Ministry of Propaganda

Ministry of Propaganda - 29/Dec/2003: "Spam?"

[Previous entry: "North German Food"] [Home] [Next entry: "Sir Tim"]


I guess this is wildly overestimated (as the question seems to have been what they think instead of what they know), but apparently some people spend more than an hour a day with unwanted mail (i.e. spam). Assuming this is true, what are these people doing? Do they study each of these mails in detail? For simplicity let's assume they receive 60 spam mails per day. That would mean they spend 1 minute per mail. Even if they receive double that they would still spend 30 seconds per mail. Even if we assume 360 mails that's 10 seconds per mail on average. Sorry, this doesn't add up for me.

Assuming the worst case (360/day) they should be very experienced in sorting out spam, if they still need 10 seconds per mail they must be doing something wrong. Take a look at your watch and stop 10 seconds. That's quite a long time. Even if they only receive 60, how can you spend 1 minute on a spam mail?

I use the Bayes Filter plugin 1.0 for The Bat!, which probably captures 95%+ (can't be bothered to analyse this in detail) of all the spam I receive. And that after very little training. The rest takes a few seconds to identify (certainly less than 10 seconds per mail) and mark as spam so that the plugin can learn even more. The Bat! doesn't load web bugs (i.e. tiny images in HTML e-mails), making it more difficult for spammers to verify e-mail addresses.

So what's the fuss about? Don't get me wrong, I despise spam and it does get on my nerves (especially when I'm travelling and downloading mails via my mobile phone paying per KB). But I don't buy into the whole e-mail is dead because of spam hype. Neither do I believe the amount of time people claim to spend on it.

I'm more worried about some ideas Microsoft have come up with, mainly around making spammers "pay for sending spam". I'm not convinced that this would be an open enough system to allow non-Microsoft systems to send mails to Microsoft users, quite similar to the DRM protected e-mail I blogged about before. And I wouldn't be surprised if spammers find a way around this very quickly, be it by hijacking other computers, be it by some other means.

What do you think?

End of entry

Entry trivia

When writing this entry the weather was: Foul. Cold. Wet. Horrible.

When writing this entry I was listening to: BBC Radio Five Live

During the last hour before I wrote this entry I visited this website:

End of entry trivia

Send me feedback about this entry:

The form below will send me an e-mail. To discuss in public, please use my discussion forum.

Your name (required)

Your e-mail (required, will not be published or passed on)

Your website (optional, but recommended)

Is this feedback
public (i.e. contents can be published in a future entry)
private (i.e. contents are only for my eyes)

Your feedback for this entry: