of the recipients, and in some cases onto the recipient itself in situation where the recipient pays for time online, long distance and/or for email received and sent. So, for the spammer, their $20 has costs others a cumulative few thousands of dollars. That is some serious cost shifting, but cost shifting alone isn't just the issue. Let's assume that the spammer can not locate a server to hijack. In such instances, the local server is a prime target as it will NOT be secured from inside attacks because the server is intended to be used by the customers of that ISP. Now the cost of relaying is on the local ISP. Please see above where I talked about theft of service and relaying.
Spammers claim that spamming is quite expensive, telling us how they spent all these hundreds of dollars on spamming software, and all this other money on mailing lists. I can attest to these prices as I've gotten many spams trying to sell me spamming software and mailing lists to spam with, so I can see how this can be expensive, especially when they get caught. Many spamming package claim stealth technology or making you untraceable so you can keep your dial-up account. Most of these packages deliberately use forged information. Such forgeries can be bogus email address and/or domains, to masking DNS entries, to even the insertion of lines upon lines of fictional and bogus header information. Many spamming software packages point to unsecured third-party servers to relay their spam, passing on the bulk of the actual costs to this service provider. Some packages even include the ability to spam directly from the user's machine, making the point of origination and the relaying server one and the same. Any user with a free mail server and their favorite mail client software can do the same thing if they wanted to. While technically this isn't a theft of service, it is usually a deliberate abuse of service. Spending all of this money doesn't justify these sort of actions or behavior.
Spammers have recently be shouting "First Amendment" and "this is not illegal". I've addressed both of these issues before on other pages on this site. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America does in fact ALLOW a spammer to email out whatever they want to. The First Amendment also protects my right to NOT want to receive this garbage. Their right to spam ends where my right to not want it begins. This is even more true in cases where the recipient pays for time online, long distance and/or pays to receive and/or send email. Is spam illegal? Well, that's a more sticky issue and unfortunately the answer is MOSTLY "no, it is not illegal", but this is not true all of the time. There were laws passed to prevent junk faxes because such practices tied up fax machines and prevented businesses from receiving legitimate faxes, stole resources such as fax paper and toner or ink for fax machines, as well as incurring costs on measured business lines. While the junk faxer spend the long distance money, the recipient had their machine tied up to receive this unwanted fax, lost paper at THEIR expense to print out this fax, used up their toner or ink in situations where the fax machine used plain paper, and incurred unwanted costs on the measured business line for the time used to receive this unwanted fax. In cases where the fax machine is actually someone's computer, valuable hard disk space was used up and the cost incurred for the time spent receiving this unwanted fax.
Email is a lot like faxes received onto a hard drive or network. It takes time to get it, and it typically is stored on a hard drive. Unlike faxes, spammers may quickly and effectively send a few million spams a day due to the ease of distribution. The resources required to fax the same volume out in a comparable amount of time would require an extremely large building and a lot of PC's with faxing software, tons of phone lines and a while lot of electricity. With junk faxes, you may get one every once in a while, but with the ease of sending email, it's entirely possible to get a few thousand spams a day, which can choke an email account and force the server to reject additional emails until the current load has been downloaded and deleted. Also, it takes time to sort through such amounts of email, which eats up into the productive time of the recipient as they sort through the junk looking for the legitimate emails they need. There have been many times where my email box was so full of spam that emails I needed in order to perform my job were being temporarily rejected because spammers filled up my email box with their garbage. While email is easier to delete than a fax, that doesn't make it right. When spam is preventing me from conducting business, then spam is illegal. There are laws that when interpreted in certain manners do indicate that spam illegal. If you consider an email to be like a fax, and a fax machine is something used to electronically transmit data, then yes, spam is illegal.
Many ISP's have usage policies that include policies against spamming, be it originating spam, or even spamming directly from their dial-up connection, or even spamming using local or third-party servers. In such cases, the ACT of spamming is illegal and therefore spam is illegal. This is when the spammer cries when their account is terminated from the ISP for violation of the Acceptable Usage Policy(AUP) or Terms and Conditions(T&C).
