Re: Poll: Should mail archives hide mail addresses

2004-01-03 04:25:21
At 11:42 PM 1/2/2004, Gunnar Hjalmarsson wrote:
Earl Hood wrote:
And the factors of maintaining an open forum.  I have received a
private response in favor of not hiding address since the user has
had useful benefits on their archives in not doing so.

Wonder why he or she chose to not respond to the list. Maybe for fear
that doing so would result in their address being exposed to spam...

In my opinion, the spam problem makes keeping the addresses open to
harvesters inconsiderate to the posters. What value does it have to
keep the forum open in the current sense, if it results in a
decreasing group of subscribers that post?

No, I have no fear of that. (I'll assume Earl is referring to me.) I receive well over 1000 spams a day due to my other online activities and my own archives and web sites. I learned to deal with that a long time ago. As to the other post, like most people my phone number and home address has been in the phone book as long as I've had a phone. It's been on the internet since my first website in 1996. I consider it a good thing that people can contact me when they need to, and my life experiences show this to be true.

I didn't reply to the list because I didn't have anything to contribute to the technical discussion going on. However, I do have something to contribute to the philosophical discussion. I agree with Earl's points about making information available to the world. It is a bold thing to do, and many of us have put a large amount of energy and time and sweat into making it possible to do this over the internet. I applaud him for making the mhonarc archives available, including addresses. The world is better because of it. (The world is better because of MHonArc also!)

Millions of people have gotten information from my list archives. That includes email addresses of the original posters, who are often contacted by others for follow up questions, jobs, offers of collaboration, friendship, etc. In the case of my list archives, the result is a huge amount of great music being created in the world that wouldn't have been there otherwise. In Earl's case it is a great piece of software that many of us rely on to put information out into the world. I hope that more people find mhonarc and use it.

People on my lists know their words and addresses are going to be public when they post. There is no secret. They still post, day in and day out, because they too care about sharing knowledge and information. The number of subscribers has not gone down. In fact, it is pretty rare that I ever hear a complaint.

A small number of spammers have been abusing loopholes in the laws and the underlying technology to screw up this wonderful thing we've created. There is no way I will give up the value and benefit of free information because of these people. That would mean the spammers won, and I will never accept that. Closing down or limiting our sites is the same sort of illogic as giving up the constitutional freedoms my ancestors in my country really did die for because of a small number of terrorists. I would rather deal with the source of the problem than hide from it or throw away everything we've built.

You guys are obviously engineering types, as am I, and we naturally see everything as a technical problem. Not everything is. You will never stop spam by trying to implement some cheap technical gimmicks that address the symptoms. Either do the hard work to fix the underlying loopholes or don't bother. You also need to act in the political, social, and legal arena if you really care about this. If you just want to crawl into a hole and hide from spam you can do that too, but that would be a sad loss.

The political will is there. I've talked with my senators and representatives in my state and country, and they all support enacting laws and creating enforcement bodies. You can do that too. The problem is just as bad for them, since they get more spam than anyone and it limits their ability to interact with their constituents. As a result we finally passed an anti-spam law here in the US. It isn't very good, but it addresses some issues and it is a start. The popular will to do something is small but growing, and I'm certain that will mean better laws in the future. The public will in the US to limit telemarketing grew large enough that we really did get some good laws, and I haven't received an unwanted call since. We can do the same for spam if it becomes a big enough movement. You just need to speak up and deal with the real issues. Whining at your local list admin and hiding behind your monitor is not going to fix the problem!


Kim Flint                       | Looper's Delight
kflint(_at_)annihilist(_dot_)com           |      |

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