on 8/19/2002 7:49 PM Donald Eastlake 3rd wrote:
Alternatively, if a user can't or won't configure any whitelist and
their system just defaults to charging, say, 5 cents for each incoming
email, and this behaviour were common, what would the effect be?
The effect would be squat. Since I like you, I'll escort you down three
different logic trees for this.
First of all, a 5c per-recipient fee is 29c cheaper than postal mail. If
you were a marketer with a mailing to spew, which would you choose? In the
end, if cost were our only weapon, the only fee that would make people NOT
prefer spam would be a fee that was higher than the postal equivalent,
since the automated handling of spam is still significantly cheaper than
envelope stuffing and meter-feeding management. Frankly, a fee that high
would simply force the abandonment of email. People would move to ICQ or
whatever instead, and they would do it fast. The spammers would follow
them there, and the root problem would not have been solved.
Secondarily, even though a fee structure would likely cause many of the
less savory spammers to stop spewing, it would also legitimize spam for
mainstream outfits (it would have a public fee structure, acting as an
admission gate for socially acceptable behavior). There are about 20
million official businesses in the US alone. If only .1% of them sent a
single message every month -- "hi, don't forget us when it comes time to
buy widgets" -- that's 20,000 such notices per month. Again, we would have
simply accelerated the abandonment of mail.
In the end, we have to treat this like any other kind of trespassing, and
legislation is the only thing that will do it. Why don't these same idiots
go around parking lots, putting bumper stickers on people cars? Why
haven't we passed laws saying that ~"anybody can put a bumper sticker on
anybody's car for 5c"? It's the same issue.
Eric A. Hall http://www.ehsco.com/
Internet Core Protocols http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/coreprot/