Spammers have taken the internet hostage. Well, I shouldn't say that because it sounds too violent. A more accurate statement is that spammers are abusing the internet to the fullest extent that they currently can. In efforts to harvest addresses, spammers initially went to usenet and started collecting headers and grepping out addresses into database files for spamming. There is no logic, they just go through everything they get access to and harvest anything that resembles an email address. Usenet got wise to this as the users began altering their email addresses in their personal settings for their news client but leaving their email addresses in their signature files. Spammers reacted to this by harvesting everything from Usenet, grepping out anything that resembled an email address and tossing the rest. This is very time consuming, but there are tools that automate this, although this is still time consuming. Now people had to completely alter their email addresses wherever they appeared in order to avoid harvesting. Spammers got wise to this and started stripping out common strings such as "no-spam" and compiling still more email addresses. Spammers are not ones to miss out on an opportunity, so they went to the web to start scanning web pages for email addresses. Of course, the spam-bots don't follow the robots exclusion standard, so there is really nothing these spam-bots can not scan for addresses unless you place your entire site in a secured area, which defeats the whole purposes of the web. From these harvested lists of addresses, spam is sent out. It doesn't matter if you posted in a video game group about Tetris, you're now going to get spams advertising porno sites, MLM's, Make Money fast, postal fraud, bomb recipes, threats, harassments and bizarre rantings from weirdoes, as well as the occasional spam that has something legal behind it but spam nonetheless.
To further prove the lack of ethics by spammers, they will flat out lie in their spams. Common lies include statements that you visited some site or one of their associate sites and therefore they think you are interested. Other lies include that you were referred to them by someone, or even that their research indicated you might be interested in what they are pushing. This would indicate opt-in practices, which I support, but I have never signed up for any list, so this is not the case. These are spammer sending out via purchased or traded spam lists.
To help put another stake into the heart of the spammers, many of them use Opt-Out practices. Since I never signed up for the list, why should I have to opt out? Many promise that if you Opt-Out or request removal, they will never spam you again. This tactic is commonly used to verify live addresses, as your removal request tells them that your address is good, so it goes into a new spam list of good addresses, which is rather valuable to spammers. Other common tactics are web sites that claim to act as filter services, but are in reality address harvesting services. These sites claim if you sign up, your address will be added to a list of people who also don't want spam. Sometimes they even use "tokens" to help ensure that only valid addresses are entered in these remove lists. In some cases, these sites also provide spamming services using these acquired lists. Remember IEMMC.ORG? That's what they did with their lists. Other places compile the lists and sell them to spammers as good mailing lists. Others sell or give them to spammers telling them to filter OUT these addresses, but spammers take these lists and spam with the. Other sites make these lists commonly available to anyone, and spammers download these removal list and spam with them. Seems opting-out is actually an opt-in. I made the mistake of opting out at IEMMC.ORG, and carefully tracked my spam load, only to see it increase. Opt-out practices are illegal. If a person is running a web site and has a sign-up list, and then that person proceeds to email those people who signed up, while technically this is spam, this is actually targetted email because they are emailing people who specificalyl signed up for this information. I have zero problems with that sort of practice as long as these lists are not sold, traded or given away. Because people are expressing an interest and by signing a form they are expressing a desire to get additional information, I feel the person running the service has a legitimate right to email the people interested in the product or service.
I do have examples of companies using Opt-In who also honor removes. The mentioning of these companies in no way signifies and endorsement on the behalf of the company. Because I am happy with these companies, consider this word of mouth advertising. MacZone, PCZone, MacConnection, PCConnection, and SKB Cases come to mind. I have purchased equipment from all of these companies except SKB Cases because I buy those cases from a local music equipment merchant. I have bought equipment from MacZone, PCZone, PC Connection and Mac Connection because I visited their web sites and figured out what I wanted to order, but I did call in the order via phone. I did in fact submit my email address to them to include me on a list to receive notices up specials and product information. I have also then Opted-Out of these mailing lists because I later on changed my mind. Since I had the opportunity to OPT-IN, they provided a mecahnism to allow me to OPT-OUT when I chose to do so. In the situation of SKB Cases, I have chosen to stay on their mailing list, but they do provide a mechanism to Opt-Out. There are other examples, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind as people who properly use Opt-In/Opt-Out tactics in a proper and acceptable manner. You opt-in to get information, and opt-out when you decided that you no longer want the information. As a result of the business practices of these companies, I will continue to do business with them in the future.
