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Re: [ietf-smtp] Idea: Two-Way Mail

2015-03-03 04:06:43
On Tue, Mar 03, 2015 at 09:46:25AM +0100, Alessandro Vesely wrote:
What drives me nuts is the fatalistic stance of assuming spam is an 
factor of our lives.  That is partly true, of course, but the requirement to
keep it within some boundaries seems to keep being overlooked in email

I actually think that what is being overlooked by just about every new
anti-spam technique I've seen proposed is that we're already doing
rather well. Only a small minority of spam makes it to people's inboxes.
False positives do occur, but they're not exactly making people stop
using email.

So any improvement that can be made - and I'm not suggesting they cannot
be made - will be minor. Most proposals don't acknowledge that, while
they play down (or, as in the proposal that started this discussion,
completely ignore) the compromises that need to be made for the proposal
to work. I would say that dropping the ability to send unsolicited
emails is a huge compromise.

False positives tend to be more common (and much harder to avoid) on
emails from senders that one hasn't previously communicated with. So
this proposal 'solves' this problem by saying these emails shouldn't
have been sent in the first place.

Moreover, there is a growing number of ways to send messages using apps
that require you to implicitly pre-approve the sender (social network
DMs, various messaging apps). I'm no expert on them, but they tend to be
built with security in mind and offer really good encryption. Some of
them apparently seamlessly work together.

Perhaps the IETF can play a role there by fixing some standards. And
perhaps in a few years' time, everyone will have ditched email in favour
of such apps/protocols.

In the meantime, I think it would be good to find ways to solve (i.e.
mitigate) the problem of email spam within the context of SMTP.


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