Larry Hyman wrote:
Let's face it, the are a lot of emails that are scams, they try to take your
money, your identity and your passwords..... ok, I understand crime is
But what about all those other spams trying to sell products, don't those
products come from real manufactures? Why can't law enforcement approach
those manufactures and arrest them for their illegal activity, I mean if you
put an add on TV you have to pay for it, if you send a snail mail mailout,
you have to pay for it....
who pays to send out spam and who gets money for sending it???
I am just asking... remember BLUE FROG? they used to say that for every
spam, there was a legitimate company behind it and they would hassle that
company until it would stop sending spam... that concept does make sense to
Spam and therefore Spammers will always exist as long as there are people out there who open the mails and respond to them.
(Note the respond to them).
I am not talking about people who 'open' spam for diagnostic or just pure interest reasons, I am talking about those who are suckered in and open them because they are genuinely interested in them.
The problem with Spam is that it is almost a perfect business model.
Take TV advertising. The Superbowl, half time show, advert for a beer company. Cost for a 60 second slot ? Loads of millions.
Only one thing wrong here, yes you have a potential audience of millions, but you don't know how many of those will actually walk away from the TV at half time to go get the BBQ going, top up their own beers, make coffee, etc etc etc.
As in any TV advertising, you are transmitting your advert to a 'potential audience' of millions, yet you have no control over how many will actually see it.
Some users have advert blockers, some people record shows and either FF or skip the adverts. Some people just switch off (physically or mentally) and ignore the adverts altogether.
But the bottom line is that they are paying a lot of money for potentially an audience of unknown amount. But pay they do...
Spam and Spammers have a lot in common.
They send out millions of emails to a virtually unknown audience. They (rarely) have no knowledge of who their intended recipients are. (Most email addresses are farmed illegally). Just as with TV adverts, they don't know how many people will view 'their advert', or how many will filter it, ignore it, never even see it. But the big difference between Spam and TV advertising is the cost. In theory, to send a million emails it costs nothing. Of course there are agencies out there who will charge you a fee to do this for you, but it costs nothing compared to that of a TV campaign for example.
But we don't see big big companies sending out mass spam in the same vein as TV companies.
These days there are legal ways that the Big Companies can send out mass email campaigns without getting accused of Spamming. Its called Viral Marketing and is a massive market right now and expanding exponentially. This method of marketing is cheap and involves only the initial cost of the 'viral email'. The publication and distribution of this 'email' is done by us, Joe Public.
But back to the Spammers.
If you sent out a million emails advertising a product for $20, what percentage take up would you require to break even ? If only 1% of people sent the email responded and purchased, that is 1000 people, or $20,000. Send it to 10,000,000 people and with 1% of people, you've got 10,000 customers and $200,000 in the bank.
So with 10,000,000 emails and 0.1% take up, you have still got your 1,000 customers and $20,000 in sales. And all of that probably cost you $500 paid to some mass mailer based in China somewhere. If you paid $500 to someone in India, you could email the world.
With Spam, you still don't know how many people your mail will reach, you still don't know how many people will read and act upon the content of your mail. But compare the costs of advertising to a potential audience of 20,000,000 via TV commercial, to that of an Spam campaign and there is the biggest difference.
IMHO - we will never beat the Spammer because it is far too cost effective for them to exist. We can make their lives difficult for them but with the present systems in place, we can never stop them totally,(by this I mean the email network system in its current form).
Bad system and protocol design will give the spammers a medium to conduct their business until it is changed. (And you can include weak End User OS's that allow their systems to be compromised and become part of a Spambot network for example).
Spammers don't care what we do to try and stop them, because they will persist in their efforts purely and simply because it is far too easy to make money from it.
Those that employ spammers will continue to use their services because for them too, its cost effective. Unlike TV advertising we are not always talking about some massive conglomerate but more likely millions of individualistic/opportunist sellers trying to make a quick buck.
So whilst we should continue to target the spammers, the spammers networks, those that employ the spammers (the upstream product suppliers), the main area we need to attack are the end users themselves. Without customers, there can be no Spam.
Although there are similar devices, consider the following scenario.
Someone invents a totally full proof method of blocking TV adverts from ALL TV's on ALL Shows on ALL channels. There will be those that won't use such a device, but there would probably be significant amount of people who would, more likely enough to mean that it would no longer be cost effective to run TV advertising campaigns.
The point being here that if you removed the intended recipients of the TV adverts, you remove their source of revenue. (Or reduce drastically enough to reduce the output of TV adverts etc).
If we educate Joe Public as to the dangers of Spam, the effects of Spam, and the ultimate consequences of Spam, we might make a difference. But there will always be Spammers and there will always be Spam.
We need to get the 1% or 0.1% of people acting on Spam down to 0.001% or as damn close to 0 as we can. Again, we will never get everyone to stop reading them, because there's a sucker born every minute of the day.
But until we can persuade Joe Public that by paying $20, their Breasts/Penis are not going to expand, that by purchasing stock of company XYX they are going to make millions, that if they help some Nigerian relative of some deceased Multi billionaire they will get a share etc etc.
Until we can prove to them that their medication is probably made in some dodgy sweat factory and probably contains more talcum powder than codeine.
Until we can prove that you never get anything for free etc etc.
Until we educate the end user, it will always be a massive problem.
Yes there are steps we can take to reduce spam but none will be as effective as lining up all those that read and purchase things from spam and shooting them all, sorry, I mean educating them about the problem and proliferation of spam.
There are those that argue about the free speech issue of being able to read spam. I am ok with that, but then 'legalise' spam and have a Spam Distribution list where you can go sign up with your "spam me here@ my mail address .com" and get as much spam as you want. But since that removes 99% of the potential market for spammers, it'll never run.
Its time we went after the end users... make them accountable... Introduce a global spam reading tax. For every spam you open and purchase from, we'll charge you a $50 fee to pay for all the damage you have done in assisting in the proliferation of said spam.
Note: Unlike others on this list who may have time to create massive replies to mails with 100% correct facts and figures, this reply is a 5minute rant from me and contains many errors possibly and the figures used are meant to guide the points being made rather than factually support them. If I had the time, I would gave gotten the total number of spam being reported by spamcop for example, but I don't.
I realise there are points of contention in the above, but as I said at the start, its just IMHO.
Just as I despise the spammer who sends me the mail, I despise those that purchase from them or their (the spammers) customer as much if not even more so.
</end of Monday Morning Rant>
Posted by Chris Wright at July 17, 2006 11:53 PM
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