I don't want to leave out what I feel is an important aspect of the usual method of operation of what I am assuming are veteran spammers. Spammers are basically cowards. Most of them do NOT have the courage to send their spams during NORMAL business hours, and this is for good reason. I have found that most spam is sent in the wee-hours of the morning, namely between 1AM and 4:30AM, when usually even the most insomniac of normal internet users have chosen to give in to the urge to sleep. The logic behind this practice is that the spammers how have a mostly clear window of opportunity to send out their spam without having to deal with the retaliation tactics that many of their victims are capable of committing. Retaliation tactics can be anything from a PING storm, to forwarding TONS of material back at the spammer, or in my case I would do my lookups and file complaints regardless of the spammer's status of connectivity. I will admit that if I'm online and I get a spam, I will run a continuous ping on the offending address until the connection is dropped and I notate that time. Other spammers who are not quite vultures of the night wil wait until after normal business hours before sending out their spam. On a quite regular basis, I'll be spam free until shortly after 5PM, or in some cases 6PM, and then the spams start trickling in throughout the evening. This is either because the spammers have gone home after a day of running con games or in rare cases, returning home from their day job. Why do spammers do this? Regardless of the time, the reasons are the same. Like I said, this is their window of opportunity, when traffic is low, usage is low and most of their victims are not logged in. During this time, there will be less complaints and the spammer can spam without being disturbed. Most of these spammers honestly think that if they are not connected when the complaints start rolling in, then they won't get caught. Stealth-technology tends to stop new spam-haters from properly tracing and complaining, but that doesn't even slow the more experienced people against spamming. There is nothing I hate more than waking up in the morning and finding a bunch of spams in my mailboxes.
Since I'm writing the long and boring document, I might as well touch on censorship. To an extent, I am in fact censoring material, mainly by me taking an active role in saying what is and what isn't acceptable material to email to ME. When a spammer sends me their bulk garbage, I find it offensive. Since I am the only one who uses my computers and the only one who uses my various mail accounts, the First Amendment gives me this right. So, I complain about this offensive material. It's not my fault that the spammer gets their account terminated. In no way am I restricting the flow of information but I am dictating what material is not appropriate to be sent to me. If the spammer wants to run a web site or a collection of web pages to promote their scam, product, service, con or whatever, then go for it, but don't deliver it to my mailbox because I do NOT want it. When the a spammer emails me a spam that contains the URL to the site being spammed for, then because the email is inappropriate, I must also assume the web site is also inappropriate and therefore in my opinion the web site and the spammer should be terminated. Censorship? No. By spamming me, the spammer violated my protection from the spammer's flood of unwanted material. By complaining, I an excercising my right to free speech.
Anti-Spam does NOT mean we are against online commerce. I can't speak for the other anti-spammers, but I am all for online commerce. I have done business online more or less with MacZone and PCZone, and attempted to do business with MacConnection and PC Connection. I have done research via the web at PlanetMac and then drove to their office to make purchases. Egghead has a web site that they do online commerce with. I have attempted to do some business with mail order companies of music equipment. I have purchased and sold some video games via the internet. There are right ways and wrong ways to conduct business on the internet. Spamming is not the correct way to conduct business on the internet. As further proof of my support of the information age, I don't carry much cash, so if you're planning on mugging me don't expect much. For the most part, I pay for everything with by bank card whenever possible. Currently I only use checks when paying my VISA bill, or my car payment, phone bill, car insurance and other bills that I must mail out in order to pay them.
It is not sufficient just to say that spamming is bad. We have to see examples of how to properly conduct business on the internet. First and foremost, I think a web site is the absolute best way to go about conducting business. I'm not saying this because I do web sites, but because I know of certain code elements that when used properly in conjunction with the search engines will not guarantee hits, but help guide your potential customers to your site as opposed to your competitor. Because I am a small business, I do not want a huge load of work placed upon me, so I do NOT advertise my web site except to my customers. To make up for this, I regularly submit my web site to the search engines perhaps twice a quarter. My pages all contain special tags in them that the search engines use. To show the effectiveness of this coding, you are here. See?
Some of the other anti-spammers are not going to agree with me entirely on this one, but it is how I discovered a web site recently, and it resulted in me purchasing two video games from them and most likely I will do business with them in the future. When done intelligently, a well done ad placed in appropriate newsgroups is another smart and effective way to advertise. Common sense must also be applied. In many instances, if you cross-post to too many groups, your ad might be killed. For example, I saw an ad from "firstname.lastname@example.org" cross-posted to several of the video game newsgroups I read. One should never post ads in newsgroups where ads are not allowed in the newsgroup's charter, and one should not post their ads in newsgroups that are not appropriate. For example, the group alt.tv.beakman is practically dead because pornographers constantly post ads for their porno sites in a newsgroup dedicated for discussion and enjoyment of an educational show that is largely oriented at children, but has a rather large adult audience. Do you see the problem now? Some spammers are aware that excessive cross-posting can result in their article or scam being auto-deleted, so these bored and jobless individuals will quite literally waste hours upon hours of time posting the article individually into a few thousand news groups. Sure, copy/paste saves a lot of time, but a few thousand times? I have seen examples of this and it amazes me why this person doesn't use this time to fill out job applications or send out resume's rather than promote a felony money making pyramid or pornography.
I would now like to cover a topic that spammers appear entirely clueless on and I've written on this topic before. A lot of spammers would like us to think that thanks to their efforts, they are actually reducing the cost of our dial-up accounts, or helping reduce network costs. Nothing can be further from the truth. While AOL will not admit it, I have insider sources that have told me that due to spamming, AOL has had to hire additional people and do a LOT of additional work to try and get a handle on this problem. More people and more work means more money. Of course, AOL is also building their backbone up and adding a lot of expensive dial-up equipment, which also costs money, but that's an entirely different issue. There are not statistics that show how much data spammers have put onto the internet, and hence no statistics that show how much this has cost ISP to receive, deliver, process and relay this. Unlike POSTAL mail where the mass-mailers are paying to deliver the mail and because of such business it helps reduce overall postage costs, the movement of electrons over the internet doesn't work in the same manner. This is where the issue of cost-shifting is a big issue. Since spammers are not subsidizing anyone for their spamming outside of paying their local provider for access, spammers are actually costing the internet millions of dollars a year in unwanted data transmissions.
Now let's address the labels spammers have placed upon those who are against spam.
The spammers call the anti-spammers "communists". Now I don't know all the finer details of communism, but I can say that anti-spam is not synonymous with communism. Because we complain about this unwanted garbage being delivered to out email accounts, we are called communists. This is a typical spammer response when they fail to understand that their right to send spam ends where I don't want it begins. This is NOT a double-standard, it is the law. Anti-spam is NOT censorship, we simpy have made it clear that we do not want unsoliticed commercial email or unsolicited bulk email or any form of advertisement sent to us without our permission. Is that really too much to ask? When you consider that most spams are money making pyramids, illegal MLM scams or spams to sell the tools to spam, we are actually doing the spammers a favor if they were smart enough to use good judgement. We are NOT censoring, we are protecting our rights to have a spam-free mailbox.
When we complain about spam and are vocal about it, such as this web site, we are called NetNazis. They claim we are limiting freedom of speech, when in reality, we are PRACTICING freedom of speech. What we are doing is exposing examples of their violations of free speech while at the same time practicing our right to free speech. Typically, the spam comes DIRECTLY to us. We then PUBLICLY post or comment on the spam. The difference is that when the spam comes directly to ME, I have to deal with it because it's in MY mailbox. When I deal with the spam, I post it to my web site, where people have to make a CONSCIOUS choice to visit my web site, doing so of their own free will and because they want to and not because someone forced them to go there. In cases where people post to the net abuse news groups, people have to make a deliberate decision to visit those newsgroups by subscribing to the newsgroup, then entering the newsgroup, then reading through the newsgroups. Like cockroaches, spammers don't like it when their behavior is brought out into the daylight for all to see. This is a double standard, as spammers says it is OK for them to send you their garbage, but it's not OK for you to complain about it. Sorry, but the law is on the side of those who do not want this email. Typically, those calling others "NetNazi" have usually been terminated for spamming and they like the negative connotation that accompanies the word "nazi".
I've often seen the term "net-terrorist" used to describe anti-spammers. I find this to be rather contradictory, especially when you consider that spammers will go out of their way to seek revenge against those who have caused them to get ther account and/or domain terminated due to complaints. There is documented evidence that "revenge" spammers have deliberately forged the email addresses of those they wish to "get even" with. Spammers like to call anti-spammer net-terrorists when as a result of complaints, their account and/or website and/or domain is dismantled and/or terminated. These spammers don't realize that often times the complaints don't just come form anti-spammers, but those who simply complained about the spam they received. It never occurs to the spammer that pehaps they just shouldn't spam. Even more amusing is when spammers sign on with service providers who are anti-spam, then they spam anyways, and then their account is terminated for spamming. Let's not forget that many spammers routinely use third-party servers to relay their spams. This is done without the permission of the onwers of the serverbeing hijacked for relaying out spam. The bottom line is that due to complaints, the spammer has had their service terminated. It is not the fault of the anti-spammers that these people get their accounts terminated, it is the ISP who is taking administrative action against a problem.
Recently a new term has come to light. The term is "e-rage". This buzz-word has apparently been invented by spammers who have repeatedly lost accounts due to their spamming and hence the complaints that have followed to their ISP, causing their account to be terminated. They are attempting to paint a picture of anti-spammers being bored individuals who have nothing better to do that to complain about spam. While there are no doubt a few individuals who fit this image to the letter, I'm fairly positive that most anti-spammers have full-time employment in legitimate jobs, have regular bills that they pay, including paying for their own internet access. Anti-spammers are normal people who are just fed up with getting spam and are using intelligent tactics to stop spammers. Why is it bad to complain about spam? When I complain, I will complaint to abuse and postmaster at the originating point unless I have been instructed to complain to other addresses. In the case where relay-raping is involved, I complain to postmaster, abuse and the administrative contact to inform them of this attack against them. In the case of forgeries, I inform the postmaster and abuse at that domain or domains to alert them of deliberate attempts to defraud those companies. The part I find really amusing is that many spammers KNOWINGLY begin service with a service provider, and as part of the conditions of obtaining service they must agree to a service contract that states they will not spam via the service providers network and services. Despite this, the spammer goes about spamming anyways, gets caught and gets their account terminated. These are the spammers who are using the term "e-rage". What I also find amusing are the spammers who go to the anti-spam news groups to whine about how they keep losing accounts because of their spamming. Obviously these individuals are not grasping the concept that their behavior is not acceptable and as far as I am concerned they are getting exactly what they deserve.
Now we come down to anti-commerce. No, we are not anti-commerce. Earlier I showed examples of good business on the internet. Spam is bad business, and at the very least, bad business practice. Do you want to sell porno? Fine, do it, but don't email me in regards to it. While you're at it, don't send it to minors either, which I can also prove. Do you want to commit postal fraud? Breaking the law isn't my style, but if jail doesn't bother you, then go have fun. Do you want to run an MLM? Go for it, just don't bother me with it because I'm not interested. You've got a hot stock tip burning your tongue? If so, don't tell me because I don't care because the only gambling I do is taking a long drive and hoping my stomach doesn't go on the fritz, and trust me, that is same MAJOR gambling. Do you have a product or service to sell? Well, unless I specifically ask you to send me something on it, I have zero interest in whatever it is that you are selling. I am not against anyone trying to make a legitimate living or income or money via the internet, but I don't want your entrepreneurial visits imposed upon my PRIVATE email boxes, my domain, my work account, or even my work domains. Because am pay for my internet account, I do in fact have a right to say what material is or is not appropriate, and until spammers are subsidizing my internet access, they have no right to dictate to ME what I have to receive.
With spammers, the strange appears to be the norm. Spammers are struggling to defend their positions while simultaneously sending out spam with forged headers, hijacking third-party servers and sending out money pyramid scams. There have been a recent surge of posts and news articles(not usenet) done by spammers trying to make the anti-spammers look bad. The real problem behind this is that the average public doesn't know much about the internet and will take the side who had the latest article. The reason this works is based on the "ignorance is bliss" theory. I'm not saying the public is stupid or deliberately ignorant, although I can speak with authority that a small percentage of the population is ignorant and wants to stay that way. Some people don't see the need to be on the internet, others have no use to be on the internet, while some folks are afraid of computers. These people are the ones who don't understand what is going on with the internet, and so they take the side of the side responsible for the latest article. Educating these people helps if you explain the whole situation from a socio-economic perspective, in which case spammers lose every single time.
Along the lines of wierdness, new usenet groups have popped up to provide forums for people to meet and discuss the spam problem and to exchange information and ideas on stopping spam. I find it rather amusing that spammers post spam to these groups on a regular basis, showing the stupidity of spammers. To further prove the stupidity of spammers, a usenet group was created called "alt.stop.spamming". Quite often spammers post in their saying that spamming isn't the problem and that anti-spammers are the real problem. I beg to differ. If people didn't spam, other people wouldn't complain about spam. A reasonable comparison is the chicken and the egg debate as to which came first. In this case, spammers came first because there can't be anti-spammers or spam complaints without the spam. The truth of the matter is that spammers are getting tired of losing accounts and wasting money on spamming software and they just want to be left alone. Oddly enough, anti-spammers also want to just be left alone, but spammers keep flooding our mailboxes with spam. Remember, if spammers wouldn't spam us, we wouldn't have anything to complain about. You spam, we complain. You don't spam, we can NOT complain because there is nothing to complain about. This is a simple concept to grasp, but spammers are unable to fathom this sort of rational behavior.
To further compound the problem of spam and to show the problem is increasing, this site exists. With my calendar files, you can easily see how the spam load I am personally receiving has been on the increase over the last two years. I am still one of the lucky ones, but not one of the luckiest. I know people who get ten times my spam load, while I know of others who tell me they are maybe getting 3 spams a week. Currently I am getting more spam than actual email that I need to get. There have been days where I've received so much spam that emails I needed were getting bounced because my mailbox was full. Spam is disrupting my day job. Spam is interfering with my home business as well. Still, I am lucky as compared to others. Others have had their mail servers hijacked or crashed as a result of hijacking. Other companies can no longer do business with their PAID FOR domain because of spammers forging their domains into their spams. In some cases, spammers have caused people to be forced out of business because of forgeries and theft of service. Hijacking a mail server is a deliberate act and is not something one does just for fun. Forging an email address or even a domain name is also a deliberate act and that act is called "fraud" or "defamation of character" in an electronic sense, or "defrauding for personal gain", all of which are crimes. I even know of people who were terminated from their job because a spammer forged their work email address for the purposes of spamming. I will also state that these people were also re-hired after a formal investigation determined that they were not responsible for the spam.
Anti-Spam does not mean anti-commerce. By being anti-spam, we are against theft of resources, stealing of service, chain letters, ponzi scams. We are against getting things sent to us that we did not explicitly ask for. We are against the usage of our mailboxes for people to send their unsolicted garbage to. We are against lying. Why are these concepts so difficult to understand?
When one stops and thinks about it, by NOT spamming, these people would have a LOT more money to spend on better promotion and marketing methods.
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